Contributions by: Jason Bantle
Now that the season is fastly approaching, we take a look at each conference for where the teams may stack up, who are the best at each positon, some of the storylines to watch, and some of the top talents for the 2010 NFL Draft.
Projected Final Standings
QB- Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan, Sr.
RB- MiQuale Lewis, Ball State, Sr.
RB- Eugene Jarvis, Kent State, Sr.
WR- Naaman Roosevelt, Buffalo, Sr.
WR- Bryan Anderson, Central Michigan, Sr.
TE- Madarius Grant, Ball State, Sr.
C- Eddie Adamski, Northern Illinois, Sr.
OL- Phillip Swanson, Western Michigan, Jr.
OL- Michael Switzer, Ball State, Jr.
OL- Brady Minturn, Bowling Green, Sr.
OL- Jared DeWalt, Toledo, Sr.
DE- Sam Williams, Central Michigan, Sr.
DE- Frank Zombo, Central Michigan, Sr.
DT- Andre Neblett, Temple, Sr.
DT- Almondo Sewell, Akron, Jr.
LB- Austin Prichard, Western Michigan, Sr.
LB- Alex Joseph, Temple, Sr.
LB- Noah Keller, Ohio, Jr.
CB- Danny Sadler, Kent State, Sr.
CB- Josh Gordy, Central Michigan, Sr.
S- Barry Church, Toledo, Sr.
S- Davonte Shannon, Buffalo, Jr.
1. Great Quarterbacks Load the MAC
In what we have become accustomed to from the MAC, the conference is once again, loaded with talented playmakers at quarterback, some of which could garner the attention of NFL Scouts. Dan LeFevour and Tim Hiller look like they could be fighting for the MAC West title, conference MVP, and draft positon all season long. Guys like Tyler Sheehan of Bowling Green, Andy Schmitt of Eastern Michigan, and Chris Jacquemain of Akron have solid offenses around them, and could use possible great seasons and their NFL size to boost into NFL draft attention as well.
2. Five New Head Coaches Try to Make Their Mark
With Brady Hoke surprisingly leaving Ball State for San Diego State, and Bowling Green, Toledo, Miami (OH), and Eastern Michigan feeling like a change at the top was needed, it should make it an interesting 1st year with nearly half the conference with new men in charge. Dave Clawson has the best chance to win with Bowling Green in his first year, as a solid offense and a respectable defense already in place. While Toledo and Miami (OH) are in need of much rebuilding, and Ball State resting their season on a 5-6 running back, they should all struggle under new direction. Longtime Michigan defensive coordinator and a coach who was rumored for big jobs for many years now, Ron English could surprise in year one, with a deadly offense and his knowledge of defense.
3. Central Michigan Fighting for a Top 25 spot
The Top 25 list is usually riddled with teams from the 6 major conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and Pac-10), but it recent years, teams from the Mountain West (BYU, Utah, and TCU) as well as the WAC (Boise State and Hawaii) have cracked the Top 25 on many occasions, especially with teams such as Boise State, Utah, and Hawaii reaching BCS games. Last year, the MAC conference broke onto the scene with Ball State and at one point Central Michigan in the Top 25. While due to the top MAC teams, most likely Central Michigan, having a tough road to end undefeated (almost required for a non-BCS team to end in the Top 25, especially the Top 10 for the BCS), the Chippewas may have the team to at least start in that elite list, and could shuffle themselves in and out of the rankings, especially if they can start 2-0 (at Arizona, then at Michigan State).
End of Season Awards:
MVP: Dan LeFevour, QB, Central Michigan
Offensive Player of the Year:Tim Hiller, QB, Western Michigan
Defensive Player of the Year: Davonte Shannon, S, Buffalo
Newcomer of the Year: Kelly Page, QB, Ball State
Surprise Player of the Year:Andy Schmitt, QB, Eastern Michigan
Top 5 NFL Prospects for 2010
1. Dan LeFevour QB Central Michigan
LeFevour is a standout QB at Central Michigan and coined “the next great MAC QB”. Those that may have been hesitant on MAC Conference QBs should not be any longer given the past success of recent graduates (Pennington, Leftwich, Roethlisberger, etc). He is on the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm watch list with 21 TDs and nearly 2800 passing yards last season. Has the size to see downfield at nearly 6’4” and intangibles to be a starter at the next level. Needs to work on decision making and constancy, but does it all for Central Michigan – including running the ball. Not highly recruited out of high school, but with a good senior year will be the fourth ranked QB to come off the board probably in round two.
2. Barry Church, S, Toledo
Church is one of the many very solid Safeties to come out in the 2010 class and is definitely a strong safety with the frame to put on weight and make the switch to OLB if need me. Not the fastest S in the world but still runs in the 4.5s. He is one of the greatest players to ever come out of Toledo and can definitely lay a lick on the opposing offense. Good frame and size at 6’1” 218 and should be between the third and fifth Safety to come off the board. Would be a good fit for the Panthers a la Thomas Davis if he makes the switch but if he stays at Safety he will likely come off the board early in day two rather than day one because of so many good safety prospects.
3. Naaman Roosevelt, WR, Buffalo
Roosevelt is the prototypical WR for the NFL and a Wes Welker clone. Though he is only probably the 15th ranked WR (or so) on most pre season boards, his size of 6’1” and speed of the low 4.5s would make him an ideal fit for a team set at the flanker positions and looking for a solid number three. Thus, he will probably come off the board earlier than expected (think Jerome Simpson for Cincinnati in 2008). He is a phenomenal athlete and can second as a more than capable kick returner as well gaining nearly 1,000 yards in return yardage for Buffalo last season.
4. Bryan Anderson, WR, Central Michigan
Anderson is a very tall 6’5” WR and the number one target for Dan Lafevour for a reason setting the record for TD receptions n one season for Central Michigan and is one of only three to have 1,000 yards receiving. Most teams will have him ranked higher than Roosevelt due to his shear size. He is a redzone threat and would be an ideal fit for a team that specializes in tall receivers such as the Falcons or the Jaguars, but he needs to work on his route running, hands and concentration. His strength along with his size is clearly his leaping ability and red zone offense, so if he can get his 40 time down, look for his name to be called in round four.
5. James Starks, RB, Buffalo
Starks basically owns every single rushing record for Buffalo and is a great athlete. He has lined up as QB and WR as well and would be a good fit for a team that runs the Wild Hog offense like the Dolphins. He is not the fastest of RBs and is clocked in the mid to late 4.5s but is very strong and physical and needs to prove this year that he was not just a compliment to Wiley. He was not recruited much out of high school but for a team looking for an athletic bruiser-type look no further. He will probably have his name called early day two in round 3-4.