Breaking down the Big Ten's newcomers

August, 12, 2008
8/12/08
5:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Anyone with a pulse and a vague interest in college sports knows about Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, but he's not the only Big Ten freshman projected to make an impact this fall. To take a look at the league's newcomers, I commissioned the help of someone with far more knowledgeable than I on high school recruiting -- Tom Luginbill, the national recruiting director for ESPN's Scouts, Inc.

Playing true freshmen varies from each team to the next, depending on needs, so Michigan will have more freshmen on the field this fall than, say, Wisconsin. That doesn't mean there aren't promising players on every team around the league.

Here are some not named Pryor who could make their marks in the Big Ten this season:

Terrance Robinson, WR, Michigan, 5-9, 170 -- Standout prep quarterback/running back will play wide receiver for the Wolverines.

  • Luginbill's take: "He's really, really good. He was overshadowed by [Texas incoming freshman] DeSean Hales on the same [high school] team. He played quarterback right next to Hales in the spread. He was a guy that everybody missed on and Michigan got. Oregon was really the only other team that had figured him out."

Martavious Odoms, WR, Michigan, 5-9, 171 -- Odoms racked up 3,617 yards and 53 touchdowns in high school, helping his team to three Class 2B state titles in Florida.

  • Luginbill's take: "He's undersized, but they don't care about that. [Rich] Rodriguez will take that guy. If a guy is an inch or two short, 10 pounds or so light but can make people miss in space, he's recruiting him. That kid can run, and he can return kicks and punts. That fits the mold of what they're trying to do."

Darryl Stonum, WR, Michigan, 6-2, 190 -- Another talented receiver who Luginbill thinks will contribute early in Rodriguez's system.

Fred Smith, WR, Michigan State, 6-2, 218 -- Good-sized wideout caught 13 touchdowns in his final two prep seasons despite being slowed by a sprained ankle last fall.

  • Luginbill's take: "I'll be very surprised if he doesn't make an impact. He's a steal for them. This guy's every bit as good, if not better, than Mark Dell."

Brandon Green, WR, Minnesota, 6-0, 180 -- Green could be a possession receiver or a big-play threat for the Gophers after catching 18 touchdowns as a high school senior.

Xzavian Brandon, WR, Minnesota, 6-3, 185 -- Somewhat overlooked wideout has great size that likely will put him in the mix right away.

Troy Stoudermire, CB, Minnesota, 5-10, 185 -- Projected as a cornerback, but the former prep quarterback could help on offense and particularly on special teams.

  • Luginbill's take: "They're really devoid of depth at wide receiver right now. Green is definitely a guy. Stoudermire is a kid who could play on defense or on offense. And Xzavian Brandon, they seem to really like. Talent-wise, they're better than what they have, and from a depth standpoint, they need them to play."

DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State, 6-3, 205 -- Tremendous athlete with excellent size caught 16 touchdowns in his final two prep seasons.

  • Luginbill's take: "He could play right away. I think he's running No. 3 right now with their three-wide receiver set. He's really, really good."

Mike Adams, T, Ohio State, 6-8, 310 -- Buckeyes left tackle of the future should be fine for the season following shoulder surgery.

Michael Brewster, G/T, Ohio State, 6-5, 300 -- Early enrollee should be in the mix soon on the offensive line.

J.B. Shugarts, T, Ohio State, 6-8, 298 -- Recorded 120 pancake blocks and allowed no sacks as a Texas prep standout.

  • Luginbill's take: "Talent wise, all three of them are capable of playing the game now. How they adjust to the speed, how they adjust to the blitz pickups and protections, all the different things that happen from the neck up, will determine whether or not they're truly ready to play."

Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State, 6-2, 220 -- One of two early enrollees at Penn State, Mauti was ranked No. 58 in the ESPN 150.

  • Luginbill's take: "We think he is a guy that is in the mold of a [Paul] Posluszny and all those guys. He's that good. He's a potential difference-maker at the position at some point in his future there."

Jason Ford, RB, Illinois, 6-0, 220 -- Became a legend in St. Louis after rushing for a metro-area record 6,415 yards and 75 touchdowns in his prep career.

  • Luginbill's take: "We really liked him. We think he's got a chance. Stout, strong, capable of carrying the load. He's got a chance to be very good."

Corey Liuget, DE, Illinois, 6-3, 283 -- Liuget has a few guys ahead of him on the depth chart, but he's a big-time recruit who could enter the rotation on the defensive line.

  • Luginbill's take: "I don't know what his role will be as a freshman, but he's really, really good. If they have a way of getting him on the field, even if it's just as a situational guy, he's very good. But they may not have a need there right now. If they do, I would see him having the ability level to contribute."

Darius Willis, RB, Indiana, 6-0, 220 -- Runner-up for Indiana's Mr. Football exploded for 1,728 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns as a high school senior.

  • Luginbill's take: "We thought he was a really good player. It's interesting because he's a bigger guy. So with what they're doing in the spring, it's not like you're having a little waterbuck back there. He could create a physical presence for their run game."

Jeff Brinson, RB, Iowa, 5-11, 215 -- First-team All-State selection from Florida rushed for 67 touchdowns in his prep career.

Jewel Hampton, RB, Iowa, 5-9, 200 -- Indiana prep standout helped team to three state championships.

  • Luginbill's take: "We think Brinson's a cut above better, but there's an opportunity there for [both players to play]."

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