Big Ten: Melvin Spears

Home run summer: Iowa

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
3:45
PM ET
Our series continues looking at a player or a group of players from each Big Ten team who needs a home run type of summer before preseason camp begins. Who needs to hit it out of the park in preparation for the season?

For previous entries, click here.

In the batter's box: Iowa

Who needs to step it up: The defensive linemen

After years of producing All-Big Ten players and NFL draftees, Iowa's defensive line looks dangerously inexperienced and undermanned entering the 2012 season. The Hawkeyes' spring depth chart lists two redshirt freshmen (Darian Cooper and Riley McMinn) in starting positions, alongside two seniors (Steve Bigach and Joe Gaglione) who combined for 32 tackles last season and haven't been a big part of the plan. Help is on the way as tackles Dominic Alvis and Carl Davis return from injuries, but the overall group has many more questions than answers. Iowa should be solid and potentially very good in the defensive back seven, but most defenses sink or swim with their lines. This summer is huge for Iowa's younger defensive linemen, players like Cooper and McMinn and Louis Trinca-Pasat and Melvin Spears. They're going to be thrown into the fire to varying degrees, and they're going to need to perform. It's also big for a player like Bigach to establish himself as a leader. We talked about that this spring, and Bigach understands the responsibility on his shoulders and the importance of upholding the tradition along the front four. I was a bit skeptical at first about assistant Reese Morgan moving from offensive line to defensive line with so much youth there, but Morgan's veteran expertise should help the young players. Iowa's defensive line will be a work in progress for much of the season, but a strong summer could raise the ceiling for the group this fall.
A huge weekend for Michigan got off to a good start Friday as 2011 running back recruit Demetrius Hart committed to the Wolverines.

Hart, an ESPNU 150 selection from Orlando, Fla., selected Michigan ahead of Alabama after recently dropping both Auburn and Arkansas from his list. After making his announcement, Hart went out and racked up 267 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-0 win for his high school team.

If no one emerges as a featured back this season, you'd have to think Hart, who plans to enroll early, will be in the mix heading into the 2011 season.

In other Big Ten recruiting news, Iowa added linebacker Melvin Spears from Allen, Texas.

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