July 4, 2011

What if big-time stars switched programs?

Russell Wilson's decision to play quarterback at Wisconsin changes the complexion of the Big Ten race.

It's not often that a team looking for a new starting quarterback has a guy who has thrown for 8,546 yards and 76 TDs in his career fall into its lap. But that's the case for the Badgers, whose deep group of running backs should have more room to run because opposing defenses now will have to truly respect Wisconsin's passing attack.

As for Wilson, he goes from a team that averaged 123.1 rushing yards per game last season to one where 123 yards would be a good half.

In short, this is a move that benefits both parties.

In that vein - and in honor of Independence Day - we came up with 15 other potential player moves involving some big-name guys.

This certainly is not an indictment of a player's current team. Heck, North Carolina State won nine games with Wilson last season. We know that each of these players already is a star of sorts with his own team, so there really is no reason to move (well, we think two or three guys on this list wouldn't mind changing teams). And we also realize the Wilson situation is a special one - he has graduated and is free to move on.

Instead, this is just a fun exercise, hopefully one that involves you sitting up and saying, "Wow, as good as that guy is, imagine the numbers he could put up on his new team!"

Here's the list.

USC QB Matt Barkley, to Alabama. He can play quarterback for a potential national championship team (or at least in a bowl game), where he would be surrounded by talent and be a rock star. And that is what he signed up for. (If he thinks being the quarterback at USC means being a BMOC, he ain't seen nothing like Tuscaloosa for a Tide quarterback.)

Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict, to Texas A&M. The Aggies need a playmaker at inside linebacker, and who better than the fierce Burfict to make those plays. Hey, he'd be a one-man wrecking crew.

Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist, to Florida. Crist signed with the Irish when Charlie Weis was coach, but he redshirted as a freshman in 2008, then was a sparingly used backup to Jimmy Clausen in 2009, which was Weis' last season at Notre Dame. Now, Weis is at Florida and looking for a quarterback who can run his offense. Voila - Crist moves to play for his old coach.

Boston College TB Montel Harris, to Oklahoma. With the Sooners, he could play on a team that actually can throw the ball, which would take a lot of pressure off Harris, who is a one-man offense too often at BC. Plus, OU needs a proven back to pair with a great group of receivers.

Vanderbilt CB Casey Heyward, to Arkansas. The Hogs need a shutdown corner, and Heyward - underrated nationally because he plays for a bad team - could move but stay in the same league. Heyward and FS Tramain Thomas would form a dandy secondary duo for the Hogs.

FIU WR T.Y. Hilton, to Oklahoma State. Hilton could play in the slot next to Justin Blackmon and put up huge numbers. Huge. You think Brandon Weeden is a devastating passer now? Put Hilton in the Cowboys' lineup and watch the scoreboard light up even more.

Tulsa WR Damaris Johnson, to Pittsburgh. New Panthers coach Todd Graham brought his offense with him from Tulsa, so why not have Johnson follow his old coach? Johnson certainly is well-versed in Graham's offense: He is the NCAA's all-time leader in career all-purpose yards.

Stanford QB Andrew Luck, to South Carolina. Oh, my - Luck, who doesn't have a proven go-to receiver, teamed with WR Alshon Jeffery, TB Marcus Lattimore and Steve Spurrier? SEC defensive coordinators wouldn't sleep at all. Frankly, neither would Spurrier, whose game-planning sessions would take on the mood of a group of giddy 5-year-olds on Christmas Eve.

Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, to Georgia Tech. Admit it - you'd love to see Martinez run the triple-option. And while he isn't a polished passer, a 50-percent completion rate would be just fine for the Yellow Jackets, who lost QB Josh Nesbitt.

Iowa WR Marvin McNutt, to Boise State. McNutt has been a solid player for an Iowa offense that wants to pound foes into submission with its rushing attack. Put McNutt on Boise State, which has a much more advanced passing attack, and watch him put up an 80-catch, 1,200-yard season. Boise lost two 1,000-yard receivers from last season, meaning QB Kellen Moore would welcome McNutt with open arms.

Virginia CB Chase Minnifield, to Nebraska. Minnifield is another underrated talent, and with the Huskers, he could play behind a defensive line that applies consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Plus, with Prince Amukamara gone, the Huskers could pair Minnifield with Alfonzo Dennard and have the nation's best cornerback duo.

Iowa State OT Kelechi Osemele, to Wisconsin. Osemele is a stud who toils for a mediocre program, but he could go about four hours north and fit right in on a line that just happens to be looking for a new left tackle to replace first-round pick Gabe Carimi.

BYU OT Matt Reynolds, to Oregon. Reynolds is a big-time left tackle, equally adept at blocking for the run as for the pass. That would come in handy at Oregon, which needs a new left tackle and will have a rebuilt line this fall. Reynolds would be a great building block.

Michigan QB Denard Robinson, to Auburn. "D-Rob" was awesome last season for the Wolverines, almost as awesome as Cam Newton was for Auburn. Now, with Newton gone, Auburn looking for a quarterback and Michigan moving away from the spread, Robinson playing on the plains is an ideal marriage.

Washington State QB Jeff Tuel, to Missouri. Tuel has all the ... well, tools. Too bad he can't show them all for Washington State, whose line has resembled a sieve the past few seasons. Mizzou has some weapons on the outside and - most important for a battered-and-bruised Tuel - a line that returns four starters. Mizzou needs a quarterback, too.

Rivals.com staff writers Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox and Steve Megargee contributed to this report.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.




 

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