Yesterday we discussed that Phil Steele, the all-knowing, all being, master of time, space, and dimension in college football, released his preseason All Big Ten list. The Buckeyes had a remarkable 16 players on that list from the first through the fourth teams, the most of any team in the conference.
So how are the rankings? Let's look at them and see if anyone is too high or too low.
First Team Offense
Braxton Miller, QB
Andrew Norwell, OG
Jack Mewhort, OT
It's pretty safe to say that Miller is the best quarterback in the conference entering 2013, and most people expect him to be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. If his improvement as a passer is legit, he might have a season that rivaled Troy Smith's 2006 campaign. Norwell and Mewhort both played very well in 2012, and when you consider Mewhort switched from RT to LT last year, it's quite a feather in the cap for the senior. I'm mildly surprised that both Norwell and Mewhort beat out their Wisonsin counterparts Kyle Costigan and Rob Havenstein, as they are both very good linemen as well. This just goes to show the improvement and transformation the offensive line has undergone under the tutelage of Ed Warinner.
First Team Defense
Ryan Shazier, LB
Bradley Roby, CB
Not a lot of surprises here, either. Shazier and Roby are future NFL-caliber talents, and Bryant is a solid, all-around player. When you look at the CB position in the Big Ten, you could make a case that Ricardo Allen could've been moved to the first team opposite Roby, but not in lieu of. You could also make the same argument for Ibraheim Campbell of Northwestern moving up to the first team, but again in addition to Bryant, not in replacement of.
Second Team Offense
Carlos Hyde, RB
Devin Smith, WR
Hyde was kind of a surprise for the second team here. Now I'm not saying he doesn't deserve to be here, but I thought he might be more overshadowed by Miller's running ability. Could it be the only reason he beat out Zach Zwinak is because Zwinak had probably the most anonymous 1,000 rushing season in recent memory? Maybe. As inconsistent as OSU's passing game was, I was surprised that Devin Smith was second team, but when you look at his yards per catch (20.6), and the guys behind him on the third and fourth team, it's a good placement for him. And Linsley is a solid center here, and has a real chance to be first team all Big Ten by the end of the season.
Second Team Defense
Curtis Grant, LB
C.J. Barnett, S
Barnett here feels about right. Returning senior that has played well, but not necessarily at an elite level. He has a chance to make some real strides this year, though, and if he can play at a more consistent level, he could be all Big Ten when it's all said and done. Considering Adolphus Washington is just a sophomore who had fairly limited playing time last year, I'm surprised Steele picked him for the second team over Penn State junior DaQuan Jones. And to me, the biggest surprise of Steele's entire list is Curtis Grant as a second team linebacker. We've talked about Grant at length, and like Luke said in the original news post, if this is the year he finally puts it all together, it's a good spot for him. The $64 question obviously is if he can, in fact, do that.
Third Team Offense
Corey Brown, WR
Marcus Hall, G
I'm a little bit surprised Devin Smith and Brown aren't flipped here. Smith had more big plays, but to me Brown was the better all-around receiver last year – he had twice as many catches (60 to Smith's 30), but Smith had more TD's and a much better yards per catch average. Still, I thought Brown was the more reliable target over the course of a game, but Steele apparently favored Smith's big play potential over Brown's consistency. Marcus Hall is a good fit here. Had a good year, but not good enough to jump guys like John Urschel, Kyle Costigan, or Spencer Long. You could maybe make the argument that Minnesota's Zac Epping could've gotten the nod over Hall here, but that could go either way.
Third Team Special Teams
Philly Brown, PR.
I can't argue with this spot at all. Brown is a sure handed punt returner that can make an occasional big play who I would much rather have than fourth teamer Jesse Della Valle of Penn State, but he doesn't have the shiftiness or breakaway ability of either Venric Mark or Ameer Abdullah, the respective first and second team punt returners.
Fourth Team Defense
Noah Spence, DE
If there's one guy that was rated too low, it's Spence. Personally I think Spence is the better player between him and Washington, but that's like saying bacon is better than eggs – they're both awesome. And if Steele gives Washington the benefit of the doubt over potential and leap frogged Washington to second team, I'm a bit surprised he didn't do that for Spence and put him on third team. If there was a category for ‘almost criminally under rated', it would be Spence on the fourth team.
Fourth Team Special Teams
Drew Basil, K
I'm just not sold on Drew Basil, and I thought if there was a ‘most overrated' pick, this was it. Yes, Basil was 8/11 on field goals last year, but heading into the Michigan game he was 4/6 on the year, and had a particularly brutal Spring Game. I would've put Indiana's Mitch Ewold there before Basil, and the Basil reasoning seems like a ‘best of the rest' kind of pick, since MSU's Dan Conroy and Nebraska's Brett Maher graduated.
Michael Bennett, DT. I think you could make a case for Bennett as a fourth team guy, but neither him or Joel Hale have seen much playing time, so I can see why Steele overlooked him. Still, as a rotational guy last year, Bennett showed some flashes last year, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him as a third or fourth team guy at the end of the season.
Jeff Heuerman, TE. I put Heuerman here for two reasons. One, TE is a pivotal role in the Urban Meyer offense. Two, I think the passing game is going to be a lot better this year, which means 16 catches is the absolute floor for the starting tight end, and it's not unreasonable to expect around 30-40 catches from that position in 2013. If you look at the tight end position at Florida from 2006-2010, the top tight end caught 30, 34, 34, 68, and 6 passes. That crater of 6 TE receptions was year one of John Brantley, and all Florida passing numbers were way down. If that's the case, Heuerman is set to have a good year, and puts him in the C.J. Fiedorowicz/Ted Bolser/Kyle Carter neighborhood, and is worthy of at least a fourth team pick.
So, what do you guys think? Who was overrated? Who was underrated? Who was outright snubbed?