The 4th part of our 6-part installment highlighting the best players returning for the Power 5 conferences and finally made it to the BIG-10 after a short break. These players can be incoming recruits, but most of the players featured will be returning stars from previous seasons.
We cover the BIG-10, which is home to fourteen different programs and is home to multiple national champions. Ohio State has been the best team for multiple consecutive seasons now; winning the past 3 conference championships. Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, & Wisconsin have all made New Year’s Six bowls. In the CFB Playoff era, Ohio State made a run and upset Alabama and Oregon to win the national championship. We have seen elite players, such as Dwayne Haskins take the college football world by storm and make a Heisman run.
The BIG-10 is one of the deepest conferences in college football; indicated by the 40+ players that were drafted in this past NFL Draft. Make sure to check out these players in the 2020 season, because these guys will be playing on Sunday in the near future.
2019 Stats: 67.2% comp, 3273 yards passing, 51 total touchdowns, 3 INTs
Fields made his decision to transfer from Georgia to Ohio State worth it in a huge way this past season. He led the BIG-10 in passing yards & passing TDs, while also boasting the third highest passer efficiency rating in the country. Fields would have likely been squarely in the Heisman Trophy race if it was not for a once-in-a-generation season by LSU QB, Joe Burrow. Fields possess an extremely important quality for QBs, which is his ability to make his teammates excel. Fields elevates every player on the field around him, which is why he was dominant in his first season in Columbus. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Fields ranked #2 in the country in passing grade for the season and never had a game below 70.0. I am looking for Fields to take that next step and lead the Buckeyes to a National Championship in 2020, which should solidify him as one of the best QBs in Ohio State history.
Micah Parsons (Penn State; Linebacker #11)
2019 Stats: 109 total tackles, 14 TFLs, 5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles
In my opinion, Parsons is the best LB in the entire country and last season really solidified my opinion on Parsons. He racked up over 109 tackles, which ranked #3 in the BIG-10 and ranked Top-5 in the BIG-10 & NCAA in forced fumbles last season. Parsons may not have the flashy stats that some defensive players have, but one look at the film will show that Parsons is leaps & bounds better than almost any other LB in college football. PFF ranked Parsons as the best LB in the country (91.5) and Parsons graded out as the best run defense grades by a LB in PFF History. Parsons should be the favorite for any defensive player award he is eligible for, plus could be a sneaky defensive pick for the Heisman Trophy.
Rondale Moore (Purdue; Wide Receiver #4)
2018 Stats: 114 receptions, 1258 yards receiving, 11.0 avg, 14 total touchdowns
*Only Played 4 Games in 2019 Due to Injury*
There were a handful of players that missed most of last season with injury, but I think Rondale Moore’s injury really hurt college football. Moore might be lacking in size (5’9; 180 lbs.), but he makes up for it in heart and blazing speed. Moore dominated the BIG-10 & the country his freshman, in which he led the country with 114 receptions. He also ranked #1 in the BIG-10 with over 1,200 receiving yards and 12 TDs. There was no question that Rondale Moore was a star and that was stolen from us last season. He was on pace (After 4 games) to eclipse 80 catches and 1,100 yards before he was injured. I fully expect Moore to go on an absolute tear next season and remind the college football world why many experts ranked Moore as the best WR in 2018. Moore should be one of the favorites for the Biletnikoff Award in 2020 and could set himself up as a Top-10 NFL Draft pick.
Rashod Bateman (Minnesota; Wide Receiver #13)
2019 Stats: 60 receptions, 1219 yards receiving, 20.3 avg, 11 total touchdowns
We are going to stick with WR here and talk about another elite WR in this conference. Bateman took a huge step in his development last season; improving on every major WR statistical category from his freshman year. Bateman was #2 in the BIG-10 in receiving yards, #1 in the BIG-10 in yards per reception, & #3 in the BIG-10 in receiving TDs for a team that had National Championship hopes into late November. People credit PJ Fleck, Tanner Morgan, & Antoine Winfield Jr. for the success of Minnesota, but you cannot and should not discount what Bateman brought to the Golden Gophers. Bateman may have some of the smoothest route running ability in the country, which makes him a perfect fit at the next level. Tyler Johnson is on his way to the NFL, which should clear a bigger role out for Bateman. Bateman should make a run at the #1 spot in the BIG-10 and could be an important piece for another big Minnesota season.
Eric Burrell (Wisconsin; Safety #25)
2019 Stats: 55 total tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 2 sacks, 3 INTs, 4 forced fumbles
We are moving towards defense now and on this list you may find two of the most underrated defensive talents in this conference. It is easy to pick a 5-star from Ohio State or Michigan, but Eric Burrell deserves this recognition. Burrell is one of the most versatile DBs in the country and has the ability to line up all across the backend of the defense for the Badgers. Burrell is not the best tackling safety in the country, but what he lacks in that area; he makes up for in coverage. Burrell graded out as one of the best safeties, according to PFF, and even made the Thorpe Award watchlist for the 2020 season. Burrell should build upon his strong junior season and will be a key piece in Wisconsin making a run to the BIG-10 championship for the 2nd season in a row.
Tiawan Mullen (Indiana; Cornerback #3)
2019 Stats: 28 total tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 13 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles
If you are looking for a “dog” to watch for the upcoming 2020 season, then look no further than Tiawan Mullen. Mullen stepped into a starting/contributing role as a true freshman and made an instant impact for the Hoosiers. He was an Honorable-Mention for the All-BIG Ten team and made multiple national outlet’s all-american teams (The Athletic, 247Sports, & PFF). He led the BIG-10 in pass breakups and led the team in forced fumbles. Mullen only allowed over 30 yards receiving once last season, which is further evidence that he is already an elite corner. Mullen has the ability to be a future 1st round NFL Draft pick and was a snub on the Thorpe Award watchlist, but good thing watchlists do not mean anything. Mullen has potential to be a Thorpe Award finalist and should be a player that fans & scouts should make time to admire.