Posts Tagged ‘Terrelle Pryor’

Bowl Parity and the Big Ten’s big step foward

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Posted by Mark Branstad

Happy New Year!  And with that we bring an end to the bowl season which was surprisingly unpredictable.  The Big Ten rebounded (sort of) and the Pac-10 struggled.  Of the “AQ” conferences the Big East had a best 4-2 record while the Mountain West went 4-1 to pace the “Non-AQ” conferences.  No conference went winless but the MAC would have without Central Michigan’s exciting overtime win. 

What struck me most about the Big Ten’s performance was how the public’s perception of the conference, as slow and less athletic than the other big conferences, didn’t really prove true this year.  More to the point I had a few individuals contact me asking whether the Big Ten really WAS slower than the other conferences?  So I decided to do a player study across all the Division I FBS conferences…more on that in a bit.

It is worth noting that the Big Ten had quite a few offensive players (NOT voted to the coaches’ all-conference teams) with outstanding bowl game performances.  To name a few…Northwestern’s Andrew Brewer, Drake Dunsmore and Sidney Stewart had great stats in a losing effort against Auburn.  Ohio State’s Terrelle (I didn’t really run 4.33 in the forty but maybe 4.45) Pryor, Brandon Saine and Devier Posey really made Oregon feel that Big Ten “speed and athleticism”!!  Wisconsin’s Lance Kendricks torched a speedy Miami secondary for over 120 yards.  Derek Moye of Penn State had three receptions and a touchdown catch in a victory over LSU.  Brandon Wegher put on a rushing clinic against Georgia Tech and Michigan State’s Edwin Baker and Keshawn Martin each had huge games against Texas Tech which was touted as being much faster team.  Again none of these players were voted all-conference by the coaches but each did a great job showcasing the conference’s depth in speed and overall athleticism.               

It should come as no surprise that all of the players named above had successful high school track and field careers (Pryor only ran briefly as a freshman).  Nearly all of them were state or national caliber track athletes. 

Okay getting back to the all-conference player study…I took it to task and researched every 2009 FBS all-conference first and second team (as voted by the coaches).  I specifically documented high school track participation and specific track statistical performances of each player per conference.  In my opinion this is one way to gauge the overall speed and athleticism of each conference, at least in terms of elite level players. 

What I discovered probably wasn’t too shocking but the AQ conferences had higher levels of players with track and field backgrounds and, at least in a statistical sense, superior speed and athleticism.  Yes, at the all-conference end of the player spectrum the Big Ten lacked in the speed and athleticism department in comparison to the Pac-10, Big 12 and SEC.  However from top to bottom and roster-to-roster the Big Ten compares pretty favorably with the other big conferences.

The study totals were as follows:  11 conferences, 545 players, 313 participated in high school track and field (57.4%).  Only eight freshman, true and redshirt, from all 11 conferences received either first or second team recognition.  Apparently freshman aren’t named all-conference at a very high clip. 

Here’s the study breakdown please take it for what you want.  The data outcomes do not appear to be a good indication of how each conference did in terms of bowl wins and losses.  That said several relatively young and or unknown Big Ten players had huge impacts on the bowls.  Again, nearly all of those players were outstanding high school track and field athletes.  

FBS All-Conference Study Totals

AQ All-Conference Player Data

Non-AQ All-Conference Player Data

Bolt running the 40…

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

I just watched in amazement as Usain Bolt ran 9.58 (wind-legal) 100 meter dash breaking his own world record.  Just amazing!  Now I don’t believe Bolt ever played football, and no I don’t mean soccer.  But there’s all this internet chatter about what Bolt might or might not be able to do if he played wide receiver etc.  He’s doing quite well as a professional sprinter so let us all forget about the football crossover.  

Oh yeah…my friend Heisman Pundit had a bit on his site recently about 40 times, it briefly dives into what Olympic sprinters might be able to run in the 40.  It also took aim at the ridiculous notion that T. Pryor of Ohio State ran 4.33 recently (apparently the fastest on the team) beating the times run by teammates Brandon Saine and Lamaar Thomas.   Okay maybe Saine and Thomas had a bad day or maybe my grandmother was working the stop watch but this is ridiculous.  T. Pryor DID NOT and WOULD NOT run an electronic 4.33, end of story.  When Pat White runs 4.55 electronically at the NFL Combine, no way Pryor does a 4.33.  T. Pryor is a great athlete, great basketball player, had a very good freshman football season but come on.     

Anyway I’m way off topic!  Got a little fired up.  But I’d have to say after today’s performance Usain Bolt could probably run a legit 4.0 40 yard dash with some work.  How could anyone bet against him?  I mean who would have thought a few years ago 9.58 / 100 meters was humanly possible?  Not me!

Quarterbacks for 2009 skilled in more than reading defenses

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

I just received my weekly copy of the Sporting News and the cover reads “Year of the QB”.  The corresponding article claims 2009 is going to be an extraordinary year for quarterbacks…the basic sentiment out there is this year has an unusually large number of great college quarterbacks due to a number of factors.  Whether or not this is true depends on one’s perspective but the article makes clear there are a lot of good college QBs out there. 

Like always I took a closer look at where these players came from and what their athletic backgrounds were, and not surprising all 13 QBs spotlighted in the SN article played more than just football in high school.  Basketball, track / field and baseball were the most popular amongst these players.  

Clearly playing quarterback at an elite level requires the most specialized skills in football (sorry kickers).  Having said that, being a pure athlete is not considered an essential characteristic necessary for playing quarterback at an elite level. 

But looking at the athletic backgrounds of the quarterbacks listed below leads me to an intriguing, admittedly unoriginal, idea…perhaps collegiate quarterbacks ARE becoming more athletic or maybe they always have been and not many people noticed.  Maybe being competitive year round in high school, being a multi-sport athlete, is an important ingredient to becoming a successful quarterback?         

Here are the 13 QBs:

Tim Tebow- (Florida) Nease HS, FL. - played baseball and basketball in  high school

Sam Bradford – (Oklahoma) Putnam City North HS, OK. – played baseball and golf in high school

Colt McCoy – (Texas) Jim Ned HS, TX. – lettered 3 yrs. in  track, ran 110 - 300 hurdles and 4×400 relay, basketball high school player

Terrelle Pryor – (Ohio State) Jeannette HS, PA. – ran 22.98 / 200 as freshman in high school, four year basketball player…he can run but I doubt the 4.33 / 40 I’ve been hearing about!

Robert Griffin – (Baylor) Copperas Cove HS, TX. – I think everyone knows about his track background but 13.55 / 110 hurdles and 35.33 / 300 hurdles both high school state records in TEXAS! 

Zac Robinson – (Oklahoma State) Chatfield HS, CO. – 11.23 / 100 & 23.33 / 200 high school state meet qualifier in 2005, shows that mobility on the field. 

Juice Williams – (Illinois) Chicago Vocational HS, IL. – ran on 4×100 relay and 4×400 relay in high school

Case Keenum – (Houston) Wylie HS, TX. – 43’00 triple jumper and ran 300 hurdles in high school and lettered in basketball.

Jeremiah Masoli – (Oregon) Serra HS, CA & St. Louis HS, HI. – ran 100, 200 and threw shot put as a sophomore at Serra HS. 

Russell Wilson – (N.C. State) Collegiate HS, VA. – played baseball in high school and currently plays at N.C. State

Todd Reesing – (Kansas) Lake Travis HS, TX. – played baseball in high school

Jevan Snead – (Mississippi) Stephenville HS, TX. – played basketball and baseball as a freshman, then specialized on football

Dan LeFevour – (Central Michigan) Benet Academy HS, IL. – played basketball in high school

I’m going to add a few names to this list: (based on physical attributes, not necessarily production yet) 

Aaron Corp – (Southern California) Orange Lutheran HS, CA. – ran 4×400 relay and 400 meter dash in high school, he’s athletic enough to give USC another dimension at quarterback that they haven’t had. 

Franshaw “Boo” Jackson – (Ohio University) Lompoc HS, CA. – 45’00 triple jumper and 21’11 long jumper in high school, he’s relatively unknown but could have a big season in the MAC this year. 

Here’s a look into the future of athletic quarterbacks: (these guys are athletic enough to make the switch to other positions)

Denard Robinson – (Michigan) Deerfield Beach HS, FL. – ran 10.44 / 100 at the Broward County Athletic Association Championships this year.  Throw in a 21.89 / 200 at the 4A Region 3 Meet and you’ve got a very fast football player. 

Russell Shepard – (LSU) Cypress Ridge HS, TX. – ran as fast as 11.1 (FAT) and 4×100 (42.53), 4×200 (1:29.02), 21’11 long jump.  He’s a player that may make an early impact at multiple positions for LSU. 

Kevin Newsome - (Penn State) Churchland HS, VA. – arguably the MOST athletic incoming freshman quarterback, I know tough call but listen…14.15 /110 hurdle high school state champion, 4×100 (41.91) state champion runner and 7.35 / 55 indoor hurdle champion.  That last stat is flying!  He even threw some shot put during the indoor 2008 season.

Shavodrick Beaver – (Tulsa) Wichita Falls Rider HS, TX. – ran some 200 and 4×400 in high school, decommitted from Michigan and signed with Tulsa could be a big hit.  He’s not nearly as fast as the guys above but he can play. 

Tyrik Rollison – (Auburn) Sulphur Springs HS, TX. – triple jumped over 39’00, long jumped over 19’00 and ran 100 plus 4×100 in high school.  He seems to be in the athletic realm of current Auburn QB Kodi Burns

Jordan Luallen – (Georgia Tech) Center Grove HS, IN. – high school state meet qualifier 4×100 (43.24) and 4×400 (3:21.51) as a junior, ran 110 hurdles (14.93) / 300 hurdles (39.43) qualified for state in 2007, most impressive ran 55 indoor hurdles (7.87) as 6’03 185-190 pound sophomore.  He might not be as fast as Michigan recruit Robinson or Penn State recruit Newsome but he’s athletic enough to make an impact at GT.

Michigan Recruit Denard Robinson

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

Denard Robinson, University of Michigan recruit, is bringing not only significant football skills to the UM football squad but also outstanding speed, as Bruce Feldman recently pointed out.  Robinson recently ran the second fastest 100 meters for a high schooler this spring.  The most intriguing part for Michigan fans is Robinson projects as a quarterback in Coach Rich Rodriguez’s offense.  Perhaps, along with Tate Forcier, Michigan’s quarterback problems will be solved.

Certainly Robinson will give the Big Ten another quarterback to worry about (Terrelle Pryor and Mike Kafka are others)–at least when he’s carrying the ball.  The Big Ten will need to keep up with the recruiting style that Rodriguez has brought to Michigan, which is to say he’s brought in lots of pure speed and track athleticism.  Big Ten watch out!

Sports Specialization by High School Football Players…?

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Posted by Mark Branstad                                                                                                                                 Football Talent Advisors, Ltd.

For the past several years I have read many articles, listened to high school coaches, talked with friends, and even engaged in conversation with high school athletes about specialization and its apparent rise in high schools nationwide.  In fact, several prominent media sources have headlined the death of certain high school sports like wrestling and track, as athletes specialize in either football or basketball at ever growing rates.  

However upon closer inspection, specialization is not occuring among high school football’s elite players at very high levels.  The specialization trend actually isn’t increasing at all among the elite.   

What exactly is sports specialization?  Simply put, when high school athletes only participate in one sport and do not participate in others.  Why does this happen?  Plenty of reasons…but generally pressure from coaches and sometimes parents with the intent of focusing their athlete or child on one sport.  

Pushing specialization might not seem like a bad idea and often is viewed as a caring gesture by a coach or parent.  However it is incredibly ill-advised and not an informed decision if the athlete being “pushed” to specialize wants to be a Division 1 scholarship football player and ultimately an NFL player.  What do I mean? 

The statistics for receiving a Division 1 football scholarship or being drafted by the NFL DO NOT indicate a strong correlation to players / athletes that specialized in only football during high school.  FTA has performed studies that indicate over 80% of all NFL draftees over the past three years were varsity participants in one or all of the following high school sports, not including football: basketball, baseball, track and field, wrestling, or soccer. 

Track and Field had the highest level of participation among 2006-2008 NFL draftees over 52%, of all players drafted in 2008, and 56% in both 2006 and 2007.  What about high school’s elite prospects?  Tracking the Rivals.com 100 since 2002 indicates of the 700 players listed over that time, approximately 427 players (61%) participated in high school track. 

What about quaterbacks?  They usually specialize in football in high school…right?  They have to!!?? 

Well…not exactly.  Look at this college football season: Sam Bradford (basketball, baseball, golf) ; Colt McCoy (basketball, track and field – hurdles / 4X400) ; Tim Tebow (basketball, baseball) ; Matt Stafford (baseball) ; Chase Daniels (track and field – 4X100) ; Chase Clements (basketball, track and field – hurdles / 4X100) ; 2008 Baylor Freshman All-American Quaterback Robert Griffin (track and field – hurdles HS All-American and Big 12 hurdle champion) ; Terrelle Pryor (basketball, track and field).   

Picture this - of 21 quaterbacks drafted in the last two NFL drafts, all but one (John David Booty, could not find adequate documentation) were multi-sport athletes in high school. That’s 20 of 21, or 95%! 

Needless to say, the statistics do not favor high school specialization on the part of football players wanting to play Division 1 and possibly make the NFL.  Specialization in my view among the football elite is a myth.