Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, April 30, 2012
Big Ten spring practices officially ended last Saturday, with Michigan State and Wisconsin playing their spring games. What players shined from Lincoln, Neb., to State College, Pa.? I talked to media, coaches and college officials across Big Ten country to get their views. With that, I unveil my All-Big Ten Spring offensive team. My defensive team will follow. See my offensive stars in this post.
WR Michael Thomas, 6-2, 193, Fr. Ohio State – A nephew of former NFL great Keyshawn Johnson, Thomas arrived early to take part in spring drills. Smart move, as he was sensational. Thomas capped the spring by catching 12 passes for 131 yards in the Scarlet and Gray game. He could answer a yawning need at wideout for the Buckeyes.
WR Jerald Robinson, 6-1, 206, So., Michigan – The Wolverines need some receivers to step up. And Robinson answered the call this spring by impressing in practice with his hands and route-running ability. He may be the complement to Roy Roundtree that Michigan is looking for in an effort to augment the passing game.
TE Dion Sims, 6-5/280, Jr., Michigan State – The guy is a mountain of man who turned heads with some big plays in the spring game. And he excelled while playing with a cast on his left hand, the result of surgery in February after he initially suffered the injury near the end of 2011.
T Jack Mewhort, 6-6, 310, Jr., Ohio State – He started at left and right guard last season. But Mewhort has been moved to left tackle for 2012 and impressed this spring at the key position. In fact, Urban Meyer called him ?probably our best, most consistent lineman.?
T Pat Ward, 6-7, 310, Sr., Northwestern – The staff moved him from right to left tackle to fill the void left by All-Big Ten honoree Al Netter. Each week in the spring, Ward showed his experience and smarts as he now will be entrusted with protecting the blindside of the Wildcat passers.
G Bernard Taylor, 6-2, 291, So., Indiana – He continued to build off a strong debut that saw him earn All-Freshman honors from several organizations. Taylor, who arrived on campus as a defensive lineman, is getting stronger and smarter but needs to continue to refine his technique to help give the Hoosiers a better push in the ground game.
G John Urschel, 6-3, 287, Jr., Penn State – No one doubts his smarts, as Urschel has a 4.0 GPA in mathematics. In the spring, Urschel got better in daily battles with standout tackle Jordan Hill. Urschel, who split time with DeOn?tae Pannell in 2011, has improved his strength and speed for a line with something to prove this fall.
C Rick Schmeig, 6-3, 320, Sr., Purdue – He stepped up as a leader in the spring, earning plaudits and praise time and again from the coaches for a line that lost two NFL draft picks in Nick Mondek and Dennis Kelly. Schmeig is filling a key role at center after playing guard earlier in his career.
QB Robert Marve, 6-1, 212, Sr., Purdue – He was granted a sixth year of eligibility and looks to make the most of it. He capped a strong spring with a great effort in the Boilermakers? spring game, connecting on 14-of-24 passes for 134yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
RB Josh Ferguson, 5-10, 180, RS Fr., Illinois – The diminutive Ferguson showed he may be capable of playing a big role in new coach Tim Beckman?s offense after missing last season with a hamstring injury. Ferguson ran 20 times for 150 yards. Illinois never found a replacement for Mikel Leshoure last season. Ferguson may be the guy this fall.
RB Melvin Gordon, 6-1, 205, RS Fr., Wisconsin – With Montee Ball and James White sitting out the spring game-What do they have to prove?–Gordon took advantage by running 30 times for 159 yards and a touchdown. The kid has a burst, good vision and power.
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