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ESPN's Freshmen to Watch

Tom Luginbill of ESPN has listed five freshmen to watch in the Big Ten this season. Nittany Lion freshman Maurice Evans made the list at #2.

Not only is Evans an explosive pass rusher but the Nittany Lions need him because only one starter returns from last year's front four. Our top-ranked DE in 2006 exploded on the scene as a high school senior and is capable of making an impact this fall.

Christ the King High School in New York is primarily known as a basketball school, which is why Evans' name might not be all that familiar -- but it will be.

Evans has the size to contribute right away, and his initial quickness off the ball and closing burst to the quarterback are special.

Maurice Evans could log considerable minutes early giving much needed depth to an inexperienced defensive line. In the Ohio State and Michigan games last year the D-Line looked gassed at the end of the game which nearly cost us the OSU game and did cost us the Michigan game. So depth is an issue if the defense is going to remain strong for all four quarters. Evans has the talent to be a starter by the end of the season and should be a dominating player for years to come.

Coming in at #4 on Luginbill's list is Lion freshman A.J. Wallace.

Ideally, Penn State coaches would like to see Wallace line up at cornerback opposite sophomore Justin King, but the bottom line is to get him on the field any way they can.

The Maryland product is a special athlete with rare size for a cornerback, giving him value and versatility to play safety or move inside as a nickel. Penn State is thin in the secondary, and with the recent early success of Derrick Williams and King, Wallace could emerge early.

Expect Wallace to add speed and athleticism to this defense as the secondary will be tested early and often.

I expect Wallace to make an impact early. He is going to provide problems for opposing coaches the way MRob, Williams, and King have in the past few years. You never know when he is going to be on the field and where he is going to line up. He may be inexperienced, but how much experience does a kid need when you give him the ball and tell him run toward the end zone. The trick on offense is going to be just getting him the ball in open space. On defense, I think he will be used sparingly as a nickel back unless injury forces him into a major role.