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August 23, 2006

Big Ten notes: Freshmen contributing at Ohio St.

A quick look at the latest news out of the Big Ten and Notre Dame from around the Rivals.com Network:

Notre Dame and Big Ten Practice Reports
Illinois: Rashard Mendenhall looked good running between the tackles in Saturday's scrimmage, which could allow coaches to give Pierre Thomas a rest in short yardage situations. Quarterbacks Tim Brasic and Eddie McGee looked good throwing the ball down field on Saturday. The defensive line has been much more active with stunts and twists this fall.
Indiana: Freshman linebackers Will Patterson and Mandela Roberts have both picked up the system ahead of schedule this fall. That is good news for the Indiana defense that had lacked serious depth at the linebacker position. Coach Terry Hoeppner said that he was very impressed with his team's intensity during Monday's practice. The passing game has been the highlight as of late, with the Hoosier's showing their new-found wealth of depth at receiver.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes will have to wait a year for linebacker Julian Smith. The three-star prospect spent last season at Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., in hopes of qualifying to play at Iowa this season. He came to Iowa City and impressed the coaches enough to crack the two-deep at linebacker. Saturday, however, the team learned Smith would be ineligible this fall because the NCAA Clearinghouse has not yet ruled on his application. Smith will be forced to spend a year at Iowa Central Community college.
Michigan: Junior Jamar Adams has continued to impress this fall. After a good spring, Adams' fall camp has put him in a position to be one of the team's starting safeties. The battle for the vacant cornerback position across from Leon Hall has been a good one this fall. Sophomore Morgan Trent has been battling sophomore Charles Stewart and freshman Johnny Sears, and coaches hope a starter emerges this week.
Michigan State: Second-string cornerback Ross Weaver will miss up to five months after breaking his ankle in Tuesday's scrimmage. Weaver was not a starter but the injury hurts the Spartans' depth at the position. Weaver was the primary backup for both Greg Cooper and Demond Williams. Sophomore walk-on Jelani Nantambu now becomes the team's third cornerback.
Minnesota: With starting running back Amir Pinnix limited to three carries in Saturday's scrimmage, freshman E.J. Jones put on a show for the four thousand fans in attendance. Sophomore Alex Daniels also showed his ability to run the ball between the tackles.
Northwestern: The Wildcats should have one of the best cornerback duos in the conference thanks to the return of junior Deante Battle. Battle started seven games last season, recording 46 tackles, three passes broken up, four forced fumbles and an interception. Battle missed the season finale and the Sun Bowl due to an academic suspension. After six months away, Battle returns this fall with senior standout Marquice Cole.
Ohio State: Freshman cornerback Kurt Coleman intercepted a pass from Justin Zwick during Monday night's scrimmage at Ohio Stadium. With the Buckeyes' biggest question mark being the secondary, coach Jim Tressel said Coleman has impressed and should contribute this season. Coleman is a four-star recruit who was the 13th-rated cornerback in the Rivals.com class of 2006. Another freshman who could contribute is receiver Ray Small. Small was the No. 7 receiver in the Rivals.com 2006 class, and made some impressive plays during Monday's scrimmage.
Penn State: Running back Austin Scott missed more practice time over the weekend, sitting out the scrimmage with his sprained ankle. Two more running backs joined Scott on the sideline. Junior Rodney Kinlaw and freshman Evan Royster both suffered injuries Saturday. While Royster's shoulder injury does not appear to be serious, Kinlaw's injured knee could sideline him for an extended period. Sophomore Rich Ohrnberger is battling with senior Robert Price to start at right guard.
Purdue: Wide receiver Kyle Ingraham was on the verge of becoming a star before an ankle injury two years ago derailed him. After two surgeries, the 6-9 wideout played through pain all of last season, catching just 41 passes. While Ingraham still has a little soreness in the ankle, he has not felt pain during practice.
Wisconsin: Starting fullback Chris Pressley injured his leg during practice Monday and could miss the season. The Badgers will turn to sophomore Bill Rentmeester to fill the position. Dywon Rowan is the leading candidate to back up P.J. Hill at running back.
Notre Dame: With the top three receiver spots locked up, former quarterback Darrin Bragg is the leading candidate for the fourth spot. Freshman running back James Aldridge is still recovering from a left knee injury. He is practicing with the team but still not able to make cuts. Coach Charlie Weis said he will not name a starting kicker until game week.

(Compiled by Brandon Castel, Rivals.com)

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