staff, August 13, 2015

The second installment in our four-part Big Ten football preview series asks a beat writer from every school for his/her team's most underrated player.

[ MORE: Part I: Breakout players | View all of our preseason coverage ]

See who your school's beat writer selected below:


Josh Ferguson, RB. He doesn't put up monster numbers like a Wisconsin tailback. That is more a product of the Illinois offense. But between running and catching passes, he will be the most utilized player on the team. I would put him second on the indispensable list and it is close.

– Bob Asmussen (@BobAsmussen),



Darius Latham, DL. Latham is emblematic of the combination of size, speed and skill that's beginning to stand out in the IU front seven.

– Mike Miller (@MikeMillerHT),



Jaleel Johnson, DT. The junior defensive tackle isn?t a name you?ve heard a lot. He?s 6-4, 310 and has waited three years for his turn behind NFL draft pick Carl Davis. Johnson will be the 1-technique, run-stuffer guy. During the spring, he did some damage.

– Marc Morehouse (@marcmorehouse),



Levern Jacobs, WR. He missed all of last season due to suspension and enters his senior season flying under the radar, but at a position that has been thinned considerably during the offseason, he has an opportunity to standout.

– Roman Stubbs (@romanstubbs),



Jourdan Lewis, CB. The cornerback has great ability to position himself despite a size disadvantage. On a team without support last year, he stood out.

– Mark Snyder (@Mark_Snyder),



Joel Heath, DT. I would have pegged linebacker Ed Davis for this spot, but Davis is out for the season with a knee injury suffered Wednesday. MSU's defensive line could be the best it has had in a long, long time. Heath is lone member of the starting four that does not make headlines, but has been a steady force inside since moving from defensive end.

– Mike Wilson (@MikeWilson247),



Jack Lynn, LB. Damien Wilson was the headline linebacker last year, and this year?s, it?s De?Vondre Campbell. But Lynn does a lot of things well, with the ability to play outside or in the middle.

– Joe Christensen (@JoeCStrib),



Imani Cross, RB. The Huskers relied so much on Ameer Abdullah that it was easy to forget Cross was around. He's a bruising north-south runner who can get yards after contact. Cross has shown big talent at NU, had 22 carries and 109 yards against Illinois. He'll make big push in running back derby.

– Tom Shatel (@tomshateOWH),



Dan Vitale, SB. Superback, a combination of fullback and tight end, is a position basically exclusive to Northwestern's offense, and Vitale is a very good one. He has soft hands, is willing to go over the middle, is an excellent physical blocker and has speed to stretch the field.

– Zach Pereles (@zach_pereles),



Eli Apple, CB. He was very good as a starter as a redshirt freshman last year and looks like a future star. He's a very rangy corner with good athletic ability and toughness.

– Dave Biddle (@davebiddle),



Austin Johnson, DT. Playing alongside a freakishly quick interior lineman like Anthony Zettel it's easy to see why Johnson is overlooked. But, one wouldn't be as successful without the other and Johnson, a redshirt junior, can blow up his share of plays in the backfield too.

– Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4),



Anthony Brown, CB. You don't hear a lot about Brown, but he's a solid corner.

– Mike Carmin (@carminjc),



Steve Longa, LB. The versatile linebacker has made 100-plus tackles in each of his first two seasons as a starter and will need another big year with Rutgers dangerously thin at the position. For Longa to get more notice around the conference, he will need to increase his number of momentum-changing plays, forcing more turnovers and recording more sacks.

– Ryan Dunleavy (@rydunleavy),



Vince Biegel, OLB: Biegel turned heads last year, but expect him to become a pass-rushing monster this season and turn into a worthy NFL draft prospect.

– Jason Galloway (@Jason_Galloway),