Monday, March 13, 2006

Who's Better Who's Best | by Pat

As we creep closer to the start of spring practice, the various online sports sites are gearing up with the pre-pre-season predictions. Over at they listed out the Top 20 returning players in the country. The photo essay lists two Domers in the Top 20 in the form of Jeff Samardzija at #9 and Brady Quinn at #2. The number one spot goes to Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, who will probably be Quinn's main competition for the Heisman.

Re-checking the list for Irish opponents in 2006 reveals Michigan running back Mike Hart at #16, Penn State left tackle Levi Brown at #12, Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson at #7, Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny at #4, and Southern Cal wideout Dwayne Jarrett at #3.

We can quibble about the exact rankings (Jarrett at 3?), but all on the list are very good players. So that got us thinking -- after all, it's the offseason and what better way to pass the time than more glazomania -- who are the Top 20 returning players that the Irish will face next year? This question proved to be quite the topic in the BGS Lounge with many names tossed out and rejected before we ultimately arrived at this list of Top 20. To avoid silly nit-picking, the list is in no paticular order. Oh, and to avoid just listing the Trojan depth chart we decided to cap each team's contribution to 5 players. So here we go.

1. Dwayne Jarrett - USC WR
2. Paul Posluszny - PSU LB
3. Mike Hart - UM RB
4. Calvin Johnson - GT WR
5. Drew Stanton - MSU QB
6. Levi Brown - PSU LT
7. Mario Manningham - UM WR
8. Dorien Bryant - PU WR
9. Sam Baker - USC LT
10. Tony Hunt - PSU RB
11. Chad Henne - UM QB
12. Lawrence Jackson - USC DE
13. Keith Rivers - USC LB
14. Lamarr Woodley - UM DE
15. Derrick Williams - PSU WR
16. Kory Sheets - PU RB
17. Ryan Kalil - USC C
18. Evan Moore - SU WR
19. Trent Edwards - SU QB
20. Rob Caldwell - Navy LB
Obviously pre-spring practice lists don't always reflect what shows up in the fall. Due to injury or some off-the-field incident there's a good chance that at least one of the names on the list won't be suiting up when it comes time for kickoff against the Irish. But we're all pretty confident that the Top 20 we listed are some of the best players that will face the Irish. It's possible that some of the more hyped, but unproven players, like UCLA's Ben Olsen, could find their way onto this list come game time, but for now we're going on more on proven production than potential. So who did we miss?