May 1, 2006

Position U breakdown

What's that saying about bridesmaids' again?

Ask the irate Florida State fans.'s Position U series ended with the Seminoles the runners-up at six positions. Most of them were traditional runner-up finishes, too. What many didn't realize is that we listed the runners-up in alphabetical order, not order of finish.

Dry your eyes, FSU fans. After all, you picked up four more spots in Position U than Florida.

And it's one less mention than the other in-state rival Miami, who won Running Back U and Linebacker U while receiving mentions for wide receiver, tight end, cornerback, safety and defensive tackle.

As Miami showed, Position U fell in line with recent draft history.

The Hurricanes have sent the most first-round selections and overall draft picks to the NFL since 2000, followed in both categories by FSU and Ohio State. The Buckeyes won Position U honors in two categories and were runners-up in two others.

Without further delay, here's what we learned from Position U:

• Florida State is pretty good at sending talent from all over the field to the NFL.

And so are Miami, LSU and Nebraska.

First-round picks by school, since 2000
1. Miami, 22
2. Florida State, 12
3. Ohio State, 11
4. Texas, 9
5. Georgia, USC, 8 each
Although Florida State didn't win a Position U category, they came close in running back, wide receiver, linebacker, defensive end, cornerback and safety.

Ensuring the tradition will continue, three of FSU's four first-round picks this year (defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, cornerback Antonio Cromartie and linebacker Ernie Sims) were at those positions.

LSU also played the role of bridesmaid in Position U, earning runner-up honors for wide receiver, interior offensive line, cornerback, safety and defensive tackle.

Miami took winner or runner-up honors at seven positions, while Nebraska did the same at six positions.

• Practice time goes a long way in developing top talent.

Take a look at the winners for multiple positions: Miami took Running Back U and Linebacker U. All those times trying to tackle Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee in practice likely prepared Jonathan Vilma for the rigors of the NFL.

Position U: Winners by conference:
SEC, Big Ten: 4 each
ACC: 3
Big 12, Pac-10: 1 each
The same goes for Ohio State, which picked up Cornerback U and Wide Receiver U.

That trend carried over in the trenches as well. Both LSU and Texas A&M were runners up for interior offensive line and defensive tackle.

• If you're the elite at one position, another will likely follow, even if it's on the same side of the ball.

It's not a coincidence that Michigan was Quarterback U, Offensive Tackle U and a runner up for Interior Offensive Lineman U. Being able to stay upright likely helped Michigan quarterbacks read defenses rather than worrying about being sacked.

The same balanced, pro-style offense that helped Michigan signal callers adapt to the NFL did the same for the linemen.

It was a similar story for Boston College, who won Interior Offensive Line U and took a runner-up position among quarterbacks.

• Times have changed…And will change again

Position U: Runners-up by conference
ACC: 19
SEC: 18
Big 12: 14
Pac-10: 12
Big Ten: 9
Miami lost the Quarterback U moniker, but took the old Tailback U (Southern California) and Linebacker U (Penn State) honors.

It's not all bleak in Los Angeles and Happy Valley, though.

The Trojans didn't place on this year's Running Back U, but could in the coming years with Reggie Bush going in the first round and LenDale White going in the second this year.

Penn State, too, was absent from Linebacker U but has a chance to reclaim a piece of that that title with senior Paul Posluszny and junior Dan Connor on the way.

Auburn is poised to take over Running Back U with Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown gearing up for productive NFL careers and Kenny Irons headed into his senior season.

And Florida State is in line to pick up a Position U or two in the future … maybe.

Position U.
Interior O-Line
Boston College
Def. End
Tight End
Ohio State
Def. Tackle
Wide Receiver
Ohio State
Southern Cal
Off. Tackle
Running Back
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