Thursday, May 17, 2012
Big East spring breakout players
By Andrea Adelson
Let's put one final bow on the spring with a look at five top breakout players.
JaQuez Jenkins, safety, USF. With starting strong safety Jon Lejiste out for the spring because of injury, Jenkins made his presence immediately felt in the defensive backfield and had one of the best springs of anybody on the Bulls roster. Jenkins was everywhere, making big plays and hard hits. His emergence gives USF a nice problem to have once Lejiste returns in the fall.
Scott Radcliff, receiver, Louisville. The most talked-about receiver after the Cardinals' spring game the former walk-on, who played with the first team and led all receivers with nine catches for 119 yards. He is listed ahead of Eli Rogers at the H-receiver spot on the post-spring depth chart.
Walter Stewart, defensive end, Cincinnati. Yes, Stewart is a returning starter. But he has never had a spring like the one he just completed, in which he was able to maintain what he started as his position. Stewart had been switched to several positions earlier in his career, but now he has a home at end and is ready to be a force this season.
Ray Vinopal, safety, Pitt. Safety could actually turn out to be a position of strength across the Big East with some of the talent that has emerged this spring. Vinopal sat out a year after transferring in from Michigan, and despite the coaching change, had an outstanding spring. He made big plays, forced turnovers and now makes safety a bright spot for the Panthers with Jarred Holley, Andrew Taglianetti and Jason Hendricks all returning.
Ryan Wirth, defensive tackle, UConn. The Huskies lost an NFL player in Kendall Reyes, along with their other starting tackle, so this is a huge question going into the season. But Wirth showed he can make an impact inside, especially after his spring performance, with 4.5 sacks and a safety.