Ranking the Big Ten Players by Position: QBs, RBs

Josh Turel ranks the 2005 Big Ten Football starters at each from position, from 1 to 11. Part one: Quarterbacks, Running Backs and Fullbacks.

Starting Quarterbacks

#1- Drew Tate-Iowa-Junior
#2- Chad Henne-Michigan-Sophomore
#3- Drew Stanton-Michigan State-Junior
#4- Troy Smith-Ohio State-Junior
#5- Brandon Kirsch-Purdue-Junior
#6- Brett Basanez- Northwestern-Senior
#7- John Stocco-Wisconsin-Junior
#8- Bryan Cupito-Minnesota-Junior
#9- Michael Robinson-Penn State-Senior
#10-Tim Brasic-Illinois-Junior
#11-Blake Powers-Indiana-Sophomore

Henne may have the edge in potential, but as of right now, Tate is the warrior quarterback of the Big Ten. He was clutch so many times last season, and willed his team to victory despite a total lack of a running game. Henne however could lead the league in passing at the end of the season. Stanton is a jack of all trades, he can run and gun but that has led to durability issues with his high risk style. We all know about Troy Smith's scrambling ability, but it's his underrated arm that could shine this season. The key for Smith will be to develop mentally and to get a quick grasp on Ohio State's new look offense. Brandon Kirsch is another Stanton mold, Michigan fans remember just how mobile this kid is, and he has the arm and experience to back it up.

Brett Basanez has a ton of experience in this his forth year as starter, and it could be his best yet. John Stocco has ability but inconsistency problems have plagued him, ditto for Bryan Cupito. Michael Robinson is an immensely talented kid and this is his last year to show it off but he doesn't have many experienced targets. Tim Brasic is still battling Kisan Flakes for the starting job at Illinois but both fit the new offense well. Powers is a project but he has great size and a strong arm.

Running Backs

#1-Laurence Maroney-Minnesota-Junior
#2-Mike Hart-Michigan-Sophomore
#3-Brian Calhoun-Wisconsin-Junior
#4-Tony Hunt-Penn State-Junior
#5-Pierre Thomas-Illinois-Junior
#6-Antonio Pittman-Ohio State-Sophomore
#7-Jehuu Caulcrick-Michigan State-Sophomore
#8-Albert Young-Iowa-Sophomore
#9-Terrell Jordan-Northwestern-Senior
#10-Max Martin-Michigan-Sophomore
#11-Jason Teague-Michigan State-Senior
#12-Jerod Void-Purdue-Senior
#13-Brandon Jones-Purdue-Senior
#14-EB Halsey-Illinois-Junior
#15-Austin Scott-Penn State-Junior

There's no question Laurence Maroney is one of the best backs in the country. He was a Heisman candidate even with fellow star Marion Barber III in the backfield with him, now with Barber gone, the job is Maroney's. He is the fastest back in the conference and should easily lead the league in rushing if he stays healthy. Mike Hart will lose carries to both freshman Kevin Grady and sophomore Max Martin but still remains very reliable and is tough to bring down. Calhoun is a transfer from Colorado and should fill in just fine for the departed Anthony Davis. Calhoun is very fast, has excellent hands and is a mismatch with linebackers in the passing game. With Booker Stanley's future in the air and seemingly no depth behind him, Calhoun will get most of the work in the backfield.

Tony Hunt is one of the best, if not thee best power runner in the conference and should continue to produce behind a solid line. Pierre Thomas doesn't get his due credit, but he's very productive for the Illini. Antonio Pittman showed plenty of potential in his first year at Ohio State and could be just what the doctor ordered for the new spread offense. Jehuu Caulcrick is punishing runner who can be a tough matchup with reduced defensive fronts. While he needs to improve his overall feel for the position, physically nothing is stopping him.

Albert Young is a guy who could shoot up this list, Young has all the potential in the world physically but injuries have prevented him from showing it off. Terrell Jordan should pickup where Noah Herron left off if he can stay healthy. Jordan isn't much of receiver but he should reach 1,000 yards rushing. Max Martin may get pushed behind Grady and Hart but Martin is a physical runner and the fastest of the tailbacks at Michigan. Teague is one of the better power runners in the conference despite his size. Void and Jones are a decent combo for Purdue, Jones is the more punishing of the two, but Void seems to be the more complete back.

EB Halsey is a versatile threat and a good special teams player, but he is likely to see his carries fall off this season. Austin Scott was a highly recruited kid and showed some promise his freshman year. If he can recover from injury, he should climb this list. Some freshman will likely rise as some of the Big Ten's better backs in Kevin Grady, Illinois back Rashard Mendenhall and Maurice Wells of Ohio State who will all see action this season.

Fullbacks

#1-Matt Bernstein-Wisconsin-Senior
#2-Jason Davis-Illinois-Senior
#3-Brandon Schnittker-Ohio State-Senior
#4-Tom Busch-Iowa-Sophomore
#5-Justin Valentine-Minnesota-Sophomore
#6-Bill Rentmeester-Wisconsin-RS Freshman
#7-Brian Thompson-Michigan-Junior
#8-Obi Olugibo-Michigan-Junior
#9-BranDon Snow-Penn State-Junior
#10-Anthony Heygood-Purdue-RS Freshman

Although the new influx of spread systems has reduced the role of the fullback in the Big Ten, you won't find too many better than Matt Bernstein. Bernstein is a threat as a runner and is also the best iso blocker in the conference. Jason Davis is more of a versatile fullback, although he won't have to run the ball much this year, he's capable of doing so and he's of the best in the conference at catching the ball out of the backfield. Brandon Schnittker will also see reduced time due to more single back looks but he is a weapon in the running game because of his excellent blocking ability.

Tom Busch isn't a versatile threat but he's good at what he does, which is blocking. Justin Valentine is a jumbo size running back playing the fullback spot. He's a tough runner but struggles from time to time as a blocker. Bill Rentmeester is very young but he is a star in the making, look out for this guy when Bernstein graduates. Brian Thompson is in the running to replace Kevin Dudley, but he's more of a receiving threat. Obi Olugibo is more of a blocking mold but isn't the destroyer that Dudley was; Will Paul is in the running for the position as well. BranDon Snow is making the move back to fullback where he has potential. Anthony Heygood is a raw talent and won't see much time in Purdue's spread offense.

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