The Big Ten Conference has three prolific running backs who will be popping up on just about all preseason award watch lists this year. Those three: Melvin Gordon, Ameer Abdullah, and Jeremy Langford will all likely be headed to the NFL next season. If you’re like me and compete in dynasty keeper leagues, you’ll be looking for the next best thing. Let’s take a look at a few of the up and coming running backs in the Big Ten Conference:
1. Corey Clement (Wisconsin) – Third-string, true freshman running backs hardly make an impact, especially when they’re buried in the depth chart behind an NFL draft pick (James White) and a “Heisman Hopeful” (Melvin Gordon), but making an impact is exactly what CC did. With only 67 carries in 2013, Clement rushed for 547 yards with 7 touchdowns. Clement’s true freshman efforts came as no surprise to some as the Glassboro, New Jersey native was one of the most highly touted Wisconsin recruits in recent memory. With the departure of James White to the NFL you should expect big things from Clement this year even if he is no. 2 on the depth chart. Wisconsin has utilized a two-headed monster over the past few seasons and that philosophy is here to stay. Some analysts consider Sconnie “Running-back U” as they have the current longest FBS streak with at least one 1,000 yard rusher, which dates back to 2005. Eleven backs have eclipsed the 1,000 yard threshold in that same time period. Don’t expect anything to change in Badgerland and expect big things from Clement in year two and beyond.
2. Dontre Wilson (Ohio State) – Urban Meyer loves utilizing a hybrid RB/WR in his spread/option offensive scheme. Wilson appeared on Phil Steele’s, preseason Big-Ten second team as a wide receiver and also was placed on the 2014 Paul Hornung Award, watch list, which is awarded to the nations most versatile athlete. Wilson is believed by many to be the fastest player in the conference and as his true freshman campaign stats indicate, he also is one of the best athletes in the country. Last year in limited time, Wilson had 250 yards on the ground, and 210 yards receiving, while being primarily used as a return man. The sophomore added 15 pounds of muscle to his diminutive 5’11 frame, and now weighs a respectable 190 pounds. Wilson has a year of experience under his belt and will be asked to take on a bigger role with the departures of Carlos Hyde and Philly Brown. Taking on the prolific “H-back” role in Urban Meyer’s potent offense, led by senior Braxton Miller could make Dontre Wilson a household name by the end of 2014.
3. Berkley Edwards (Minnesota) – Being the son of a former NFL running back, Stan Edwards; and little brother of former All-American and NFL wide receiver, Braylon Edwards indicates the type of genes Berkley Edwards possesses. Edwards won the 100 and 200 meter dashes in the state of Michigan as a senior in high school, and has been clocked under 4.4 in the 40 yard dash. Edwards chose to red-shirt last season as a preseason ankle injury lingered all season long. The red-shirt freshman, made a few electrifying plays in Minnesota’s spring game including a 50 yard run. Edwards gives Jerry Kill and the Gophers a game changer who is capable of complimenting David Cobb in Minnesota’s run-first offense. If you are in a “Big Ten-only” or a “dynasty league” I would highly suggest you take a flier on Edwards who has 4 years of eligibility remaining.
Leave a comment, and let the debate begin. Who will be the next B1G thing in the run-heavy Big Ten Conference?