Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Big Ten's top comeback players for 2013
By Adam Rittenberg
Earlier today, I wrote about Ohio State slotback Jordan Hall and his road back from foot and knee injuries that cost him the 2012 season, plus a hamstring tweak that slowed him this spring. Hall has slimmed down and boosted his speed to play a position that Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer loves to feature in his spread offense.
Hall is one of several players in the mix for Big Ten comeback player of the year in 2013. Although the league doesn't have an official award for comeback player -- amazing, since it seems to have one for everything else -- there are several candidates who could rebound in 2013 after missing a good chunk of last season because of injury.
Let's take a look:
Michigan CB Blake Countess, 5-10, 181: He started six games at cornerback as a true freshman in 2011 and appeared in 12 contests overall, recording 44 tackles, six pass breakups and a forced fumble. But Countess' sophomore season ended in the first quarter of the opener against Alabama when he suffered a torn ACL while running down the field on punt coverage. Countess went through noncontact drills this past spring and will be ready for the season. Read more on him here.
Michigan State T Fou Fonoti, 6-4, 298: The Spartans' offensive woes in 2012 went beyond losing Fonoti to a foot injury days before its Week 3 showdown against Notre Dame. But Fonoti's absence certainly was felt as the offensive line, like the rest of the unit, endured bouts of inconsistency. Fonoti ended up missing the rest of the season but returned to the field this spring and saw time mainly at tackle but also a bit at center. He'll lead a line that must create holes for a new starting running back and time for the passing game to develop. Read more on Fonoti here.
Ohio State RB/WR Jordan Hall, 5-8, 191: Meyer is looking for versatility on offense and Hall could finally provide it in the slotback role this fall. Meyer had high hopes for Hall coming out of last spring, but a freak injury where Hall cut his foot on a broken bottle outside his home set off a string of setbacks. Hall appeared in just three games last season but has 1,032 career rush yards and six touchdowns to go along with 24 career receptions and a kick return average of 27 yards.
Indiana QB Tre Roberson, 6-foot, 200: Roberson returns to the mix after a broken leg suffered in Week 2 against Massachusetts ended his 2012 season. He had won the Hoosiers' quarterback competition last summer and put up big numbers (368 pass yards, 133 rush yards) in the first five quarters of the season before the injury. Roberson, who started five games as a true freshman in 2011 and appeared in nine, must beat out Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld for the top job in preseason camp. Read more about Roberson and the Hoosiers' quarterback race.
Iowa T Brandon Scherff, 6-5, 315: Like Michigan State, Iowa can't attribute all of its offensive problems to the loss of a standout tackle. But Scherff's season-ending broken leg and dislocated ankle suffered in mid-October against Penn State signaled the beginning of the end for Iowa, which entered the Penn State game at 4-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes wound up losing their final six games. Pegged as the successor to first-round draft pick Riley Reiff, Scherff started the first seven contests at left tackle in 2012 after starting three games at left guard as a redshirt freshman in 2011. Check out more on Scherff's comeback.
Who is your pick for the Big Ten's comeback player of 2013? Be sure to vote in our poll.