2003 Preseason All-Big East Offense
by Jeff Ouellet, 8/18/03

Editor's Note: Today kicks off four days of Big East preview articles from our resident previewer, Jeff Ouellet. Jeff writes our game previews for us during the season, and this year, we tasked him with writing some Big East preview articles. Today and tomorrow, Jeff will name his preseason All-Big East offense and defense, and on Thursday and Friday, TSL Pass subscribers (click here to subscribe if you're not a subscriber) can enjoy his offensive and defensive unit rankings. -- Will

With the college football season starting very soon, it is time to bring to the forefront the inevitable preseason debates about the best players in the league. Without further ado, here is my preseason 2003 All-Big East First Team on offense:

Preseason All-Big East Offense


First Team Player(s)



Rod Rutherford



Kevin Jones
Frank Gore



Lousaka Polite



Larry Fitzgerald



Ernest Wilford



Kellen Winslow



Rob Petitti



Tim Brown



Vernon Carey



Chris Snee



Jake Grove


Rod Rutherford, 6’3", 220, Sr., Pittsburgh

Why he is first team: Rutherford, a former Pennsylvania High School Player of the Year, is an athletic quarterback who threw for 2,783 yards and 22 touchdowns last year on his way to second team BE honors. He can tuck the ball and run when the going gets tough, or just lob it up to Larry Fitzgerald (insert shudder here).

Others who could be first team: Brock Berlin, Miami – UM AD Paul Dee could get consideration for first team with Kellen Winslow, Jr. as a receiving option, and Berlin is a heralded transfer from Florida who is more physically gifted than Ken Dorsey. Berlin probably will be the first team quarterback if the Hurricanes win the league; Bryan Randall/Marcus Vick, Virginia Tech – Either of them could be the best quarterback in the Big East this year, but it will be tough to make that prediction without knowing who will have the bulk of the snaps (it looks like Randall will); Rasheed Marshall, WVU – Marshall broke Michael Vick’s BE quarterback rushing yardage record and has legit 4.5 speed, but he will need to improve his passing to get first team consideration.

Running Backs:
Kevin Jones, 6’0", Jr., Virginia Tech
Frank Gore, 5’10", So., Miami

Why they are first team: Jones has been scrutinized heavily because he is clearly the most highly recruited player ever signed by the Virginia Tech program. Yes, he does need to stay healthy and improve ball security. He also has rushed for 1,828 yards (5.5 per rush) in the last two years with just three starts over that time period and overcome, at times, very questionable line play. If he can stay healthy, I think he will have a monster 2003. I think he’ll break the 1,500 yard barrier.

As for Gore, he averaged – averaged – 9.l yards per carry as a freshman in 2001, and he allegedly used the year off in 2002 (rehabbing from a knee injury) to get bigger and stronger. He was ahead of Willis McGahee on the depth chart at UM in the spring of 2002, and McGahee was good enough to go in the first round of the NFL draft three months after shredding his knee in the Fiesta Bowl. Enough said.

Others who could be first team: Brandon Miree, Pittsburgh – The heralded Alabama transfer had 943 yards rushing and wasn’t even a starter until halfway through the year. Offseason sprint training may make this 235 lb. battering ram even tougher; Quincy Wilson, WVU – He had over 900 yards while splitting carries with Avon Cobourne and averaged 6.4 per carry, but watch stud JuCo transfer Kevin "Kay-Jay" Harris who might be even tougher to tackle and could take some of Wilson’s carries; Derrick Knight, Boston College – Although perhaps not as physically gifted as the other backs on this list, Knight had 1,432 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns last year and should get the rock even more with BC breaking in a new quarterback.

Lousaka Polite, 6’0", 240, Sr., Pittsburgh

Why he is first team: Because I took the liberty of naming a fullback to my team. These poor guys try to block linebackers all day, every day, and never get all conference mention. Polite blocks very well (watch that Pitt-VT tape from last year – he put on a clinic), and he can run and catch.

Others who could be first team: Doug Easlick, Virginia Tech – A tremendously underrated player who did a great job for VT as a first year starter last year. Easlick isn’t far behind Polite and is going to draw some NFL interest; Greg Toal, BC – The son of a former Hokie player, Greg blocks like crazy with no reward in sight. Boston College fullbacks have gone 45 straight games without carrying the football. Someone needs to tell Tom O’Brien to get a heart and let Toal carry the ball once a game or so.

Wide Receiver:
Larry Fitzgerald, 6’3", 215, So., Pittsburgh
Ernest Wilford, 6’4, 221, Sr., Virginia Tech

Why they are first team: Fitzgerald had over 1000 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns as a true freshman. More impressive than the numbers were the plays he made to put up the numbers. Some of his catches were absolutely spectacular last season, and his layout against Oregon State in the Insight Bowl might have been the catch of the year. According to Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald only dropped four passes last year, which means his hands are about as good as anyone in the conference. Eight of his twelve touchdowns were on fade patterns, which he perfected by watching (as a ballboy) Randy Moss and Cris Carter. This is an unbelievable year nationally for wide receivers, and Fitzgerald is as good as any of them.

Wilford rewrote the Virginia Tech record books last year with a 51 catch season, and, like Fitzgerald, he is built like a brick house. Wilford really started to emerge during the season last year and his meteoric rise should continue, given the VT strength at quarterback and running back. Adding in DeAngelo Hall at wide receiver also adds a scary big play element that should prevent teams from rolling coverage or playing a cover two zone to slow down the big guy. He should have an even better year statistically than last season.

Others who could be first team: Miquelle Henderson, WVU – He had 40 catches last year and WVU will open up the offense more this year with Marshall entrenched as the starter; Roscoe Parrish, Miami – An NFL guy once told me that true 4.3s were like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny: you heard a lot about them, but you didn’t see them too often. Parrish may only be 5’9", 160, but he’s a legit 4.3 and quicker than a hiccup. With Winslow inside, he could be lethal to try to defend wide.

Tight End:
Kellen Winslow, 6’5", 240, Jr., Miami

Why he is first team: Have you seen him play? He is an even better pass catcher than Jeremy Shockey was at Miami, and I don’t say that lightly. Following an 11-catch performance in the national title game, he had 100 yards receiving in the Miami spring game. Not even the Cane defenders slowed him down, and they are the fastest back seven in the country. I am already penciling him into the next draft as the top tight end on the board.

Others who could be first team: Kris Wilson, Pittsburgh – An amazing downfield threat for a guy 6’3", 240, Wilson averaged an incredible 21.6 yards per catch on 18 catches last year. He runs the seam route as well as anyone; Sean Ryan, Boston College – A second team All-Big East pick last year, Ryan caught 23 passes and has the size (260) to be a force at the point of attack. BC always likes to use their tight ends in the passing game.

Offensive Tackle:
Rob Petitti, 6’6", 330, Jr., Pittsburgh (LT)
Tim Brown, 6’5", 295, Sr., West Virginia (RT)

Why they are first team: Petitti had an All-Big East season last year and will anchor the Pittsburgh line. He will get serious consideration for national honors if the Panthers can rise to the top of the Big East. He is big and tough, with good enough feet to keep Rutherford upright on passing downs.

Brown is underrated by most casual Big East observers, but NFL scouts have taken notice of him. He can play virtually any line position and looks to start at right tackle. He may have to swing to left tackle for the Mountaineers, as he is one of only two returning starters on the offensive line. Some pros project him as a center.

Others who could be first team: Carlos Joseph, Miami – at 6’6", 342, he engulfs defenders and should be even better now that he is moving from left tackle to right tackle. He can expect a call early from the NFL on draft day next year; Eric Winston – only at Miami can they move a tight end to OT and have an all-league player the next year, but that could happen with Winston. He is 6’7", 290 and was spectacular during the spring at LT. Obviously, he has unparalleled footwork given his tight end background; Matt Morgan, Pittsburgh – A three year starter who gives Pittsburgh a bookend at right tackle opposite of Petitti. Remember, Rutherford is a lefty, so Morgan is charged with protecting his blind side.

Offensive Guard:
Vernon Carey, 6’5", 350, Sr., Miami (LG)
Chris Snee, 6’2", 305, Jr., Boston College (RG)

Why they are first team: Carey is downright enormous, and had good enough footwork that he only allowed two sacks last year at right tackle. Moving him inside to guard means that it is going to be extremely difficult to get pressure on Miami quarterbacks. Carey also is well aware of the fact that NFL scouts will be scrutinizing his play this year.

Snee isn’t an obvious pick at guard, as most consider him the second best guard on his own line behind Augie Hoffman. However, Snee is tough as nails and the pro scouts already are lining up as they expect him to be the next big time offensive line prospect out of BC. I think Snee will have a breakout season, although the overall effectiveness of the BC line may be down because of three new starters.

Others who could be first team: Chris Myers, Miami – Any Miami offensive lineman has a chance to be first team, especially one good enough to be a returning starter; Augie Hoffman – He continues the BC-New Jersey pipeline (along with Toal). Hoffman is an excellent run blocker who helped pave the way for Knight last year; Jacob Gibson, VT – The Hokie coaches have praised Jacob for his work this offseason, and he appears to be ready to come into his own. Rest assured if the Hokie offense is as effective as it appears on paper, the line members, collectively and individually, will receive a lot of positive press.

Jake Grove, 6’3", 300, Sr., Virginia Tech

Why he is first team: Grove should continue the recent trend of Hokie centers in the NFL from Jim Pyne to Billy Conaty to Todd Washington to Matt Lehr (although Lehr played guard at VT, he has played some center for the Cowboys). Grove has exceptional upper body strength and enough experience to make the right calls at the line. He is an incredibly hard worker who will lead what should be an improved offensive line.

Others who could be first team: Nick Romeo, Syracuse – He is the only other returning starting center in the Big East this year, so he is the backup choice by default. Romeo is a solid player and leader of a Syracuse line that improved throughout last year. Their line blocked well enough for Walter Reyes to have 1,135 yards and 17 touchdowns and acquitted themselves adequately in the passing game as well.


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