Who is Big Ten's most underrated player entering 2014

Underrated Players Names such as Ameer Abdullah, Shilique Calhoun, Melvin Gordon, Randy Gregory, Braxton Miller and Brandon Scherff receive plenty of hype, and for good reason. What about the guys who produce but don’t receive the appropriate fanfare, though? You know, the underrated players. The BTN.com team offered its most underrated players entering 2014, and you can see our picks in this post. Spoiler alert: Running backs were a popular choice. [ MORE: View Tom Dienhart’s 2014 Big Ten schedule analysis posts ] TOM DIENHART Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois. When the conversation about top Big Ten backs breaks out, you always hear about Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford, among others. But don’t forget about Ferguson. The diminutive back is a jack-of-all trades who is as well-rounded as any running back in the conference. To wit: He led all Big Ten running backs with 50 catches for 535 yards. Ferguson added 779 yards rushing. Add it all up, and Ferguson finished ninth in the Big Ten in all-purpose yards with 112.6 per game. Yet, he remains largely anonymous because of Illinois’ lack of success. But don’t sleep on Ferguson, who again figures to be a prime weapon in a Fighting Illini attack that continues to improve under coordinator Bill Cubit.

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SEAN MERRIMAN Imani Cross, RB, Nebraska. There are so many good choices here, but I’m going with a guy who doesn’t receive a ton of publicity, simply because he plays behind Ameer Abdullah, one of the top backs in the nation. Cross is a force in the backfield, and he could start for a number of teams. In 2013, the 6-1, 225 pound back rushed 85 times for 447 yards and 10 touchdowns, good enough for 10th in the Big Ten. Even more impressive, he scored on every 8.5 carries, far and away the best number among the conference’s rushing TD leaders. Cross has that unique size/speed combo, which is something you love to see in a running back. The Big Ten is loaded with talented backs, so you often forget about the guys outside of the big names such as Melvin Gordon, Ameer Abdullah and Jeremy Langford. Don’t forget about Cross heading into this season.

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BRENT YARINA Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana. Did you know Coleman averaged 7.3 yards per carry last season, which tied for second with Carlos Hyde and was just 0.5 behind leader Melvin Gordon? Did you know Coleman ran for 958 yards (106 ypg) and 12 TDs (1.3 pg) in just nine games last season? Still, in a league with Gordon, Ameer Abdullah, Jeremy Langford and Venric Mark, among several others, the Indiana back isn’t receiving the hype he deserves. Blessed with size and speed, Coleman is a home-run threat who’s poised to play a bigger role in the Big Ten’s most exciting offense now that RB Stephen Houston and three of the top pass-catchers are gone. I can’t wait.

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6 Comments

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Tyler armstrong on 5/29/2014 @ 4:15pm EST Said:

I have to say i agree that imani cross is very underrated. I think he could be starting at just about every school in the country, and he has gotten better each of the last two off seasons. He came in with alot of hype, but abdullah has been a straight up stud so its hard for him to get the credit he deserves, but i think this season he will get more of a work load and theyll let him start to shine on his own.

KL on 5/29/2014 @ 11:37pm EST Said:

As a Husker fan I love the Imani Cross pick, but I also love the Tevin Coleman pick. I think the only reason Coleman flies under the radar is the name on the front of his jersey. He could be a big-time steal (Cross could be as well).

JP DeMauro on 5/30/2014 @ 12:05pm EST Said:

Leonte Caroo from Rutgers.

The kid is a beast and is barely being mentioned in preseason publications

Gurndogg on 5/30/2014 @ 12:30pm EST Said:

Even though I like these picks why don’t you pick guys who will be having LIKE coming out parties like someone no one has really even heard of cause he hasn’t had a chance but WILL get one this year. I don’t who that would be for most the teams in the league I do know a guy from my team OSU RB E. Elliott or if this isn’t just RB’s how bout J.Marshall. THanks.
GO BUCK’s!!!! OH—-

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com Senior Editor on 5/30/2014 @ 1:28pm EST Said:

    Excellent question. That’s more of a breakout player post than an underrated one. We have one of those scheduled.

Suicide1 on 5/30/2014 @ 3:56pm EST Said:

This one is easy, Mike Hull. In 2012, Mike Hull was put in for Glen Carson on third downs and was frequently the best player on the field regardless of position and that includes his own team-mates, Mike Mauti, who was the best linebacker and defender in the country in 2012, and Gerald Hodges who was the best linebacker in the country in 2011. He suffered a knee injury in the opener which limited him the entire season. Lost on most is the fact that despite playing at 75% for much of the season, he was a better linebacker than Big Ten DPOY and all-American Chris Borland. It isn’t a stretch to say that he is going to challenge Calhoun to be the best defender in the Big Ten