Posted by: marcmwm | June 2, 2009’s Rittenberg ranks Bulaga No. 5

I don't usually give mugshots this much play. But I think Bulaga's pretty much says it all. (UI sports info)

I don't usually give mugshots this much play. But I think Bulaga's pretty much says it all. (UI sports info)

Of course, you know that’s Adam Rittenberg has been ranking his top 30 players in the Big Ten for the upcoming season.

He’s had Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi at No. 23, MLB Pat Angerer at No. 20 and cornerback Amari Spievey at No. 15.

Today, LT Bryan Bulaga checks in at No. 5.

Rittenberg mentions some of the Big Ten’s other top O-linemen, but then writes, “but right now Bulaga is in a league of his own. He’s the Big Ten’s top left tackle and a player who will be on the NFL draft radar very soon.”

I’m sure that last bit made Iowa fans run a little cold, but it’s true and it’s not a bad thing. A high NFL draft pick and a fat contract tend to get notice from recruits. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper said here that Bulaga’s a likely a high pick next year. He’ll only be a junior next year, but that’s the projection thing working in overdrive.

Bulaga up until now, goes like this:

Dropped his redshirt right away in the first game of his career, against Northern Illinois at Soldier Field. He suffered a shoulder injury in practice and didn’t show up again until six weeks later when he replaced Travis Meade at left guard before the Purdue game. He started the final five games of ’07. 

Then, during the winter of ’08, when college football life is considerably less glamorous, with the lifting and conditioning, Bulaga got a tap on the shoulder.

That’s when Bulaga, as a 6-foot-6, 301-pound sophomore, found out coach Kirk Ferentz wanted him to give left offensive tackle a try. When you get to the major-college level, left offensive tackle is a big deal. It’s a big-money position in the NFL, with a left tackle’s ability to protect a right-handed quarterback’s blindside drawing millions in contracts. The big names make in the range of $20 million a season.

So, yeah, you’re lifting and sweating and then your coach, who’s a renowned offensive line coach in NFL circles, asks if you want to play left tackle.

“I was definitely up for it,” Bulaga said.

“When I was recruited, I just wanted to go where I could help out,” said Bulaga, a Parade Magazine All-American as a senior at Marian (Ill.) Central Catholic.

But …

“Of course in the back of my mind, that’s where I wanted to play (left tackle),” he said. “Now I’m getting the opportunity and I’m very grateful for that. I’m going to make the most of it. But when I was getting recruited, anywhere would’ve been fine with me.”

The biggest difference at left tackle is pass protection. Guards usually have help on the inside. Left tackles are pretty much one-on-one with the other team’s best pass rusher.

“Getting used to it again in camp has been a bit of a challenge, but I feel I’m doing it well,” Bulaga said.

He’s done just fine with it.

There are four more selections left in Rittenberg’s series, so maybe there’s room yet for DE Adrian Claybor, but then again, maybe not. I think that’d be the only omission on the Iowa front.

University of Iowa football offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga loads sandbags in to a truck at the Coralville, Iowa, Streets Department facility on Wednesday, June 11, 2008. Floodwaters in the Iowa City, Iowa and Coralville area continue to rise as more water pours over the emergency spillway at the Coralville Lake. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Brian Ray)

University of Iowa football offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga loads sandbags in to a truck at the Coralville, Iowa, Streets Department facility on Wednesday, June 11, 2008. Floodwaters in the Iowa City, Iowa and Coralville area continue to rise as more water pours over the emergency spillway at the Coralville Lake. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Brian Ray)



  1. …so maybe there’s room yet for DE Adrian Claybor, but then again, maybe not. I think that’d be the only omission …

    And I don’t think he’ll make the list. Not in the top 5 anyway, but I think he should have been on the list for sure.

    I’m glad to see Brian getting the press. I hope it’s just enough pressure to bring his “A” game to everything he does this fall. From workouts to class work, it all counts bigtime now.

  2. Hey mark just wondering what your opinion of the Bulaga situation is. Will he leave after this year and jump to the NFL or will he pull a Gallary and improve his stock while staying for his senior year?

  3. Hey Andy, the one really hard thing about the draft is knowing who’ll come out early. But right now, Bulaga is the leading underclassman and he’s being hyped as one of the top OLs in the draft.

    Gallery’s decision was easier. He went from a second rounder to the second pick.

    This is one area where I’m pretty sure Kirk Ferentz’s knowledge of the NFL and his contacts in teams’ scouting departments pay off big time. All Iowa kids with this decision will get an accurate read and will make a sensible decision.

    Right now, with a rookie salary cap likely on the way with the new CBA, I’d say Bulaga would have to think seriously about making the jump. Another thing, those insurance policies that cover players when they decide to come back are very, very expensive.

  4. Paul, I’m not sure if you remember Bulaga’s recruiting, but he’s had his eyes on this prize since maybe his sophomore year at Marian Catholic.

    There wasn’t a lot of recruiting with him. He picked Iowa early on because, IIRC, of Gallery and the reputation that Iowa was building on the OL. Yes, it took most of 2007 off, but I’d say it’s back.

  5. And back thanks to him in large part.

    Who else recruited Calloway? I remember his HS pic and thinking man that kid is gonna fill out someday.

  6. I really hope that Bulaga will come back for his senior season given the incredible offensive line that we would have if all of the starters returned, but I completely agree with Marc’s point about the rookie salary cap and the almost guaranteed high first round status of Bulaga.

    Go Hawks!

  7. IIRC, Calloway’s dad is or was in the military and so they traveled a lot. But when Iowa found him, he was in Belleville, Ill., which, I believe, is Eric Johnson’s territory.

    I remember, Calloway finished at Belleville, his family then moved to Arizona and he was able to play a second senior season of football.

    He’s been out for interviews once or twice. Since, he’s had a strict no interviews policy. He just doesn’t like to do it. Maybe we’ll get lucky and that’ll change this year.

  8. AMW, I would like to see him back, too. My reason, leaving early goes in the face of what college athletics are — COLLEGE athletics.

    That said, I don’t judge athletes for leaving. Money is money, even in this economy. I’ll always point to the Dallas Clark story. He came up hard and had a chance to make life better for his family.

  9. Good for Kyle. If he doesn’t want to talk there is nothing wrong with that. His work on the field has done a lot of talking and I think he’s gonna play a lot on Sundays as well.

  10. Marc-

    Agree with your “College” argument 100%. I really wish that the NBA would do something similar because from a sociological perspective, I think it would be better for the youth of America. Plus, can you imagine how amazing it would have been to watch Lebron, Kobe, KG and others in March Madness?

    Sidenote: Do you know when Lindy’s comes out?

    Go Hawks!

  11. E, yeah, I certainly don’t hold it against guys if they don’t want to talk. Think of it as speech class, only in front of the whole state and internet and et al.

    Love if he did, but his choice and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  12. AM, I think Lindy’s should be out now and if not now, then soon.

    I write for Lindy’s. I have no hand in their predictions or where they rank Iowa or their all-conference teams. I just write the Iowa piece.

    I always feel the need to clarify that, especially this year because I don’t think they have Iowa in their top 25, which is a miss in my mind.

  13. Marc- What pre-season magazines do you like? Maybe the better question is, what do you like about them individually?

    Lindy’s is my favorite due to the graphics and the preview they write up on all of college football (not just the Big Ten).

    Go Hawks!

  14. I thank God that the purity of intercollegiate athletics remains untainted.

  15. Marc, spoken like a true Jim Calipari fan!!!

  16. AM, I like them all, but mainly because I get them sent to me for free. I like free.

    When I was buying them, I liked The Sporting News. I don’t know if they still produce that or not. I also like Lindy’s because it uses beat writers, as does Athlon’s (I know the IC P-C’s Pat Harty used to write Athlon and I think he still does). Everyone seems to love Phil Steele’s. I think it’s amazingly comprehensive but difficult to digest. My guess is that it helps with NCAA football gaming.

    For the most part, I go to Lindy’s and Phil Steele’s. They’re not terribly expensive and I enjoy the reads. They’re college football and in June that’s enough for me.

  17. Just as I compliment Lindy’s and their magazine, they evidently ranked Iowa sixth in the Big Ten. While I am an avid drinker of Hawkeye Kool-Aid, there is no way that Illinois and Wisconsin finish ahead of Iowa this year. Likewise, I also think it is a oversight for the Hawks to be left out of their preseason Top 25.

    Oh well, hopefully it is a Sporting News 2002-esque gaffe.

    Go Hawks!

  18. AM, yes, and please remember, I didn’t have anything to do with the predictions!!!!

  19. You make a good point about the Iowa coaching staff Marc, but due to that I was wondering why the hawkeyes don’t get more top rated offensive linemen recruits. I can understand the skill players prefering to go to a warmer climate school but when kirk a former offensive line coach in the NFL and chris doyle get their hands on a kid they turn him into an beast (case in point Gallery, Steinbach, Yanda) is it simply a geographical issue, because a handful of NFL teams play outside in the cold or is it just that Iowa isn’t viewed as flashy as some other schools?

  20. Gosh, I may have thought about Calipari when I wrote that, Marc. People should be in school, because they want to be in school and have the ability to do the work. Iowa athletes generally fit that bill. What would any fan tell the Quarterback who got C and D results on the field and couldn’t make it to practice, but had a 4.0 GPA? Nothing, because they never would have heard of them.

    However, making a million dollars seems like a good reason to leave school even when you are doing well and that success helps recruit others. KF might be able to make do with five juniors going pro every year. I’d want my kids to go there, if possible.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever been more impressed with a man than when I saw All-Pro Andre Tippett at the library when he was finishing his degree though.

  21. Andy, my guess is that Iowa coaches need to see specific things from incoming OL recruits. No. 1 on the list is the always-tough-to-define toughness. I think they go on their own rankings at OL more than any other position.

    Plus, Iowa doesn’t offer a lot of OL outside of the midwest. Iowa also goes for fit. The prospect has to want to be at Iowa, a la Bulaga, who’s from Ill.

  22. Great Tippett reference.

    That is studly, when a guy who’s made his money goes back and gets his paper. I think Dallas Clark did this, too.

  23. […] pick by Earlier this summer,’s Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg ranked Bulaga No. 5 in his list of the Big Ten’s top 30 […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: