Barrett, Gopher Running Backs Lead Big Ten Freshman Class


Aug 19, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) during practice at Ackerman Road Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the freshmen I think will have the biggest seasons in the Big Ten, looking at each skill position.

Quarterback: J.T. Barrett, Ohio State

With Braxton Miller out for the season with a shoulder injury, Barrett will be called upon to start under center. He inherits a high-powered offense, which lost running back Carlos Hyde but will return four of its five top wide receivers from last season. While Barrett may not have Miller’s advanced skill set, the drop-off in ability is not as substantial as one might think. Barrett is a dual-threat player who was one of the top quarterbacks from the 2012 class (he’s a redshirt freshman). His biggest praise may be the fact that he was recruited by Urban Meyer. Meyer has an impressive track record of success with quarterbacks he has recruited, including Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. Barrett is not Miller, but he can still lead Ohio State to the College Football playoffs.

Running Back: Berkley Edwards and Jeff Jones, Minnesota

Both of these players have question marks, but they also have significant upside. Edwards redshirted last season because of knee and ankle injuries. Jones had to take two summer courses just to get into Minnesota, and still has not been ruled eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse. If Edwards and Jones can both get on the field this season, Minnesota will have an impressive stable of running backs that already includes David Cobb, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. Edwards is just 5 feet 9 inches tall and 190 pounds, but he is lightning quick and has shown good hands as a receiver. Jones is an Under Armour All-American who won Mr. Football in Minnesota. This could be a special pair once they get on the field.

Wide Receiver: Dominique Booth, Indiana

Booth is a five-star recruit who rejected offers from Alabama, Florida State and Texas A&M to stay in his home state of Indiana. The Hoosiers lost wide receivers Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes to the NFL, so Booth and the returning Shane Wynn will be tasked with replacing them. Booth has decent size, listed at 6 feet 1 inch and 200 pounds, and put together a strong showing in spring drills. Head coach Kevin Wilson’s run-and-gun offense has been quite successful in recent seasons, and should allow Booth to put up big stats.