Class of 2012 players to watch: No. 1

Over the past week, NittanyNation has taken a look at different players from the 2012 class that could make a big impact next season. (Steven Bench is not included because he was on last week's overall list of breakout players.)

No. 1 player to watch: CB Da'Quan Davis

He's not the biggest name of the 2012 class, but he's in prime position to be a starter next season. He'll likely take over for Stephon Morris, and he could make or break the secondary.

He's followed a similar path as Adrian Amos to this point. Amos played in all but one game as a true freshman -- and so did Davis. However, Amos definitely seemed more advanced at the end of his 2011 freshman campaign.

Still, the rising sophomore definitely showed flashes of potential. He's the kind of player who shows up early to lift and then leaves late. And he doesn't shy away from competition.

"If one of his teammates spits, he'll have to spit further," said his high school position coach, Cory Robinson, earlier this year.

Bill O'Brien praised his work ethic and, with another year to learn and improve, Davis' freshman season could really just be the launching pad to become a three-year starter. He has the drive, he just needs the experience.

And, with the loss of five defensive starters, Davis' performance will be more important than ever next season. He'll be critical in helping determine whether this secondary can take a big step from 2012 and prevent big plays and third-down conversions. He's definitely a player to watch.

Quotables: "He's really come on strong at camp. He's a young guy; the mental aspect, he's still grasping that. But as far as his ability to play football, he's fantastic. He has quick feet and good ball skills, so I expect a lot of big things out of that guy." - Safety Malcolm Willis