The Big Ten's returning starters in 2012

January, 24, 2012
1/24/12
11:15
AM ET
Returning starters don't guarantee success, but they often help. The teams with fewer players stepping into unfamiliar roles typically enter the season with fewer question marks.

Phil Steele recently tallied all the returning starters throughout the FBS, and you can check out the full rankings.

Here's how the Big Ten stacks up:

1. Indiana (total of 19)

  • Offense: 8 (QB included)
  • Defense: 9
  • Special teams: 2
  • National rank: T-4th
2. Ohio State (total of 18)
  • Offense: 7 (QB included)
  • Defense: 9
  • Special teams: 2
  • National rank: T-8th
T-3. Michigan (total of 16)
  • Offense: 7 (QB included)
  • Defense: 7
  • Special teams: 2
  • National rank: T-29th
T-3. Nebraska (total of 16)
  • Offense: 7 (QB included)
  • Defense: 7
  • Special teams: 2
  • National rank: T-29th
T-3. Purdue (total of 16)
  • Offense: 8 (QB included)
  • Defense: 7
  • Special teams: 1
  • National rank: T-29th
T-6. Illinois (total of 14)
  • Offense: 6 (QB included)
  • Defense: 7
  • Special teams:1
  • National rank: T-64th
T-6. Michigan State (13)
  • Offense: 4
  • Defense: 8
  • Special teams: 2
  • National rank: T-64th
8. Minnesota (total of 13)
  • Offense: 6 (QB included)
  • Defense: 5
  • Special teams: 2
  • National rank: T-81st
T-9. Iowa (total of 12)
  • Offense: 6 (QB included)
  • Defense: 5
  • Special teams: 1
  • National rank: T-96th
T-9. Northwestern (total of 12)
  • Offense: 5
  • Defense: 5
  • Special teams: 2
  • National rank: T-96th
T-9. Penn State (total of 12)
  • Offense: 5 (QB included)
  • Defense: 5
  • Special teams: 2
  • National rank: T-96th
12. Wisconsin (total of 10)
  • Offense: 4
  • Defense: 6
  • Special teams: 0
  • National rank: T-116th

Some takeaways:
  • Even though Indiana returns the most starters in the league, the Hoosiers' lineup could have a different look in 2011. There figure to be some changes on defense as several junior college players enter the fold. The starting offensive backfield of quarterback Tre Roberson and running back Stephen Houston looks pretty safe, but new coordinator Seth Littrell will be evaluating the personnel, and head coach Kevin Wilson won't hesitate to make changes.
  • Ohio State's defense figures to be a much-improved unit in 2012. The Buckeyes played far more younger players than normal this past season, and they should reap the benefits as Johnathan Hankins, Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby and others mature.
  • The 2012 season will provide a true gauge of Wisconsin's depth and progress as a program. If the Badgers can follow up two Big Ten titles with another strong season despite returning only 10 starters, their place as an emerging national power should be set. Although much will be made about the departure of quarterback Russell Wilson and three All-Big Ten offensive linemen, Wisconsin also is the only Big Ten team having to replace both of its starting specialists.
  • The offenses for both Wisconsin and Michigan State took the biggest personnel hits in terms of returning starters. Both squads must replace senior quarterbacks and their top wide receivers (Nick Toon for Wisconsin, B.J. Cunningham for Michigan State). While quarterback is the biggest void in Badger Country, Michigan State will look to bolster the wide receiver position.
  • Northwestern didn't capitalize on a veteran team in 2011 and will have to replace several multiyear starters on offense. The potential plus is the Wildcats will get some new faces on the defensive side, where they've struggled for most of the past two seasons.
  • Purdue's returning starters total is a reason the Boilers could be a popular pick to be a sleeper team in 2012. Keep in mind that along with the eight returning starters on offense, Purdue regains the services of quarterback Rob Henry, who started in 2010 and had a strong offseason before suffering a torn ACL in August.
  • It feels like Nebraska is returning more than seven starters on offense as so many players saw time with the unit this past season. The Huskers need a few offensive linemen to emerge but should have good depth elsewhere. On the flip side, while Nebraska returns seven defensive starters, it loses its best players in linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 10/25