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Big Ten Football: Updating Week 1 Performances of Conference's Top Freshmen

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Big Ten Football: Updating Week 1 Performances of Conference's Top Freshmen
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Last week we previewed the five freshmen we thought would make the biggest impact on Big Ten football, so as we go on throughout the season we will keep track of their performances weekly.

After all, what's the point of putting lists together if you never check your work, right?

All five of the freshmen we highlighted made major impacts on the opening games for their respective teams. Could this be a sign of things to come, or was it more about playing against inferior competition? 

Only time will tell, but let's just say if each continue on the paths they started on in Week 1, then they are going to be household names across Big Ten country quickly. 

So, what were these performances we were talking about? Check out what the freshmen had up their sleeves in Week 1: 

 

Derrick Green, Running Back (Michigan): 11 carries, 58 yards, one touchdown

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Derrick Green led the Wolverines in rushing in his debut in the Maize 'N Blue. It's hard to imagine a bigger statement to make as a freshman at a school like Michigan. He was one of three Wolverines to go for 50 yards or more in the 59-9 win over Central Michigan. 

Overall, he showed exactly why he was ranked as one of the best recruits in the class of 2013. Now the bigger test comes this week as the Wolverines take on rival Notre Dame.

 

Sojourn Shelton, Cornerback (Wisconsin): four tackles, one interception, one quarterback hit

I don't know if I have seen a more athletic interception by a Badgers cornerback since Jamar Fletcher than the one I personally witnessed last Saturday by Sojourn Shelton. He literally came out of nowhere to grab the interception over linebacker Ethan Armstrong and the receiver on the sideline. 

As Shelton said following the game, "One down, seven more to go." Clearly the kid doesn't lack for confidence.

 

Christian Hackenberg, Quarterback (Penn State): 22-31, 278 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

What are quarterbacks judged on the most? Wins. That's exactly what Christian Hackenberg did for the Nittany Lions, and he looked better than decent doing it as well. Yes, he made some mistakes, but throwing for nearly 300 yards and completing 71 percent of your passes qualifies as success in your college football debut.

Now, the question is...can he keep this up on a weekly basis? If so, Penn State is going to be a dangerous team all year long. 

 

Darius Latham, Defensive Tackle (Indiana): three tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks

Darius Latham played early and often, and he had a noticeable impact on their game against Indiana State. It was a positive first step for him and for the future success of the Hoosiers defensive line. Of course, it was against an FCS foe, but when you are a freshman making your first start, you've got to like any positive steps forward.

Additionally, it was important for the Hoosiers coaching staff to see some semblance of a pass rush, and Latham showed he was going to be a force up the middle moving forward.

 

Corey Clement, Running Back (Wisconsin): 16 carries, 101 yards, one touchdown 

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Most expected Corey Clement to see some action as the season went along—and especially early on—but few saw him doing what he did Saturday. After both James White and Melvin Gordon went for 140 yards or more, Clement relieved them in the second half and proceeded to explode himself against UMass. Averaging 6.3 yards a carry isn't too shabby in your debut. 

He'll be forever linked to history at Wisconsin as part of the only trio of running backs to all rush for more than 100 yards in a season opener. Hard to imagine how you can top that in your first ever college football game. 

The only bad part of his day was a late fumble near the goal line that was recovered by one of his offensive linemen. He can't fumble and expect to continue to see time, especially with talented senior Jeff Lewis behind him as well.

Overall, Clement may see the most action of anyone not named Hackenberg in this group of freshmen on the offensive side of the ball. 

 

Other Freshmen of Note (we highlighted some "Honorable Mention" true freshmen to watch before the season):

 

Dontre Wilson, H-Back (Ohio State): three carries, 11 yards; one reception, 18 yards

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Vonn Bell, Safety (Ohio State): three tackles

Joey Bosa, Defensive End (Ohio State): one tackle

Terrell Newby, Running Back (Nebraska): 15 carries, 76 yards 

B.J. Knauf, Wide Receiver (Purdue): one reception, six yards; three carries, 17 yards

DeAngelo Yancey, Wide Receiver (Purdue): one reception, 27 yards

 

*Andy Coppens is the lead Big Ten writer for Bleacher Report. (Unless noted, all quotes are firsthand)

Follow Andy on Twitter for more B1G coverage.

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