- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Spring practice will be underway at every Big Ten school when Iowa hits the practice field tomorrow. So we're taking a look at one potential breakout player for each team this spring.
We're spotlighting players who could take a major step forward, so those who have started multiple seasons or earned All-Big Ten recognition in 2012 aren't eligible. Let's turn our attention to State College and Bill O'Brien's Penn State Nittany Lions:
Nyeem Wartman, LB, redshirt freshman, 6-foot-1, 236 pounds
Wartman was in line for some playing time last year as a true freshman, serving as Glenn Carson's backup at middle linebacker. He saw action in the first two weeks but suffered a knee injury at Virginia that prematurely ended his season.
The good news is that he's healthy this spring -- and there's even more opportunity for minutes. With Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges moving on, Wartman is getting a long look for one of the starting outside linebacker spots this season. O'Brien told ESPN.com earlier this month that "we think he's got a bright, bright future."
Wartman was a three-star recruit, according to ESPN.com's Recruiting Nation, which offered this assessment of him out of high school: "[He] is an impressive looking linebacker prospect with a striking blend of size and straight-line speed. Potential sleeper with the physical tools he presents to develop."
With Ben Kline (shoulder) out this spring, Wartman will get a lot of reps to prove he's ready to make the next step. And to show that he can help keep the Linebacker U. tradition going.
21hMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy
2dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy