Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, December 2, 2015
It was a good year for freshman running backs in the Big Ten.
The league saw four freshmen finish in the top 10 in the Big Ten in rushing, led by Penn State?s Saquon Barkley. The true freshman was a revelation in State College, finishing fourth in the conference after running 165 times for 1,007 yards and seven TDs. Those numbers would be even higher had Barkley not missed two games (Army and Indiana) with injury and had a combined nine carries in two others (Temple and San Diego State). Still, those numbers make the 5-11, 222-pound Coplay, Pennsylvania, native the BTN.com Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Barkley?s 1,007 yards rushing broke a 32-year old Penn State freshman rushing record (1,002) set by D.J Dozier in 1983. Barkley and Dozier are the only Nittany Lion true freshmen ever to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. Dozier went on to be a first-round NFL pick in 1987.
Around the rest of the conference, Purdue true freshman Markell Jones is No. 7 in the Big Ten in rushing (875), while fellow true freshmen Ke?Shawn Vaughn of Illinois (661) and Shannon Brooks of Minnesota (636) are eighth and 10th, respectively.
Nebraska leads the way with four selections to BTN.com?s 2015 All-Freshman squad. Michigan State has three. All 14 squads are represented.
2015 BTN.com Big Ten All-Freshman Team
QB: Clayton Thorson, Northwestern*
RB: Saquon Barkley, Penn State
RB: Markell Jones, Purdue
WR: Desmond Cain, Illinois
WR: D.J. Moore, Maryland
WR: Stanley Morgan, Jr., Nebraska
OL: Michael Deiter, Wisconsin* C/G
OL: Wes Martin, Indiana* G
OL: Tyler Moore, Minnesota C
OL: Nick Gates, Nebraska* T
OL: Blake Hance, Northwestern* T
L: Parker Hesse, Iowa* E
L: Freedom Akinmoladun, Nebraska* E
L: Craig Evans, Michigan State* NT
L: Sam Hubbard, Ohio State* E
LB: T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin*
LB: Dedrick Young, Nebraska
LB: Chris Orr, Wisconsin
DB: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan* S
DB: Isaiah Wharton, Rutgers* CB
DB: Grayson Miller, Michigan State S
DB: Jonathan Crawford, Indiana S
K: Joey Julius, Penn State*
P: Jake Hartbarger, Michigan State*
KR: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan*