We take a look at 10 players to keep an eye on in the Big Ten in 2017.
Like every year in college football, graduation and the NFL draft offer a natural source of attrition on football rosters. Talent churns our and is replaced by ever-evolving, new generations of gridiron stars.
The Big Ten lost it’s share of big name talent to the 2017 NFL Draft, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Ohio State defensive backs, Marson Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Malik Hooker were each selected in round 1, as well as Michigan duo Jabril Peppers and Taco Charlton. Also lost to the draft was Wisconsin stud pass rusher T.J. Watt. There are plenty of remaining names to be excited about on both sides of the ball in the Big Ten.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Barkley is a serious candidate for the Heisman trophy and may be the best running back in the country. As a top-tier running back entering his junior season, it wouldn’t be surprising if this is the last we see of Barkley in college.
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
Barrett is one of those players whom have seemingly been in college for 12 years. Now, entering his senior campaign, Barrett is looking to bounce back from an inconsistent junior season. With a great season on a championship-caliber team, Barrett could enter the Heisman race as well.
Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
Jewell is one of the more under-recognized players in the country. He racked up 124 total tackles with 6 tackles for loss in 2016. With another stellar season, Jewell’s name will be on the lips of many more people.
Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State
With McSorley’s continued development, along with Barkley’s dominance, the Penn State offense will be one of the more dangerous and balanced in the country. McSorley accounted for 36 touchdowns in 2016 and looks to build on that this season.
Tyquan Lewis, EDGE, Ohio State
Lewis posted 8 sacks in 2016, proving that he could get it done without Joey Bosa across from him. He was also named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year last season. The Buckeyes boast one of the best defensive lines in the nation, and Lewis is the spearhead of the group.
Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
Baker is one of the more naturally talented linebackers in the Big Ten and is still getting better with experience. Last season, he played in the shadow of Raekwon McMillan, but is poised to make this defense his in 2017.
Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern
Jackson has three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons under his belt as he enters his senior season. Four 1k seasons is a rarity in college football, as most backs would have moved on to NFL pastures. However, Jackson is poised to get his degree, so he stuck around for all four years.
Billy Price, C, Ohio State
Price was an All-American guard last year and has moved to center now that Pat Elflien is in the NFL. Price’s flexibility and smarts are what set him apart. With another great season, Price will be the latest in a long line of Buckeye offensive linemen in the league.
Tegary Scales, LB, Indiana
Scales led the entire conference in tackles and tackles and tackles for loss during the 2016 season. While his production is elite, Scales doesn’t get the notoriety his play warrants. Regardless of how much ink he gets, Scales is one hell of a football player.
Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State
Weber rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2016 becoming just the third freshman in Buckeye history to accomplish that feat. In 2017, Weber will be the bell-cow back for OSU, after splitting carries with now Carolina Panther, Curtis Samuel, in 2016.