College: Miami (Ohio)
Birthday: March 2, 1982
Might Ben Roethlisberger be the best quarterback prospect in college football? Some not only think the junior small conference sensation is the best underclassman under center, but the best period. Quite a statement, but Roethlisberger is pure pocket passer with size, arm strength, and enough mobility to warrant such consideration.
A starter since his freshman season, Roethlisberger already has Miami’s career record for completions, and he’s a close second in passing yards and touchdowns. Against Northern Illinois last year, Roethlisberger threw for a conference record 525 yards. Extrapolate the Freshman All-American’s stats from his first two seasons through his junior and senior years, and his passing statistics would rank up there among the best in college football history, which is to say amongst those quarterbacks from pure run n’ shoot teams of which Roethlisberger is not.
Playing with poise beyond his years, Roethlisberger knows how to take what a defense gives him, checking off the safety, always in control. He’s not to be confused with a running quarterback, but he has enough mobility to buy time with his feet, allowing his receiver running deep to gain separation or letting the coverage in the underneath and crossing routes break down.
Roethlisberger has an accurate touch and is careful with the football. He completed over 63 percent of his pass attempts in both of his first two seasons. His exceptional arm strength gives him the ability to make a variety of throws, including a 70-yard bomb to beat Akron in 2001.
Areas for Concern: While MAC players such as Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich have paved this road before, the small school label is still firmly attached to Roethlisberger, having rarely played against the top Division I-A schools. In a 33-7 loss at LSU, by his own admission, he was confused by a sophisticated Tiger defense. Stat-wise, however, Roethlisberger still completed 64 percent of his passes in the game and only had one interception. In other big school competition, he nearly upset Iowa in 2002 with 343 yards and three touchdown passes. Still, expect the label to persist, especially if he forgoes his senior season.
Roethlisberger is inexperienced, and I don’t just mean that because he’s an underclassman. His first passion was basketball, not football, and he didn’t play quarterback at high school until his senior season. As a result, he hasn’t played fifty games at the position total.
And his last name is a mouthful, especially for those fans pounding beers before noon on Sunday mornings. Nothing worse than hearing a drunk slur a name like Roethlisberger. Think Ozzy Osbourne singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame at Wrigley, and I think you’ll catch my drift on this one.
How Does He Look in Steel Blue? The Texans already have Roethlisberger’s type as their backup quarterback to groom in Dave Ragone. Something unexpected would have to go against the plan in order for Roethlisberger to fit into the Texans plans, despite being a modest and upstanding team leader.
An all-around athlete who played point guard in high school basketball, not to mention a .300-hitting shortstop, the NFL team that drafts Roethlisberger will get an added bonus. He’s a pretty decent punter, having booted nine of eleven punts inside the 20-yard line in 2002. He has to be one of a very few players to have ever been named both the conference offensive player of the week and the special teams player of the week in the same season.
(profile written by Keith Weiland
Ben Roethlisberger’s 2002 Stats G ATT CMP % YDS TD INT 12 428 271 63.3 3,238 22 11
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