BTN Media Days: QBs Become Focal Point

Like most conference media days, a hot topic was the quarterback position. Come inside as Big Red Report looks around the conference at the signal-callers.

There's no question that the quarterback position can make or break a program. Take a look at the past BCS National Champions: Auburn had Cam Newton, Alabama had Greg McElroy, and Florida had Tim Tebow.

?Quarterbacks have, and will remain, the most important part to a successful program.

?At Big Ten Media Day, many questions were centered around the state of the quarterback position for each team. For Nebraska, head coach Bo Pelini spoke very highly of sophomore Taylor Martinez and even went as far as to say that Martinez will have a "great year".

"We feel really good about where Taylor is. He's had a great off-season," said Pelini. "He had a tremendous spring. He's had a phenomenal summer. I think he's more engaged as a leader. I think he's really taken it upon himself to grow in that area. I think he's becoming a tremendous leader on our football team, holding his teammates accountable, holding himself accountable. I think he's poised to have a great year."

Pelini wasn't the only head coach to praise his quarterback. Michigan State's Mark Dantonio claims that senior Kirk Cousins "provides a lot of leadership" for the program.

Cousins should be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference
"I think you always have to start with the quarterback position," said Dantonio. "Kirk Cousins is a young man that not only is he an outstanding football player on the field, but he brings a sense of calm and confidence to our football team, got great game management skills. Maybe more importantly than that, he has great locker room management. We have great team chemistry in our locker room right now. That's where it starts for us."

Cousins may be the best leader in the Big Ten, but the hands-down most exciting player in college football is Michigan's Denard Robinson. With new head coach Brady Hoke, Robinson will have to learn a new style of offense, but so far, Hoke believes he has "done a tremendous job".

"I can tell you, he ran the same offense in high school, which is a plus. One of the big differences is the mechanics of taking the snap from center, the footwork, the run game, the foot patterns, the play-action game," said Hoke. "He was ahead of the curve a little bit. I think Al Borges has done a tremendous job with him. We are smart enough, which I would --people usually don't say that about me -- but we're smart enough to have elements he does well from what he did in the past in the spread in our offense."

And then there's the teams that are still uncertain of who will be taking the snaps. Joe Paterno is one of those coaches that is uncertain as to what to expect from the quarterback position this season.

"I think we'll be better. Whether we're going to be good enough, I don't know. We had two, three kids that had good springs," said Paterno.

Penn State is expected to start Rob Boldin at quarterback this season, but with Matt McGloin finishing out the 2010 season, there's still doubt as to who exactly will be under center.

Ohio State is another one of those teams that is unsure as to who will start this season now that Terrelle Pryor is no longer with the program.

"We have four obviously very capable guys, one being maybe a 25-year-old senior and one being an 18-year-old freshman and everywhere in between," said new head coach Luke Fickell. "We refer to all of this them as being young. We're going to put them in situations where we think they can be successful. Each one is a little bit different in his own right. As we move along in camp, really focus on who we think gives us the best opportunity to win as a team."

And then there's Minnesota, who will send out MarQueis Gray after converting him from wide receiver to quarterback.

"That's what he wants to do. That's what we need him to do...But he throws the ball very well, much better than what people understand," said head coach Jerry Kill.

But the biggest topic of media day aside from the arrival of Nebraska and the newly created Big Ten championship game was the newest member of the Wisconsin Badgers: quarterback Russell Wilson. However, head coach Bret Bielema spoke highly of his personality, rather than his abilities on the field.

"I will say this. No matter how good a football player Russell Wilson is, the first thing I wanted to find out is what kind of person he is," said Beielema. "I always say that in recruiting, you recruit your own problems. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't recruiting somebody that was going to potentially be a problem at Wisconsin. He's a stand-up guy, great character. Just a really, really neat kid...It's a work in progress."

There's a lot of questions at the quarterback position around the Big Ten, but for the teams that are considered the favorites entering the season, the one common trend amongst those teams is a viable option under center.

- Josh Harvey -

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