Major league baseball scouts insist the fastest route to Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field is to be a catcher or a left-handed pitcher.
NFL and college football scouts claim the most difficult position to fill is defensive line.
That became abundantly clear the other day when Dave Revsine, Howard Griffith and Gerry DiNardo of the Big Ten Network commented during one of their stops while touring the conference preseason training camps that they hadn't seen any great defensive linemen or defensive lines among the teams they had seen.
But defensive line is a strength in the SEC, another reason why the SEC is a stronger football conference than the Big 10 and another reason why the Big 10 lags behind other major conferences.
"It's hard to explain," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming about the SEC's dominance over the Big 10 and other conferences with defensive linemen. "There are a lot of big guys in the North who can run. But the SEC gets more and better defensive linemen. It seems they zero in on defensive linemen more than anyone else, more than any other position except quarterback."
Lemming points out that the SEC has sent more defensive linemen to the NFL than any other conference. And because more good players are produced in the South than anywhere else, it is likely they will get more defensive linemen. And because the SEC annually signs more players than any other conference, they have the advantage of picking and choosing and developing the top prospects.
"The SEC looks for defensive linemen who are big, fast and athletic. They have the same type of rush defensive ends as the NFL. Defensive ends in the SEC look like outside linebackers. On top of that, they seem to play a more aggressive brand of football in the SEC, more of a react defense rather than the read-and-react style of the Big 10. Defensive linemen in the SEC are more athletic. In the SEC, speed counts for more than size."
A survey of Midwestern states reveals why the Big 10 is lacking in big-time defensive linemen. With the exception of 6-7, 240-pound William Gholston of Detroit, a Michigan State recruit who could be the best defensive end in the nation, the pool of talent is shallow. In fact, there are more defensive line prospects in south Florida than in the entire Midwest.
Look around you. St. Rita's Bruce Gaston is the only big-time defensive lineman in the Chicago area that you can take to the bank. Loyola's Chance Carter has a chance to be in Gaston's class but he must prove himself as a senior.
Ohio has three or four good defensive linemen this year, including Ohio State-bound Darryl Baldwin and J.T. Moore and Indiana-bound Jibreel Black. There is one in Indiana, Notre Dame-bound Blake Leuders of Indianapolis. Minnesota has one in Beau Allen. There are none in Iowa and Wisconsin.
Part of the problem, of course, is football is king in Florida. If you are a 6-6, 230-pound Floridian, you play football. But if you are that size in the Midwest, you likely play basketball.