Spring Stars of the Big Ten/ND

Here's a look at some spring stars of all the Big Ten teams and Notre Dame led by Minnesota's Jeff Jones, Ohio State's Sam Hubbard and Notre Dame's C.J. Prosise. There's also a former walk-on that everyone is talking about in Happy Valley and new coach in Lincoln. Who starred this spring in the new Nebraska offense? All of this and more!

SEC Spring Stars
Big 12 Spring Stars
Pac-12 Spring Stars

With the help of the Scout network and publishers here's a list of a spring star from each one of the Big Ten schools and Notre Dame. These are players that had a terrific group of practices who look to contribute or star for their respective programs this fall.


After red-shirting one year ago Tito Odenigbo looks like a player for the Illini. At 6-foot-3, 280-pounds, Odenigbo can really play and get after it on the defensive front. In the spring game he had good performance, recording five tackles, three tackles for a loss and a sack. His brother, Ifeadi, plays for Northwestern.


Ricky Jones has always been a talented player but injures and depth at his position have put a damper on his playing time. He missed his freshman season with an ankle injury. Now is the time to shine for the junior wide receiver from Sarasota (Fla.) Booker. He has learned a lot from the older guys and stepped up his game this past spring. Overall it’s an improved group that has a chance for a huge season catching passes from their outstanding quarterback, Nate Sudfeld.


Jaleel Johnson is a junior defensive tackle at Iowa that needs to step it up this fall for the Hawkeyes defense. He was a contributor in 2014 and involved into their defensive tackle rotation. With the departures to the NFL from Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasa, Johnson and others will be counted on heavily. He responded with a terrific series of spring practices and looks like he could have Davis like potential on their front. He’s big at 6-foot-4, 310-pounds and has some athleticism.


There was a good reason why Yannick Ngakoue was highly sought after a few years ago. He elected to stay close to home and play for the Terrapins. He did well in 2014 but his play took off this spring, where he excelled playing in the new Maryland 4-3 defense at the ‘Bandit’ position. Before he was an outside ‘backer and now he plays with his hand in the dirt. He has a chance to become one of the top pass rushers in the Big Ten.


Joe Bolden made plays behind the line of scrimmage consistently throughout the spring and was the spring game's top performer. The big question is will it translate to the fall? Bolden was a standout last spring but turned in a non-descript junior season. It’s time for this maize and blue veteran to step up and play well when the game’s count in Ann Arbor. He has shown the ability over the last two springs.

Michigan State

Montae Nicholson played in 13 games last season as a true freshman safety in 2014 and started three times. Now he’s coming off a big spring and even bigger spring game. He intercepted Michigan State All-American quarterback Connor Cook twice, which is no easy feat considering this Spartan quarterback rarely turns the ball over. Nicholson is feeling more and more comfortable in the secondary and has a chance to be another star defensive back in East Lansing. Look for Nicholson to be a full time starter this fall, primarily at free safety. He’s also one of the team’s best athletes, plays a little wide receiver and is a long jumper for the Michigan State track team.


I remember Jeff Jones being one of the most impressive prospects at the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game. He signed with the Gophers but didn’t play last season because of academic issues. Now that’s all cleared up and Jones is ready to go for Minnesota. Look for him to be a versatile talent in the Gophers backfield. He can line up at running back or at wide receiver. That’s what he showed this spring and was impressive in doing so. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands. There’s no question that Jones is one of the more talented offensive players in recent years on this roster.


De'Mornay Pierson-El made an impact as a true freshman last season in Lincoln as a punt return guy, averaging an impressive 17.5 yards per return. Now with Mike Riley running the show at Nebraska look for the 5-foot-9, 185-pounder make a big impact on the Cornhusker offense in the slot. Pierson-El is a versatile talent that can be used on jet sweeps or short passes in space. It doesn’t matter, just get him the ball and let him go.


Clayton Thorson was a three-star quarterback recruit and a key member of the 2014 Northwestern class. He red-shirted last season and Thorson is the favorite to take over the starting quarterback duties at some point this season. This is a big signal with a strong arm and the ability to run. He looked calm and poised in the pocket this spring. His athleticism should give the offense a big boost. Remember, the Wildcats also had one of the better young running backs in the Big Ten last year in Justin Jackson.

Notre Dame

Senior C.J. Prosise will find his way into the Notre Dame lineup one way or another this season simply because he’s too good to watch from the sidelines. This is a versatile talent that has lined up on both sides of the ball and at multiple positions. He played safety then red-shirted. Prosise moved to offense where he played wide receiver, first on the outside and then as a slot. The Fighting Irish was light on running backs this spring so he moved there and knocked it out of the park. Prosise showed the Notre Dame coaching staff that’s he’s one of the most explosive players on the team.

Ohio State

Sam Hubbard was one of the best athletes and defensive recruits in the 2014. This former five-star safety red-shirted last season in Columbus despite the Buckeyes tempted to get him on the field. But Ohio State didn’t burn his year and now he’s a 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end who had a great spring. How athletic is this former lacrosse standout? In his short time as a Buckeye he has moved from linebacker to tight end back to linebacker and now defensive end. This former Cincinnati Moeller star has a really bright future.

Penn State

There’s a buzz in Happy Valley and it’s all centered around a former walk on in defensive end Carl Nassib. Now a senior, Carl is the younger brother of former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib (now with the Giants). He showed up as a 6-foot-5, 218-pound player in 2011 and now stands 6-foot-7, 273-pounds. Penn State coaches feel he has NFL potential. He’s big, strong and plays with a relentless attitude and effort. Nassib is an example of what hard work and dedication can do. He had a strong spring and is poised for a big fall.


Remember the name Markell Jones. This true freshman from Columbus (Ind.) East is primed to make an impact for the Boilermakers. He showed off his talent during spring practice. Jones was Mr. Football in Indiana just a few months back after rushing for over 3,500 yards and 60 touchdowns his senior season. He has a ton of talent and the opportunity is there at Purdue, he just needs to pick up the system better. While Jones is still learning the playbook, he did show of his potential this spring.


Leonte Carroo is the top wide receiver at Rutgers and he missed spring practice. That opened up the door for others and Carlton Agudosi took advantage of that opportunity. This 6-foot-6 junior has been hampered by inconsistent play and shaky hands. But that changed this spring. Agudosi was solid from day one this spring and became the Scarlet Knights primary target in every scrimmage. At least for several weeks he really improved his game.


Sometimes you just never know. That was the case with Wisconsin and T.J. Edwards. He was committed to Western Michigan before the Badgers flipped him around Thanksgiving of his senior season. That was 18 months ago and now he’s primed and ready to make a huge impact on the Wisconsin defense at linebacker after red-shirting last fall. He had a super spring and will likely man the middle when the Badgers open up against Alabama in early September.

SEC Spring Stars
Big 12 Spring Stars
Pac-12 Spring Stars

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