Countdown to 2017: Top 10 Big Ten individual seasons of 2016
We’re one day closer to 2017, and today it’s time to take a look at the top 10 individual seasons of 2016. Who did I miss?
10. Wisconsin RB Corey Clement. He has had a bang-up senior season, pacing the Big Ten in rushing with 108.7 yards per game. Clement has carried a Big Ten-high 292 times for 1,304 yards with 14 TDs. He has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the last five games and seven of the last eight. No Big Ten back is hotter.
9. Ohio State FS Malik Hooker. The 6-2, 205-pound sophomore has a Big Ten-high six interceptions this season, running back three for touchdowns. He also has defended 10 passes and was an anchor for a Buckeye defense that is No. 5 in the nation overall (282.3 ypg), No. 6 vs. the pass (164.5 ypg), No. 14 vs. the run (117.8 ypg) and No. 3 in scoring (14.2 ppg).
8. Northwestern WR Austin Carr. A Biletnikoff finalist, Carr leads the Big Ten with 84 catches for 1,196 yards and 12 TDs. And he is part of a corps that overachieved in helping pump life into what was a pedestrian Wildcat offense in 2015, when NU was last in the Big Ten in passing (138.5 ypg). This season, Northwestern is No. 4 in the Big Ten in passing (247.7 ypg). Credit Carr, who arrived in Evanston as a walk-on.
7. Ohio State WR/RB Curtis Samuel. The 5-11, 197-pound junior is the only player in the nation with over 700 yards rushing (704) and over 800 yards receiving (822) with 15 TDs scored. He is the quintessential big play waiting to happen. Remember that game-winning 15-yard TD run in double overtime vs. Michigan? Sure you do!
6. Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis. The Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, Lewis was the epitome of a shutdown corner in 2016. He has defended 10 passes and posted two interceptions. He also has 23 tackles for a defense that is No. 2 in the nation in total defense (252.7 ypg), No. 2 in scoring defense (12.5 ppg), No. 1 in passing defense (135.9 ypg) and No. 13 in rushing defense (116.8 ypg).
5. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett. He was the Big Ten Quarterback of the Year and the Silver Football Award co-winner. Barrett is hitting 61 percent of his passes for 2,428 yards with 24 TDs and five interceptions. The 6-2, 222-pound junior also had 847 yards rushing, making him one of the most deadly signal-callers in the Big Ten. He is the epitome of a one-man gang.
4. Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. He won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Big Ten running back of the year and shared the Silver Football Award, rushing for 1,302 yards (100.2 ypg). His 16 rushing TDs led the Big Ten.
3. Wisconsin LB T.J. Watt. He probably should have been the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Nonetheless, J.J.’s little brother still basked in a lot of glory as a consensus All-Big Ten pick who was third in the Big Ten in sacks (.81 per game) and No. 7 in TFLS (1.12 per game). The 6-5, 243-pound junior was a sideline-to-sideline force and the leader of the Big Ten’s best unit of linebackers, helping the Badgers rank No. 3 in the Big Ten in scoring defense (15.5 ppg), No. 3 in total defense (303.0 ypg) and No. 1 in rushing defense (96.9 ypg).
2. Michigan LB Jabrill Peppers. The Swiss army knife earned numerous honors—Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Big Ten Linebacker of the Year, All-American—en route to finishing fifth in Heisman Trophy voting. Peppers played at linebacker, safety, nickel back in addition to taking reps on offense en route to gaining 167 yards rushing. On defense, he notched 72 tackles, 16 TFLs, four sacks and a pick. Oh, and the 6-1, 205-pound junior also ran back punts, taking one to the house.
1. Penn State QB Trace McSorley. Truth be known, he probably should have been the Big Ten Player of the Year—and he wasn’t even a first-team All-Big Ten choice at quarterback. Go figure. McSorley was a revelation as a sophomore in taking over for Christian Hackenberg. The 6-1, 201-pound McSorley is No. 1 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, hitting 57 percent of his attempts for 3,360 yards with 25 TDs and five picks. He also is No. 1 in total offense (285.5 ypg) and led the Big Ten title team. Pretty nice resume. Is anyone’s REALLY better? C’mon.
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