5 Players to Watch in 2011

I am not going to waste time talking about the likes of Floyd, Crist, Wood, Te'o or anyother household name on either side of the ball.  What I do want to start a discussion on is five guys who I think need to make an impact in 2011.  In no particular order, here they are:

1.  Jamoris Slaughter -- recently announced the starter at safety next to Harrison Smith, Slaughter enters the year with a lot to prove.  He was hampered by injuries in 2010, which minimized his overall impact to the defense.  Initially, he will share time with Zeke Motta.  Both will see plenty of the field (both being out there in nickle situations), but he needs to step up this fall

2.  Jonas Gray -- needs to be the thunder to Cierre Wood's lightning.  He got into the Weis doghouse early on in his career and has made little impact over his career.  The writing is on the wall for him, and so far in camp he seems to have responded to the challenge.  Can he give a solid 10-15 carries a game to give Wood a breather?  If so, the Irish will have a formidable 1-2 punch in the backfield.

3.  Ben Turk -- he has been hot and cold over the first two years at punter.  Field position is everything, and his ability to routinely get off quality punts will be important to the success of the defense and the team overall.  He has a quality back-up in freshman Kyle Brindza to push him for punting duties if he struggles.  Can he average 45 yds/punt?  I think so, but only time will tell...

4.  Steve Filer -- starting the year backing up his fellow Chicagoan Darius Flemming, he has earned some praise in camp.  He has been a solid contributor on special teams so far in his career.  Can he finally translate the talent and promise he had coming in to on-field success for the Irish D?  Lets hope so...

5.  Robby Toma -- when I hear the name, I can't help but think of the movie Rudy (You're 5 foot nothin', a hundred and nothin', and you haven't got a speck of athletic ability in you).  Except that this kid does have far more athletic talent than anyone gave him credit when he came in (and was viewed as a throw-in to get Te'o).  Now I see a Wes Welker-type receiver that catches everything and can open things up underneath and draw attention away from Floyd, Riddick and Jones on the outside.  I think it is realistic to see him catch 40-50 passes this year.  Seriously.

FanPosts are primarily for readers of One Foot Down to share and express information and commentary. The content provided doesn't always reflect the voice or collective thought of One Foot Down.