Saturday, August 7, 2010

Since They Are Gone: Who is expected to step up in the Big Ten in '10?

The Big Ten finished strong in '09, with four programs (Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State and Wisconsin) finishing in the Top 16 in each poll, with four bowl wins over Top 25 opponents. As Big Ten camps begin for the 2010 college football season, all eyes will be on some key Big Ten performers who will have to step in and fill roles departed by some outstanding players in 2009.

1. Ohio State (11-2, 7-1 in '09) must replace 22 letterwinners, including 3 offensive, 5 defensive starters and both kickers. Top return specialists Ray Small and Lamaar Thomas have both departed, as well.

  • Coach Jim Tressel enters his 10Th year in Columbus and no departures on his 2010 coaching staff.
  • At SS, sophomore Orhian Johnson, 10 tackles as redshirt freshman in '09, will get the call to replace departed all-Big Ten SS Kurt Coleman, who was the third leading tackler for the Buckeyes with 68 tackles, 5 interceptions.
  • In the defensive line, three starters have departed from '09, including second team all-Big Ten DE Thaddeus Gibson. Senior second team all-Big Ten DE Cameron Heyward is the sole returning starter the Buckeyes will build around in '10 in the defensive line. Senior DT Dexter Larimore will be a key in the middle for the Buckeyes, with junior DE Nathan Williams on the opposite side of Heyward.
  • Senior placekicker Devin Barclay, who hit the game winning FG in OT vs. Iowa, will step up full time for departed PK Aaron Pettrey in '10.
  • Sophomore TE Jake Stoneburner steps in for departed starting TE Jake Ballard.
  • At left tackle, junior Mike Adams fills the single void on the Buckeye returning offensive line, as Jim Cordle's likely replacement.
  • Sophomore Ben Buchanan is expected to replace departed punter Jon Thoma.
  • The Buckeyes return their top two WRs in junior DeVier Posey and senior Dane Sanzenbacher. Who will emerge as the #3 receiver for the Buckeyes, with Duron Carter lost due to academics and Small departed?

2. Iowa (11-3, 6-2) must replace 20 letterwinners, with 5 offensive and 3 defensive starters departed. The Hawkeyes return the key players in special teams.

  • Coach Kirk Ferentz is entering his 12Th season in Iowa City and his entire staff returns for 2010.
  • All-Big Ten left tackle Bryan Bulaga, the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the Year, has departed to the first round of the NFL early. Three other experienced lineman have departed as well. Sophomore Riley Reiff and senior Julian Vandervelde will likely anchor the left side of the line in '10 for the Hawkeyes and three newcomers in the other spots.
  • Seasoned senior Allen Reisner will step in as the top Iowa TE for departed second team all-Big Ten Tony Moeaki. Hawkeye fans are excited about true freshman C.J. Fiedorowicz, but may see more of junior Brad Herman. Iowa likes to use multiple TEs in the pro-set offense the Hawkeyes run.
  • Iowa must replace two all-Big Ten caliber linebackers in Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds. Second leading tackler senior Jeremiha Hunter is back, with senior Jeff Tarpinian and junior Tyler Nielsen the likely replacements for Angerer and Edds. Senior
  • The Hawkeyes have to replace one starter in a very solid secondary. All Big Ten cornerback Amari Spievey left early for the NFL. Sophomore Micah Hyde, brother of starting Spartan defensive back Marcus, is expected to step into the lineup for the Hawkeyes. Iowa returns all-Big Ten safeties in junior Tyler Sash and senior Brett Greenwood. Junior Shaun Parter is solid at the other CB spot.

3. Penn State (11-2, 6-2) must replace 21 letterwinners, including 3 offensive, 6 defensive starters and the Nittany Lions punter. With health concerns at age 83 this off season, is coach Joe Paterno in his 45Th season, have what it takes?

  • There are not changes in Happy Valley with the Nittany Lions coaching staff heading into 2010.
  • All eyes are at quarterback for the Nittany Lions, since all-Big Ten QB Daryll Clark has departed. The Nittany Lions staff will likely look first at two sophomores with Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin, though true frosh Paul Jones was in for the Spring.
  • There are three starters departed at TE (Andrew Quarless) and two of the offensive line positions for the Nittany Lions. The offensive line had some ups and downs early in the Big Ten in '09, especially in home loss vs. Iowa. Senior Stefen Wisniewski is projected at his third position in '10 at RG, after playing center in '09 and guard in '08.
  • Linebacker U has all three linebacker position spots to fill, with all Josh Hull, Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee, the top 3 tacklers in '09 departed. An ACL injury cost sophomore Michael Mauti, in fall camp in '09. He will anchor the middle, with senior Bani Gbadyu and junior Nate Stupar on the flanks. Senior Chris Colasanti is another option at LB.
  • Two defensive linemen have departed, including all-Big Ten DT Jared Odrick, 7 sacks and #5 on the tackle list in '09 as the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Senior DT Ollie Ogbu will anchor the '10 defensive line for the Nittany Lions.
  • Sophomore Stephon Morris is expected to fill the starting CB spot of departed A.J. Wallace.
  • Second-team all-Big Ten punter Jeremy Boone has departed. Sophomore Anthony Fera was projected #1 in the spring, but that was prior to a suspension. Special teams are often important in the Big Ten.

4. Wisconsin (10-3, 5-3) loses 20 letterwinners, with only 1 offensive and 5 defensive starters, but some very talented letter winners Bret Bielema would say. How strong will the Badgers leadership be in '10?

  • Bret Bielema enters his 5Th season as head coach in Madison. Bielema will have two new defensive coaches entering 2010. Greg Jackson arrives from Tulane to help DC Dave Doeren with LBs and free up Bielema with ST duties. Chris Ash arrives from Iowa State to coach the defensive backs.
  • Senior TE Lance Kendricks is the next man in, as all-Big Ten TE Garrett Graham has departed, along with his 7 TDs and 51 catches. Like the Hawkeyes, the Badgers like to use TEs and Graham's running mate Mickey Turner, who made 6 starts in '09, has also departed. Who will step up at TE behind Kendricks?
  • Leading tackler Jaevery McFadden has departed. Sophomore Chris Borland and senior Culmer St. Jean return, with sophomore Mike Taylor, the third man at LB, if he can overcome the injuries of the past year. Borland was Big Ten Freshman of the Year in '09.
  • The defensive line must replace three starters, including all-Big Ten DE O'Brien Schofield, who was #3 in tackles and lead the team with 12 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. Many expect the Badgers to build around junior J.J. Watt, the sole returning starter in the line.
  • Junior Aaron Henry is expected to replace departed FS Chris Maragos, who was often the glue in pass coverage for the Badgers. SS Jay Valai's strength is tackling and he is back with both cornerbacks.

5. Northwestern (8-5, 5-3) loses 20 letterwinners, along with 3 offensive and 5 defensive starters. The top punt returner has departed as well for the Wildcats heading into '10.

  • Pat Fitzgerald enters his 5Th season at his alma mater in Evanston as head coach, with no changes in his coaching staff entering 2010.
  • Junior Dan Persa will step in for departed starting QB Mike Kafka, who scored 8 TDs on the ground and 16 by air. Persa played in reserve in for Kafka during both the Penn State and Iowa gamed, when Kafka was dinged.
  • The Wildcats must replace their top two receivers heading into '10, with the departure of both Andrew Brewer (9 tds) and Zeke Markshausen (3 tds). The Wildcats offense generally has four receivers, with junior SB Drake Dunsmore in the slot.
  • All five offensive linemen are back for the Wildcats. Sophomore Patrick Ward is expected to move into the RT position, as a new starter in '10. Junior LT Al Netter is entering his third year as starter and anchors the Wildcats line.
  • Two defensive linemen positions must be filled, including DE Corey Wooton, DTs Adam Hahn and Marshall Thomas departures. Junior DE Vince Browne and senior DT Corbin Bryant are the returning starters.
  • The secondary loses three starters, including all-Big Ten FS Brad Phillips and ball hawking CB Sherrick McManis, who was #3 in tackles for the Wildcats. Junior CB Jordan Mabin is the lone starter returning in '10.
  • Redshirt freshman Brandon Williams is expected to become the full-time punter in '10, allowing senior PK Stefan Demos to concentrate on place kicking.

6. Michigan State (6-7, 4-4) must replace 28 lost letterwinners, including 4 offensive, 5 defensive starters and all-Big Ten placekicker entering '10.

  • Coach Mark Dantonio enters his 4Th year at East Lansing. He has one change in his coaching staff, since running backs coach Dan Enos is the new head coach at Central Michigan. Enos' replacement is Brad Salem, who was head coach the past five seasons at Augustana College in SD.
  • Three starters must be replaced in the Spartans offensive line entering '10, including the anchor at center Joel Nitchman, who was a three year starter. Junior LG Joel Foreman and senior LT D.J. Young, moving over from RT, will anchor the left side as upper classmen likely fill three remaining spots.
  • The Spartans top receiver, Blair White, with 70 catches and 7 TDs, has departed. Junior QB Kirk Cousins will see his backup, junior Keith Nichol, move to WR and fill White's position.
  • Redshirt freshman Kevin Muma is competing with sophomore Dan Conroy, who got a little playing time as a redshirt freshman in '09, to replace all-Big Ten Brett Swenson, who was 19-22 in FGs, including a long of 52. It will be interesting to see how this position may or may not change for coach Mark Dantonio.
  • Two defensive lineman have departed for the Spartans, in DE Trevor Anderson and NT Oren Wilson. Sophomore DT Jerel Worthy returns and sophomore Blanke Treadwell, who was a true freshman in '09, will likely be at NT for the Spartans in '10. Sophomore Trevor Hoover will likely get first look at DE spot opposite returing starter senior Colin Neely.
  • Michigan State is developing as a solid LB school, as well. The top three leading tacklers in '09 were LBs for the Spartans. Seniors Greg Jones and Eric Gordon, who were 1-2 in tackles are back. WLB Brandon Denison, #3 on tackle charts, and reserve Adam Decker have departed. Sophomore Chris Norman is expected to start in '10.
  • The secondary has some work in progress, with two departures. Senior CB Chris Rucker is the most experience member of the secondary and three others have starting experience.

7. Purdue (5-7, 4-4) will need to replace 21 letterwinners, including 6 offensive starters, 5 defensive starters and primary punter entering '10. Top KR/PR Aaron Valentin has departed for the Boilermakers.

  • Danny Hope enters his 2Nd season and he will have a new member of his 2010 staff, with Gary Emanuel returning to West Lafayette, after two seasons as Rutgers DL coach. Emmanuel will coach DL and assist DC Donn Landhom as co-DC.
  • Miami-FL transfer, junior Robert Marve is expected to resume the QB duties of departed QB Joey Elliott. Marve transfered last year, after 11 starts for the Hurricane in '08.
  • The top running backs have departed, so look for sophomore Al-Terek McBurse to get the first look replacing Ralph Bolden. McBurse played STs as a true in '09.
  • Converted senior WR Keith Smith is back for Purdue, after leading the team with 91 catches, but his running mate Valentin, 54 catches and 7 TDs, has departed.
  • Three veteran starters departed the offensive line from last season. Junior RG Ken Plue and junior Dennis Kelly return in the line. Two underclassmen and a junior converted defensive player project at the other three spots.
  • The only loss in the defensive line is DT Mike Neal, who was a second round pick of the Green Bay Packers. All-Big Ten senior DE Ryan Kerrigan returns. A redshirt freshman, Brandon Taylor is projected for Neal's slot.
  • The entire secondary, including leading tackler FS Torri Williams and 2Nd team all-Big Ten CB David Pender, have departed for the Boilermakers, which is never good. Everyone seeking a spot has limited or no Big Ten experience.
  • Punter David Summer has departed and thus far it appears junior PK Carson Wiggs may get double duty, after four punts in '09.

8. Minnesota (6-7, 3-5) must replace 22 letterwinners, including 2 offensive and 9 defensive starters in 2010.

  • Tim Brewster is entering his 4Th season as head coach in Minneapolis. He will have a new co-OC with Jeff Horton arriving from the NFL, who will work with RB coach Thomas Hammock. Former Denver WR Steve Watson also arrives from the NFL as WR coach. The OC role is new for both coaches.
  • The top two receivers, WR Eric Decker and TE Nick Tow-Arnett from '09, have departed for the Golden Gophers. Junior Troy Stoudermire is the returning starter at WR, but his best numbers come as a KR. Junior Da'Jon McKnight is the top returning starter at WR. Junior Eric Lair is listed at TE, though JC transfer Tiree Eure is the player to watch.
  • The defensive front seven must all be replaced, as well as both cornerbacks. Seniors Kyle Theret and Kim Royston, who were #5 and #3 in tackles, respectively, are back at safety for the Golden Gophers. Sophomore WLB Keanon Cooper gained valuable experience last year, especially on special teams.
  • The departures in the defense is one reason many are expecting the Golden Gophers to fall to the Big Ten cellar in '10. Brewster finished in the cellar his first year, but has lead to Gophers to back to back bowl games.
  • Punter Blake Hauden is expected to be replaced by Dan Oreseske, a redshirt freshman, who missed '09, due to illness, after 9 kicks for 44.6.

9. Illinois (3-9, 2-6) must replace 18 letterwinners, including 6 offensive and 5 defensive starters that have departed.

  • Ron Zook is entering his 6Th season in Champaign. A shake up of the coaching staff occurred this past off season, as four new offensive and two new defensive coaches arrive. Paul Petrino arrives as the new OC and WR coach, after assisting his brother for many years in similar capacity. QB coach Jeff Brohm has experience with Petrino arrives from Florida Atlantic. DeAndre Smith will coach RBs, after year at UNLV. Gary Nord arrives as TE coach and RC. On defense, Vic Koenning is the new DC, after being co-DC at K-State in '09. Ron West will coach OLB, after serving at Tulsa as co-DC/LB coach. LB coach Dan Disch was stripped his DC duties entering '10.
  • Redshirt freshman Nathan Scheelhaase is projected to replace four-year starter Juice Williams. Reserve QB/WR senior Eddie McGee is expected to make move full-time to WR. Backup Jacob Charest transferred after Spring, when Scheelhasse was named QB. Backup will be true freshman Chandler Whitmer, who was in for the Spring.
  • Top WRs Arrelious Benn and Chris Duvalt have departed, along with reserve Jeff Cumberland. McGee moves into one WR spot, with senior Jarred Fayson, former Florida Gator, back for his final season as the top returning WR and starter.
  • Tight end has been a problem in the past. Some recruits have decommitted or or transfers have occurred after arrival at the position. New OC may change things, though TE Mike Hoomanawanui has departed. Sophomore London Davis played special teams mainly in '09 is projected at TE for '10.
  • The offensive line returns three starters, but second all-Big Ten RG Jon Asamoah and a two-year starter at center are positions that need to be filled. A mix of experience and youth to fill the O-Line for Illini.
  • Three defensive line positions need to be filled, including the new bandit position. Senior DE Clay Nurse returns for '10. DT Josh Brent will not be back for '10, after being lost in '09 due to academics.
  • The linebacker corp will be experienced, especially with junior MLB Martez Wilson likely back from injury.
  • The secondary must replace both safeties for the Fighting Illini, including #2 tackler SS Garrett Edwards. Senior Trovon Bellemy and junior Supo Sanni are projected starters.

10. Michigan (5-7, 1-7) must replace 24 letterwinners, including 4 offensive, 3 defensive starters and both kickers.

  • Rich Rodriquez enters his 3Rd season in Ann Arbor, with the talk of West Virginia in the air and NCAA violations. Rodriquez elevated Adam Braitwaite during the off season to coach the safeties, after serving the past two seasons as a grad assistant for the Wolverines.
  • Three running backs have departed, so the Wolverines will look at redshirt freshman Fitzgerald Toussaint and sophomore Vincent Smith, who is rehabbing from torn ACL.
  • The #2 WR Greg Mathews has departed, so junior Junior Hemingway will likely join returning starters sophomore Roy Roundfield and junior Martavious Odoms.
  • Two starters have departed in the offensive line, but the Wolverines get C David Molk back from a ACL injury, in which he missed all of '09. Redshirt freshman Taylor Lewan is projected as the new LT for '10.
  • All-Big Ten DE Brandon Graham, 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tfl, has departed in the defensive line. The Wolverines are shifting to a 3-3-5 and sophomore William Campbell will likely move into the NT position. The Wolverines shifted to a 3-4 in '09.
  • Leading tackler, converted S turn LB Stevie Brown has departed. All the linebackers are back, otherwise, and a new Spur spot has been implemented in the new 3-3-5. Redshirt freshman Thomas Gordon is projected for the new position in '10.
  • The secondary loses all-Big Ten CB Donavan Warren and FS spot opens up, since junior Mike Williams is moving to the Spur spot. Another redshirt freshman is projected as a starter, with Cameron Gordon at FS.
  • Redshirt freshman Brendan Gibbons and true freshman William Hagerup are projected to replace placekicker Jason Olesnavage and all-Big Ten punter Zoltan Mesko, respectively.

11. Indiana (4-8, 1-7) must replace 23 letterwinners, as well as 2 offensive and 7 defensive starters. The top return specialist must be replaced as well for the Hoosiers heading into '10.

  • Bill Lynch begins his 4Th season as head coach in Bloomington. One new coaching change for the Hoosiers, as Mo Moriarity was hired to coach the interior offensive line, after coaching Indiana high school football the past five years. He is a former TE coach for the Hoosiers.
  • Two starting positions open up in the offensive line, after second team all-Big Ten LT Roger Saffold (4 year starter) and both RGs that shared the starting job in '09 departed. Upper classmen will fill the two positions in '10.
  • The Hoosiers have to replace both departed DEs, Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton, in the defensive line. Two upper classmen will step in and one has 10 starts in the past.
  • Two of the top tacklers have departed at linebacker. Senior Tyler Replogle is the returning member, but junior MLB Jeff Thomas, JC transfer, and sophomore WLB Chad Sherer will have to step up.
  • Three of the four spots in the secondary will have to be filled, as senior CB Adrian Burks is the only returnee considered a starter. Newcomer CB Lenyatta Kiles is a JC transfer, who was in for spring practice. Senior SS Mitchell Evans is a converted WR. Junior FS Chris Atkins has more starts in the past, than any of the others.

The Big Ten finished strong nationally in '09. There are new starters that need to step up in '10, if the Big Ten is going to continue to move forward as a conference. Opportunity knocks in '10 for many Big Ten programs.


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