Tag Archive: Jared Crick


Logan Thomas will be filling Tyrod Taylor's shoes at quarterback, and I have high expectations for him. He has a ton of upside.

11. Virginia Tech- A lot of people might be surprised to see VT this high, but even though they don’t often come away victorious against the best teams they are incredibly consistent and they are definitely a program that finds a way to reload versus rebuild, and that is exactly what they will be doing in lieu of losing Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and Rashad Carmichael to the NFL draft. David Wilson is ready to be the man at RB now that Williams and Evans have departed, and the word explosive might be an understatement for him. He compiled 619 rushing yards (5 TD’s), 234 receiving yards (4 TD’s) and 584 kickoff return yards (2 TD’s) on only 150 touches! That’s over 1,300 total yards on exactly 150 touches, which is pretty impressive especially in a rotational role. He will be the man now though, and Logan Thomas looked very impressive in spring ball from what I heard, and I am excited to watch him play. He looked good to me when I saw him sling the ball a couple times last year, but this will be his first season as a starter. At a listed height and weight of 6’6”, 242 pounds plus mobility he is going to be one to watch I’m sure. VT always has a fast defense and they have a few guys ready to emerge as quality pass rushers this year. J.R. Collins (a sophomore in 2011) had 5 sacks last year and apparently looked very good this spring, and I expect him to emerge as the best pass rusher on the team. Additionally, Chris Drager has shown some ability but I’m not sure whether or not he will start as a senior. And finally, James Gayle (a sophomore in 2011) had 4 sacks in limited playing time last year and should get more snaps as a part of VT’s rotation. VT also has a talented secondary, led by Jayron Hosley, a cornerback with 1st round NFL draft potential. VT is a team to watch this year, as they should contend with Florida State, Miami and hopefully North Carolina to be the top dog in the ACC.

12. Miami- I have been saying for months that I think Miami is going to be very tough this year and now it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is. They just have so much talent! It all comes down to quarterback though. I realize this might feel high, especially considering my very low opinion of Jacory Harris, but I can’t imagine that Al Golden will leave him in there too long unless he plays well. So either he plays bad for a few games, gets yanked, and Morris steps in or Harris recovers his sophomore year form and Miami immediately becomes a contender for the ACC title. But outside of QB they have a load of talent. Headlining that group are guys like Lamar Miller, Travis Benjamin, LaRon Byrd, Blake Ayles (a transfer from USC), Olivier Vernon, Marcus Forston, Adewale Ojomo, Sam Spence, Vaughn Telemaque and Ray Ray Armstrong, among others. Their defensive line is going to be incredibly scary if they can all mesh together, because I had three or four of their defensive linemen on my list of potential breakout players this year. Vernon, Forston and Ojomo alone should guarantee a good run defense and a FIERCE pass rush, so I am very excited to see how this team does this year. They have a ton of potential, I just hope they live up to it.

I have been a Kirk Cousins fan since he was splitting time with Keith Nichol as a sophomore. Now it seems everyone is realizing what kind of a QB he is. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

13. Michigan State- Michigan State is coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Crimson Tide in their bowl game and I think they will be hungry after barely missing out on the Big-10 Championship (even though they beat the eventual winner, Wisconsin, handing them their only loss before they lost to TCU in the Rose Bowl). They return a ton of talent such as Kirk Cousins at quarterback, and three quality running backs led by Edwin Baker with Le’Veon Bell and Larry Caper providing quality touches when Baker is rotated out. They also have a game breaker in Keshawn Martin, a dangerous slot receiver and kick return man, plus B.J. Cunningham is returning. That means they will have two experienced receivers for Cousins to throw to. If their offensive line holds up they should have another very balanced attack that runs the ball effectively which opens up the play action pass, which makes them very tough to stop. On defense they will have a lot of talent up front as they started three sophomores and a freshman last year (headlined by Jerel Worthy and Tyler Hoover), and they have a huge sophomore William Gholston who is ready to step up for some playing time as well. They all have a lot of experience up front and they are young, and I think they will have no problem stuffing the run like they did last year and they should get after the passer as well. Their DL is the strength of their defensive unit, and it should make things easier for their LB’s (I believe they lost all three of their starting LB’s) and their defensive backs. Michigan State is definitely one of my favorites to win the Big-10, right up there with Wisconsin and Nebraska.

14. Nebraska- Nebraska has officially joined the Big-10 (which now has 12 teams) after leaving the Big-12 (which now has 11 teams… I think. Sometimes I can’t keep up). However, their playing style meshes perfectly with the Big-10 as they play great defense, they are physical and they love to run the ball. They are immediately contenders for the Big-10 title, but they aren’t as familiar with the conference as other teams are, so it’s hard for me to anoint them the front-runners for the conference title over teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State, who are both returning a lot of significant talent. Nebraska will be dangerous though, even without Roy Helu and Niles Paul on offense. They also have a good deal of talent on defense, headlined by Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonso Dennard. They will be a fun team to watch this year, especially if Taylor Martinez can figure out how to throw the ball accurately.

Kellen Moore has one last chance to lead Boise State to a National Title or elite bowl game, but it won't be as easy as in past years.

15. Boise State- I have Boise State lower then some people do, but I have my reasons. First, they start out their season with a tough game against Georgia. Georgia may not be a powerhouse, but they are consistently competitive and even without a lot of RB help they still have a good quarterback in Aaron Murray, the best TE in the country in Orson Charles, and like all good SEC teams do they recruit well and have some nice incoming talent. With Boise State losing some of their best weapons on offense (Titus Young and Austin Pettis in particular) along with their offensive coordinator (who went to Texas) it isn’t unrealistic to expect them to be in a dog fight (pun intended) with Georgia in week one. But major props to Boise State for scheduling a legitimate out of conference opponent, because most teams don’t have the cojones to do that, especially teams from non-AQ conferences that are out of the title and elite bowl game race with just one loss. If they can get past Georgia, though, they have a shot to make it to the title game if they win out. But every year there is a scare or two, even for teams with as much experience as Boise, but Boise has the talent and they have done this enough times with Kellen Moore at the helm that I think they have a good shot at ending the season with one or no losses. I can’t wait to see the game against Georgia, I really have no idea what way that will go.

Thanks for reading my third installment of the top 25! The top 10 will be unveiled over the next two days, so check in soon!

–Tom

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1- Kheeston Randall, DT, Texas
Analysis: Randall is a huge guy at 6’5″, 295 pounds and I think he will be very disruptive during his senior year at Texas. Texas has been churning out some quality defensive line prospects in recent years, and I don’t think Randall will be an exception to that. Last year as a junior he produced 33 tackles (22 solo), 10.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 2 pass deflections and he blocked two kicks/punts. I am excited to watch him play this year and I think he has a lot of NFL potential.
2- Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina
Analysis: Powell is another talented North Carolina defensive lineman that has the potential to help make North Carolina’s defense very dangerous if they can avoid the problems that last year’s talented defenders ran into. Powell is a very large man at 6’3″, 310 pounds and should be a very effective nose tackle for the Tar Heels this season. Last year as a junior he managed 47 total tackles (25 solo), 3.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF and 1 pass deflection. He may not rack up a lot of stats this year, but his impact will be felt if North Carolina can stuff the run, especially up the middle. I look forward to seeing if he can stuff the run but also collapse the pocket as a pass rusher this season.
3- Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
Analysis: Crick is a very tall guy at 6’6″, 285 pounds and may be an ideal 3-4 DE candidate in the NFL. However, for now I have him ranked as a DT until I can further evaluate his potential as a 3-4 DE, but I thought I’d make sure everyone knew that the potential was there. Last year he had a very good season even without Ndamukong Suh when he amassed 70 total tackles (36 solo), 14.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 1 FF and 1 pass deflection. He is the man on the Nebraska defensive line now and he will have a talented player next to him much like Suh did as a senior as Baker Steinkuhler looks to emerge as a junior. It will be interesting to see how this tandem fairs in the Big-10 and if they can disrupt offenses anywhere nearly as effectively as Suh and Crick did two years ago.
4- Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
Analysis: Ta’amu is a huge man weighing in at 6’3″, 330 pounds. He is an ideal nose tackle and I think he will get a lot of interest from 3-4 teams for that reason. I haven’t seen him play much so I don’t know his tendencies yet, but I know he has the ability and potential to completely plug up the interior of the field thanks to his sheer size. Last year as a junior he produced 39 tackles (21 solo), 5.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks and one pass break-up. Like Powell, Ta’amu’s true impact won’t be measured on the stat sheet but on the outcome of the game. If he plays effectively the opposing team’s running game should be significantly hindered, especially up the middle. I am excited to see if he lives up to the billing that I am giving him in my pre-season rankings this year.
5- Marcus Forston, DT, Miami
Analysis: Forston is another player that I outlined as a potential break-out star in my break-out post from a few weeks ago. He has a lot of potential and will be playing on an incredibly talented Miami defense as a whole, but the defensive line is going to be the strength of their team. Adewale Ojomo, Olivier Vernon and Forston should form a very dominant starting line-up, plus they have a lot of depth to keep the pressure on opposing offenses. Forston should have a lot of success this season, but last season he still managed 37 total tackles (16 solo), 12.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks and one interception. I expect him to improve on all of those statistics this season, as I expect that he could very well get 50+ tackles, 12+ TFL’s and 6+ sacks as a junior. He has a ton of ability and on that talented defensive front he should have every opportunity to show it.
6- Billy Winn, DT, Boise State
Analysis: Winn is a guy that I think could have either been a break-out player or a sleeper but I didn’t know how well known he was. He has great size at 6’4″, 288 pounds which might also make him a candidate for the 3-4 DE position down the road. He was quite disruptive as a junior even though I believe he was in a rotation at the time. He produced 29 total tackles (12 solo), 10.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 FF’s and 1 pass deflection. I expect him to improve on all of these totals as a senior and I think he could surprise a lot of people. He definitely stuck out when I watched Boise State last year, and I have had my eye on him ever since. I expect him to really emerge this year.
7- Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
Analysis: Reyes had something of a coming out party last year as a junior. He has impressive size at 6’4″, 298 pounds and was quite productive last season. He managed 39 total tackles (26 solo), 10.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 INT’s, 1 FF and 4 pass deflections. I was particularly surprised that he had not only made one interception last year, he had made two and had a combined total of 81 return yards from both of them. That demonstrates some level of athleticism, and while I haven’t specifically watched him I have to say I am intrigued and interested in watching him this year.
8- Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Analysis: Worthy has impressive size and while he is only a junior he was still productive as a sophomore. He produced 40 total tackles (14 solo), 8.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks and 3 pass break-ups. He also has pretty impressive size at 6’3″, 305 pounds. I haven’t seen him play much yet, but I will definitely be watching a lot of Michigan State this year to evaluate Kirk Cousins among others. Worthy will definitely be one of the players I take a look at.
9- Josh Chapman, DT, Alabama
Analysis: Chapman is a stocky nose tackle for Alabama and while I haven’t seen him play much yet I am anxious to see how he holds up if he is indeed their 3-4 NT. He is 6’1″ but still weighs 310 pounds, making him a sound fit at the position if he is strong enough to stand up to double teams. Last year as a junior he managed 31 total tackles (18 solo), 3.5 TFL, 1.0 sack and 2 pass break-ups. It will be interesting to see how he does without some of the talent that Alabama lost to the draft, especially Marcell Dareus.
10- Jaye Howard, DT, Florida
Analysis: Howard may not be that well known, but I am pretty high on him. He was very disruptive last year for Florida, and he has pretty good size for the DT position. He is 6’3″, 302 pounds, and as a junior he produced 28 total tackles (19 solo), 10.0 TFL and 2.5 sacks. He is very active in the backfield against the run, but I haven’t seen him enough to evaluate just how dominant he is against the run and I haven’t evaluated him much against the pass yet either. I had to put him in my top ten though because I really think he has that kind of ability.

Hopefully you enjoyed my early defensive tackle rankings! I really think this defensive line class has the potential to rival that of this past year’s class, as highly touted as that was. Thanks for reading!

–Tom