Big Ten Football: Updating Week 12 Performances of Conference's Top Freshmen

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor INovember 18, 2013

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 16: Joey Bosa #97 of the Ohio State Buckeyes sacks Nathan Scheelhaase #2 of the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

At the beginning of the season we highlighted a group of freshmen we thought would make an impact across the Big Ten. This update is a look at how those freshmen are performing and not a collection of all freshmen playing in the Big Ten every week.

Week 12 was a great week for the freshmen of the Big Ten. Running backs starred, corners picked off passes, and a star quarterback got back to playing more efficient football as well. In fact, this may have been the best weekend of the year for the freshmen we've been watching all season long. 

So, who pulled off the best performance? Let's take a look at how the freshmen performed in Week 12. 


Derrick Green, Running Back (Michigan): 19 Carries, 79 Yards (4.2 Average)

Season Stats: 59 carries, 195 yards, 2 touchdowns

Not only did Green lead the Wolverines in rushing against Northwestern, he had a career-best 79 yards as well. It was an ugly game all the way around, but it was nice to see some semblance of a run game for Michigan. As a team, U-M rushed for 139 yards. After two weeks of negative totals in rushing, it was a step in the right direction for the team and for Green, who hadn't made a real impact since the first week of the season. 


Sojourn Shelton, Cornerback (Wisconsin): 2 Tackles, 1 Interception, 1 Pass Breakup

Season Stats: 28 tackles, 4 interceptions, 1 Quarterback Hurry, 4 Pass Breakups, 6 Passes Defensed, 1 Forced Fumble

Nov 16, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Sojourn Shelton (8) intercepts a pass during the first quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Before the season, Shelton set a goal of six to eight interceptions for the year. He got his fourth early on against Indiana this past weekend and needs just one in each of the next two games to hit his personal goal. After the interception and a pass breakup early on on Saturday, the Hoosiers quarterbacks got the hint and went elsewhere in the pass game. Shelton was part of a defensive unit that gave up just 122 yards in the pass game. 


Christian Hackenberg, Quarterback (Penn State): 16-of-23, 212 Yards, 2 Touchdowns (1 Passing, 1 Rushing), 1 Interception

Season Stats: 59% completion rate, 2,399 yards, 14 touchdowns, 9 interceptions 

Nov 16, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) runs into the end zone for a touchdown in front of Purdue Boilermakers cornerback Ricardo Allen (21) during the fourth quarter at Beaver Stadium.  Penn
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The numbers were a lot better for Hackenberg against Purdue, completing 69 percent of his passes and just generally being efficient with the football. However, it was Purdue's defense, and Hackenberg wasn't really needed to be anything more than efficient. Penn State used the run game to perfection in the win, and even Hackenberg got into the act on the ground, rushing for a four-yard touchdown. It was one of five the Nittany Lions scored on the ground in the 45-21 win over the Boilermakers. 


Darius Latham, Defensive Tackle (Indiana): 4 Tackles, 0.5 Tackle For Loss

Season Stats: 19 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 passes defensed

Latham had a career high in tackles on Saturday against Wisconsin, but he was part of a defense that gave up an FBS-high 554 yards on the ground to the Badgers. It was a day the Hoosiers defense would much rather forget. For Latham, it was a good statistical day, and the fact that he has jumped into a starting role this late in the season is a good sign. 


Corey Clement, Running Back (Wisconsin): 11 Carries, 109 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

Season Stats: 66 carries, 515 yards, 7 touchdowns

Nov 16, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Corey Clement (6) rushes for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 51-3.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin ran all over the Hoosiers, and Clement was one of the three Badger backs to go over the 100-yard mark. The 109 yards were the most for Clement since rushing for 149 yards against Tennessee Tech, and it was the first 100-plus yard performance in the Big Ten for the youngster. He continues to show why he has a bright future ahead of him in the Cardinal and White. 



The Other Freshmen We Were Watching at the Start of the Season:

Terrell Newby, Running Back (Nebraska): 1 Carry, 3 Yards

Season Stats: 53 carries, 293 yards, 2 touchdowns

Newby didn't have much of an impact in the run game against the Spartans this past Saturday as the stats tell you. It was his own doing though, as he rushed for 3 yards on the first series and proceeded to fumble the ball. He didn't see the ball again the rest of the game, but his teammates also had trouble fumbling the ball, too—losing three fumbles themselves and having five team turnovers. 


DeAngelo Yancey, Wide Receiver (Purdue): 4 Receptions, 83 Yards

Season Stats: 21 receptions, 421 yards, 1 touchdown

Nov 16, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey (80) reaches for a pass in front of Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Trevor Williams (10) during the fourth quarter at Beaver Stadium.  Penn State defeated Purdue
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The comfort level and relationship between Danny Etling and Yancey continues to get stronger every week. It is the lone bright spot in an ugly season and provides hope for the future of the Boilermakers program. He has had a great season in Big Ten play, recording 19 catches for 389 yards. He has played in six Big Ten games and is averaging 64.8 yards a game, which is good enough to put him in the top ten in conference play. 


B.J. Knauf, Wide Receiver (Purdue): 2 Receptions, 9 Yards

Season Stats: 14 receptions, 136 yards, 1 touchdown

Knauf has really seen his production slow down since his return from suspension, but he remains one of the few home run threats the Boilermakers have on the offensive side of the football. 


Joey Bosa, Defensive End (Ohio State): 4 Tackles, 2.5 Tackles for Loss, 2.5 Sacks

Season Stats: 26 receptions, 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 pass breakup, 1 pass defensed, 3 quarterback hits 1 fumble recovery

Saturday was perhaps the best single game of Bosa's young career at Ohio State. He was simply everywhere and is becoming better as the season goes on—a very good sign for freshmen. Bosa just ate up the Illini offensive line and was in the head of Nathan Scheelhaase a lot.