Our Experts’ Picks for the Top 10 Big 10 Players for 2015
The Big 10 is on the rise. The Ohio State and Michigan State squads have been particularly impressive while other teams like Wisconsin and Penn State are displaying some impressive form as well.
Players like Adrian Amos and Jeremy Langford have moved on and are looking to make a name for themselves in the NFL, but there’s plenty of exciting talent returning to the conference for the 2015 season. Let’s take a closer look at the ten players to keep an eye on when the games get underway.
Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
Peppers is a player with a lot of potential. Fans and the player himself were understandably disappointed when injuries curtailed much of Peppers’ freshman season. Nevertheless, he’s back and looks more than fit enough to have a much better season this time around. The potential is still there for Peppers to become a great player. The defensive back is very highly-rated by the coaching staff at Michigan and Wolverines’ fans will be eager to see what he can do in 2015.
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
Carroo is arguably the best receiver in the Big 10 and fans will be happy to see him return, rather than moving on to the NFL. He managed 10 touchdowns along with 55 catches for 1,086 yards last season and another season like that will see him being an early round draft pick in the NFL draft next year. Rutgers will be introducing a new signal caller to their squad this season and Carroo will be hoping to develop a good understanding with the new QB and help the Scarlet Knights push their way up the conference.
Jack Conklin, Michigan State
Conklin has been so impressive for Michigan State and fans will be very glad to have him returning in 2015. He’s a star player of the Big 10 and led the squad last season in knockdowns with 104.5. The physical beast is already being monitored by some big NFL squads and will be a top draft pick next year. If he can continue his stunning form in the upcoming season, expect his value to rise even further.
Cardale Jones, Ohio State
In spite of Barrett’s talent and fantastic 2014 season, Jones is still in competition for the top spot on the Buckeyes’ roster. He’s fully fit and had a very impressive 2014 himself with 742 passing yards and 5 touchdown passes across just three starts. As previously mentioned, the battle for the number one signal caller role is very hard to call but Jones has the advantage of being entirely injury-free and will need to take the chances he gets.
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
People are already talking about Hackenberg being a first round pick in next year’s NFL draft. He has incredible potential but will still need to put in some impressive performances this year after a slightly disappointing sophomore season. His interceptions in 2014 were up to 15 from 10 the year before and his touchdown tally was reduced too. However, with some improvements being made to the Penn State lineup, fans will be expecting Hackenberg to get back to his best and learn from the tough experiences of last season.
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
From one Ohio State signal caller to another, the battle between Barrett and Jones will be a tough one. There’s some decent competition for the signal caller role at Ohio State, despite double Big 10 MVP Braxton Miller no longer being part of that competition. Cardale Jones is a very exciting thrower, but fans should really keep an eye on Barrett, who will be desperate to make the quarterback role his own in 2015. Last season, he had the best statistical season Ohio State has ever seen, breaking several records along the way. He’s also struggled with injury but has made a good recovery and could play a vital role for Ohio State this year.
Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
With the sort of numbers Calhoun has been putting up over the last two seasons, he might have been expected to enter the NFL as an early round draft. However, he decided to stick around in Michigan for another year and is easily one of the best defensive ends in the conference. He’ll want to keep playing the way he has and cement his status as one of the best players in his position before making the step up to the NFL.
Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
We’ve talked about the complicated QB battle at Ohio State, but one player who will surely start is Elliott. He was MVP in the Sugar Bowl and MVP again in the CFP and is undoubtedly the favorite for the Heisman Trophy in the upcoming season. If he can keep his form going into the new games, he’ll dominate the conference and continue to prove himself as possibly the finest offensive player in college football.
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Cook, like Calhoun, is another name that Michigan State fans will be happy to see returning in 2015. Set to be a first-round pick in next year’s draft, the QB is an incredible player to watch and has led to his team to plenty of success over the last two years. Last season he threw for an impressive 3,214 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Joey Bosa, Ohio State
Experts are predicting Bosa to possibly be the first overall pick in next year’s draft and it’s easy to see why. He is one of the best players in college football, putting up 55 tackles in 2014 with 13.5 sacks and 21 for a loss. If the Buckeyes want to hold on to their title, the role of Bosa will be critical. The 6’6”, 278 pound beast will surely maintain his magnanimous form in 2015 and can dominate games all by himself. Offensive players like Elliott will win the plaudits and trophies, but Bosa cannot be underestimated.