Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
As expected, there was lots of reaction to my Top 30 Big East players list, and as promised, I'm going to get to as many of your e-mails about it as possible. We'll do it in two parts today to handle the load.
First, let's do a quick breakdown of the list.
Players by school:
West Virginia: 6
South Florida: 4
On to your mail ...
Jason from Parts Unknown: So, WVU isn't better than a middle-of-the-pack team in your eyes, yet they have (as many) players in your top 30 players in the Big East (as) anyone. Makes sense to me .... I guess. But, whatever you say. You saw the teams in person and I didn't. All I can do is go off of the list of top players you say are in the Big East. I just assumed that the teams with the best players were usually thought to be pretty good.
Brian Bennett: I don't think you can automatically correlate the number of players on this list to how good a team is going to be. It takes more than a handful of star players to make a good team. It takes depth, health, chemistry and some fortunate breaks. Remember that UConn had more players taken in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft (four) than any other Big East team, and yet the Huskies were just 3-4 in the Big East last year. When I ranked West Virginia fourth in my post-spring power rankings, it was due to my question marks over the Mountaineers' offensive line. If they can't block up front, then it doesn't matter how good Jarrett Brown and Noel Devine are.
Jason from Tampa writes: While I like to see you giving the Bulls lots of love in the top three with Matt Grothe and George Selvie, there is one Bull you're missing. His name is Jerome Murphy. He has been my favorite player for the past three years. A great playmaker and unbelievable hitter at corner, not to mention a pretty doggone good cover guy. He'll be drafted next season by the fifth round.
Brian Bennett: Murphy is an excellent athlete who probably should be on the list. I downgraded him because of how poorly South Florida's defensive backfield played last season as a whole, though that was by no means all of Murphy's fault. With his skills, he should develop into more of a lockdown guy. I think he'll have a strong senior season.
Chris from Wallingford, Conn., writes: In an impossible-to-please-everyone task, I think your list is pretty solid. My one big beef though ... Scott Long? At No. 19? Really? I'm sure that every team's fans will have a few guys they feel got slighted. So I'll focus solely on the Huskies I thought deserved consideration. First, you mentioned him in your just missed catergory -- Jasper Howard. The only thing that may hold him back from a pro career is his size. Still, a REALLY good football player. My other two are Jordan Todman and Lindsey Witten. I understand why neither of them are not on this list (neither of them were starters last year), but come January, I firmly believe these two guys will be on the top 30 list. Both of these guys are pros. Todman, in my opinion, is going to be a beast for the next three years. It's impossible to follow a Donald Brown, but this kid has big time written all over him. Overall though, nice job.
Brian Bennett: Yeah, a lot of you had a problem with Long on my list and all I can say is ... you're probably right. I'm a little biased after having seen Long in practice for the last three years. I'm telling you, this guy is an unbelievable athlete who just hasn't been able to stay healthy. But I violated my own criteria by placing him so high, since his past production doesn't really have much merit, and his potential this season is questionable given Louisville's offense. So, if I had to do it over again, I'd probably move him down to closer to the bottom.
As for your Huskies, I really like Howard, Todman and Witten. Howard was one of the toughest guys to leave off the list, along with West Virginia's J.T. Thomas. I think he got overshadowed a bit by Darius Butler last year, but he really can play. And as you said, the reason Todman and Witten were left off was because they haven't been starters yet. But I'm expecting both to break out this year.
Scott from North Jersey writes: First off, great idea. I was hooked. One thought I had was when putting this list together was you needed to consider the importance of each position. For instance a QB will have much more of an impact than a punter, so that should have been another factor in making this list. I think you attemped to do this, but you vastly underrated the LT and DT positions. If you think Anthony Davis is the best LT in the league, in addition to his upside and track record to date, he should have been Top 5. Well done, keep up the good work.
Brian Bennett: I did try to take that into account somewhat. For instance, I had three quarterbacks in the Top 14, and they are really the only three established starters in this league. I had three left tackles on the list, and five defensive linemen. As for Davis, I agree that his potential is enormous. I just think he's still a bit raw right now.
Jeff from Harrisburg, Pa., writes: Selvie, Pike, Grothe, Gilyard, Devine, and Baldwin seem to be the consensus top six players. Now take the three grading criteria and assign a 1-thru-5 point value to each criterion (1 = best and 5 = worst) Lowest score is 1 and so on ...
No. 1 Selvie = (2) Future College Potential [2009 Season means lots of double teams and leveling of production] (1) Past College Success [inarguable] (1) NFL Potential [inarguable] Total = 4
No. 2 Baldwin = (1) Future College Potential [only a sophomore and the sky is the limit with his ability] (3) Past College Success [OK freshman year] (1) NFL Potential [see future potential] Total = 5
No. 3 Grothe = (1) Future College Potential [should have his best college season in 2009] (1) Past College Success [will own several records when his college career ends, tough to argue] (4) NFL Potential [no so sure that he will make it] Total = 6 [Tie breaker = Proven Senior Starter.
No. 4 Pike = (1) Future College Potential [potential to be top offensive player in Big East in 2009] (2) Past College Success [pretty good 2008 season but only one year under his belt] (3) NFL Potential [will be competing with a lot of talented QB's but he should be drafted] Total = 6 [Tie Breaker = Not as proven as Grothe, better 2009 potential then bottom 2] ...
Brian Bennett: You must be an engineer, Jeff. Not sure I agree with all of that, but it was an interesting way of looking at things. Bottom line: This stuff is highly subjective.
More of your thoughts coming this afternoon ...