The Big Ten faced a lot of disappointment in 2012, but the new year looks to be heading in the right direction. The conference had a number of teams land a lot of talent on the recruiting trail, and there are six teams that will rely on freshmen to help them win this coming fall.
Ohio State had the best class of any in the Big Ten landing a number of top stars from the 2013 class, but Illinois and Indiana also had surprisingly impressive classes.
Heading into the new year key positions will be filled around the conference by incoming freshmen and JUCO talent.
This is a look at the six teams that will rely on freshmen to create an impact this fall.
The Ohio State Buckeyes pulled in the best class in the Big Ten this winter finishing with the No. 2 class according to the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings.
Early enrollees Eli Apple, Cameron Burrows and Tyquan Lewis are all players that could make impacts this fall for the Buckeyes.
There is also a need at linebacker that can be met by Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell.
The star of the class is no doubt Vonn Bell. Bell is the No. 2 safety (247Sports Composite) in the country.
The biggest needs are on defense, and Urban Meyer and Co. made huge strides to find fixes in this class. Look for a number of these freshmen to hit the field this fall in Week 1.
Illinois is coming off of a disappointing 2-10 season and looking for a spark. The Illini won’t have to dig too deep once this recruiting class hits the field in the summer.
This team is in need of help, and landing the eighth best class (247Sports) in the conference will provide some immediate playmakers.
The Illini landed a host of early enrollees that could help immediately like Darius Moseley and Dillan Cazley.
They also will receive some offensive help from Dionte Taylor and dual-threat quarterback Aaron Bailey. Bailey is the star of the class, and could make an impact this fall.
The Hoosiers have been on a steady rise on the gridiron the past few seasons. This program is picking up attendance, and now it has landed a class full of talented contributors for this fall.
Indiana finished with a class that was rated as the seventh best in the Big Ten, and has a few all-stars in the mix.
Antonio Allen is the steal of the class. He was an Army All-American and is rated as the No. 25 safety in the country (247Sports Composite). He is a 5’10”, 205-pound hitter who will make an impact this fall.
Michigan landed the No. 5 class (247Sports Composite) in the country this winter when signing day finished. The Wolverines have a host of early enrollees and newcomers for the summer that will have a shot at making impacts as freshmen.
The offensive line is loaded with incoming talent, but the secondary is getting a stud in early enrollee Dymonte Thomas.
The offense will get a boost in the backfield once Derrick Green (No. 4 RB, 247Sports Composite) makes it to campus this summer. Taco Charlton is also a name to watch this spring along the defensive line.
This was a class full of talent that will develop, but the Wolverines are also loaded with incoming impact freshmen.
The Cornhuskers are not afraid to play freshmen; they proved that in the 2011 season when they dumped Ameer Abdullah into the fold.
Abdullah showed that this program has an offense that is built around talent and not experience.
This year Nebraska will once again call on youth to help bring this team back to the top of the Big Ten. The class finished as the No. 3 in the conference and the No. 23 (247Sports Composite) in the country.
Guys like Terrell Newby and Adam Taylor at running back, and Marcus Newby at linebacker should prove to be instant impact freshmen.
This squad needs for them to be role players this fall as they search for another visit to the Big Ten title game.
The Nittany Lions did the unthinkable in 2012 when they won eight football games after a tumultuous NCAA investigation left the program in shambles.
Bill O’Brien introduced himself to college football as one of the best coaches in the country by making this program ride high through the Big Ten.
To continue that success this program has to recruit with the best in the conference, and it accomplished that goal this winter landing the No. 4 class (247Sports Composite) in the Big Ten.
Guys like DaeSean Hamilton and Garrett Sickels (No. 7 WDE, 247Sports Composite) will be early contributors for the Nittany Lions as they enter the program this summer.
Also keep an eye on JUCO early enrollee Tyler Ferguson at quarterback.
This is a strong class that will help the Nittany Lions continue to compete despite the devastating sanctions levied this past summer.