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Athlon Sports editor talks about Iowa

[ 8 ] May 24, 2012 |

James Vandenberg is coming off a junior season in which he became just the fourth different Iowa quarterback to pass for at least 3,000 yards in a single season.

He also is considered by some the Big Ten’s top NFL quarterback prospect largely because of his passing ability.

However, when it comes to picking the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks for the 2012 season one publication, Phil Steele, doesn’t have Vandenberg ranked among the top four quarterbacks in the conference, and another, Athlon Sports, doesn’t have him ranked in the top three.

Both publications have Michigan senior Denard Robinson as the first-team quarterback. Phil Steele has Ohio State sophomore Braxton Miller on the second team followed by Nebraska junior Taylor Martinez and Illinois junior Nathan Scheelhaase.

Athlon Sports also has Miller on its second team followed by Martinez. Athlon Sports managing editor Mitch Light said Thursday afternoon that Martinez was picked for the third team over Vandenberg in a very close call.

“He was clearly number four if we had four teams,” Light said of Vandenberg. “And we’re talking about doing that next year, going four deep. He was heavily in the discussions.”

Miller is the least experienced of all the Big Ten quarterbacks receiving preseason honors with just nine starts to his credit. He started last season as a backup before earning his first start in the fourth game.

Miller showed flashes of the talent that made him a five-star recruit coming out of high school while passing for 997 yards and rushing for an additional 695 yards last season. Miller also became the seventh Ohio State player to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Light said they took into account Miller’s potential and the fact that Urban Meyer is now coaching the Buckeyes.

“We think Braxton Miller is going to be really, really good under Urban Meyer so we’re projecting there, obviously,” Light said. “And then it came down to Martinez and Vandenberg and you have different types of quarterbacks.

“Martinez is improving as a passer, but he is clearly not the passer that Vandenberg is. But he is clearly a much bigger weapon in the run game. And we just thought Vandenberg had some issues on offense.”

Light said those issues include no proven running backs, the loss of all-Big Ten receiver Marvin McNutt, along with three starters on the offensive line and Vandenberg’s history of struggling on the road.

Iowa lost four of its five road games last season and finished 7-6 overall.

“We looked at everything and it’s not just raw numbers,” Light said. “It’s overall ability plus projecting like with Braxton Miller. “It’s not about hype or recruiting, but Miller was a top-five quarterback recruit and he happened to land in a system right now that’s perfectly suited for his ability.

“I think the debate you could really have is between Vandenberg and Martinez.”

Senior receiver Keenan Davis is the only player for Iowa to make first-team preseason all-Big Ten by Athlon Sports. Senior center James Ferentz and senior cornerback Micah Hyde both were voted to the second team and junior linebacker James Morris made the third team.

Iowa is picked to finish in a tie for fourth place in the Legends Division by Athlon Sports.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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