It's your favorite Big East blogger's birthday today, and cash always makes a nice gift. Of course, it's always better to give than receive, so I'll be giving out some answers to your e-mails now:
Charles from Tampa writes: With the injury to A..J. Love, USF has a lack of depth at quarterback and the wide receiver positions. I have attended every USF home game for the past two seasons and I have not been impressed with Dontavia Bogan at all, so I have no trust in him as our go-to wide receiver. Who could you see from the incoming recruiting class stepping up and playing a big role in the Bulls' passing game?
Brian Bennett: Bogan did have a big spring game, but with the way defenses are hamstrung in those glorified exhibitions it's hard to read too much into such performances. He has a lot of potential but hasn't really delivered. South Florida coaches were worried about depth at the position before Love got hurt, so it's a real concern.
As far as incoming recruits, that's always a guessing game before they arrive on campus, and there's no guarantee a true freshman will make an impact. South Florida only has two receivers coming in: Deonte Welch and Jamaal Montague. Of the two, Welch was more touted as a recruit. But I think it will be on guys like Sterling Griffin, Lindsey Lamar and Evan Landi -- none have much experience -- to raise their games along with Bogan.
Dennis R. Philadelphia writes: I know I'm broaching this subject too soon, but it's kind of a downtime with college football so I think it's fun to think about. Is it possible for Pitt to produce four first-round picks next year in the draft? Assuming on-field performance stays level (not that unreasonable) and some early entries, Greg Romeus, Jon Baldwin, Dion Lewis and Jason Pinkston all are first-round caliber. Am I crazy for thinking this?
Brian Bennett: I'd be shocked if Baldwin does not go in the first round next year. He's that good. Romeus could improve his stock to that level with a big senior year. I don't think Pinkston is a first-round player; he's very solid but lacks the elite size of an NFL tackle.
Lewis is the most interesting case study. For those wondering, Pitt officials told me he is in fact eligible for the draft after this, his sophomore year because he spent an extra half-year at prep school. But would an NFL team want to spend a first-round pick on a running back who is about 5-foot-7, maybe 5-8? I doubt it, though Lewis could well deserve such status.
Ryan J. from Madison, W. Va., writes: We all know that Bill Stewart thinks he has a shot at winning the national title in 2011. Why not this year? We have a ton of skill players on offense and the defense is loaded with returning starters. To me it seems we have a better shot this year than next with so much experience on both sides of the ball.
Brian Bennett: Stewart wasn't ruling out 2010. I think he was just suggesting that maybe next year will be even better because A) quarterback Geno Smith will be in his second year of starting; B) the offensive line will bring its core group back; and C) the Mountaineers get LSU at home instead of on the road. But you're right in that this year's team is loaded on defense and has Noel Devine and Jock Sanders for their senior years. Might as well capitalize on that too, if you can.
Brandon from Storrs, Conn., writes: Any guesses on why Lindsey Witten and Andre Dixon still are without an NFL team to call their own. From what I read it seemed Witten was a guaranteed free agent at least?
Brian Bennett: Witten has reportedly signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Dixon will try out with the New York Giants. I thought both might fare a little better. But from an NFL perspective, both are somewhat undersized for what they do. Though, I wouldn't be surprised to see both latch on because we know they're both well coached.
Tom C. from Greece writes: I can't get enough of this blog being isolated from college football in Greece, so I appreciate it a lot. I want to know what you think of Pitt's out-of-conference schedule and what it will say if they win all five games -- granted one is a FCS team and the other a low-tier FBS. Thanks and keep up the food work.
Brian Bennett: The blog's reach keeps expanding around the globe. Careful with the ouzo. As for Pitt's nonconference schedule, it's challenging to say the least. The Panthers open at Utah, go to Notre Dame and get Miami at home. And even their FCS opponent, New Hampshire, is no pushover. If Pitt can go 5-0 against that schedule, then it will have a chance to have a special season, and there will be no excuse for not winning the Big East.
Sean O'Connor from Charleston, S.C., writes: Cincinnati: Best group of wideouts in the nation in 2010? Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett: The Bearcats definitely are loaded at wideout, with Armon Binns, D.J. Woods and Vidal Hazelton as starters, plus possible contributions from Kenbrell Thompkins and Marcus Barnett. They're the best group in the Big East, by far. Best in the nation? That's a bold claim. I want to see what Hazelton does after a year off and see if Binns can repeat his success as a junior. Right now, though, you'd be hard pressed to find too many receiving units that are better on paper.