With the 2014 BTN bus tour in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a look back at my team-by-team player on the rise. These are the players who have a bright future. They might not be a star or consistent regular this fall, but you should learn their names and get to like their games.
Get Tom Dienhart’s latest coverage:
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- Big Ten links: Scroll through Tuesday best headlines
- Dienhart: Big Ten West offensive backfield unit rankings
Illinois: LB T.J. Neal. The sophomore linebacker looks good in the middle of the defense. I could see him getting 100 tackles.
Indiana: LB Marcus Oliver. When I asked a defensive assistant what players he liked, he looked up and point at No. 44, Oliver.
Iowa: DT Jaleel Johnson. The 6-4, 310-pound sophomore is a load who can move. He was unblockable today. Sack after sack after sack.
Maryland: RB Jacquille Veii. He’s a powerful package of speed and power at 5-9, 187, a running back with go-the-distance ability.
Michigan: RB Derrick Green. De’Veon Smith was my pick after we visited camp, but Green is the former all-world recruit who has shed weight, looks good and ascended to the top of the depth chart.
Michigan State: WR A.J. Troup. At 6-2, 218, he’s a big target who runs well for a receiving corps that suddenly has its share of depth.
Minnesota: Donovahn Jones. The former quarterback could emerge as the team’s top wideout. At 6-3, 200, he’s an inviting target with speed. Think Marvin McNutt, a former Iowa star WR who arrived as a QB.
Nebraska: TE Cethan Carter. He’s just a true sophomore, but he could develop into a nice target on underneath routes for Tommy Armstrong.
Northwestern: WR Miles Shuler. We didn’t get to see the Rutgers transfer, but he’s a quick wideout who can turn a small gain into a big one.
Ohio State: LB Darron Lee. The young linebacker flies to the ball.
Penn State: WR DeAndre Thompkins. Here’s a speedy option at a wideout spot that needs some help with Allen Robinson gone. Thompkins, who went through spring drills, could be special.
Purdue: OT David Hedelin. A JC transfer from Sweden, he has to sit out the first three games for a transfer issue. He’ll start once available. He plays with a defensive attitude at left tackle.
Rutgers: RB Josh Hicks. A true freshman with speed and instincts, Hicks is the real deal. But can he find time in a loaded backfield?
Wisconsin: QB Tanner McEvoy. Andy Ludwig gushed about the progress McEvoy has made. He is making a push and figures to have some role on this team.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|