The state of Florida has always been known for producing some of the top athletes in the country. The term "athlete" is sometimes looked at as a negative term, but it really means our scouts believe these talented prospects could play more than one position in college. Here is a closer look at some of the top athletes from the Sunshine State in the 2015 class.
ESPN 300 athletes from Florida
No. 8 Torrance Gibson: Gibson is a skilled athlete who can make plays on offense. The five-star athlete led his high school, Plantation American Heritage, to the state championship game. In the game, he had a touchdown run of 80 yards and also a long touchdown pass that was among the "SportsCenter" Top 10 plays. He wants to play quarterback on the next level, but he’s the most talented wide receiver on his South Florida Express 7-on-7 team. Whatever position he chooses, Gibson has a bright future ahead of him.
The 2014 NFL draft showed just how important defensive linemen could be to any team. The Houstan Texans chose defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and 21 other defensive linemen were selected in the first four rounds.
That position group is also highly sought after at the college level, which is why coaches from around the country will be spending plenty of time in the state of Virginia.
With five ESPN 300 defensive linemen and a few others of note, Virginia is the home to some potential game-changers at the next level.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
Link time ...
- Jim Tressel signs on as the new president of Youngstown State. Some continue to criticize Tressel's selection.
- Nebraska's Taylor Martinez must develop into a wild card-type player.
- Penn State's 2015 recruiting surge shows no sign of slowing down. James Franklin's late mother was the primary influence in his life.
- Michigan's first QB recruit under new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is in the fold. The Wolverines' secondary needs to bounce back in 2014 and adds top prospect Jabrill Peppers.
- Ohio State has leapfrogged Iowa as the Big Ten team with the most NFL draft picks this decade. A closer look at what should be Iowa's strongest position group.
- Two Michigan State captains get tryouts with NFL teams.
- Brandon Coleman's inconsistency hurt the Rutgers wide receiver in the draft.
- The Heisman odds are out, and Ohio State QB Braxton Miller leads the Big Ten candidates. Miller's former backup, Kenny Guiton, gets a shot with the Buffalo Bills.
- USA Today previews Purdue in 2014.
- A look at which current Illinois players have the best chance at the NFL.
- A good roundup of coverage about Wisconsin's five draft picks.
TV plans for most of these will be announced in the normal windows (either 12 days or six days before the game). All games will be aired on ABC, Big Ten Network or one of the ESPN networks.
Here's the full list:
- Wyoming at Michigan State, noon ET
- Northwestern at Penn State, noon ET
- Iowa at Purdue, noon ET
- Illinois at Nebraska, 9 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
- Indiana at Iowa, noon ET
- Iowa at Maryland, noon ET
- Purdue at Minnesota, noon ET
- Michigan State at Indiana, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Rutgers at Ohio State, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Nebraska at Northwestern, 7:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
- Minnesota at Illinois, noon ET
- Maryland at Wisconsin, noon ET
- Wisconsin at Rutgers, noon ET
- Indiana at Michigan, 3:30 p.m. ET
Indiana and Iowa make the most homecoming appearances (three each). Most teams appear twice on the schedule. Big Ten homecoming games traditionally kick off at noon ET unless the host school is interested in a later kickoff.
Michigan State is the only Big Ten school not hosting a league opponent for homecoming this year.
Kickoff times for the first three weeks of games should be announced in the near future, so stay tuned.
Michigan and Ohio State went in different directions on the field this past season, with the Buckeyes competing for a Big Ten championship and the Wolverines trying to regroup.
Both teams are looking to add firepower to their rosters, though, and the rivals will definitely be battling on the recruiting trail for 2015 prospects. Ohio State will be targeting quite a few Southern prospects, but there are still some overlapping targets for fans to keep an eye on. Here is a look at where each school stands.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
Let's get going ...
Glenn from Vancouver writes: What the heck happened to Max Bullough? Four on the draft depth chart and eight ILBs taken in the draft. Presumably everyone interested in him asked what happened with the Rose Bowl suspension so either he refused to answer the question or the answer was unacceptable. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: Always great to hear from one of my favorite North American cities, Glenn. The Rose Bowl suspension undoubtedly hurt Bullough, but he also showed up to the East-West Shrine Game much heavier than he played during the season. It seems like NFL teams went for speed and versatility at linebacker more than college production. Wisconsin's Chris Borland also went later than expected, and Iowa's James Morris, like Bullough, wasn't drafted. But not to see Bullough anywhere in seven rounds of the draft was a shock.
Adam Rittenberg: Jim, university presidents obviously do much more than fundraising, but to think fundraising isn't the main thrust of their jobs is naive. That's how schools grow and, in some cases, how they survive. You say Tressel has no professional fundraising experience. You think football coaches don't schmooze university donors? C'mon, Jim. Tressel is an instantly recognizable figure, especially in northeast Ohio. He knows how to connect with large groups and, in my opinion, will be able to reach out to more potential donors than a standard university president whom many don't know.
Also, Tressel gained important experience in the university setting the past two years at Akron. From my story on him in November:
Tressel oversees areas like admissions and recruitment, academic support, retention, financial aid and the career center.
He made major changes to the way Akron attracts, admits, educates and advises students. As of last week, Akron had received about 3,000 more freshman applications than it had the previous year, an increase of 52 percent. Tressel moved the career center from a far-flung location to the middle of the student union. He set up the Roo Crew, which connects alumni and others around the university community with current students to assist with job placement. More than 700 alumni are part of the group.
Tressel isn't a traditional hire, but he can succeed in this role, whether folks want to admit it or not.
Adam Rittenberg: Matt, both games will be tough for Iowa, but I'm going to go with Nebraska because there are more certainties about the Huskers than the Badgers at this point. Nebraska will be out to avenge last year's blowout home loss to Iowa, and the Huskers should be able to match up better with Iowa at the line of scrimmage. I'm not knocking Wisconsin, but I just have a lot of questions about the Badgers right now. They should figure things out by the Nov. 22 trip to Kinnick, but we'll see. Pitt could be a tough early season trip for Iowa, as the Panthers are on the rise. Northwestern always plays Iowa tough and easily could have won last year's game. The Minnesota trip is another tricky game, although Iowa dominated at TCF Bank Stadium last year.
Adam Rittenberg: It feels odd that wide receiver/tight end will be a question mark for the Hoosiers, as the program has been good at both spots, but there are some major voids right now. IU needs a huge year from Shane Wynn, who has explosive ability. The key will be filling spots on the outside, whether it's a veteran like Nick Stoner or Isaiah Roundtree, or a younger player like freshman Dominique Booth. Also, keep an eye on Isaac Griffith, who was impressing people before his swimming accident and could become a great story this season.
Adam Rittenberg: Shelby, none of the current Michigan players or coaches was part of the Appalachian State game in 2007, so I don't know if the revenge factor matters. But the Wolverines absolutely need a strong showing in the opener, especially with the questions about the offense that persisted during spring practice. The offensive line needs to dominate, Derrick Green and others need to run the ball and quarterback Devin Gardner needs to play a smart game. Michigan has a Week 2 trip to Notre Dame and needs to head there with some confidence. Keep in mind, too, that this Appalachian State team isn't nearly as strong as the 2007 version.
We're taking a closer look, roundtable-style, at the Big Ten's draft: how certain teams did, the risers, the falls and more. Noted draft hater Brian Bennett is somewhere in Italy, so Big Ten reporters Mitch Sherman, Josh Moyer and Austin Ward are kind enough to join me in breaking down the draft.
The draft roundtable is on the clock ...
Moyer: Penn State had just three players drafted, so what really stood out to me was how divided the opinion was on Allen Robinson, who was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second round. At times, he was a projected first-rounder. At other times, he wasn't projected to go until Day 3. Some lauded the Jags' pick; others labeled it a reach. Let me add my two cents: He's going to succeed in the NFL. I spoke with two former PSU and NFL wideouts, O.J. McDuffie and Kenny Jackson, and they both said last season that A-Rob boasts more physical skills than they ever did. That has to count for something.
Sherman: NFL organizations continue to rate Nebraska defensive backs highly. Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste (second round to the Saints) was the 11th draftee from the secondary in the past 10 years. Since 2003, though, just two Nebraska offensive players, including new Redskins guard Spencer Long, have landed in the top three rounds. Receiver Quincy Enunwa, despite technical shortcomings, offers value to the Jets as a sixth-round pick. As expected, all others, including quarterback Taylor Martinez, had to take the free-agency route.
Ward: Ohio State has long been a pipeline for the next level, but it had actually been three years since it had produced any first-round picks until Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby on Thursday night. The Buckeyes followed that up with four more players being selected, which suggests the talent level is starting to get back to the level the program is accustomed to after going through a bit of a down stretch. It seems a bit backward that two guys from a beleaguered defense were the top picks while the record-setting offense wasn't represented until Carlos Hyde and Jack Mewhort were grabbed in the second round, but either way the Buckeyes appear to be back as a favored target for NFL organizations.
Turning our attention to the entire Big Ten, which player surprised you by how high he was drafted, and which player surprised you with how far he fell in the draft?
Rittenberg: I was a little surprised to see Michael Schofield go before the end of Day 2. We knew Michigan’s poor offensive line play wouldn’t impact Taylor Lewan, but I thought it might make teams hesitant about selecting Schofield. He’s a good player who enters a great situation in Denver. Another Big Ten offensive lineman on a struggling unit, Purdue’s Kevin Pamphile, surprised me with how early he went. I didn't see Darqueze Dennard, the nation’s most decorated cornerback on arguably the nation’s best defense last season, dropping to No. 24 overall. Wisconsin's Chris Borland and Ohio State’s Hyde went later than I thought they would.
Sherman: Long's rise to the third round surprised me after he missed the final six games of his senior season with a knee injury that kept him out of the combine and limited him at Nebraska's pro day. I pegged the former walk-on as a fifth- or sixth-round pick. And I thought Lewan might slip past the first 15 picks because of character questions from a pair of off-field incidents at Michigan. Conversely, I thought Borland’s exemplary résumé at Wisconsin might propel him into the top 50 picks. At No. 77 to the 49ers he's a steal.
Ward: There really weren't guys who made shocking jumps up the board in my mind, though Ohio State safety Christian Bryant sneaking into the seventh round was a feel-good story after he missed the majority of his senior season with a fractured ankle. The Big Ten also had a handful of first-round caliber players slide to the second day, so Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman, Indiana's Cody Latimer, Hyde or Penn State's Robinson all qualified as minor surprises -- and great values for their new teams.
Moyer: How many people thought Dezmen Southward would be the first Badger drafted? I sure didn't. The Atlanta Falcons scooped him up early in the third round, and they probably could've snagged him two rounds later. As far as guys who fell, I expected both Latimer and Dennard to go sooner. They didn't free-fall, but you kept hearing before the draft how those two improved their stock -- and then Latimer nearly fell to the third round, anyway.
Ward: General managers and coaches might view running backs as easily replaceable in this new era in the NFL, but the league’s most recent champion offered another reminder of how important it is to have a productive rushing attack and an elite tailback. Hyde hasn’t proven anything at the next level yet, so comparing him with Seattle's Marshawn Lynch is a bit premature. But Hyde has all the physical tools to be a star, from his well-built frame to his often overlooked speed, and he's going to a team in San Francisco that has a system that will put him in position to thrive.
Rittenberg: Southward’s high selection surprised me, too, but the other four Wisconsin players -- Borland, Jared Abbrederis, running back James White and nose tackle Beau Allen -- all are good value pickups. White is an extremely versatile player who might never be a featured back but can block, catch passes and do whatever his coaches need. Allen gained great experience as a nose tackle last fall. I think the New York Jets get a sixth-round steal in Enunwa, whose blocking skills should help him get on the field. Big Ten coaches loved DaQuan Jones, who looks like a nice value pickup for Tennessee in the fourth round.
Sherman: I'll place Robinson (second round to Jacksonville) and Abbrederis (fifth to Green Bay) together in a category of undervalued Big Ten receivers. Perhaps it illustrates a general stigma about offensive skill players from the conference; throw second-rounders Latimer and Hyde into the discussion, too. NFL decision-makers might not respect the competition these players face on a weekly basis and count it against them in evaluations. If so, that’s a big problem for the Big Ten.
The Big Ten had eight more players drafted this year than in 2013, but its champion, Michigan State, had only one selection. What does this say about the league and its trajectory?
Sherman: After 2012, the Big Ten presumably had nowhere to go but up in producing quality prospects. The influx of Urban Meyer-recruited talent will soon impact the Big Ten in the draft. Same goes for Brady Hoke, even if he’s not making gains in the standings. Penn State and Nebraska, too, are upgrading their talent, so the trajectory figures to continue upward. As for Michigan State, it was young on offense and clearly better than the sum of its parts on defense, a testament to Mark Dantonio and Pat Narduzzi. The absence in the draft of Max Bullough and Denicos Allen caught me off guard.
Moyer: Having more picks shows the Big Ten is on the right track ... but it still has a long way to go. Yes, it improved on last year -- but it still finished behind the SEC (49), ACC (42) and Pac-12 (34) this year, in terms of players drafted. As far as Michigan State, I think their success serves as a reminder that the right coaching and the right schemes can still trump a roster full of NFL-caliber players. Penn State's success during the sanctions also helps to reinforce that.
Ward: It's another reminder of how well-coached the Spartans were a year ago, particularly in turning a defense that had just one player drafted into the nation’s best unit. Dantonio deserves another bow for the job he and his staff did a year ago, even if they didn’t have much to celebrate during the draft. The league does seem to be on the rise again in the minds of top athletes around the country with Meyer, Hoke and now James Franklin upping the ante on the recruiting trail. Those efforts should produce even better weekends than the one that just wrapped up.
Rittenberg: It says something when arguably the best Big Ten team in the past seven or eight years -- MSU had nine double-digit league wins plus the Rose Bowl triumph -- produces only one draft pick. Still, I think the arrow is pointed up after a horrendous 2013 draft. The Big Ten has struggled to produce elite prospects at both cornerback and wide receiver in recent years. This year, the league had three corners drafted in the first two rounds, and while I agree the Big Ten's wide receivers were undervalued, the league still produced five picks. The next step is obvious: generating better quarterback play as no Big Ten QBs were drafted this year.
This week, ESPN.com envisioned how the inaugural College Football Playoff might play out. Beginning with the 16 best teams in the nation, as chosen by our own mock selection committee of 13 college football experts, we whittled the list to eight, to four, and to two. Today, we reveal our choice for the favorite to win the four-team playoff: Florida State.
The Seminoles return 14 starters from last season's national championship team, but most importantly, they return the best player in the country in the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Jameis Winston.
Do you like your college heroes without a flaw? Or should we allow them to grow up in private? And if we do allow them to grow up in private, should we write off shoplifting dinner as an immature stunt? Don't most of us learn not to take something without paying for it pretty early on?
When Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher talks about Winston, doesn't he sound as if he's describing Andrew Luck?
"His ability to retain information and process it and get it out is ridiculous," Fisher said.
For a redshirt sophomore? Or for anybody?
To the links ...
- The latest on the arrest of Rutgers QB Philip Nelson while the victim in the assault fights for his life.
- Big Ten football is taking a backseat to branding under Jim Delany, Tom Shatel writes. Todd Jones previews this week's Big Ten athletic directors' meetings.
- A look at the Big Ten's drought of a top-10 pick.
- Taylor Martinez gets his NFL chance, but not as a quarterback. Huskers DE Randy Gregory is No. 1 overall in USA Today's 2015 mock draft.
- James Franklin is a hit as the commencement speaker at his alma mater. An interesting piece from Michael Weinreb on whether Franklin, already idolized at Penn State, can avoid controversy.
- A poor showing in the NFL draft makes last year's MSU team more impressive. The 2015 draft should be much better for the Spartans.
- Kirk Ferentz's NFL pipeline remains a point of pride for Iowa.
- After showing patience at Wisconsin, RB James White had to wait his turn Saturday.
- Rounding up Ohio State's free-agent signings.
- If certain mock drafts are correct, Michigan could have another first-round pick in 2015.
- A touching story on Illinois WR Justin Hardee and his memories of his late mother. A closer look at Illinois in 2014.
- The latest on Indiana's undrafted free-agent prospects.
- Former Purdue star Ryan Kerrigan looks forward to watching Boilers DE Ryan Russell this fall.
- For the first time since 1970, neither Illinois nor Northwestern had a player selected in the NFL draft.
Unlike the draft, the UDFA list is somewhat fluid, and other players could get picked up later today or in the coming days. To reiterate: This is not the final list.
Here's what we know right now from various announcements and media reports:
- LB Jonathan Brown, Arizona Cardinals
- WR Ryan Lankford, Miami Dolphins
- TE Evan Wilson, Dallas Cowboys
- WR Steve Hull, New Orleans Saints
- WR Spencer Harris, New Orleans Saints
- WR Kofi Hughes, Washington Redskins
- RB Stephen Houston, New England Patriots
- LB James Morris, New England Patriots
- OT Brett Van Sloten, Baltimore Ravens
- G Conor Boffeli, Minnesota Vikings
- WR Don Shumpert, Chicago Bears
- LS Casey Kreiter, Dallas Cowboys
- LB Marcus Whitfield, Jacksonville Jaguars
- CB Isaac Goins, Miami Dolphins
- LB Cam Gordon, New England Patriots
- S Thomas Gordon, New York Giants
- LB Denicos Allen, Carolina Panthers
- S Isaiah Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
- T/G Dan France, Cincinnati Bengals
- WR Bennie Fowler, Denver Broncos
- LB Max Bullough, Houston Texans
- DT Tyler Hoover, Indianapolis Colts
- DT Micajah Reynolds, New Orleans Saints
- OL Fou Fonoti, San Francisco 49ers
- LB Aaron Hill, St. Louis Rams
- QB Taylor Martinez, Philadelphia Eagles
- OT Brent Qvale, New York Jets
- CB Mohammed Seisay, Detroit Lions
- DE Jason Ankrah, Houston Texans
- C Cole Pensick, Kansas City Chiefs
- OT Jeremiah Sirles, San Diego Chargers
- WR Kain Colter, Minnesota Vikings
- K Jeff Budzien, Jacksonville Jaguars
- WR Rashad Lawrence, Washington Redskins
- DE Tyler Scott, Minnesota Vikings
- S C.J. Barnett, New York Giants
- K Drew Basil, Atlanta Falcons
- WR Corey Brown, Carolina Panthers
- G Andrew Norwell, Carolina Panthers
- G Marcus Hall, Indianapolis Colts
- WR Chris Fields, Washington Redskins
- OT Garry Gilliam, Seattle Seahawks
- LB Glenn Carson, Arizona Cardinals
- S Malcolm Willis, San Diego Chargers
- DE Greg Latta, Denver Broncos
- S Rob Henry, Oakland Raiders
- G Devin Smith, San Diego Chargers
- DT Bruce Gaston Jr., Arizona Cardinals
- WR Brandon Coleman, New Orleans Saints
- WR Quron Pratt, Philadelphia Eagles
- LB Jamal Merrell, Tennessee Titans
- DE Marcus Thompson, Miami Dolphins
- S Jeremy Deering, New England Patriots
- G/T Ryan Groy, Chicago Bears
- TE Jacob Pedersen Atlanta Falcons
- TE Brian Wozniak, Atlanta Falcons
- DE Ethan Hemer, Pittsburgh Steelers
After a big Friday night with six second-round selections -- including four in a row -- and six third-round selections, the Big Ten's momentum slowed a bit Saturday in the final four rounds. The league had only one sixth-round pick and only four in the seventh round.
Let's start the breakdown by listing Big Ten draftees by round (with comments below). Maryland and Rutgers players aren't included here because neither group competed in the Big Ten (Terrapins CB Dexter McDougle went in the third round; Rutgers had no players drafted).
FIRST ROUND (4)
- No. 11: Michigan OT Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans
- No. 15: Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh Steelers
- No. 24: Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard, Cincinnati Bengals
- No. 31: Ohio State CB Bradley Roby, Denver Broncos
SECOND ROUND (6)
- No. 37: Minnesota DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Atlanta Falcons
- No. 56: Indiana WR Cody Latimer, Denver Broncos
- No. 57: Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
- No. 58: Nebraska CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, New Orleans Saints
- No. 59: Ohio State OT Jack Mewhort, Indianapolis Colts
- No. 61: Penn State WR Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
THIRD ROUND (6)
- No. 65: Iowa TE C.J Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans
- No. 68: Wisconsin S Dezmen Southward, Atlanta Falcons
- No. 71: Iowa LB Christian Kirksey, Cleveland Browns
- No. 77: Wisconsin LB Chris Borland, San Francisco 49ers
- No. 78: Nebraska G Spencer Long, Washington Redskins
- No. 95: Michigan OT Michael Schofield, Denver Broncos
FOURTH ROUND (4)
- No. 112: Penn State DT DaQuan Jones, Tennessee Titans
- No. 119: Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens, Dallas Cowboys
- No. 130: Wisconsin RB James White, New England Patriots
- No. 131: Minnesota S Brock Vereen, Chicago Bears
FIFTH ROUND (5)
- No. 147: Purdue CB Ricardo Allen, Atlanta Falcons
- No. 149: Purdue OT Kevin Pamphile, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- No. 161: Ohio State C Corey Linsley, Green Bay Packers
- No. 175: Penn State G John Urschel, Baltimore Ravens
- No. 176: Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis, Green Bay Packers
SIXTH ROUND (1)
SEVENTH ROUND (4)
- No. 217: Indiana TE Ted Bolser, Washington Redskins
- No. 224: Wisconsin NT Beau Allen, Philadelphia Eagles
- No. 241: Ohio State S Christian Bryant, St. Louis Rams
- No. 244: Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon, New England Patriots
Here are the draft picks per B1G team:
Ohio State: 6
Penn State: 3
Michigan State: 1
The big surprise is a Michigan State team that dominated Big Ten play and won the Rose Bowl had just one player selected, as standout linebackers Max Bullough and Denicos Allen didn't have their names called. Only four teams -- LSU, Alabama, Notre Dame and Florida State -- had more selections than Ohio State. Illinois, which led the Big Ten in draft picks last season (4) and had 18 picks between 2009-13, had no selections. Northwestern also went without a draft pick for the second straight year.
Curious about the Big Ten's undrafted free-agent signings? Check back in a bit as we take a look.
Twitter? Yes, please.
Let's check that inbox ...
Shane from Maine writes: I usually ask Wolverines-related questions, but something else caught my attention. What are your thoughts on Iowa's schedule? It looks REALLY soft. Do you think the Hawkeyes have a chance to go undefeated in a season that has their toughest games at home against Wisconsin and Nebraska?
Adam Rittenberg: Iowa's schedule looks extremely beneficial, Shane, but I don't see the Hawkeyes running the table. They're a good team that could build on last season's success, but the Hawkeyes almost always find themselves in close games because their talent isn't head and shoulders above the competition. Easy schedule or hard schedule, you need to be a truly elite team with elite talent to run the table in a major conference (see: 2013 Florida State Seminoles). Iowa will end up on the short end of some close game, but I predict a good season (9-10 wins).
Adam Rittenberg: Jeff, I wrote about this back in January. There's no desire to move the football championship game outside of the Midwest. The Big Ten loves Indianapolis and everything it brings, and it could consider sites like Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit in future years. The difference with football is the event includes only two teams and two fan bases, not all 14. It's less likely to draw general Big Ten fans than the basketball tournament, a multi-day event featuring more games and teams. Big Ten deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia said of the hoops tournament: "Regardless of where you place it, you're going to have a team or two that basically will be a home team, whether it's Indiana and Purdue in Indianapolis or whether it's Maryland in D.C. or Rutgers and Penn State in New York." Geography matters more for the football title game.
Adam Rittenberg: Grant, I understand your concern about MSU's history when starting on top, but it's also important to acknowledge the culture change under Mark Dantonio. This team has won 11 or more games in three of the past four seasons. MSU had a disappointing 2012 season but was a few plays away from winning eight or nine games. Also, the quarterback situation with Connor Cook is much more stable than it was in 2012. Brian Bennett visited the Spartans this spring and came away thinking they're locked in and not getting complacent. The continuity in the coaching staff really helps, and most MSU players suffered through the 2012 season and haven't forgotten it. You don't really know how a team responds until the games begin, but Dantonio isn't the type to let anyone take their foot off of the gas. His recent track record confirms this.
Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Rolf, and yes, I realize sending a Michigan player to Ohio State doesn't sit well with all (Justin Boren worked out OK, though). The Buckeyes clearly need a quarterback to replace Braxton Miller, and I'm not confident enough in any of the current backups to step in, especially with a revamped offensive line. Brian had the Buckeyes adding Tre Roberson, who has more eligibility left than Gardner and also fits in a spread offense. But I think Gardner, in the right system like Ohio State's, has more upside. Despite Michigan's offensive line troubles, Gardner still finished second in the league in passing and had some huge games. Ohio State needs a one-year fill-in here, and Gardner is the best option.
Adam Rittenberg: Concern? About Penn State's 2015 class? No, don't be concerned. What James Franklin and his staff have done in the past four months is rather remarkable, especially with the program still under NCAA sanctions. They already have Jarvis Miller in the fold and will add other defensive backs before signing day, which is a very long way away. Also remember that Penn State likely will only lose two players -- safeties Adrian Amos and Ryan Keiser -- from this year's secondary rotation.
Several coaches close to Jim Tressel whom I spoke to for this story in November held out hope that he would one day return to the sideline.
They also knew his interest in education -- teaching, mentoring and administration -- wasn't just something to fill his days until the next coaching opportunity came along. Tressel was mentioned as a candidate to join Jim Caldwell's staff with the Detroit Lions in January, but he stayed at Akron as the school's vice president for student success and soon applied for the president positions at both Akron and Youngstown State, where he coached from 1986 to 2000 and won four Division I-AA national championships.
Akron selected another candidate on Thursday, but Youngstown State's trustees on Friday voted to offer the position to Tressel. He had been one of three finalists at both schools.
"Mr. Tressel has the personality and leadership skills, in addition to widespread community support, to dramatically raise YSU’s profile and prominence across Ohio and the nation," Youngstown State board of trustees chairman Sudershan Garg said in a statement.
Tressel's appointment won't be finalized until contract terms are reached.
Earlier this month at a public forum in Youngstown, Tressel told a questioner that his coaching days are over.
He left the door open a little more when we spoke in November, but his interest in education came across as sincere, including how he taught a coaching staff with Jim Dennison and how he interacted with students around campus.
"We're mediocre in the world in education," Tressel told me. "We're not at the top of the heap. I don't like being mediocre. I want every kid to get that job they're looking for. It drives you every day to figure out how we can get 26,000 to 27,000 kids to succeed. That's as tough of a game as there is."
Tressel's coaching friends wanted him back in the game, not just because of the success he had but because of the way things ended at Ohio State. But his own pull to the sideline didn't seem as strong.
He wasn't overtly bitter about Ohio State, and while he still spends much of the fall around football, he seemed to get his competitive fill from being a top administrator at Akron.
"Jim is a lot more comfortable in a shirt and tie than most coaches," Akron coach Terry Bowden said. "I don't think there are many coaches in the country that are as comfortable in the administrative side of colleges as Jim Tressel. So I wouldn't be surprised if that's where he finishes his career."
It appears that will be the case. Tressel knows Youngstown and immediately enhances the school's profile as president. The job is largely about fundraising, an area where he will undoubtedly excel.
Tressel has trouble spots in his past, including some during his coaching tenure at Youngstown State. People remember Ray Isaac and Maurice Clarett and the Tat-5 scandal. Tressel is still under a show-cause penalty from the NCAA. These issues will be brought up as he begins his new role.
But college presidents aren't saints. Neither are coaches, despite the image Tressel often portrayed. Tressel has his flaws, but I found it interesting that two of his former players he talks to the most -- Clarett and Terrelle Pryor -- are the ones who most damaged his reputation. You can't say he doesn't care about helping people.
Bottom line: You look at what college presidents do and where the job will be, and Tressel looks like a good fit. He reportedly wanted the Youngstown job more than the Akron one, and he remains extremely popular in the Youngstown community.
He has turned a page on his career. So should we.
- A big night at the NFL draft for Michigan's Taylor Lewan, who landed with the Titans at No. 11 to lead off a better opening day for the league.
- Ohio State's defensive duo, Ryan Shazier at No. 15 to the Steelers and Bradley Roby at No. 31, went to the Broncos.
- And Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard found a home with the Bengals at No. 24.
- Michigan’s other offensive tackle, Michael Schofield, has used a family struggle as his motivation to prepare for this draft.
- Former Indiana receiver Cody Latimer went to New York to hear his name called at the draft. He’s still waiting.
- Also waiting, defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hagemen of Minnesota, which hasn’t had a player drafted since Eric Decker in 2010. And the wait is almost over, too, for Wisconsin’s Chris Borland.
- Tracking the Maryland prospects for the second through seventh rounds.
- Meanwhile, Purdue’s 15-year streak of landing at least one player in the draft is in jeopardy.
- Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel lands the presidency at Youngstown State after he was bypassedat the University of Akron.
- What to do this offseason? Shane Morris can play catch ... with himself.
- Michigan State appears interested in the younger brother of tight end Dylan Chmura.
- James Franklin and the Penn State coaches continue their 17-stop caravan in Pittsburgh. Can the grayshirting of recruits help PSU overcome its scholarship limitations.
- Former Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage earns the endorsement of ex-coach Greg Schiano.
- Former Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz will remain on staff in 2014 as a graduate assistant. An appeal is deniedfor the summer jail sentence in Colorado for offensive tackle Alex Lewis is denied.
- Minnesota loses a backup defensive lineman to North Dakota.
- Kirk Ferentz marches to the beat of his own drum in recruiting, but even he occasionally extends a scholarship offer to a high school freshman.
Drive Through: August 20th
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
7:00 PM ET Eastern Illinois Minnesota 10:00 PM ET Rutgers Washington State
8:30 AM ET Penn State UCF 12:00 PM ET Youngstown State Illinois 12:00 PM ET Indiana State Indiana 12:00 PM ET Northern Iowa Iowa 12:00 PM ET Appalachian State Michigan 12:00 PM ET 5 Ohio State Navy 12:00 PM ET Western Michigan Purdue 3:30 PM ET James Madison Maryland 3:30 PM ET Florida Atlantic 22 Nebraska 3:30 PM ET California Northwestern 9:00 PM ET 14 Wisconsin 13 LSU