This item about Terrelle Pryor being called the most overrated player in the Big Ten made me think about overrated players in other conferences. So I thought I’d put in my two cents.
Note: Please don’t think that by being on this list, these players are bad players. Many are good or very good, but it seems their accolades overwhelm their actual performance. Going to stick to BCS conferences as they tend to get the most attention.
Big Ten: Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State–I agree with the conclusion of his fellow Big Ten players. While Pryor is a mega-talented quarterback, he hasn’t quite put it all together yet. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but one gets the sense that he isn’t driven to be great, that he is content to just rely on his physical tools to muddle through. Anyway, he has another chance to disprove that perception this year.
ACC: Marvin Austin, North Carolina–For a guy so highly touted and projected to be a top NFL draft pick, he doesn’t have a whole lot of production. He only had four sacks and six tackles for loss in 2009. He plays too upright for his position and tends to take snaps off. If he were the major interior disruptor he was supposed to be, he would jump out at you when you watch him, but he doesn’t.
SEC: Julio Jones, Alabama–No one doubts this guy’s abilities. He’s big, fast and has amazing hands. Granted, he was hurt some last season and the Bama offense doesn’t fully utilize his skills, but one expects more than 43 catches for 596 yards and four scores out of that kind of talent.
Pac-10: Matt Barkley, USC–The early accolades Barkley received as a freshman quickly petered out as it became clear that he wasn’t an ‘outlier’, as Pete Carroll called him. But that didn’t stop USC from taking him to 2010 Pac-10 media day, the first USC sophomore to be featured at that event. He threw 14 interceptions as a true freshman, which was an improvement over the 18 he threw as a high school senior (a number somehow ignored when he was named the No. 1 prospect by Rivals.com). Mel Kiper called him the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft. At some point, actual production will be needed to justify such proclamations.
Big East: Noel Devine, West Virginia–There’s no doubt that Devine is a speedy back with great moves and pretty good production. But as good as his career has been at West Virginia, I think there is a sense (perhaps unfairly) that more was expected. Or at least more consistency. If you look at his junior year, there were some great games mixed in with a bunch of awful ones. He had six games where he averaged 4.3 yards per carry or less and five games where he averaged 7.7 yards per carry or more. He was basically a hit-or-miss kind of back and if he were more consistent, he wouldn’t be on this list.
Big 12: Von Miller, Texas A&M–Miller put up huge sack numbers last year, but a closer look at those numbers shows that he wasn’t as dominant as he appeared. Eight of his sacks–or about half of his season total of 16.5–came against the first three opponents: New Mexico, Utah State and UAB. Of his 21.5 tackles for loss, 10 came in the first four games and he tapered off considerably toward the end of the season. At this point, he appears to be a one-dimensional player who can be contained by good teams.