Top 25 offensive players in the Big East for 2008

Oh it's go time on the preseason lists.

25. ANDREW ROBINSON, QB, SYRACUSE

Robinson has talent and a year of experience under his belt, but without an offensive line or a running game, and with the unexpected departures of leading receivers Taj Smith and Mike Williams, he's going to have to be just about perfect to get the Orange in a position where they're remotely close to sniffing a postseason.

24. BILL STULL, QB, PITTSBURGH

Stull won a heated three-way battle for the starting quarterback job last summer, only to suffer a season-ending thumb injury in the opener against Eastern Michigan. The injury all but proved that Dave Wannstedt's initial decision was the right one, as freshmen Kevan Smith and Pat Bostick both struggled mightily over the succeeding three months.

23. JARRETT BROWN, QB, WEST VIRGINIA

If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it's that we should expect to see at least a little bit of Jarrett Brown in 2008. The Mountaineer backup has seen significant action in each of his first two seasons in Morgantown, both in mop up duty and as a starter with Pat White out because of injuries. Also a member of Bob Huggins' basketball team, Brown's athleticism resulted has resulted in him producing 1,228 yards of total offense thus far in his collegiate career.


22. BILAL POWELL, RB, LOUISVILLE

Powell cemented his status Louisville's likely starting tailback in 2008 when he spearheaded a dramatic second-half comeback in the regular season finale against Rutgers by rushing for a touchdown and 91 yards on 13 carries. Veteran ball carriers Anthony Allen and George Stripling have left the program, but Powell will still be competing for touches with senior Brock Bolen and redshirt freshman Victor Anderson.

21. ODERICK TURNER, WR, PITTSBURGH

Turner's production took a pretty sizable hit in his sophomore season, thanks in large part to the departure of Tyler Palko and the previously mentioned absence of Bill Stull. If Stull ends up being as proficient as many thought he would be a year ago, then the extremely athletic Turner should be able to make more of a name for himself.

20. DUSTIN GRUTZA, QB, CINCINNATI

With Ben Mauk's appeal for a sixth-year of eligibility appearing to be little more than a shot in the dark, Grutza will likely find himself back in the position he figured he'd hold throughout his Bearcat career. A starter as both a freshman and a sophomore, he was unseated by the Wake Forest transfer a year ago, and was forced to watch the vast majority of the program's most successful season in recent memory from the sidelines. He did, however, make a start on Sept. 15 against Miami of Ohio, and promptly earned Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors by going 25-of-35 for 290 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

19. TREVOR CANFIELD, OG, CINCINNATI

An All-Big East selection as both a sophomore and a junior, Canfield was suspended in February after being arrested and charged with felonious assault for breaking a glass bottle over a man's head during a bar fight. Now back with the team, he figures to again be among the best in the league at keeping his quarterback clean.

18. TYLER LORENZEN, QB, CONNECTICUT

Lorenzen did all he was asked of in his first season as a Division I starter, completing 197 of 347 passes for 2,367 yards, and throwing 13 touchdowns to just six interceptions while guiding the Huskies to a share of the Big East title. He's never going to overwhelm anyone with natural talent, but the folks in Storrs aren't complaining about the job he's done thus far.

17. DONALD BROWN, RB, CONNECTICUT

A year after being one of the league's breakout freshman stars, Brown actually saw his production dip slightly as he battled for carries with fellow sophomore Andre Dixon. He turned his game up a notch in the second half of the season, breaking the 100-yard barrier against Rutgers and West Virginia, and coming up just one yard short against Syracuse. While Dixon figures to at least start the season as the feature back, Brown will still figure prominently in a Rob Ambrose offense that will look to control games via the run.

16. MIKE FORD, RB, SOUTH FLORIDA

While Ford didn't make nearly the impact as a freshman that some were predicting, he still showed flashes of brilliance that have folks in Tampa believing he'll be able to alleviate a portion of the significant weight currently resting on the shoulders of Matt Grothe. After losing his starting role to Benjamin Williams in the middle of the season, Ford came on strong at the end of the year, rushing for 134 and 140 yards against Syracuse and Louisville, respectively, and finding the endzone six times in the Bulls' final four games.


15. MIKE TEEL, QB, RUTGERS

There's no doubt that Teel has both the physical tools and the weapons around him to have a sensational senior campaign, but finding the consistency that has eluded him in his first three years in Piscataway is still an imposing hurdle. The big-armed Jersey QB broke the 300-yard mark five times in 2007, but also threw at least one interception in all but four of the Scarlet Knights' 13 contests. Ray Rice bolting early for the NFL Draft means that the pressure on Teel is higher than it's ever been before. How he responds will likely be the determining factor in whether or not RU competes for a conference title.

14. DOMINICK GOODMAN, WR, CINCINNATI

No one was more excited for Brian Kelly to arrive on campus than Goodman, who hauled in 68 passes for 869 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior in '07. He capped the breakout season by finding the endzone twice in UC's 31-21 victory over Southern Miss. in the PapaJohns.com Bowl. Despite being just 6-0, 208 lbs., Goodman's speed will once again make him the Bearcats' most significant downfield threat.

13. RYAN STANCHEK, OT, WEST VIRGINIA

The four-year starter has been one of the biggest reasons for the explosion of the Mountaineer spread attack since 2005. An All-American candidate at tackle, Stanchek recorded 103 knockdowns while being on the field for over 800 snaps as a junior in 2007.

12. ANDRE DIXON, RB, CONNECTICUT

Though his production tapered off near the end of the season, Dixon still had terrific sophomore year, racking up over 1,000 total yards of offense and averaging five yards per carry on his way to picking up second team All-Big East honors. One of the league's best dual threats, he caught 24 passes for 280 yards and a score in his first season of significant action.

11. HUNTER CANTWELL, QB, LOUISVILLE

A rocket arm that was on national display during Louisville's victory over Miami in 2006 got pro scouts talking, but how Cantwell handles being a full-time starter for the first time in his career is still yet to be seen. He has a solid offensive line protecting him, but top receivers Harry Douglas, Mario Urrutia, Gary Barnidge and Pat Carter are all gone, and the dismissal of JaJuan Spillman and recent shooting of Trent Guy will make finding viable options to throw the ball to even more difficult for the senior.

10. ERIC WOOD, C, LOUISVILLE

The former freshman All-American and two-time All-Conference honoree is back for his fourth and final season as the Cardinals' starting center. One of the best in the country at his position, Wood provides the toughness and leadership that a young and fragile Louisville team is going to desperately need.

9. MARCUS BARNETT, WR, CINCINNATI

In his first collegiate season, Barnett tied for the league lead with 13 touchdown catches, and ranked in the top ten in both receptions and receiving yards per game. Despite breaking his leg in the PapaJohns.com Bowl, "Bones" remarkably participated in spring ball, and is reportedly ready to start the season as Dustin Grutza's No. 1 target.

8. GREG ISDANER, OG, WEST VIRGINIA

Despite missing all of spring practice while recovering from shoulder surgery, the enormous All-American candidate is back to anchor the Mountaineer offensive line for a third year. A starter in each of his first two seasons in blue and gold, Isdaner brought home first team All-Big East honors a year ago after seeing action on more than 850 snaps and recording five or more knockdowns in eight games.

7. TIQUAN UNDERWOOD, WR, RUTGERS

No one began 2007 hotter than Underwood, who racked up 248 receiving yards against Buffalo in the season-opener, and then proceeded to break the 100-yard mark in each of Rutgers' next three games. He finished the year with 65 receptions, 1,100 receiving yards, and a spot on the league's first team All-Conference squad. The speedy senior can expect to see even more passes hurled his way now that workhorse running back Ray Rice has moved on.

6. DEREK KINDER, WR, PITTSBURGH

A first team All-Big East selection in 2006, Kinder missed all of his last season after tearing his ACL during the first week of fall camp. The former Belitnikoff Award semifinalist is a terrific blocker for his position, and will be a tremendous boon to the Panther offense even if he doesn't fully regain the form he knew a couple of seasons ago.

5. MATT GROTHE, QB, SOUTH FLORIDA

Though Grothe was one of the main reasons the USF program reached unprecedented heights in 2007, he still finished the season with as many interceptions (14) as passing touchdowns. Jim Leavitt has to have either Mike Ford or Benjamin Williams step up significantly both to ensure Grothe's health and open up the passing game.

4. KENNY BRITT, WR, RUTGERS

The super-gifted Britt enters his junior season as the unoffical No. 1 receiver in the Big East. He lived up to his prep hype in 2007, leading the league in receiving yards (1,232) and ranking second in receiving yards per game (94.8). Britt's size and athleticism matched with teammate Tiquan Underwood's speed makes up one of the best receiving duos in the country.

3. NOEL DEVINE, RB, WEST VRIGINIA

Despite backing up Heisman hopeful Steve Slaton for nearly all of his freshman season, Noel Devine showed Big East fans exactly what he was capable of by rushing for 627 yards on just 73 attempts, good for an average of 8.6 yards per carry. Whether or not the diminutive Devine can handle the wear and tear of being a starting tailback for an entire season is the only question surrounding this remarkable talent.


2. LESEAN MCCOY, RB, PITTSBURGH

Despite opponents having as close to no respect as possible for Pitt's passing game, Shady McCoy was able to rush for nearly 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns on his way to being named Big East Rookie of the Year. There's no question that the offense will revolve around him once again in 2008, but Panther fans are hoping a healthy Bill Stull will allow McCoy to deal with only seven potential tacklers, as opposed to 11.


1. PAT WHITE, QB, WEST VIRGINIA

The two-time defending Big East Offensive Player of the Year and top-tier Heisman Trophy contender is the obvious choice for top spot on this list. In three collegiate seasons, The Chief has racked up 4,207 passing yards, 3,506 rushing yards, and 74 total touchdowns. Catch the show while you can.


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