Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jared Odrick is a Beast

Ladies and gentlemen, something is going on here with sports voters getting things right for once in their lives and frankly, it's getting scary. Instead of horribly screwing things up per usual, the baseball voters correctly picked Joe Mauer as AL MVP, Zack Greinke as AL CY Young winner and Tim Lincecum as NL Cy Young winner — all correct. Now the Big Ten voters have gone and properly named Jared Odrick the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, despite ridiculously uninformed sour grapes from Michigan State fans, who clearly display they know as much about football as I do about women.

While players like Adrian Clayborn, Brandon Graham, O'Brien Schofield, Greg Jones and even his own teammates Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee are all fine, talented players who will be making their living on Sundays, Odrick has been the best defensive player on the best defense (statistically, I'd argue Ohio State's defense is better as a whole) all season long. Hell, he's been the best player on Penn State for two years now. And what people like Pete Rossman, who authored this travesty of a post, fail to realize is just how incredibly dominate Odrick has been and how important he is to the Penn State defense.

Unlike Graham and Clayborn, two scary good players, Odrick is a defensive tackle, not an end. Therefore, each and every play, Odrick had very little choice but to face double teams. I'm not saying Graham and Clayborn did not, because they most assuredly did, but being on the outside, they have the advantage of going wide and avoiding extra blockers much more easily than an interior lineman such as Odrick. Yet Odrick still disrupted an insane amount of plays in the backfield, got to the quarterback and proved he was an unblockable force. His combination of size and speed was unmatched at defensive tackle, and I'd be surprised if he isn't the first defensive lineman in the Big Ten drafted. He's that good.

The true testament to Odrick is the way he has made the players around him better. Yes, Sean Lee and Navorro Bowman are studs in their own right, but they get to maximize their ability because Odrick does such a tremendous job eating up blockers, allowing Bowman and Lee to use their incredible speed and instincts to make plays. And his value was even more evident this season when both Bowman and Lee were out for considerable amounts of time dealing with injuries. The defense didn't miss a beat with the likes of Nathan Stupar, Bani Gbadyu and Chris Colasanti filling in — and none of those guys will ever be mistaken for Bowman or Lee. Hell, he even made Josh Hull, one of the worst players I've ever seen, look decent at times. Trust me, that's an incredibly tough thing to do.

The shocking thing to me is that the voters got this one right. Much like Mr. Rossman, people tend to heap praise on the players who get gaudy sack numbers and have almost running back speed. That's why a guy like Aaron Maybin, who wasn't even half the player Odrick is, jumped up the draft charts and into the top 10. But this year, the voters ignored mere stats and truly looked at the players. And defensively, there was none better than Odrick. He's equally adept at putting pressure on the quarterback as he is at stuffing the run. His motor is so high and his conditioning so good that he rarely has to take a play off. And he can handle a double team, even against the better linemen, which will do him well on Sundays. Odrick has not only been the best player on the Penn State defense, not only the best player on Penn State period, but he has clearly been the best defensive player in the entire conference. It's nice to see him vindicated for his hard work and tremendous play.

In a senior class that was void of a ton of talent, Odrick is the one Penn Stater I will miss the most. More than Daryll Clark. More than Dennis Landolt. More than Sean Lee. I'm sad to see him go, but I'm happy to see him take home the hardware he most definitely earned. And I'll be thrilled to watch him in NFL next season. I just hope he doesn't get drafted by a team I hate.

Obviously, with winning the award, Odrick was named First Team All-Big Ten. He was one of six Nittany Lions named to the first team. Joining him were Daryll Clark, Dennis Landolt, Evan Royster, Stefen Wisniewski and Navorro Bowman. Now, I have a problem with three people in particular on this list. First off, Daryll Clark is a fluke fraud who has never once played well against a good team. He should not be first team. Then again, looking at the Big Ten quarterbacks, he certainly put up the best numbers and he's better than Ricky Stanzi or Terrelle Pryor. Still, perhaps Mike Kafka of Northwestern or Kirk Cousins of Michigan State would have been better choices. Then there are Landolt and Wisniewski. Listen, Landolt did a decent job last season, and Wisniewski was awesome at guard in 2008. But in 2009, these two were on a terrible line that should not have a single player on the first team. Landolt was probably the best offensive lineman for Penn State all season, but he wasn't great. And Wisniewski gave it the old college try, but the guy isn't a center. He's a guard, and he needs to get back there. He had more than a subpar season, and it's a joke he was named first team. Conversely, Royster and Bowman were locks, and both deserved first team recognition.

Three Penn Staters were named to the second team. Josh Boone definitely deserved it. He was the only player on the Penn State special teams worth a damn, and if he figures out a way to get the punts off a little quicker, he may make it to the NFL one day. Maybe. Sean Lee also is the right fit here. When he played, he was his usual awesome self. The problem is, he was limited to time on the field with injuries, so while he is definitely first team talent, he didn't quite deserve it. Second team is appropriate. Then there is Josh Hull. He shouldn't even be on the Penn State roster, let alone making the All-Big Ten second team. I've given him plenty of abuse over the past two seasons, so I'll spare it simply by saying I can't wait for him to graduate. That selection makes me sick.

But all I have to do is look at Jared Odrick's name on that Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award and everything is all right. Congrats, Jared. You'll be missed.

BallHype: hype it up!

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