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Thursday Morning Brews (5/29/14)

Today, we run through the league's most electrifying talent. And the Big Ten - dare I say it? - has plenty of it.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Top 25 Playmakers

Maybe 'electrifying' isn't the right word for it. It is still the Big Ten after all - more Iowa at its heart than Oregon - but it's impossible to deny that the speed in the Big Ten is getting raised to another level. Sophomore and freshman standouts on rosters throughout the Midwest are popping up, designed to capitalize on the areas carved into the line of scrimmage by Big Ten offensive linemen. Freddy Canteen and Jabrill Peppers, meet Curtis Samuel of Ohio State, Derrick Willies and Jay Scheel of Iowa, Berkley Edwards of Minnesota, De'Andre Thompkins of Penn State, and Dareian Watkins of Wisconsin. You'll be playing some important games against them for the next few years. Still, the best in the conference, right now, are the older, slower crowd.

After going as far back as 1903 in the last main feature, I decided to do something a little more fluff this time around, and lists that rank things usually do the trick. This one looks at people who make plays when the ball is in their hands - wide receivers, backs, quarterbacks, and kick returners - to measure up the top (noticeable) talent in the Big Ten. The top ten is pretty nice, but I was surprised at how much depth there was - a lot of good players were left off the list. The Big Ten has re-emphasized recruiting, and it's paying off.

Rankings, also, are very tricky if you try to do them well. About a year ago at this time, names like Connor Cook, Jeremy Langford, and Christian Hackenberg were big question marks to their fan bases. Now, they're stars of their conference. The season before Jeremy Langford was ripping the Big Ten for 1,422 yards, he was taking the ball nine times for 23 yards (a 2.6-yard average). Nathan Scheelhaase jumped from a 1,361-yard quarterback in 2012 to a 3,272-yard one. Connor Cook went from a 94-yard quarterback to a 2,755-yard one. Other examples include Melvin Gordon (621 to 1609), David Cobb (8 to 1202), Nate Sudfeld (632 to 2,523), and Jake Rudock (0 to 2,383).

Another thing that makes this tricky is how you evaluate something. What is a playmaker, really? While quarterbacks like Taylor Martinez, Denard Robinson, and Terrelle Pryor have pushed the boundaries of what any one person could do on a football field, the game is still won and lost with the running game and fundamentals. So, I edged 'playmaker' a little over to the conservative side, valuing running backs more and gunslingers (here's looking at you, Gardner) a little less. In this way, it's just a matter of style.

Oh, one other thing. A year from now, I'm going to look back at this list.... and it's going to be sooo wrong. I'm sure of it.

1. Braxton Miller, Ohio State Buckeyes

24 TD / 7 INT 2,094 yards 63.5%
171 carries 1,068 yards 6.2 avg

I know, I hate it too. Alright, let's get this over with. I already mentioned Miller's qualities before in the Brews, but here's a more complete picture. He is a fluid and comfortable runner, in addition to being dynamic there. When you watch him run, you can feel him moving at a different pace than everyone else. I usually associate this with Michael Jordan; time moved slower for him on a basketball court in some palpable way, and he both ran and took his time. Miller just knows what to do when he runs - he'll use stutter-steps and jukes to make people miss, and is comfortable with angles. Devin Gardner will do some of the same things, but to a more erratic effect.

Miller also has a strong arm. His accuracy on the long ball can be another matter, however. He's much better when the throw is obvious enough that he doesn't have to think too much - so his instincts take over - and when the receiver is open enough that he has room for error. Again, that falls into his instincts and not thinking too much. He will slightly miss a receiver and make him contort to make a catch, but as Miller's surrounded by athletes who usually have gotten themselves some space, Braxton's abilities as a quarterback are not often challenged.

In many ways, Urban Meyer has been a godsend for Braxton Miller. This is also true in terms of another of Braxton's (relative) strengths: a dedication to ball security. Miller fumbled the ball 10 times and lost it 5, which was actually comparable to Devin Gardner (11, and 6 lost). However, while Gardner had 17 turnovers to 32 touchdowns, Miller had just 12 to 36 touchdowns. A fault of many running quarterbacks is that they are not used to taking a pounding from a physical defense and can, if pressured, cough up the ball. I believe that Miller is naturally weak in this area, as shown by Clemson in last season's Orange Bowl. However, this weakness rarely shows up because Braxton avoids contact as a runner, throws the ball away more often and runs an offense where he is asked to throw downfield as a change of pace rather than as a main course. Meyer disguises his quarterback's weaknesses quite beautifully, and for all his flash and dash, Meyer is a coach who preaches incessantly about avoiding turnovers and coaches the special teams unit, two old-fashioned staples to winning a football game.

2. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska Cornhuskers

281 carries 1,690 yards 6.0 avg
26 receptions 232 yards 8.9 avg

Add in 77 yards from kick-offs, and Ameer Abdullah scraped up 1,999 yards last year despite not completing a pass down-field. The year before, with runs, catches, kickoffs and punts, he got 1,884 as a 19-year old sophomore. The year before that, he was fifth in the league in return yardage and got his team a combined 1,031. I think Abdullah is underrated by a lot of Big Ten fans; Taylor Martinez got a lot of attention at Nebraska as a workhorse of the offense, but Abdullah also fits that category.

The 5'9", 190-lb. tailback reminds me a little of Jeremy Gallon, but all of his skills transferred into a runner's perspective. He has a baller mentality and always takes exactly what's there and nothing more, which helps maintain his durability. He's too small and not fast enough, but all he does is run an offense. Yes, sometimes he'll hurdle a defender, take a return back 100 yards, or maybe just for 76 instead. He'll take whatever's there and make it look normal. Some games, it feels like he's always getting stopped, but somehow by the end he's scraped together 80 yards for his team. He might not succeed as much at the next level, but he's one of those players who makes you love the game of football. Nebraska will miss him.

3. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin Badgers

206 carries 1609 yards 7.8 avg
1 reception 10 yards

With Montee Ball gone, Melvin Gordon and James White both stepped up their carries and yardage marks in 2013, each breaking 1,400 yards. Gordon, who was more of a jet sweep athlete in Wisconsin's offense, took over a lot of the between-the-tackles running and had the muscle and quicks to be very successful at it. Like all great running backs, he's a decisive north-south runner and almost glides a little on the football field. He reminds me of a thinner, less physical Jeremy Hill - and I rarely see him take a big hit. If he had been drafted, just from everything I've seen I'd have him just a shade under Jeremy Hill and Carlos Hyde, but then, the top three running backs were all taken within four spots of one another, so it hardly makes a difference. Given his style, though, he might have a longer career than either of them.

4. Devin Gardner, Michigan Wolverines

21 TD / 11 INT 2,960 yards 60.3%
165 carries 483 yards 2.9 avg

Ah, we all know about Devin. He's taken a lot of hits by the fans, but he's a stubborn competitor and has a rare ceiling to his game. He has more skill than Denard Robinson, and when he's on, he makes getting 400 yards look effortless. I am optimistic about him this season, but he'll have to continue growing by spreading the ball out to more receivers, being a more pure quarterback, and showing fundamentals and good decision-making. He also has to get comfortable as a runner, to gauge when he can shake off a defensive end to buy some time and make a play, or when he's only giving up more yards and taking an unnecessary sack.

5. Tevin Coleman, Indiana Hoosiers

131 carries 958 yards 7.3 avg
19 receptions 193 yards 10.2 avg

Tev..... wait, hold on.

But the primary reason I can't worry too much about Indiana's offense is Tevin Coleman. Highlight Yards basically look at a runner's explosiveness once he reaches the second level of a defense. Combining that with Opportunity Rate (the frequency with which you reach said second level), we get a pretty good idea for what kind of back you are. Coleman's 35.9 percent Opportunity Rate was nothing special, but no one in the country was more explosive.

Of the 199 FBS players with at least 100 carries in 2013, only seven averaged 8.0 highlight yards per opportunity or greater. Boston College's Andre Williams and Missouri's Henry Josey averaged 8.0, Maryland's C.J. Brown and Ohio State's Braxton Miller averaged 8.4, West Virginia's Dreamius Smith and UL-Lafayette's Elijah McGuire averaged 8.6 ... and Tevin Coleman averaged 12.0. His average was 40 percent better than the second best. He had 14 carries of at least 20 yards (only 12 players had more), and he had eight of at least 40 (most in the country). He is unlit dynamite every play he's on the field.

With Baylor's Lache Seastrunk now in the pros, Coleman might be the nation's best angle buster. Safeties think they have the angle to catch him and bring him down. They do not.

Hey, thanks, Bill Connelly.

6. Connor Cook, Michigan State Spartans

22 TD / 6 INT 2,755 yards 58.7%
69 carries 76 yards 1.1 avg

What impresses me about Cook is his instincts. That can be a fuzzy word that's thrown around a lot, but there was a play against Michigan where he was flushed out of the pocket and running toward the right sideline, looking downfield, when he glanced behind him and noticed Trevon Pendleton, a fullback, on the opposite side of the field unattended and threw it to him (49-yard gain). This is partly great coaching and preparation but Cook should get credit too. In the Rose Bowl, he was forced out of the pocket and threw a pass quickly to a receiver, but not before checking behind him to see if the chasing defensive end was close enough to slap at the ball when he exposed it for a throw. Sure, sometimes he'll make dumb mistakes. But he's a comfortable quarterback on the football field, especially now that he has some games under him, and he relies on that comfort as much as his mobility or arm. It's what separates him from other mobile QBs - he has the instincts to use it well. I don't know if he can rush for as many yards as Dantonio thinks he can, but he's a great QB.

7. Jeremy Langford, Michigan State Spartans

292 carries 1,422 yards 4.9 avg
28 receptions 157 yards 5.6 avg

I respect how Jeremy Langford started out as a DB, and the coaching staff saw something in him (patience? foot work?) and tried him at running back, and now he's a major player in the conference. Also, in 2013, he was a touchdown machine: 19 in all, against 11 for Ameer Abdullah and 12 for Melvin Gordon (Abdullah splitting red zone carries with Imani Cross, who got another 10 TD's). People are high on Connor Cook given his position and the two games he played against OSU and Stanford, but I think Langford will still be the first option for Dantonio, especially in the red zone. MSU gets its wins by extolling the fundamentals, and this year should be no different. Even if the passing game is clicking and there are yards to be gotten through the air, Dantonio will want to burn the clock and rely on Langford. That Cook is ahead of him here is perhaps a mistake, but also partly due to the built-in advantage of the quarterback.

8. Devin Funchess, Michigan Wolverines

49 receptions 748 yards 15.3 avg
6 carries 34 yards 5.7 avg

I'm going to be a little harsh on Devin Funchess. He's a terrific talent, and as a pass-catcher, he seems to take the game in sometimes at a slower rate than normal speed. For a guy his size, he has amazing flexibility and agility. However, all of this is thrown off a little when someone starts being physical with him, or the lights get turned up in big games. He's had a periodic issue with drops which has frustrated fans, and while it's something that reps can fix, it's also a mental issue and a preparation issue that I have a suspicious feeling will come up again. This is nit-picking, though.

9. Stefon Diggs, Maryland Terrapins

34 receptions 587 yards 17.3 avg
12 kick-off returns 281 yards 23.4 avg

Watching Diggs play receiver, the word 'flawless' came to my mind. Obviously that's a bad and unhelpful starting point, but in the age of athletes and pivot players, Stefon Diggs is a true, natural wide receiver. He's got great leaping ability (he needs it, he's only 6'0") as well as all the other attributes you'd look for. He isn't strong but he's a willing tackler and does the little things to help his teammates perform. For a talented athlete, he's also just a hard worker.

As a freshman, Diggs played outstanding, getting 848 yards and another 1,048 from kick returns and runs. Last year, he got injured after 7 games, but was on pace for almost 1,100 receiving yards and another 600 from K&R. More importantly, he upped his yards per catch from 15.7 to 17.3.

Now in his junior year, a lot will depend on how Maryland's offensive line is able to hold up for the running game and in pass protection. Diggs and Long will be fine, and the offense in general has more depth and talent than a number of other B1G teams. I'll want to see how he handles physical corners - he averaged 2.5 catches against Florida State the last couple years - but to be honest, cornerback is one of the weaker positions in the Big Ten, so I'm not that worried.

10. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State Nittany Lions

20 TD / 10 INT 2,955 yards 58.9%
49 carries -68 yards -1.4 avg

When I got a chance to see Hackenberg I was struck by how much he already looked like a professional quarterback, to some degree. By that I mean he was not afraid of throwing into tight coverage or before receivers got open, and he would throw to them instead of trying to throw around the defensive back. In other words, he had talent, and he was not afraid to put the ball in a place where it might be picked off if he was wrong. Now, on the flip side of that, he will also throw erratically sometimes or miss on easier throws, so he has to become a more consistent passer. Also, he should improve his pocket presence and know when to throw it away.

He's also an old prototype for a Michigan QB - tall and immobile. Bill O'Brien is one of the premier quarterback coaches in the country, and it surely helped a lot to have him as the coach. Penn State has a lot of depth forming at the wide receiver position, so the loss of Allen Robinson shouldn't hurt terribly.

11. Tanner McEvoy, Wisconsin Badgers

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McEvoy is an interesting case. He has no offensive statistics for last year, but played safety and (for a split second) some wide receiver after transferring from Arizona Western College. He was a quarterback there but needed more time to get the playbook down when he came to Wisconsin, so the staff decided to use his athleticism for other things in the meantime, a la Gardner two seasons ago. Now, with a full off-season of preparation, he's competing for the quarterback job with Joel Stave, and the reports are positive.

Tanner brings a different dynamic to Wisconsin's offense than Stave does. He's a mobile passer, and presumably would put up some good rushing totals, since he looked fine running the field as a safety. Ranking him this high is based on pure speculation, but it was probably a wonderful and unique opportunity for him to spend a year at the safety position, before trying to read and beat defenses. I think he'll be very good.

12. Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State Buckeyes

26 receptions 466 yards 17.9 avg
1 kick-off return 13 yards

I've already commented at length about Heuerman's talents, so let me just say that with Devin Funchess positioned out wide, I think Heuerman is the best tight end in the conference. He's someone who, like Carlos Hyde, blends physicality very well with skill.

13. Shane Wynn, Indiana Hoosiers

46 receptions 633 yards 13.8 avg
18 kick-off returns 415 yards 23.1 avg

After losing Cody Latimer, Ted Bolser and Kofi Hughes, Kevin Wilson needs to find a couple more people to catch the football. The number one option is going to be 5'7", 167 lb. Shane Wynn, a senior out of Cleveland, Ohio. He scored 13 touchdowns last year, mostly from receptions but also a punt return and a "rushing attempt." He's played every game the last two years and has a good rapport with both quarterbacks.

14. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State Buckeyes

30 carries 262 yards 8.7 avg
3 receptions 23 yards 7.7 avg

Urban Meyer seems to be settling into the Big Ten: all of the four pure running backs on Ohio State's roster weigh between 216 and 231 lbs., which means the physical running style will continue in 2014. Of course, how well it continues remains to be seen, but from tape Elliott seems to be a bruising, Big Ten running back. He's got a little agility but a lot of power, and decent speed. Carlos Hyde Lite? Regardless, I think he'll wrest most of the carries away from Bri'onte Dunn and Rod Smith.

15. Tre Roberson, Indiana Hoosiers

15 TD / 4 INT 1,128 yards 60.1%
85 carries 423 yards 5.0 avg

Indiana is losing a lot of talent at the wide-out spot, and while I'm sure Kevin Wilson will be fine in that department, I wouldn't be surprised to see Indiana running a little more - obviously with Tevin Coleman, but I'm going to go with Tre Roberson ahead of Nate Sudfeld as well. Roberson's been in the program a year longer and has more overall experience, and despite being the "change-of-pace" guy last year scored almost as many touchdowns as Nate - 20 instead of 22. Here are some other peripheral stats for you: Nate Sudfeld took 16 sacks, and Roberson took 1; and Tre had a better yards per attempt, 8.17 to 7.84.

16. Jalin Marshall, Ohio State Buckeyes

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The two names most Wolverines fans will know is Dontre Wilson and Devin Smith. Smith is a good long-ball threat and was a nice complement to Braxton in that sense. Most of the times Braxton hit someone deep, it was often Smith outrunning a corner. As for Wilson, he occupies the "Percy Harvin" role but he's not gaining muscle like the staff wants him to. Meyer is always looking to inject new blood, and he hasn't yet found his speed that has the requisite skills to match.

Against Michigan, Devin Smith had one catch - a 53-yard TD, normal for Smith. Wilson was thrown out of the game at the start of the second quarter, if you'll recall. Then, against Michigan State - and this is both the end of the year and the best competition - Meyer relies on Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde again, with Dontre Wilson getting no carries or catches (he did get 70 yards from three kick-offs) and Smith getting a single catch. Against Clemson, Dontre Wilson had 19 yards and Smith 5. You can bet Meyer wants more from his weapon positions.

So, I'm going with Jalin Marshall, a former five-star recruit who redshirted this past year and is coming off a small injury during spring practice. He's 5'11" and 205 lbs.

17. Josh Ferguson, Illinois Fighting Illini

141 carries 779 yards 5.5 avg
50 receptions 535 yards 10.7 avg

With Scheelhaase gone, it would stand to reason that Ferguson, a well-rounded back, would start getting some more touches. He was the leading runner on this team last year, but he is also the leading returning receiver, as well. Bill Cubit is more of a passing coordinator, but Ferguson is a talent he'll be sure to use. In some form or other.

18. Deon Long, Maryland Terrapins

32 receptions 489 yards 15.3 yards
1 carry 18 yards

Deon Long is a very similar player to Stefon Diggs, but he is forgotten about somewhat. Like Diggs, he is a five-star talent who suffered a broken right leg against Wake Forest this year and missed the next 6 games. His production, over 13 games, would measure out to 908 yards. Unlike Stefon, Deon is a senior, and has one more hurrah before potentially being drafted by the NFL. He doesn't have the same amount of body control or field awareness, but he's also great at leaping and catching.

19. Dennis Norfleet, Michigan Wolverines

40 kick-off returns 938 yards 23.5 avg
4 carries 53 yards 13.3 avg

Norfleet is another guy who, like Gardner, has physical abilities but hasn't grown into them or understood how to maximize them yet. The clip below is kind of a microcosm of his career so far:

What I'd like to see is for him to take over the slot position and develop a comfortable relationship with Gardner. If he maximizes his potential at slot receiver and kick returner, he could have a monster season. I wouldn't go that far, but at the same time we should see some more of what we've all been hoping for from #23. No, not Michael Jordan.

20. Jake Rudock, Iowa Hawkeyes

18 TD / 13 INT 2,383 yards 59.0%
67 carries 218 yards 3.3 avg

Kirk Ferentz finally seems to be opening up the playbook a little bit, and as the old saying goes, it's not what the coaches know, it's what the players know and can do. Rudock is a smart, competitive player and if Iowa is using some tempo, I'm going to take a leap of faith that some or all of it works.

Jake is weak at the long ball, and a little slow for bubble screens, but very solid with intermediate-type throws. He's really the perfect quarterback for their offense. A good use of tempo for the Hawkeyes might capitalize on their depth at tight end and running back but still make most of their plays in the flat. I believe they'll have it as an ace in the hole for when they go up against more athletic defenses, such as when they struggled against LSU.

That said, while I never saw the hype for Kevonte Martin-Manley, they have some other young guys with quicks who could also make a splash if Ferentz got them out in space. Still, I probably don't see this offense stretching too many defenses vertically or horizontally, which is why they might look to tempo to do more of the same things they already do, but in a way that could make a defense struggle to defend it, with maybe a few wrinkles thrown in.

21. Corey Clement, Wisconsin Badgers

67 carries 547 yards 8.2 avg
1 reception 9 yards

I haven't seen much film of Clement (I'm losing steam!), but he's a speedy back and fits the same mold as Ball, White, and Gordon. Gordon will be getting the majority of the touches - and McEvoy could be in this equation, too - but Clement should see a big jump from his 547 yards last season.

22. Bill Belton, Penn State Nittany Lions

157 carries 803 yards 5.1 avg
15 receptions 158 yards 10.5 avg

Bi..... oh, why do I bother.

Over the past two seasons, Zach Zwinak has received the bulk of the carries for Penn State, but Belton adds a different dimension for an offense that will be in need of playmakers and pass-catchers—both strengths of the New Jersey native.

Bill O'Brien liked to use a running back-by-committee approach, which limited Belton's ability to get in a groove in all aspects of the offense. He still rushed for over 1,000 yards in that time, caught three touchdowns and averaged nearly half a yard more per carry than Zwinak in 2013.

Word out of camp is that Belton looks stronger than ever and has picked up the new offense quickly. With his speed and elusiveness, added strength would make him the complete package as a running back.

Hey, thanks over there, Bleacher Report guy.

23. Maxx Williams, Minnesota Golden Gophers

25 receptions 417 yards 16.7 avg
1 carry 7 yards

A lot of pass-catchers saw the field for the Gophers in 2013, and 7 got 100 yards on the year. Jerry Kill seems to build a good team that's averse to individual accolades. The offensive line was very effective in '13, but I couldn't name anyone who'd be likely to win the Rimington-Pace (Zac Epping? Josh Campion?). Two different quarterbacks split snaps, a pretty rare thing in today's game, and I'm going to assume that the four-deep or five-deep running back corps will bring a balanced, efficient, and effective attack that's similarly unfavorable to lists like this. So, I'm putting Williams this low not because of his talent, but because I don't know that he'll get much more than 500 or 600 yards this year.

For Michigan in '13, two different players accounted for 65.8% of the receiving yards. The top two pass-catchers for Minnesota, meanwhile, accounted for 42.5% of Minnesota's passing offense. The top four receivers accounted for just under 65%. This isn't a one-year thing, either. In '12, the Gophers got a few hundred more yards of offense, but no quarterback got more than 873 yards. The top two receivers: 43.2%. In 2011, receiver Da'Jon McKnight got 760 yards, but the team as a whole finished second-last in the conference, with 1804.

The question, then, is how Minnesota's offense as a whole will grow. I think the passing attack could show signs of growth, but this is clearly a team dedicated to running the ball and has five hungry mouths to feed on that side of it.

24. De'Andre Thompkins, Penn State Nittany Lions

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He made ESPN's list of ten impact freshmen in college football, and there's a lot more to like about the young man. He may start out returning punts, given that Geno Lewis didn't put up the best average last year. But also look for him on the offense. I don't know much about what James Franklin wants to do exactly, but I have a sneaking suspicion he'll like a couple speed guys.

25. Nate Sudfeld, Indiana Hoosiers

21 TD / 9 INT 2,523 yards 60.2%
38 carries -34 yards -0.9 avg

Yeah, I'm going to say it: we have better quarterbacks than the SEC. This wasn't true last year, with Aaron Murray, Mettenberger, McCarron, Manziel, Connor Shaw, and James Franklin (unrelated to the Penn State coach) still around. But now, the SEC's best signal caller is... Bo Wallace, of Ole Miss. Don't get me wrong, he's really good - 3,346 yards and 18 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. But I think the Big Ten also has some really good talent, and hopefully I showed that... not just with this list, but with everyone who I left off: Freddy Canteen, Amara Darboh, Damion Terry, Kenny Bell (1,186 yards last year), all of the Minnesota running backs, all of the Iowa running backs, absolutely everybody from Northwestern, MacGarrett Kings, and, of course, Dontre Wilson and Devin Smith. Competition is good, and the Big Ten has it. And I'll probably be getting some grumpy e-mails.

Okay, that's the very last thing I have to say, cuz I'm at 25 now and I'm exhausted. Seriously. I typed so much I think I broke my back. Why didn't I do a top-17 list?? What was I thinking when I started this, anyway... I need a hug from a lion.

Hitting the Links Is A Student-Athlete

How Ohio State's Off-Season Looks

This is through the lens of OSU, but it's also interesting as a way to see behind the curtain of student athletics.

B/R Ranks The Top Players in the B1G

This includes defense; I'm a little more high on Devin Gardner than they are. Good luck finding him on here.

Nebraska's Strength & Conditioning Facilities

You've already seen inside Alabama's S&C program; here's a look at what Nebraska players have to work with.

Inside Recruit Brian Cole's Strength Training, Recruiting

Football is something that gets year-long coverage, but somehow it's easy to forget that the summer is an (almost) equally valuable time where athletes can work on their craft. What I like about this article is it covers a lot of things fans rarely see, like how an athlete has to try to regain weight after an injury and what that process is like. And, of course, football is getting steadily more serious for younger players.

Ezekiel Elliott Interview

The only time Elliott ('Eze'... as he's known to Buckeye fans) had a terrific game last year was against Florida A&M, where he ran 14 times for 162 yards. He didn't carry the ball a lot on the year, and in Big Ten play he had 9 carries for 62 yards, or 6.9 a pop. Yeah, I know.

SB Nation's Penn State Preview

I think a lot of us aren't sure yet what to make of James Franklin, other than his recruiting so far. Bill O'Brien was grumpy, but I'll miss him.

SB Nation's Iowa Preview

I think a lot of us aren't sure yet what to make of Kirk Fer- ...oops, wrong preview.

Where Iowa Stands at Tight End

This is a good series by BHGP, and an iconic position for Iowa.

Boise State's Broncos Stadium to be Re-Named

This gives you an idea of what some universities can land for naming rights.

Purdue Recruiting: A Slow Start

I enjoyed this read that also looked around the Big Ten a little bit.

Corey Clement Interview

I'll leave HtL on two light-hearted links - first, here's a glimpse of Corey Clement-not-the-football-player. Yes, football is work and strategy and we always focus on that the most, but there's this side as well.

Nebraska Wide Receiver Kenny Bell Loses His Fro

I'm always going to think Big Ben has the best sports fro of all time, but I'm biased as a Detroit fan. If you've watched a lot of Nebraska football then you've probably noticed Kenny Bell's hair on the sideline. RIP.