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What’s going on around the Big Ten football landscape today? BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart links you to Wednesday’s best Big Ten headlines in this post.
SEEING GREEN: SI.com’s Andrew Perloff predicts that Michigan State defensive end William Gholston will be a first-round draft choice.
This is sorta like predicting rain in Seattle. At 6-7, 280 pounds, the junior is a physical freak, but Perloff says some teams may have “character concerns” about Gholston. Well, we all know how NFL teams feel: If you can play, they don’t really care about character.
ANOTHER DEFENSIVE STUD: While I’m on the subject of the 2013 NFL draft, Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short may be the least talked about likely Big Ten first-round pick.
If Short is selected in Round 1 next April, he would be the Boilermakers’ fourth first-round selection since 2007: DE Ryan Kerrigan (2011); TE Dustin Keller (2008); DE Anthony Spencer (2007).
GAMEDAY POLL: ESPN’s “College Football Live” experts recently released their preseason Top 25.
The early, early, early … early poll features five Big Ten teams.
12. Michigan State
20. Ohio State
Not bad. But this is: Five SEC teams are ranked in the top nine!
What do you think?
PROVEN UNDER CENTER: It’s difficult to know what to make of Iowa in 2012. The coaching staff has undergone unprecedented change in the Kirk Ferentz era. The defensive line is littered with questions. On offense, who will run the ball? And who will catch it? One sure thing in Iowa City is quarterback James Vandenberg. Thank goodness.
But Vandenberg has been challenged to learn a new offense. No-huddle/hurry-up … tight ends lined up in the slot … single-running back formations … running backs catching passes.
Vandenberg has been undaunted. The guy has taken organic chemistry. So, how difficult can it be to learn a new offense? Exactly. Still, the senior-to-be will need some teammates—hello, tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz and receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley–to step up if the Hawkeyes want to challenge in the very competitive Legends Division.
REPLACING MOLK: Center is a key spot on Michigan’s offensive line with star David Molk gone. But staffers have been pleased with Ricky Barnum (starter) and Jack Miller (backup).
The play of Barnum has been especially impressive when you consider he spent the past few seasons at guard.
FULLBACK IN PLAY: The fullback may be a forgotten position at some schools. But not Michigan State.
Not a shock, when you consider the blue-collar mentality that Mark Dantonio has established in East Lansing. And the fullback position epitomizes that. Tight ends, linebackers and defensive ends have been turned into fullbacks under Dantonio’s watch. And they all have one thing in common: They almost never carry the ball. In fact, since Dantonio assumed command in 2007, fullbacks have carried just five times for four yards. But, that’s not the role of Dantonio’s fullbacks. The role is to pave way for what always is a physical Spartan attack.
O’BRIEN UNCUT: Check out this video of Penn State coach Bill O’Brien sounding off on Joe Paterno and some other changes for the future during a caravan he is on that’s visiting varies locations.
TWEETS THAT MATTER
My take: Some interesting names on here, including one Big Ten coach who is sure to provide some good quotes this fall.
My take: It may be worth considering, as depth has taken a hit with Aaron Green leaving. Heard was a back with potential before the move. No doubt, Rex Burkhead will get the bulk of the carriers, with Ameer Abdullah primed to get some totes. So, there won’t be an abundance of carries available, but it would be nice to have Heard back on offense.
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, and all of his work is at btn.com/tomdienhart. Send questions to his weekly mailbag, subscribe to his RSS feed, and check out his video Q&A.