The Road Ahead: Breakout Players

Camp season is over at Rutgers, and with summer workouts well underway, the next step is Big Ten Media Day and training camp. The Big Ten membership date is past, and it is time to look ahead to year one. Today, we look at the top five players positioned for breakout seasons.

Rutgers fans enjoyed the breakout 2013 seasons for names like Leonte Carroo, Darius Hamilton, Djwany Mera and Steve Longa. Who makes up the next wave of impact players? Who will break out in the inaugural Big Ten season? has its eyes on five Scarlet Knights with the chance to enjoy breakout seasons.

5. Defensive end Julian Pinnix-Odrick -- First a red-shirt year and then a torn ACL, Pinnix-Odrick finally gets his on-field opportunity this fall. Pinnix-Odrick impressed against the run in spring ball. He took advantage of extra opportunities with injuries elsewhere on the defensive line, and will be a key face in the eight-man rotation. Whether as a starter or off the bench, Pinnix-Odrick will make his presence known at the line of scrimmage.

4. Defensive back Delon Stephenson -- Stephenson got things started as a true freshman with his interception of P.J. Walker in a nail-biter against Temple. As a sophomore, he will compete for a starting job at either free safety or cornerback. He showed the ability in spring to play both at a high level. Stephenson also brings a special teams presence to his game with the ability to return kicks, punts and work on kick coverage.

3. Outside linebacker Quentin Gause -- Gause gets the starting job that he deserved much of last season. He’s already had his breakout game – Arkansas 2013 – but now is the time to turn it into a solid season. Gause is going to be a weapon against running teams, which is huge on a schedule that includes Navy and Wisconsin. Gause has to bounce back healthy in camp, and if he does that, he is in position for a strong first season as a starter.

2. Guard Chris Muller -- Year three needs to be the year for Muller to break out. He won a starting job a season earlier than anticipated. Muller reshaped his body after arriving out of shape his first year. The starting right guard is now a solid 300 pounds, and the ideal Big Ten offensive lineman. The coaching change on the offensive line will help Muller elevate his game, and having returning starters on either side of him makes for a strong right side of the offensive line. The left side, of course, also features returning starters in what should be a strong 2014 offensive line.

1. Wide receiver Janarion Grant -- Grant can be so much more than an impact special teamer. That begins in August where he should get a more significant role at the line of scrimmage. Grant once scored seven different ways in the same game in high school. That kind of versatility and explosiveness is rare. Grant won a spring award for his improvements as a wide receiver, and will continue to grow in camp with a senior quarterback.

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