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Big East mailbag: Top 30 reaction, Part II

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
More of your reaction from the Big East Top 30 list ...

Dave from Pittsburgh writes: Brian, I think Matt Grothe should have two rankings: 1 and 30. When's he on top of his game, he's absolutely amazing (see Kansas game from 2008), but when's he's off his passing game, the results can be awful. However, even when he can't throw, he's still a consistent running threat (see the 80-yard run against Pitt). Grothe's an enigma. Probably more than any other player in the country, Grothe's play tells you what the outcome will be. He can single-handedly beat any Top 10 team in the nation, but he can also lose to Louisville (even in the same month). I know the list considers pro potential, so George Selvie belongs at the top, but as a college player, Grothe could go down as an all-time great if USF wins the Big East and beats FSU and Miami this year. So here's my question to you: is Mike Canales the guy to get Grothe thinking clearly for an entire game/season? And, does USF have an offensive guy to finally take some pressure off Grothe?

Brian Bennett: No question that Grothe has committed too many turnovers in the past -- 14 interceptions in each of his first three years. But I think much of that comes from him trying to force the issue because he feels the pressure to make every play. There was simply too much placed on his shoulders in the past. I still believe the Bulls have to find a solid running game to complement Grothe. I like what I've seen so far from Canales and think he will be an upgrade over Greg Gregory. Will that be enough to get Grothe and Co. over the hump? That's the main question facing South Florida.


Manny from East Brunswick, N.J., writes: In your Big East Top 30 list, you left out Rutgers running back Joe Martinek. Yes, he hasn't started in too many games, but neither has Tony Pike, who you ranked No. 2. He received the most rushing yards in last year's bowl and completely dominated in the spring game. This guy is ripe with potential and in my opinion, is the best running back out of a solid bunch at Rutgers.

Brian Bennett: I think Martinek is bound for great things, but let's be real. He had 404 total yards last year and one 100-yard day. Yes, he led Rutgers in rushing in the bowl game, but he had just 58 yards. Martinek hasn't done enough yet to merit inclusion in the Top 30 list, and there's no guarantee he will even be the featured back for the Scarlet Knights this season.


Jack from Washington, D.C., writes: Brian, I thought you did a good job on this list. I know you have heard the comments about Scott Long and his ridiculous placement on this list (hey, maybe he'll prove me wrong), but my question to you is how was Pitt's Oderick Turner not included? No doubt he made some errors and needs improvement, but isn't he likely Pitt's No. 2 receiver next year and wasn't he integral last season? I see him having a very big year playing No. 2 to Jonathan Baldwin. Also: would TJ Porter have made your list, and if so, where?

Brian Bennett: Derek Kinder was actually Pitt's leading receiver last year. Turner had only 298 yards receiving and was far too inconsistent for my tastes. He needs to have a rebound year this season. Porter was one of my breakout candidates for this year, but I wouldn't have placed him in the Top 30.


Kyle K. from Austin, Texas, writes: I think your biggest omission is Mick Williams. While you include some of the other defensive stars for Pitt, he is the one who allowed Scott McKillop to be an All American and never gets enough credit. As for future potential, he is the perfect size and speed to slide over to DE in a 3-4 defense.

Brian Bennett: Williams was definitely on my short list and nearly made it. He probably deserved it. A defensive end? I'm not sure he's quick enough for that. But he's a terrific college defensive lineman.


T.D. from Mechanicsburg, Pa., writes: Besides not putting J.T. Thomas on the list, why didn't you put Wes Lyons? I know his past, but you and I both saw how he played at the spring game. Based on now and not past history, I'm very surprised you didn't put him somewhere on that list of top players.

Brian Bennett: You can't include a player based on one very good spring. Lyons had 104 yards receiving last year -- basically a good half for Kenny Britt. He had 111 yards in all of 2007. He's missed time with injuries, and West Virginia always hasn't thrown the ball much. But Lyons hasn't produced enough to be considered a Top 30 player -- yet.


Shaggy from Hartford writes: I think that you do not have enough UConn players in your Top 30 players in the Big East. Do I have to point out this year's draft?

Brian Bennett: Last year's draft has nothing to do with this year's list. But I do agree with you that UConn's players are usually underrated and underappreciated.


Jason from Mobile, Ala., writes: No way do I think Tony Pike or Grothe deserve to be above Noel Devine in your Top 30 list. In pure God-given talent, I feel there is no way Devine doesn't have Grothe and Pike dominated. Grothe has had the benefit of Floridian level talent blocking for him his entire career. As soon as a tough team gets in his face he folds up like a cheap lawn chair. He runs timidly when forced to scramble. Pike, however, is simply a benefactor to a good offensive system. All of his passes are of 15 yards or less and often benefit from the yards after catch, which is fine, but most high school level starting QBs could make most of the passes he completes. His height is probably his best weapon really. Jarrett Brown will be an exciting one to watch at WVU this coming season. You can't ignore that he went 15-of-15 before throwing a pass that was dropped in the spring game ...

Brian Bennett: Sure, Devine has more God-given ability. But that's not the only criteria for my list. You're way too harsh on your criticisms of Grothe and Pike, both of whom have led their programs to new heights. And as much as I like Brown, yes, I can pretty much ignore his performance in the spring against West Virginia's second-string defense.


Varun from New Brunswick, N.J., writes: Hey Brian, love the blog, especially this Top 30 players thing. Just wished we had it in previous years, if only to spark debate. How would you feel about making a quick Top 30 Big East players of 2008 list? No need to write an entry on each player. We'd also have the added benefit of hindsight, so we can make it a list of "who WAS the best" and not "who COULD BE the best". Please do it! Kenny Britt No. 1! :)

Brian Ben
nett:
Fun idea. We do have the benefit of hindsight, so I'll incorporate what happened in the NFL draft. I'm not going to do a whole Top 30, but here's my Top 10:

1. Donald Brown, RB, UConn: Hard to argue against his 2008 production, and he was a first-round pick.

2. Pat White, QB, West Virginia: Unbelievable career accomplishments and was a second-round pick.

3. LeSean McCoy, RB, Pitt: Terrific sophomore year and a second-round pick with tons of upside.

4. Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers: Parlayed dominant year for the Scarlet Knights into first-round status.

5. Scott McKillop, LB, Pitt: Defensive player of the year in the Big East and a fifth-round NFL pick.

6. Connor Barwin, DE, Cincinnati: Came out of nowhere to post a huge senior year and get taken in the second round.

7. Selvie.

8. Cody Brown, DE, UConn: Realized his potential as a senior and became a second-rounder.

9. Darius Butler, CB, UConn: Lockdown corner who also returned kicks and played receiver for the Huskies before going in the second round.

10. Eric Wood, C, Louisville: First-rounder.