'Peanut,' Pitt trio lead freshman watch list

Here's a look at the five freshmen who will make an impact in the Big East this season.

1. DE Deantwan "Peanut" Whitehead, Louisville
Whitehead is possibly the best defensive line recruit Louisville has had during Bob Petrino's tenure. With the loss of the fabulous Elvis Dumervil, the Cardinals return just one starter on the defensive line, and Whitehead is already in the two-deep rotation.

Louisville edged out Auburn for Whitehead's services, and the long-armed, 255-pound rush end from Birmingham, Ala. will have an opportunity to show just how disruptive he can be off the edge.

Whitehead is big, strong and explosive and is expected to live up to his billing despite being a true freshman.

2. WR/RB Dorin Dickerson, Pittsburgh
Dickerson not only will be counted on at wide receiver, but he also might see time at running back as Pittsburgh is searching for some help in the backfield to complement gunslinger Tyler Palko.

Dickerson is big, physical and very smooth for a player of his size. A local Pittsburgh product, he is expected to add speed and a significant red zone threat to a receiving unit that only returns one starter in Derek Kinder.

3. RB Kevin Collier, Pittsburgh
While Collier isn't very big yet, his speed and quickness will be a significant upgrade to a below-average running game at Pittsburgh.

He is a darter-type back with great explosiveness and vision, but he is also a surprisingly effective inside runner, and the Panthers need a physical presence up front. Also expect Collier to contribute in the passing game as he is a threat in space and can make multiple defenders miss in the open field.

4. WR Tamarcus Porter, Pittsburgh
Simply put, Tamarcus Porter is an excellent overall athlete who we actually projected to play safety, but it seems Porter is making a statement at wide receiver early. He and Dickerson could give Pittsburgh a dynamic young tandem out wide.

Porter is explosive and at his best in space. He can make people miss and has excellent instincts and playmaking skills. He lacks ideal vertical speed, and if he had it, he would have been a national recruit.

5. WR Brad Kanuch, Connecticut
It can be tough for a true freshman to see serious playing time, but in the case of Kanuch, the mixture of ability and opportunity could see him make contributions to the UConn offense in 2006. The Huskies' leading receiver in 2005 only had 32 receptions, and he is gone, leaving a lackluster group at the position.

Coach Randy Edsall opened up the competition, and Kanuch could be the guy to benefit most. He has outstanding speed and a second gear. He has good hands and can adjust to a bad pass. He is a bit raw as a route runner but can make the over-the-shoulder catch and with his speed, could give the Huskies some vertical excitement. Kanuch already has cracked the two-deep for the Huskies' Rhode Island game, and if he can make some plays early, he could see some serious playing time.

Tom Luginbill is the national recruiting director for ESPN's Scouts Inc. He is a former quarterback, scout and coach.