Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gabe Carimi: Cornerstone

The other day I was reading a thread on the Buckyville message board detailing a quote from Howard Griffith of the Big Ten Network. To paraphrase, Howard said that if he could take one conference player to build a team around, it would be Gabe Carimi, the Badgers' sophomore left tackle.

At first, I chuckled. With all the prep All-Americans Ohio State and Michigan bring in from around the country, surely our somewhat anonymous young 'un wouldn't be that guy, right?

But then I thought about it. If you're choosing a guy to build a team around, you'd want:

-A young guy, preferably with at least three years of eligibility left, ideally with the inclination to stay until his eligibility is exhausted.

-A track record in college, not just prep accolades and press clippings.

-A guy who plays a premium position.

Carimi fits all three, especially the third, playing left tackle. Digging deeper, I grabbed Athlon and checked their preseason all-Big Ten team looking for freshmen and sophomores. On the top three all-conference teams, here's what the magazine had:

-WR Arrelious Benn, sophomore, Illinois (first)
-PR David Gilreath, sophomore, Wisconsin (first)
-Carimi (second)
-LB Greg Jones, sophomore, Michigan State (second)
-KR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, sophomore, Iowa (second)
-C John Moffitt, sophomore, Wisconsin (third)
-LB Martez Wilson, sophomore, Illinois (third)
-KR Harold Howell, sophomore, Minnesota (third)

We can discount the three returners -- return guys are nice, but unless they're Devin Hester they're not going to be the first guy you'd pick. Benn might be the most talented guy here, but if he's Randy Moss, he sure doesn't have a Tom Brady, which will limit his production. Don't know much about Jones. Wilson has star written all over him, but he hasn't done it yet. I love Moffitt, but he's a center, and that is no better than the second most-important spot on the line.

The obvious guy that hasn't been mentioned here yet is Terrelle Pryor, and if he lives up to his billing, this discussion is over.

But he hasn't done it yet, which makes Gabe Carimi as good a choice as anyone in the Big Ten to build a team around. Glad to have him on our side.

-On this note: it's the presence of Carimi and Moffitt, along with Josh Oglesby, that leave me optimistic about the next two years.

Friends of mine, one in particular, have posited that with the exodus of a very talented senior class, 2009 could be a rough year for the Badgers. It's a valid point; you don't lose Pressley, Kemp, Urbik, Vanden Heuvel, Beckum, Evridge, Shaughnessy, Chapman, Newkirk, Levy, Casillas, and Langford without feeling it a bit.

But think of the guys we'll have coming back: Hill, Brown, Clay, Carimi, Moffitt, Oglesby, Gilreath, Jefferson, Schofield, McFadden, Carter, Valai, Goins, Henry, Welch, Nortman. We could be in for some frustrating days on the defensive side of the ball, but should also be able to pound opponents into submission with the running game.

Ah, but that's next year. Still plenty of things to worry about and look forward to in 2008!


Jim Polzin said...

I can only assume you're talking about me. I'm coming around slightly, in part because I think Moffitt is going to be special. Carimi, too. But there's still the issues of QB and DL and LB.

I should have looked at this earlier, but the one thing UW has going for it is the schedule. Penn State and Illinois are off the Badgers' schedule, while Northwestern and Purdue are back on. Nice tradeoff.

scott.tappa said...

Funny that you start coming around to my point of view as I'm coming around to yours, even if my post doesn't entirely show that. The defense could really struggle next season.

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