Dienhart: Fresh football faces arrive on campus

For some players, it’s all about getting a jump on the college experience in hopes of getting a jump on winning a job. That’s why players enroll in college early.

In all, the Big Ten has 42 early arrivals, with 10 coming from the junior-college ranks.
Illinois paced all Big Ten schools with 10 early enrollees. That’s almost half of the 24 verbal commitments that the Fighting Illini have received in the 2013 signing class, which begin inking letters of intent on Feb. 6.

Michigan has six early enrollees; Penn State and Ohio State have five; Indiana, Nebraska and Purdue each has three; Minnesota and Wisconsin each has two; Iowa has one. Michigan State and Northwestern have none.

The Illini hope the influx of players will help the program take the first steps toward rebounding from a 2-10 season (0-8 Big Ten). Five of the early enrollees are junior-college transfers, who signed letters-of-intent in December and are in school. The other five players are high school products who also are enrolled in classes for the spring semester and will take part in spring football.

“To bring in 10 guys early, that’s probably one of the highest numbers in the country,” Illinois coach Tim Beckman said in a release. “The fact that they’re starting classes this week and getting to experience college football this spring will be huge for them as they compete for playing time in 2013.”
The most highest touted of the prep players are defensive backs Darius Mosely and Dillan Cazley

Here’s a look at all of the early enrollees in the Big Ten

Illinois 10

  • Martize Barr, WR, Council Bluffs, Ia./Iowa Western C.C.
  • Abens Cajuste, DT, Victorville, Calif./Victor Valley C.C.
  • Dillan Cazley, DB, Charleston, Ill./Charleston
  • Jesse Chadwell, OL, Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston
  • Christian DiLauro, OL, Uniontown, Ohio/Green
  • Eric Finney, DB, Santa Clarita, Calif./College of the Canyons
  • Dallas Hinkhouse, OL, Council Bluffs, Ia./Iowa Western C.C.
  • Darius Mosely, DB, O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon
  • Zane Petty, DB, Sacramento, Calif./American River C.C.
  • Austin Schmidt, OL, Galena, Ohio/Olentangy

Indiana 3
Short-term, staffers think Steven Funderburk or Jordan Heiderman could have immediate impacts because of their JC experience. The defense needs help. But long-term, the coaches really like T.J. Simmons. He had a terrific senior year at a good football school in Florida and could well end up being the best player of the three.

  • Steven Funderburk, LB, Council Bluffs, Ia./Iowa Western C.C.
  • Jordan Heiderman, DT, Council Bluffs, Ia./Iowa Western C.C.
  • T.J. Simmons, LB, Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland

Iowa 1
It’s difficult not to compare John Kenny to former Iowa linebacker A.J. Edds, another Indianapolis area product who had a fine career in Iowa City.

  • John Kenny, LB, Carmel, Ind./Carmel

Minnesota 4
Wilson was supposed to enroll early last year from a high school , then was supposed to enroll over the summer, then in the fall—alas, he ended up at a JC. Streveler fits the athletic mold that Jerry Kill likes in quarterbacks.

  • Hendrick Ekpe, DE, Lewisville, Texas/Lewisvile
  • Jordan Hinojosa, DT, Coffeyville C.C./Coffeyville, Kan.
  • Chris Streveler, QB, Woodstock, Ill./Marian Central Catholic
  • Damien Wilson, LB, Ellisville, Miss./Jones County J.C.

Michigan 6
A touted group that is led by two defensive backs and two offensive linemen. The most ballyhooed are Kyle Bosch, Jake Butt and Taco Charlton. Dymonte Thomas also is a top defensive back.

  • Kyle Bosch, OL, Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis
  • Jake Butt, TE, Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington North
  • Taco Charlton, DE, Pickerington, Ohio/Central
  • Ross Douglas, DB, Avon, Ohio/Avon
  • Dymonte Thomas, DB , Alliance, Ohio/Marlington
  • Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL, Peoria, Ill./Manual

Michigan State 0

Nebraska 3
Love is a three-star prospect who will help a linebacking corps that is in transition. The 6-8 Knevel could become a massive anchor at a tackle spot who had offers from many schools, including Alabama.

  • David Knevel, OL, Brantford, Ontario/Pauline Johnson Collegiate
  • Courtney Love, LB, Youngstown, Ohio/Cardinal Mooney
  • D.J. Singleton, S, Jersey City, N.J.

Northwestern 0

Ohio State: 5

This is a touted crew with four, four-star prospects. Staffers love the rushing skills of Tyquan Lewis and Tracy Sprinkle. Burrows is one of the nation’s top corners.

  • Eli Apple, DB, Voorhees, N.J./Eastern
  • J.T. Barrett, QB, Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider
  • Cameron Burrows, CB, Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison
  • Tyquan Lewis, DE, Tarboro, N.C./Tarboro
  • Tracy Sprinkle, DE, Elyria, Ohio/Elyria.

Penn State 5
Bill O’Brien added a much-needed JC quarterback in Tyler Ferguson. Adam Breneman may be the top prep tight end in the nation. Richy Anderson is a top 20 running back.

  • Richy Anderson, RB, Frederick, Md./Thomas Johnson
  • Adam Breneman, TE, Camp Hill, Pa./Cedar Cliff
  • Tyler Ferguson, QB, Visalia, Calif./College of the Sequoias
  • Anthony Smith, DB, Wayne, Pa./Valley Forge Military Academy
  • Jordan Smith, DB, Washington, D.C./H.D. Woodson

Purdue 3

  • Danny Etling is a four-star quarterback and the highest-rated commitment in the class. The Boilermakers need running backs, so keep an eye on Yancey.
  • Danny Etling, QB, Terre Haute, Ind./South Vigo
  • John Strauser, DE, Champaign, Ill./St. Thomas More
  • David Yancey, RB, St. John, Ind./Lake Central

Wisconsin 2
Brookins is a touted four-star player who has size and speed. He could figure in a corner. And so could Shelton.

  • Keelon Brookins, DB, Oakdale, Minn./Tartan
  • Sojourn Shelton, DB, Plantation, Fla./Plantation
About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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