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Friday, January 9, 2009
Running back spot to get makeover in Big Ten

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

 
  US Presswire
  Javon Ringer and Chris Wells will be working on Sundays in 2009.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The Big Ten's best position on the field this season will have a very different look in 2009.

After boasting three of the nation's top six rushers and six players ranked in the top 40, the Big Ten has seen major turnover at the running back position. In addition to graduating seniors, the league will lose three underclassmen -- Iowa's Shonn Greene, Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells and Wisconsin's P.J. Hill -- to the NFL draft.

Seven of the 11 conference members have lost their leading rusher from this season. And of the remaining four teams -- Penn State, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota -- only Penn State finished in the Top 25 nationally in rushing offense (205.9 yards per game) this fall.

Though the league figures to make much-needed upgrades at quarterbacks, there will be a void in several backfields.

Here's a look at what the Big Ten lost at running back:

Several of these teams developed backups for 2009. Iowa's Jewel Hampton, Wisconsin's Clay and Ohio State's Dan Herron look capable of stepping into featured roles. Purdue's Jaycen Taylor returns from injury and likely will be the starter.

Other squads relied heavily on players who won't be back in 2009.

But outside of State College and maybe Ann Arbor, the running back competitions will be one of the offseason's top story lines as we inch closer toward Sept. 5.