Sometimes the best players make the greatest impact on a game, or a season.
On Wednesday, CBSSports.com revealed its top 50 impact players for the 2016 college football season, and nine Big Ten players were mentioned.
Here’s a glimpse at each of the players mentioned:
50. William Likely, cornerback, Maryland
Likely is “likely” one of the most versatile players in the country, but might not be a household name just yet. He’s starting to get some national recognition as the 2016 season inches closer. Likely has been named to the Thorpe Award, Paul Hornung Award and Bednarik Award watch lists. He’s one of the top cornerbacks in the country and also plays an enormous role on special teams.
46. Saquon Barkley, running back, Penn State
Barkley rushed for 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns during his freshman season and is poised for an even bigger sophomore campaign. Barkley is already one of the preeminent rushers in the conference has been named to the Doak Walker Award watch list.
36. Malik McDowell, defensive tackle, Michigan State
McDowell is a beast and will anchor Michigan State’s front seven this season. He’s the best defensive lineman in the conference and perhaps the country. He’s been named to the Bednarik Award and Outland Trophy preseason watch lists.
31. Pat Elflein, offensive lineman, Ohio State
Ohio State doesn’t have a ton of returning experience on its offensive line, but it does have Elflein. This outstanding blocker should keep the unit strong in 2016. Elflein has been named to the Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy watch lists.
29. Raekwon McMillan, linebacker, Ohio State
McMillan is a stud and will now be the focal point of Ohio State’s defense. The increased attention shouldn’t be much of a problem for McMillan, who definitely possesses elite NFL talent. There aren’t many award watch lists McMillan hasn’t been named to. He’s on the Bednarik Award, Butkus Award, Nagurski Trophy and Walter Camp Award watch lists.
16. J.T. Barrett, quarterback, Ohio State
Ohio State is finally Barrett’s team and there’s no doubt about it. The quarterback has all the tools to be in the Heisman Trophy race and might need to be a Heisman-caliber player to keep Ohio State’s retooling offense afloat. Barrett should be up to the challenge and the talent around him should be good enough for a spectacular season.
13. Jourdan Lewis, cornerback, Michigan
Lewis would be by far the best cornerback in the Big Ten if not for Iowa’s Desmond King, who is a bit further on this list. Lewis is a tremendous player who has NFL aspirations. He’s surely going to give King a run for his money as the conference’s best cornerback and could also challenge for the Thorpe Award.
11. Desmond King, cornerback, Iowa
King won the Thorpe Award last season and could be poised to win it again. That’s if opposing quarterbacks dare to throw at him. If King doesn’t see many targets coming his way, he will still manage to make an impact as a special teams player. King returned 29 kickoffs for 708 yards last season.
10. Jabrill Peppers, linebacker, Michigan
Rounding out the list of Big Ten representatives is the versatile Peppers. There isn’t much Peppers can’t do. He is an occasional threat offensively, but his best play comes on the defensive side. Peppers will be moving to outside linebacker in Don Brown’s new scheme, which means Peppers could wreak havoc along the edge with his athleticism. There’s no doubt Peppers will also get plenty of touches and opportunities to make plays in the return game.