Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with a some thoughts on Quinn Ewers‘ early enrollment at Ohio State and what it means for Ryan Day, a list of 10 underappreciated defensive players and a look at the Mount Rushmore for Penn State football.
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1. RYAN DAY IS ON THE CLOCK
Ryan Day, you have a problem. It’s a good one to have, but also makes for some stressful days. You see, if you have too many talented quarterbacks you’re going to lose a few. That’s just the way it rolls these days and Ohio State knows that very well after watching Joe Burrow leave and lead LSU to a national championship.
While programs are always going want to recruit great quarterbacks, they’re also focused on spreading them apart properly and making sure they pick the right ones. Dabo Swinney at Clemson went from Deshaun Watson to Trevor Lawrence to D.J. Uiagalelei but lost Kelly Bryant, Hunter Johnson and Chase Brice to transfers. It’s clear Swinney made the proper decisions. Kirby Smart went from Jacob Eason to Jake Fromm to JT Daniels and lost Eason and Justin Fields with those choices. Smart clearly made a bad decision and Fields has shown that.
Now it’s Day’s turn at Ohio State with 2022 No. 1 prospect Quinn Ewers reclassifying and enrolling at Ohio State early. We’ve seen this before with players like Jake Bentley and Daniels, and both ended up transferring, but Ewers is a better prospect than either. It’s a crowded quarterback room at Ohio State with sophomore CJ Stroud, sophomore Jack Miller, freshman Kyle McCord and new freshman Ewers. While most don’t expect Ewers to start immediately at Ohio State, the dilemma is still real. Stroud is expected to be the guy but he has at least two seasons before he can go to the NFL. Miller appeared to be the odd man out already even before Ewers accelerated while McCord was very impressive this spring and was surprisingly pushing Stroud. And now you have Ewers, the most hyped quarterback since Trevor Lawrence in 2018.
Will Ewers sit for two seasons if Stroud emerges as the man? Will Stroud transfer if he loses the job to McCord or Ewers? Will Miller stick with it and perhaps try to do a Mac Jones and wait his turn? And will McCord bolt if he’s not the starter and Ewers is in line next? Ohio State will lose a couple of these quarterbacks, that’s just the way things work now with the transfer portal. The important thing we will learn is if Day makes the right choices like Dabo or if makes the wrong decisions like Kirby.
2. UNDERAPPRECIATED DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS
I love talking about underappreciated players, in case you haven’t noticed, and I especially love talking about underappreciated defenders because they don’t get the same attention as the offensive skill players. Here are 10 underappreciated defensive standouts you should know about:
LB Avery Roberts, Oregon State — Roberts is a tackling machine who doesn’t get enough attention from the Pacific Northwest and is living up to his high school billing after an initial stop at Nebraska.
3. MOUNT RUSHMORE OF PENN STATE FOOTBALL
Finally, we continue my Mount Rushmore series of best players since 1980 with Penn State.
LB LaVar Arrington — One of the most physically impressive linebackers to ever play at “Linebacker U,” Arrington was a source of relentless destruction. A two-time first-team All-American, he put himself on the map with the “LaVar Leap,” when he anticipated the snap count and jumped over the entirety of the Illinois offensive line on 4th and short to stop the running back in the backfield. His athleticism also made him a menace on special teams, being able to jump and use his reach to block field goals. A truly special talent.
RB Saquon Barkley — Few players have been as versatile or as dominant as Barkley was during his three seasons in Happy Valley. The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Barkley was unbelievably versatile, excelling not only in the run game, but also as a receiver and returner. He had over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns from scrimmage in only three years on campus. A dominant offensive player.
QB Kerry Collins — Even though his numbers don’t pop off the page by today’s standards, Collins was unquestionably one of the best pure passers of the early 1990s. Collins and Ki-Jana Carter led the Nittany Lions to an undefeated season in 1994 on the back of a phenomenal offense, and that effort netted Collins the Maxwell Award and a consensus All-American nod, as well as being named a Heisman finalist. In that season he broke nearly every passing record in Penn State history, and finished as the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.
LB Paul Posluszny — A three-time All-Big Ten selection, Poz was the embodiment of the Penn State linebacker that the school has become known for. Tough as nails and unafraid of anyone, he was one the best tacklers in school history, including more than 100 in three-straight seasons. Twice a consensus All-American and Bednarik Award winner, Posluszny also won the Butkus award as a junior. Even the great Jack Ham called him the greatest linebacker to ever play for the Nittany Lions.