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Spring breakout player: Penn State

3/26/2013

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.