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August 1, 2012

Big Ten newcomers who could step in

As colleges get ready for the start of preseason practice, some of the players who garnered so much attention on the recruiting circuit for the last year are about to introduce themselves to the rest of the college football world.

We finally know where these guys have chosen to go to school. Now the real questions start.

Will some former five-star prospects prove they're worth all the hype? Could a hole on a team's depth chart allow a sleeper recruit to contribute right away? Which junior college prospects can step into featured roles immediately?

We're trying to provide some early answers to those questions by offering lists of five true freshmen or junior college transfers in each conference who could make immediate impacts. We already profiled the top newcomers in the ACC and the Big 12. Our series continues today with a look at the Big Ten, which will be introducing plenty of newcomers at the running back and linebacker positions.

Keep in mind we were considering only true freshmen and junior college transfers - not transfers from Division I schools - for the purposes of this project. That's why we didn't include Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien, the likely starting quarterback for Wisconsin.

Indiana LB Jacarri Alexander
Particulars: 6-1/230; Iowa Central Community College
Recruiting rating: Three stars
Buzz: Indiana went 1-11 last season while ranking 109th in total defense (458.7), 114th in scoring defense (37.3), 116th in pass efficiency defense (156.76) and 118th in run defense (243.7). The Hoosiers clearly need reinforcements on that side of the ball. Alexander may be the best of the newcomers. He arrived on campus in time for spring practice and heads into preseason camp as the projected starter at weakside linebacker. Alexander delivered 78 tackles and six sacks last season while playing linebacker and defensive end at Iowa Central Community College.

Nebraska LB Zaire Anderson and CB Mohammed Seisay
Particulars: Anderson: 5-11/220; Riverside (Calif.) Community College. Seisay: 6-2/200; Eastern Arizona Junior College
Recruiting rating: Anderson: Four stars (No. 13 junior college prospect in nation). Seisay: Four stars (No. 8 junior college prospect in nation).
Buzz: Both of these junior college prospects could move right into Nebraska's starting lineup. Seisay's not really a Division I newcomer. He started for Memphis in 2010 and was a Conference USA all-freshman selection that season, but he spent last year at Eastern Arizona. Seisay joined Nebraska in time for spring practice. Anderson didn't participate in spring practice, but his track record at Riverside suggests he should make an immediate impact this fall. Anderson recorded 95 tackles - 19 for loss - and 6.5 sacks last season. He delivered 92 tackles - 17 for loss - and nine sacks in 2010.

Michigan LB Joe Bolden
Particulars: 6-3/230; Cincinnati (Ohio) Colerain
Recruiting rating: Four stars (No. 7 outside linebacker and No. 111 overall prospect)
Buzz: Michigan returns starting linebackers Jake Ryan, Kenny Demens and Desmond Morgan from last year's Sugar Bowl championship team, so the Wolverines can afford to bring Bolden along slowly. But even if he doesn't open the season in the starting lineup, Bolden figures to earn plenty of playing time. His talent demands that he earn some type of role. Bolden enrolled at Michigan early and made quite an impression with his performance in spring practice.

Iowa RBs Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill
Particulars: Garmon: 6-1/200; Erie (Pa.) McDowell. Hill: 6-0/210; Cedar Falls (Iowa)
Recruiting rating: Garmon: Four stars (No. 19 running back in 2013 class). Hill: Three stars
Buzz: Iowa's running back situation is one big question mark, particularly now that a couple of off-field incidents resulted in sophomore De'Andre Johnson's suspension. Iowa's only other running back with much experience is sophomore Damon Bullock, who ran for 20 yards on 10 carries last season. All that uncertainty should create immediate opportunities for Garmon and Hill. Garmon rushed for over 1,000 yards each of his last two years in high school. Hill rushed for over 6,000 yards and 89 touchdowns in his high school career. Garmon pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia two weeks ago, but the incident won't result in a suspension.

Minnesota RB James Gillum
Particulars: 5-11/204; Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Recruiting rating: Three stars
Buzz: Gillum should step right into a featured role for Minnesota, whether he emerges as a clear-cut No. 1 running back or instead splits carries with Donnell Kirkwood. Gillum rushed for over 1,000 yards each of his two-years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College and arrived at Minnesota in time to participate in spring practice. He starred at Pearl River (La.) High before heading to junior college.

Steve Megargee is the national college columnist for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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