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Big East mailbag

There isn't a lot of news going on right now, but expansion and realignment is the topic that's on everybody's minds. I'll tackle your questions on that subject in a post later today. But first up, an expansion-free mailbag.

Brian C. from Nashville, Tenn., writes: No Syracuse at Washington [for your five most interesting nonconference games]? I fully understand, though Jake Locker could be the most talked about QB next year with him passing up draft. But why not Syracuse v. B.C.? 1) Old, heated rivalry. Dome will be loud and it should be an intense game.2) Last game was amazing game where Diamond Ferri went both ways. 3) Ends the season for both teams, could have SU fighting for a bowl and BC fighting for a New Year's Day bowl.

Brian Bennett: That's the inherent problem with doing top-five lists. You're going to miss out on some good games. I didn't mention, for example, Pitt vs. Utah, South Florida vs. Miami or Cincinnati vs. NC State, to name a few. I tried to limit the list to the five biggest games for the conference as a whole in terms of potential impact and overall credibility for the league. While Syracuse has a couple of high-profile games, I don't think the Orange will be a legitimate Big East contender this season, and therefore its games don't carry as much heft as some others.


Chris from Orlando, Fla., writes: Do you think Matt Grothe deserves an invite to the NFL Combine? I know there are lots of doubts about him as an NFL quarterback (size, decision making) but unfortunately his NCAA career was cut short and I think the Big East's all time offense leader at least deserves a good chance to prove himself.

Brian Bennett: Given his season-ending injury and the concerns you mentioned, I was not surprised at all that Grothe wasn't invited to the combine. He will have to go the undrafted free agent route in order to get a chance in the NFL. However, if he needs any reason for hope, he can look to Drew Brees. The Super Bowl MVP is listed at 6-feet, the same official size as Grothe. I'm not saying Grothe is as good as Brees, not by a long shot. But at least that shows size isn't everything.


Jim from Highland Park, N.J., writes: Love the player rankings. One note ... ranking Anthony Davis in the Top 10 is fair but all the criticism (not just you) on Davis is a little over the top. Did he dominate all the time? No, but who does? I actually think some of his bad plays had more to do with the other Rutgers linemen than Davis. There were many zone blocking schemes that broke down at other positions and impacted his zone. When it came down to one versus one, Davis dominated the best of the best in the Big East. Take the top five pass rushers and watch them versus Davis. Pure domination.

Brian Bennett: I'll agree with you to a point, Jim. Whenever Davis was matched up with one of the league's top pass-rushers, he usually came out on top. See his domination of George Selvie over the years. That was never the question. The concern, to me, was whether he brought that same intensity and focus to every matchup. And he simply didn't overpower people often enough in the running game. It's easy to forget that he was a true junior, however, and that he still has an incredibly high ceiling. Remember that some scouts tried to knock Kenny Britt last year based on little more than hearsay, and they look pretty silly now.


Josh from Orlando, Fla., writes: I really enjoyed your spring positions battles. I'd love to hear more about those throughout the offseason. I want to give you a heads up on a possible No. 2 receiver for Rutgers. Mark Harrison, true freshman last season, stepped into the No. 3 receiver position last year from the UConn game onward. He is a big, tall guy with a lot of talent. Expect him to challenge the group you mentioned this spring for that second receiver position.

Brian Bennett: You're right, Josh, and Harrison is a guy I should have mentioned. He made only five catches, but he averaged 16.6 yards per reception and has that rangy build you talked about. I also think D.C. Jefferson could emerge as more of a threat at tight end. A few more options in the passing game for Tom Savage could really increase the Scarlet Knights' chances of contending in 2010.


Andre from New Haven, Conn., writes: Spring position battles: forget UConn QB? Zach Frazer and Cody Endres almost split for time last season, each playing fairly well. This is a huge competition in my mind.

Brian Bennett: It will be interesting to see if Mike Box pushes either of those guys as well. While it should be a competition, though, I get the sense that this is Frazer's job to lose. He played really well down the stretch and has seemed like the more favored guy there.


Dave from N.J. writes: Brian,I was OK with most of your player rankings thus far, but you really lost me on the B.J. Daniels pick. He single-handedly lost games for USF this year. Reminds me of all of the potential of Jarrett Brown and then, in every game, makes a couple of head-scratching mistakes that ultimately lose the game. You shouldn't assume that he'll be great just because he's a freak athlete, especially at QB position. Lots of freak athletes never become great QB's -- just look at FSU's QBs. I'm not sure if Zach Collaros will be on your list but he has potential AND proved it on the field. So did Savage.

Brian Bennett: It's a tough balancing act between production and potential, and there's no question that Daniels made plenty of rookie mistakes last year. If he continues to make those same errors, then he'll never be much more than potential. But let's remember that A) he was a redshirt freshman thrown into the fire after the Grothe injury; and B) he had some really strong games, including the wins over Florida State, Syracuse and West Virginia and the end-of-season close loss at Connecticut. I think it's fair to project that Daniels will continue to improve as he matures.