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College Football: Silas Redd and 10 Big Ten Players Primed for Big Seasons

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2011

College Football: Silas Redd and 10 Big Ten Players Primed for Big Seasons

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    In every conference and on every team, there are players primed for big season performances. The Big Ten is no different.

    Whether through rushing, throwing, receiving, or even defense, certain players are ready to have a major impact on Big Ten football.

    These players may not bring bring wins to their respective teams by themselves, but their performances will certainly help push them in the right direction.

    Here are ten Big Ten players primed for big seasons:

Silas Redd

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    Silas Redd has major shoes to fill in 2011.

    Taking over for Evan Royster, Penn State's all-time leader in rushing yards, Redd will need to make a huge impact in the Nittany Lions' backfield.

    Redd will be running behind a questionable offensive line, but his ability should allow him to have a great season for Penn State.

    He is powerful and has a low center of gravity, but is also extremely quick. He can lower his shoulder while cutting through the first level of defense, but he is shifty enough to make a defensive back miss and take it to the house.

    With the quarterback situation in Happy Valley still very much up in the air, Redd could be leaned on heavily.

    Look for him to shoulder that load with ease.

Dan Persa

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    Before tearing his achilles tendon in 2010, Dan Persa was having a very successful season.

    Persa is now healthy, and primed to deliver a full season of success.

    He is extremely accurate and also has a very good presence in the pocket. He makes great decisions and rarely forces the ball into unfavorable coverage.

    He is a dual-threat quarterback who understands when to run and when to look downfield for his receivers.

    Northwestern's success in 2011 will ride largely on the shoulders of their heady quarterback, and if Persa delivers, the Wildcats could be in the Big Ten mix.

    If he has a big 2011, Persa could also be a dark horse for the Heisman trophy.

Kawann Short

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    In 2010, defensive tackle Kawann Short finished fourth in the Big Ten with six sacks. In 2011, Short will look to improve on that mark as well as his overall statistics.

    Short, now a junior, is a space eater in the middle of a Purdue Boilermakers' defense that is looking to improve this season.

    He is very strong against the run, but he also understands how to penetrate the gaps and attack the quarterback.

    Short has a high motor for a big man and managed to chase down tackles in the backfield eleven times in 2010.

    With another year of experience under his belt and the top three sack artists in the Big Ten since departed, look for Short to make his name known early and often.

Kirk Cousins

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    The Michigan State Spartans went 11-2 in 2010, thanks in large part to signal caller Kirk Cousins.

    In 2010, Cousins threw for over 2,800 yards to go along with 20 touchdowns. He is a smart decision maker with an underrated arm in the pocket.

    With new weapons emerging for the Spartans in 2011, some of the weight should be taken off the shoulders of Cousins. He will have better chemistry with his receiving targets, and will also be able to lean on a very good backfield led by Edwin Baker.

    Cousins is a solid quarterback with the heart to go with his talent. He is a tireless worker who understands how to play his position.

    The emergence of Spartans football last season was due in large part to Cousins' play.

    2011 will be no different.

Denard Robinson

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    Denard Robinson may be the most electric player in the country, let alone the Big Ten.

    Robinson is a run-first, throw-second quarterback, but he will have to adapt to a new pro-style offense run by new head coach Brady Hoke in 2011.

    Robinson is known for his running ability, having run for more than 1,700 yards in 2010. Nonetheless, he has a capable arm and throws the ball more accurately than you would expect from a quarterback of his style.

    Heading into 2011, Robinson is definitely being whispered as an early Heisman contender. His adaptation to his new offensive style is the only mystery factor involved.

    If Robinson adapts early, he will have a huge year. Even if it takes Robinson a grace period of a few games, he has the ability to make up for it very quickly.

Dan Herron

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    Because of the presence of Terrelle Pryor in 2010, Dan Herron was frequently overshadowed.

    In 2011, Herron will look to improve on his 16-touchdown season from a year ago.

    With the surprising defection of Pryor from the offensive fold in Columbus, Herron should be the focal point on a reeling Buckeyes squad.

    He is a powerful runner, and looks like he can handle the workload he will surely face this season.

    With more chances to tote the rock and the loss of top receiving targets Dane Sanzenbacher and Devier Posey (Posey for the first five games of the season), Herron should be the top weapon for the Buckeyes.

    Look for Herron to lead the Big Ten in rushing and keep the Buckeyes afloat in a competitive Big Ten conference.

Antonio Fenelus

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    Antonio Fenelus quietly finished second in the Big Ten with four interceptions in 2010.

    Now in 2011, Fenelus will use another year of experience to improve on that mark.

    Fenelus is a little undersized, standing at 5'9'', but his tenacity makes up for it. He wrapped up opponents for 51 tackles in 2010, and is fearless when it comes to attacking the ball.

    With the loss of top pass rusher J.J. Watt up front for the Badgers, even more pressure will be on the Wisconsin secondary to perform. Fenelus will play a major role in seeing that they do.

Derek Moye

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    Derek Moye is as talented a receiver as the Big Ten has this season.

    The only thing holding him back could be his quarterback situation.

    In 2010, Moye did not quite reach 1,000 yards, but he did manage to grab eight touchdowns.

    He uses his big frame well in traffic, and also has the speed to break away down the sidelines.

    Moye will continue to be the main target for whoever lines up behind center for Joe Paterno. He is a major target who deserves more attention around the college football world.

    He should have a big year in 2011, regardless of who is throwing the ball in his vicinity.

James White

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    As a freshman in 2010, James White ran for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. Considering that Wisconsin always seems to have a stable of running backs, this should come as no surprise.

    White has great open-field speed, and together with Montee Ball, he should give the Badgers one of the better one-two punches in the entire nation.

    White is now more experienced as well as better-conditioned to take the punishment from running in the rugged Big Ten. That should translate into bigger numbers and another great season for the Badgers in Madison.

Jared Crick

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    Jared Crick is one of the newest, and possibly one of the best additions to the Big Ten.

    Standing at 6'6'' and 285 lbs., Crick is a force in the middle of the Cornhuskers' defensive line.

    He recorded 70 tackles to go along with 7.5 sacks in 2010.

    Crick is a true game-changer on a daunting Nebraska defense. He commands double teams and has the speed to break through and wreak havoc in the backfield.

    Whether he is eating space and allowing others to make plays or punishing opponents himself, Crick is a force to reckon with.

    The Big Ten may immediately regret inviting Crick to play in their backyard.

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