Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, August 3, 2012
I love lists. And I bet you do, too. With that, did you see Athlon?s ranking of the Top 50 Big Ten players? No shock to see Wisconsin running back Montee Ball No. 1 and Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson No. 2. But, honestly, that?s too obvious.
A sexier No. 1 would have been Michigan State defensive end William Gholston. And I don?t think it would have been a stretch to have the pterodactyl atop the list. He probably is the top end in the nation. Can Ball or Robinson say they are the best in the nation at their position? Hmmm.
For what it is worth: Michigan, the team picked by most to win the Big Ten, has four players on the list. Michigan State has nine, Nebraska and Ohio State have eight. Wisconsin has seven.
Husker points: After Nebraska fans-and the rest of the college football nation-give thanks to the arrival of training camps, Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald offers five stories for Husker Nation to follow in camp.
Among them are improvement by the offensive line and more consistency from quarterback Taylor Martinez. But I think the biggest is the need for more playmakers on defense with guys like Jared Crick and Lavonte David gone. Who will emerge for what was an average group last season? Safety Daimion Stafford? End Jason Ankrah? Stay tuned. This may be the key to the Huskers? ability to contend in the rugged Legends Division.
Study group: The evolution of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson continued in the offseason with a devotion to film study and analysis.
This all could pay off for the senior, who looks to trim the Big Ten-high 15 picks he tossed in 2011 and improve his 55 percent completion percentage. Because of the film study,
Robinson says the offense will be able to make audibles and adjustments. And that make this offense even better-and perhaps the Big Ten?s best. Of course, Fitz Toussaint needs to be reinstated, too. But that?s another story for another day.
Catching on: Minnesota has lots of questions as it embarks on Year Two under Jerry Kill. One of the biggest is at receiver. Who will step up to catch MarQueis Gray?s passes?
Gray likes Jamel Harbison and Andre McDonald. But they are true freshmen. Marcus Jones is another to watch after he impressed as a true freshman in 2011 before suffering a knee injury. Others to keep an eye on are Brandon Green and Devin Crawford-Tufts.
It's go time: Speaking of Kill, he says in this video that it?s time for the Gophers to move forward.
No-tweet zone: Like it or not, coaches have had to embrace this new world that includes Twitter. But Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz? He remains Twitter-less. And proud of it. The Iowa players? No, they can?t Tweet, either.
Honestly, these are grown men. Let them tweet! It?s about learning to be responsible. Will a few of them tweet silly/dumb things? Sure. But most won?t. Let the players tweet. There are bigger issues to deal with than social media. Believe me.
Youthful look: Look, it?s no secret: Coaches don?t want to play true freshmen offensive linemen. But sometimes, the situation merits it. And that could be the case at Michigan.
The last Wolverine true freshman lineman to play was Justin Boren six years ago. But that could change this fall, with Kyle Kalis having a shot to perhaps claim the left guard slot. He will battle sophomore Joey Burzynski, a former walk-on, and fifth-year senior Elliott Mealer. And, don?t be shocked if at the least Kalis plays a reserve role.
Urban renewal: Attention, Ohio State players-you will be put through a tough training camp.
In addition to whipping the players into shape, Urban Meyer may have to ratchet down expectations after fans have been saying that Ohio State could start ? 10-0! Hey, it wouldn?t shock me. I have said time and again that I think the Buckeyes could have the best record in the Big Ten this season.
But personnel-wise, the most interesting aspect of camp to watch will be the running back spot with Jordan Hall out with a foot injury for at least the first two games. Who will step up to be a playmaker? This offense is desperate for answers.
TWEETS THAT MATTER
My take: Please tell me this is an official state holiday. It must be. It has to be.
My take: Even with Silas Redd (now gone to USC) and Justin Brown, the Penn State offense figured to struggle. Without either one, how would the Nittany Lions score? Scary thought.
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