I read a piece in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune this weekend about Eric Decker, wide receiver for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team. It was well-written, thoughtful and informative. But what caught my eye was the picture. So I started looking for wide receivers in the Big 10 to see who’s hot. Because he’s hometown (for me, at least), Eric gets top billing here. But follow me after the jump to see who else is on top for WRs in the Big 10.
University of Minnesota Golden Gophers – Eric Decker – Decker grew up in Minnesota playing baseball, and he could continue in that sport. However, he clearly stated he was going to return to college to play football, and he hasn’t decided which route his long-term sports career path will take, but he was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 39th round of the June draft. He also set a school record with 67 receptions at WR last season. “…I want to beat what I had last year,” said Decker to Minneapolis Star-Tribune reporter Kent Youngblood. And he’s savvy with the media, so he’s sure to be a star, one way or another!
University of Illinois Fighting Illini – 2007 Big Ten Freshman of the Year wide receiver Arrelious Benn. He is predicted to go All-American this year. He says, “I’m physical, fast and I’m very good at getting yards after a catch. I’m not a catch and drop receiver. I can take a hit. My strengths are definitely my size and my speed. My physical body features can be quite intimidating.” He is correct.
Indiana University Hoosiers – Andrew Means, who had a chance of going pro in baseball, will be back to support the team this year. They are thankful to have him back, but it seems that his skills are superior on the diamond. He was recruited by the Cincinnati Reds this past spring.
University of Iowa Hawkeyes – Derrell Johnson-Koulianos - Models his game after Marvin Harrison of the Indianapolis Colts because Harrison does his job every week “and you never see him in the media for anything negative. I want to take after a guy like that,” Johnson-Koulianos said. After reading this, he might want to set his aspirations a little higher. He also brings skills as a kick return specialist to the team.
University of Michigan Wolverines – With virtually no depth at multiple positions, among the true freshmen who will be “rushed into action” are wide receivers Martavious Odoms, Darryl Stonum and Roy Roundtree. All loaded with potential, but inexperienced. With Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington both having left early for the NFL, there is no doubt Greg Mathews is Michigan’s top veteran wideout.
Michigan State University Spartans – Michigan State wide receiver Deon Curry was being called “coach” before his father Michael got put in charge of the Detroit Pistons. He’s well-liked and respected by his teammates. He’s also a walk-on basketball player for Michigan State. Said Brian Hoyer on WR Deon Curry, “I call Deon my Keyshawn Johnson receiver because he’ll move the chains for you. He’s a guy that’s very reliable.”
Northwestern University Wildcats – Eric Peterman (named one of four team captains for 2008). Begins his final year ranked 16th on NU’s all-time receiving yardage list with 1,274 yards … Is a tremendous team leader and extremely active participant in community service projects. He’s been featured as a model student athlete.
I think he’s so cute, and smart here in the library, he gets two pictures:
Ohio State University Buckeyes – Brian Robiskie (also sharing team captain honors this year). He can catch it deep, sadly here against Minnesota. His father played in the NFL and is currently the wide receivers coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions – Will wide receiver Derrick Williams start living up to all the hype? He was nominated for a Game-Changing Performance of the Year in 2005, part of an explosive, four-touchdown start that was cut short by a broken arm he suffered. The Sporting News named Williams to the freshman All-Big Ten Conference team despite having played just seven games in 2005. Due to his athleticism and 4.3 speed, Derrick is considered to be a top prospect for the 2008 college football season, and the 2009 NFL Draft. Will he achieve what is predicted?
Purdue University Boilermakers – Like the Wolverines, Purdue has talented but untested options at wide receiver. Last Friday in a scrimmage, many showed they were “catching on.” Roberto McBean, Keith Smith, Aaron Valentin and Joe Whitest each caught touchdown passes. Valentin led the group with six receptions for 100 yards. In 2007, he was the Northeast Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
University of Wisconsin Badgers – Isaac Anderson comes from Hopkins, Minnesota, and was out all last year with injuries. His father Melvin was a WR for the University of Minnesota before playing in the NFL for Kansas City and Pittsburgh. His mother Lisa was a member of the Minnesota track team for four years. He clearly has the genes.