Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Freshman Spotlight: Big East: Jonathan Baldwin

By Brian Vornberg

In the world of college football, it’s not often that you find a 5-star rated tight end prospect. Heck, even the 5-star receivers are hard to come by. But this year was different. Jonathan Baldwin, a tight end prospect out of Aliquippa, PA, proved that tight ends deserve some serious attention.

Baldwin, who was selected to play in this past January’s Army All-American game in San Antonio, Texas, is not just a multi-dimensional tight end, but a multi-dimensional all around player. In fact, in that same All-American game, Baldwin caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Alabama quarterback to be Star Jackson with outstretched arms that was so reminiscent of Larry Fitzgerald, it was almost scary. The guy’s paws are enormous. He could have chosen basketball just as easily as he chose football, but football is obviously Baldwin’s passion (he was first team all-state in Pennsylvania for basketball as well). He also could have gone to schools with storied histories like Miami, Florida, USC, or Michigan. However, he stayed close to home and will add more talent to Dave Wannstedt’s already stellar recruiting class.

In addition to the potential to dominate in the red zone at 6'6" and 233 pounds, Baldwin also possesses 4.4-speed and the ability to get open. Jeremy Crabtree, an analyst for, said that Baldwin is “one of the top athletes in the country.” He reminds football fans of a faster Martin Rucker, the former Missouri tight end who will now play on Sundays. Baldwin is also a vastly underrated blocker, a rarity for most tight ends entering the college football ranks these days.

Keep in mind, there is a lot of pressure being placed on Baldwin to come in and perform as evidenced by the early comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald, probably the best Pitt wide receiver of all-time. He does have a couple of really good veteran wide receivers around him to help ease the transition and if talking to him as I did in San Antonio is any indication of his true character, he’ll handle the pressure just fine. Big East defensive backs, beware.