Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Big East impact underclassmen
By Andrea Adelson
Which first- or second-year player can make a big impact this year? Let us take a look in the crystal ball ...
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: There has been plenty of hype surrounding Bridgewater, who came to Louisville after decommitting from the University of Miami. In fact, Bruce Feldman listed Bridgewater as a top 10 impact true freshman. The big question now is how much he will play and whether he will assume the starting quarterback job. Will Stein went into camp as the starter, but the Cardinals are preparing for Bridgewater to get into games. He is mature beyond his years and has the poise of a leader already. No doubt Louisville fans are hoping he can step up and have a big impact right away.
As a high school senior, Savon Huggins rushed for 1,891 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Savon Huggins, RB, Rutgers: Perhaps the best recruit in school history, Huggins already is in the mix to win the starting running back job for the Scarlet Knights. Feldman also listed him as a top 10 impact freshman. Indeed, Rutgers has been looking for the next Ray Rice since Rice left school. Last season, leading rusher Jordan Thomas finished with 452 yards -- the lowest total for a lead rusher since Markis Facyson had 398 in 2002. Yes, this running game is in need of help.
Andrew Buie, RB, West Virginia: This was a tough choice because of the boatload of freshman talent the Mountaineers have at running back. Vernard Roberts was in for spring and had an edge over Buie and Dustin Garrison going into fall practice. But from accounts out of Morgantown, Buie had a terrific summer and should definitely be a player to watch. Running back cannot be ignored in the Dana Holgorsen offense.
Ryne Giddins, So., DE, USF: Giddins had a terrific spring and has the potential for a double-digit sack season as a terrific speed-rush specialist. He played in 12 games last season, recording 19 tackles with six for loss. But now that he is a starter, the opportunity is there for him to make a bigger name for himself.
Marquis Spruill, So., LB, Syracuse: Spruill emerged as a true freshman last season but now moves to the middle with the departure of Derrell Smith, who led the team in tackles last season. Spruill has a chance to really emerge as the leader of the defense even as a true sophomore and will be a key piece in helping the Orange match the level they played at defensively last season.
Devin Street, So., WR, Pitt: You have to love having a deep threat in the Todd Graham offense, and Street delivers in that area. Last season, he had 25 catches for 318 yards and two touchdowns. But now that Jon Baldwin is gone, the opportunity is there to emerge as the top receiver for Tino Sunseri, and possibly get 1,000 yards.