Kickoff is fast approaching. To help count down the days to Aug. 28, the BTN.com team is discussing one topic every day. Think of it as our countdown to kickoff. Today’s topic: West breakout player? See Tom Dienhart, Sean Merriman and Brent Yarina’s picks in this post.
See our other 2014 predictions:
- Debate it: Most intriguing storyline heading into this season?
- Debate it: Can a Big Ten West team win the conference title in 2016?
- Debate it: Who is the Big Ten’s top darkhorse Heisman candidate?
- What if you could start a team with one former Big Ten player?
- Draymond Green is the best Big Ten NBA Draft steal since…
Tom Dienhart: Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska. Bo Pelini has compared him to former LSU great Glenn Dorsey, who he coached in Baton Rouge. Collins got his feet wet last year as a true freshman (12 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack) and flashed athletic ability and strength. He could be a force on the interior.
Sean Merriman: Desmond King, DB, Iowa. King was one of four Iowa true freshmen to see the field last season. He played so well that he earned a starting spot at cornerback, becoming the team’s first true freshman to start in the secondary since 2002. He recorded 44 tackles, eight pass breakups and two fumble recoveries on his way to being named to the All-Big Ten Freshman team. Now, entering his sophomore season, King becomes one of the top playmakers on a talented defense. Don’t be surprised if he develops into an All-Big Ten defensive back.
Brent Yarina: Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin. It’s rarely, if ever, just one Wisconsin running back torching opposing defenses. This season, the big and powerful Clement will give the Badgers a second dangerous runner to go along with star Melvin Gordon. Clement ran for 547 yards and seven scores on 67 carries as the third option last year, so it will be fun to see what he does with, say, 170 totes.