With spring practice now over, it's time to take a look at some players on each Big East team who announced themselves as potential breakout players.
Here's how I'm defining "breakout" status: players who haven't seen the field yet but showed they could be major contributors in 2011; players who have gotten some time but could move into much bigger roles this season; and players who have started but could blossom into stars.
I'll try to highlight a few players from each team, going alphabetically as we usually do. That means Cincinnati is up first.
Camerron Cheatham, CB, Jr.: Cheatham started at corner for most of last season after Dominique Battle got hurt, finishing with 43 tackles and an interception. In the spring, he was named as one of the two most improved Bearcats players for his work in the weight room and offseason conditioning. The coaching staff really liked the strides he made on the field as well and believe he has developed into a solid cover corner. The Cincinnati defense could sure use that.
Camaron Beard, DL, Fr.: Beard is one reason head coach Butch Jones is feeling a lot better about the depth on the defensive line. Redshirted last year, the Indianapolis product put on weight and looks the part at 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds. Along with fellow redshirt freshman Brad Harrah, Beard should add some athleticism to the Cincinnati pass rush, even if it's in a backup role to start the season.
Kenbrell Thompkins, Anthony McClung and Shaq Washington, WR: I'm lumping all three of these guys together, because each has a chance to make an impact this year in the Bearcats' passing game. Thompkins is a junior college transfer who sat out last year but could become the No. 1 wideout. He dealt with a nagging hamstring injury late in the spring but was impressive before that. McClung came on late in his freshman campaign, catching 17 passes in Cincinnati's final four games. His progress continued in the spring. And Washington is a true freshman early enrollee who looked very good this spring before spraining his ankle. All three have a chance to join D.J. Woods as big-time producers in Cincinnati's pass-friendly offense.