Big Ten Football: Updating Week 6 Performances of Conference's Top Freshmen

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor IOctober 7, 2013

Aug 31, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Derrick Green (27) rushes with the ball in the third quarter against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Once again the bye week took out a good portion of the Big Ten freshmen we've been watching all season long. 

This past week four of the top freshmen we've had our eyes on took a break from the action, but that doesn't mean the rest of the group didn't pick up the slack. 

In fact, two freshmen had breakout days on Saturday, and one of the guys we've been watching ended up with the conference's Freshman of the Week award. 

So, who was it, and how did the rest of the group look in Week 6? Let's take a look. 

Derrick Green, Running Back (Michigan): 10 carries, 23 yards, 1 touchdown

Season Stats: 23 carries, 83 yards, 2 touchdowns

After not seeing any carries in the road win over UConn two weeks ago, Green saw the second-most action of his season so far. The problem is that it wasn't super impressive—he averaged just 2.3 yards per carry, and his touchdown came on a run from two yards out. 

You can see the potential is there, but he just isn't as comfortable as one should be in the backfield. A lack of consistent offensive line play hasn't helped, either. 

Sojourn Shelton, Cornerback (Wisconsin): BYE

Season Stats: 16 tackles, 2 interceptions, 3 break ups, 5 passes defensed, 1 quarterback hit

Shelton has become a solid player and one of the guys the Badger staff is counting on to be a major player in the future of this program. He has been burned from time to time but has also come back. In the Ohio State game, Shelton nearly had two picks of his own. 

Just how much do the Badgers trust Shelton? See for yourself: 

Christian Hackenberg, Quarterback (Penn State): 30-of-55, 340 yards, 3 touchdowns 

Season Stats: 109-of-182 (59.9 comp. rate); 1,367 yards; 8 touchdowns; 4 interceptions; 10 sacks

Oct 5, 2013; Bloomington, IN, USA;  Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) passes the ball against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Hackenberg had the most attempts and yards this past Saturday in the loss to Indiana, but, most importantly, he didn't turn the ball over. It was a performance that should've been good enough to win the game for the Nittany Lions, but the lack of a running game (70 yards on 38 attempts) and ability to stop the Hoosiers pass attack was what lost it for PSU. 

Overall, though, Hackenberg is showing that he has the tools to lead the Nittany Lions offense to some good results when needed. He just needs some help around Allen Robinson in the passing game.

Darius Latham, Defensive Tackle (Indiana): 1 tackle

Season Stats: 8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 pass defensed 

Latham is in a position where the stats aren't really going to be that flashy, but the fact that he is hitting the stat sheet at all is a good sign for his future as a solid contributor the rest of the season. Latham may not be a name that jumps out at you for a few more years, but such is the nature of the position he plays. 

Corey Clement, Running Back (Wisconsin): BYE 

Sep 21, 2013; Madison, WI, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers running back Corey Clement (6) rushes for a touchdown as Purdue Boilermakers cornerback Normondo Harris (1) defends during the fourth quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Purdue 41-10.  Man

Season Stats: 44 carries, 334 yards, 4 touchdowns (7.6 avg.)

Clement has easily been the best freshman running back in the Big Ten and remains one of the top backs in the conference through the halfway point of the season. In fact, he is one of seven running backs in the conference to average more than six yards per carry. 

After this week, he's likely to see much more time, thanks to Indiana and Purdue coming up sooner than later. Expecting him to finish with more than 500 yards rushing on the season shouldn't be too much of a stretch. 

Other Freshmen We Were Keeping an Eye On

Dontre Wilson, Running Back (Ohio State): 1 kick return, 19 yards

Season Stats: 15 carries, 142 yards, 1 touchdown rushing; 11 receptions, 105 yards passing

Wilson didn't record a single stat offensively for the Buckeyes on Saturday night against Northwestern, and he's had just two carries total in the past two weeks against the best teams OSU has faced. That's an interesting pattern to watch going forward. Especially with Carlos Hyde coming back and performing like he did on Saturday night. It could mean Wilson's opportunities will be few and far between from here on out. 

Joey Bosa, Defensive End (Ohio State): 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss

Oct 5, 2013; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats running back Venric Mark (5) is tackled by Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman Joey Bosa (97) and defensive lineman Noah Spence (8) during the third quarter at Ryan Field. Ohio State won 40-30. Manda
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Season Stats: 16 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 quarterback hit, 1 fumble recovery

Bosa was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week this week and is the first Buckeye to earn the honor since Bri'onte Dunn last season. He was a noticeable presence in the game against Northwestern for obvious reasons, recording the first two sacks of his career. Bosa's future is bright. He's getting more playing time and is getting better as the season goes on. 

The only question for me is: Will he ever hit the "freshman wall"?

B.J. Knauf, Wide Receiver (Purdue): BYE

Season Stats: 9 receptions, 95 yards (10.6 avg.), 1 touchdown; 11 carries, 90 yards, 1 touchdown 

The bye week wasn't kind to Knauf, thanks to his own bad decision-making skills. He was caught shoplifting along with another teammate at a local Kohl's store. Head coach Darrell Hazell has suspended him for the next two games of the season. 

DeAngelo Yancey, Wide Receiver (Purdue): BYE 

Season Stats: 9 receptions, 149 yards (16.6 avg.)

Yancey has a log of 50 yards on the season and, sadly, is tied with fellow freshman Knauf for the lead in receptions by an actual wide receiver, despite being fourth in receptions on the team overall. That may change now that Purdue has gone to Danny Etling at quarterback. He was targeted more in the time Etling was in against Northern Illinois. 

He could be the biggest surprise of this freshman class. 

Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter: @andycoppens.


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