Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Poll: Big Ten's impact freshman
By Adam Rittenberg
The true gauge of Big Ten's 2013 recruiting haul likely won't come for two or three seasons, when many of the players signed Feb. 6 find themselves in major roles. But a handful of true freshmen on each team will contribute this fall, and a select few will make a major impact.
Which Big Ten freshman will we be talking about the most come November? That's the subject of today's poll question. Reducing the list down to only five players wasn't easy, and several potential impact players didn't make the cut. I tried to look for talented players who step into positions of need for the respective teams.
Here are the nominees in alphabetical order ...
Danny Etling, QB, Purdue: Etling enrolled early at Purdue and will be able to compete for the vacant starting job starting this spring. Although he'll have to beat out one-time starter Rob Henry, talented redshirt freshman Austin Appleby and others, Purdue has no clear-cut favorite to win the job. A new coaching staff will give Etling and the others a clean slate, and if Etling catches on quickly this spring, he'll put himself in the mix for the starting spot.
Derrick Green, RB, Michigan: The Wolverines ended a strong recruiting cycle with arguably their biggest addition in Green, the nation's No. 5 running back and No. 38 overall player, according to ESPN Recruiting. He fills a significant need at running back, a spot where Michigan struggled in 2012 and has few certainties entering 2013. Green has the size and talent to enter the starting lineup very early in his Wolverines career.
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State: Some Nittany Lions fans are hoping Hackenberg redshirts in 2013, and it wouldn't be a shock if he does. If either Steven Bench or junior-college arrival Tyler Ferguson pan out in practice, Hackenberg could be on clipboard duty. But Penn State loses almost all of its passing production from 2012 -- Bench attempted only eight passes -- and needs a reliable leader in the pocket. Hackenberg is the nation's top pocket passer, according to ESPN Recruiting, and if he can make up ground in fall camp, he could be in the mix when the games begin.
Darius Latham, DT, Indiana: The Hoosiers brought in several decorated defenders in a strong 2013 class to help a unit that ranked 103rd nationally in yards allowed and 101st in points allowed last fall. Latham, an ESPN 300 selection, addresses a need along the defensive line, where Indiana loses standout Adam Replogle and Larry Black Jr. The one-time Wisconsin recruit has good size (6-foot-5, 291 pounds) and could really help against the run. Although it's never easy for defensive linemen to play as freshman, Indiana needs help up front and Latham could provide it.
Dontre Wilson, RB/WR, Ohio State: Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer wants more versatile skill players on offense, and Wilson certainly fits the description. The 5-10, 174-pound speedster should blend in seamlessly with Meyer's offense and provide another explosive option around quarterback Braxton Miller. Meyer flipped Wilson from Oregon late in the recruiting process, and Wilson's ability to contribute in multiple ways makes him a potential impact freshman for the Buckeyes.