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August 31, 2012

Big East/others: Top prospects who need to step up

MORE: Rivals100 | Rivals250

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

The Labor Day weekend marks the official kickoff to the college football season and Rivals.com has spent the last five days breaking down the rosters of BCS team rosters for former high-profile recruits that need to have a solid season to justify their high school hype.

In the last of the five-part series it is time to look at the Big East as well as other programs around the country that have not gotten the desired result from players that were expected to perform.

STEP IT UP
Rivals.com takes a conference-by-conference look back at former highly rated prospects from each team who need to start justifying their hype.
DayConference
MondayACC
TuesdayBig 12
WednesdayBig Ten, Pac-12
ThursdaySEC
FridayBig East/ND/Others

Of the Big-Six conferences the Big East has the most young players that need to step up with two players from the Class of 2011 and three from the Class of 2010 being represented on the board. There is a measure of that which can be attributed to the constant turnover of the head coaches in the conference which results in a turnover on the roster.

Every coaching staff on this list has undergone a change at the top within the last four seasons and the turnover on the rosters has been steep which has added pressure to the newly recruited players to play immediately.

Below is a look at the other former top prospects who need to step up in the Big East and other leagues. (Click player's name for a look at his prospect profile coming out of high school or junior college):

cincinnati
Player: Jameel Poteat, running back. Ranked No. 202 overall in Rivals250 Class of 2011.
Buzz: Poteat is far from a bust and certainly isn't looking to make up for any lost performance opportunities, but he could use this season to showcase his talent. The Bearcats only have two former four-star recruits in the program this year and, with Isaiah Pead now in the NFL, there is an opportunity for Poteat to shine as a feature back. He is battling with George Winn and Ralph David Abernathy IV and should see time on the field.

connecticut
Player: Geremy Davis, wide receiver. Three-star wide receiver in Class of 2010.
Buzz: Davis, the Huskies' second-highest rated 2010 signee, finds himself in a crowded group of receivers. He had just six catches for 73 yards last season but now, as a junior, it is time to step up. Davis is solidly inside the two-deep and will be on the field, but if the Huskies are going to contend for the Big East title he will need to continue his development and become a bigger part of the offense.

east carolina
Player: John Lattimore, defensive end. Three-star JUCO defensive end in Class of 2011.
Buzz: Lattimore was expected to be an instant impact player for the Pirates in 2011, but a foot injury forced him to miss his first season in Greenville. Now, on the eve of the 2012 campaign, he is fully healthy and is looking like he could be a disruptive force on the Pirates' defensive front.

houston
Player: Radermon Scypion, defensive tackle. No. 27-ranked defensive end in Class of 2009.
Buzz: Entering college Scypion was trending upward and impressing many analysts along the way. His time at Houston has been marred by added weight and injuries - including a broken leg in 2010. He is currently listed as the Cougars' starting defensive tackle and the hope is that he hasn't added too much weight or sustained too many injuries to where it has taken away from his natural ability to harass the quarterback.

louisville
Player: Dominique Brown, running back. Ranked No. 193 overall in Rivals250 Class of 2010.
Buzz: Brown is hardly in a put-up or shut-up position this year but from the Class of 2008 the only players left on the roster are walk-ons and only one player that was ranked in the Class of 2009 remains with the program. Brown was a highly ranked player when he arrived on campus and played some as a true freshman out of the Wildcat. Last season he had 140 carries for 533 yards and four scores out of the backfield. Now, a junior, he is a dedicated running back and could be very productive for the Cardinals.

notre dame
Player: Theo Riddick, running back. Ranked No. 242 overall in Rivals250 Class of 2009.
Buzz: The big-time guys who haven't panned out for Notre Dame, at least recently, are all sophomores so they really haven't had much of a chance yet. Riddick was a four-star back that has moved positions twice, from running back to receiver, now from receiver to running back. Notre Dame wants to use him all over the field at both positions and needs him to be good. So far, in three seasons in South Bend, Riddick has 84 catches for 893 yards and 54 carries and 252 yards. The opportunity to shine is certainly there.

pittsburgh
Player: T.J. Clemmings, defensive end. No. 16-ranked defensive end in Class of 2010.
Buzz: Clemmings, a redshirt sophomore, was a major pick-up for Pitt during the recruiting process. He arrived on campus and played sparingly during his true freshman season and was redshirted last year. The defensive end group at Pitt is pretty thin and so the program will need Clemmings to realize his potential quickly.

rutgers
Player: D.C. Jefferson, tight end. No. 16-ranked pro-style quarterback in Class of 2008.
Buzz: Initially considered a can't-miss quarterback that would lead Rutgers to a Big East title, Jefferson was slow to adjust to the college game and was soon moved to a position where his size was ideal - tight end. Through three seasons as the team's starting tight end, Jefferson has only managed to haul in 27 receptions. If Jefferson is to live up to the hype and take his skills to the next level, this has to be the year.

south florida
Player: George Baker, defensive back. No. 45-ranked athlete in Class of 2008.
Buzz: Baker was the second-highest rated player to commit to the Bulls in the 2008 class and has yet to develop into an impact player. He is currently leading a wide open position battle to start opposite of Kayvon Webster in the secondary and this could be his chance to earn his stripes and blossom.

southern miss
Player: Kendrick Hardy, running back. No. 18-ranked running back in Class of 2009.
Buzz: Hardy was a four-star running back and U.S. Army All-American coming out of high school, and headed to Southern Miss with a lot of hype and expectations. In his first three years in Hattiesburg, injuries and some stiff competion have kept his contributions to a minimum. Now, with new head coach Ellis Johnson revamping the offense, many believe this is the time he breaks out as a true power back.

syracuse
Player: Marcus Sales, wide receiver. No. 43-ranked wide receiver in Class of 2008.
Buzz: Coming into Syracuse, Sales was one of the highest rated recruits to pick the Orange out of high school in a few seasons. Also, being from Syracuse, there were some heavy expectations placed on him. During Sales' first three seasons, he struggled to see the field because of his work ethic but still caught 68 passes for 898 yards. Then heading into his senior season, a legal issue had him out of school for a year. Sales is back and has a chance to fulfill the hype that he surrounded him as a high school prospect.

TEMPLE
Player: Vaughn Carraway, safety. No. 66-ranked wide receiver in Class of 2008.
Buzz: The former three-star recruit had, at one point, offers from the likes of Michigan and West Virginia. Carraway played in the annual Big 33 all-star showcase that matches up the top high school players from Pennsylvania and Ohio, but things simply never worked out for him as a wide receiver at Temple. He was asked to switch to safety prior to the 2010 season and now things seem to be slowly coming together as he is slated to start at free safety as the Owls head back into the Big East.
TULSA
Player: Cody Green, quarterback. Ranked No. 173 overall in Rivals250 Class of 2009.
Buzz: Green originally signed with Nebraska but left the program after he was jumped on the depth chart by Taylor Martinez. During his time with the Huskers, Green saw limited action and completed just 54-percent of his passes. He transferred to Tulsa and sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. The expectation is that Green, who has already been named the starter, can come in and make a big impact for the Golden Hurricane.




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