The 2017-18 college football season is nearing completion, with just the CFP championship between Alabama and Georgia left, but it’s not too early to start looking toward next year.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg compiled a list of potential breakout stars for 2018, and several Big Ten players are included on the list. Ohio State had two players, and Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan each had one. Here’s an early look at who to look out for next season, along with Rittenberg’s analysis.
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins:
Record-setting quarterback J.T. Barrett will be missed after an unforgettable Buckeyes and Big Ten career, but Haskins might have a higher ceiling because of his superior physical gifts. He showed a strong arm and accuracy in limited work, especially against Michigan after Barrett was hurt.
Haskins’ grip on the Buckeyes’ starting job is hardly definite, as he still must beat out Joe Burrow and Tate Martell, but his ceiling has Ohio State fans excited.
Wisconsin wide receiver Danny Davis III:
Get used to the Badgers throwing the ball more often to complement their traditional run game. Davis is one of several young receivers to watch, as he boasts speed and good hands.
Davis came into his own as the season wore on, recording four of his five touchdown catches in the final three games of the season. In Wisconsin’s 34-24 win over Miami in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30, he hauled in five catches for 56 yards and three touchdowns.
Penn State running back Miles Sanders:
“Save me some records,” record-setting Penn State running back Saquon Barkley told Sanders after the team’s Fiesta Bowl win. Although Barkley will go down as one of Penn State’s all-time greats, Sanders is a capable successor.
Stepping in for Barkley is no easy task, but Sanders showed promise in backup duty as a sophomore. On 31 attempts this season he rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Michigan DT Aubrey Solomon:
As a freshman, Solomon worked to claim a starting job down the stretch on a loaded defensive line and showed why he’ll become a foundational piece for 2018 and beyond.
The 6-foot-3, 297-pound Solomon offered a glimpse into his potential Nov. 18 against Wisconsin, when he recorded four tackles in the Wolverines’ 24-10 loss.