BTN.com's top 100 Big Ten football players entering 2016: 100-81
It’s getting closer, Big Ten fans. In fact, kickoff is a little more than a month away.
To help pass some of the time before Minnesota opens the Big Ten slate vs. Oregon State and former Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen on Thursday, Sept. 1, BTN.com decided to release its top 100 players entering 2016.
We’re breaking this countdown into five parts: 100-81 (today); 80-61 (Wednesday); 60-41 (Thursday); 40-21 (Friday); 20-1 (Monday).
View the first installment below.
100. K Michael Geiger, Michigan State. One of the top returning kickers in the Big Ten, Geiger is known for his game-winning kick against Ohio State in 2015, and of course, the incredible windmill celebration that followed the game-winner.
99. DB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State. A highly touted recruit out of Cleveland, Lattimore looks to be healthy and poised for a breakout 2016 season at cornerback.
98. LB Josh Banderas, Nebraska. Limited to nine games a season ago, Banderas still registered 61 tackles; his seven tackles for loss tied for second on the team.
97. OT Jonah Pirsig, Minnesota. The Gophers’ best returning lineman is expected to pave the way for a Minnesota offense that had a solid year in 2015 and features a pair of exciting young backs.
96. DB Marcus Allen, Penn State. As a sophomore a season ago, Allen finished second in tackles (81) on an underrated Penn State defense that featured three NFL draft picks.
95. P Sam Foltz, Nebraska. He enters his third season as the starter, this after leading the Big Ten in punting yard average last season en route to claiming Big Ten Punter of the Year.
94. RB/RS Solomon Vault, Northwestern. One of the Big Ten’s premier returners, Vault is making the transition from running back to receiver, a position of need in Evanston that should yield plenty of looks.
93. RB Akrum Wadley, Iowa. The then-third stringer burst onto the scene with an out-of-nowhere four score day last year at Northwestern, but now he’ll be able to showcase his skills on a more regular basis.
92. DB Jonathan Crawford, Indiana. As a freshman in 2015, Crawford led Indiana with four interceptions (33 yards), the third-most for a true freshman in program history, and finished second with 76 tackles and 48 solos.
91. OT Jamarco Jones, Ohio State. Jones is in line to be the Buckeyes’ next great left tackle. He is still young, but many expect him to progress as the year goes on and develop into an all-Big Ten tackle at Ohio State.
90. RB Miles Sanders, Penn State. The top true freshman running back in the Big Ten this season, the thought of Sanders and Saquon Barkley in the same backfield has to make James Franklin happy.
89. DE Demetrius Cooper, Michigan State. With Shilique Calhoun off to the NFL, Cooper, who showed flashes of brilliance in limited action last year, will be the Spartans’ go-to pass rusher off the end.
88. DB Anthony Cioffi, Rutgers. The cornerback-turned-safety tied for the team lead in interceptions in 2014 (2), and led the Scarlet Knights in the department in 2015 (4), all while amassing 74 tackles.
87. WR Austin Mack, Ohio State. Another true freshman on the list, Mack is expected to make an immediate impact in Columbus with the departure of Michael Thomas, Braxton Miller and Jalin Marshall from last year’s team.
86. LB Jermaine Carter, Maryland. Carter emerged as a consistent playmaker in the middle of Maryland’s defense last season, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors after he led the Terps with 103 tackles and ranked second with 14 tackles for loss.
85. LB Marcus Oliver, Indiana. He was a tackling machine for the Hoosiers last season, recording double-digit stops four times, and should be the leader of the Indiana defense.
84. OL Kodi Kieler, Michigan State. The top returning offensive tackle on the Spartans, Kieler is expected to anchor the right side of the line for an offense that should be exciting to watch.
83. TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State. He was caught in a deep group of tight ends in his first two years on campus, but now Gesicki should be the go-to tight end in the Nittany Lions’ offense.
82. RB Terrell Newby, Nebraska. While Devine Ozigbo figures to steal carries, the former can’t-miss recruit out of California is experienced and can inflict damage on the ground (765 yards, 6 TD) and through the air (24 rec., 159 yards, 1 TD).
81. DE Kemoko Turay, Rutgers. If Turay can reclaim his disruptive tendencies as a freshman (7.5 sacks), it will be a big year for one of the Big Ten’s most freakish athletes.