Jeremy Langford’s 2013 season doesn’t seem to get enough fan fare. Did you know his 18 rushing touchdowns led the Big Ten, which was home to names such as Ameer Abdullah, Melvin Gordon and Carlos Hyde, among others? The Big Ten is loaded at running back, once again, so it will be a fun race. See who are panelists pick to win the rushing TD crown in this post.
Raise your hand if you predicted Jeremy Langford to lead the Big Ten in scoring a year ago. There should be no hands. Langford came out of nowhere last season to register a Big Ten-leading 114 points. Will the talented Spartan defend his scoring crown, or will someone dethrone him? See Tom Dienhart, Sean Merriman and Brent Yarina’s picks in this post.
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.
Northwestern received great news Tuesday, as running back Venric Mark was granted a medical hardship for a fifth season of eligibility. Mark’s return bolsters what will be a strong collection of running backs in the Big Ten in 2014. Here’s my ranking of the conference’s Top 10 backs for next season.