Who are the Big Ten's home run threats?
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
I'm still in an All-Star mood the day after the Midsummer Classic, and I was excited to read an excellent post by colleague Brian Bennett over at the Big East blog. BB took a look at the home run hitters in the Big East, guys like West Virginia's Noel Devine who can take one to the house at any given time.
|Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire|
|He hasn't scored much, but Arrelious Benn averaged over 15 yards per catch in 2008.|
The Big Ten has taken heat in recent years for a lack of speed and explosiveness, but the league certainly has its share of game-changers. Here are a few of them.
Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn -- His lack of career touchdown catches is puzzling (5), but Benn remains extremely dangerous with the ball. He averaged 15.7 yards per catch last season and can gash a defense as a rusher or a return man.
Ohio State running back Brandon Saine -- Dan Herron likely will get the first shot as the Buckeyes' starter, but most fans can't wait to see a healthy Saine get more carries. Injuries have limited Saine so far in his college career, but he's an extremely explosive back who can do damage in space.
Minnesota wide receiver Troy Stoudermire -- Stoudermire excelled as a return man last fall -- he led the Big Ten with 1,083 kick return yards -- and performed well as a receiver during spring drills. Defenses have to respect his downfield speed, but they could be so occupied with Eric Decker that the sophomore will get free.
Penn State running back Stephfon Green -- It remains to be seen how Green responds from ankle surgery, but opposing defenses better not forget about him, even if Evan Royster becomes more of a featured back. Green dazzled his teammates last spring and summer and should have a more productive sophomore season after some ups and downs in 2008.
Michigan State wide receiver Blair White -- White ranked ninth in the league in receiving average despite doing almost all of his damage in the season's second half. The speedy senior averaged 15.3 yards per reception and will enter the fall in a more enhanced role.
Wisconsin wide receiver David Gilreath -- Gilreath might not be a starter this season, but his top-end speed as a receiver, rusher and return man will get him on the field. He averaged an absurd 16.8 yards per catch last fall, finishing second on the team in receiving yards (520), to go along with 11.4 yards per rush.
Purdue wide receiver Aaron Valentin -- The junior college transfer had only 11 catches last year but racked up 224 yards (20.4 yards per reception). He'll take on a much bigger role this fall as Greg Orton and Desmond Tardy depart. Keith Smith should be Purdue's top possession wideout, giving Valentin the chance to attack defenses down the field.
Penn State wide receiver Derek Moye -- Moye is a prototypical outside receiver who brings top-end speed to the mix this season. He had only three catches in 2008 but will have every chance to establish himself as Penn State's primary deep threat.
Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum -- Expectations will be higher for Stonum this year as he enters his second season in what should be an improved offense. Stonum averaged 12.6 yards a catch in what many described as a disappointing freshman season, but he still has the skills to be explosive.
Also, keep an eye on these freshmen with home-run ability:
- Michigan running back Vincent Smith
- Iowa running back Brandon Wegher
- Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray
- Michigan wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes
- Wisconsin wide receiver Kraig Appleton