14 Big Ten players poised to break out in 2022
A look at football players in the Big Ten this spring who are poised to have standout seasons this fall:
DL JH Tevis, senior. The Hoosiers need to punch up their play after finishing last in the league in sacks. Tevis impressed with his high energy and leadership this spring after transferring from California, where he started 15 of 20 games and totaled 60 tackles and 8.5 for loss in three seasons.
TE CJ Dippre, sophomore. With the departure of Chigoziem Okonkwo, Dippre gets a chance to move into a bigger role. Dippre appeared in all 13 games as a freshman, and he made his first start as part of a two-tight end set in the Pinstripe Bowl.
DE Mike Morris, senior. The 6-foot-6, 278-pound Morris will have a lot of chances to make plays from a position that produced NFL prospects Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo last year. Morris had 17 tackles in 14 games last season.
RB Jalen Berger, junior. The Wisconsin transfer had to like what he saw when Kenneth Walker III went from Wake Forest to Michigan State and became a star. Berger had 389 yards rushing and three touchdowns in two seasons with the Badgers.
TE Joe Royer, redshirt freshman. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Royer was name-checked by QB C.J. Stroud as a possible breakout player. The Buckeyes bring back just one experienced tight end, so Royer will get a long look. He caught two passes, including a 24-yard touchdown, in the spring game.
DE Adisa Isaac, junior. A torn Achilles tendon last summer sidelined Isaac the entire season. Now he’s in line to take over Arnold Ebiketie’s spot and bookend with Nick Tarburton. Two years ago, Isaac had 13 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, in spot duty.
LB Tyreem Powell, sophomore. He’s in line to become a full-time starter after an impressive 2021. He played in all 13 games and was pressed into three starts because of a run of injuries. He finished with 20 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
LB Calvin Hart Jr., junior. The North Carolina State transfer is back after tearing his left ACL in the 2021 opener. Hart had a fumble recovery for a touchdown and six tackles and a sack before he got hurt in the fourth quarter. His return is crucial for a defense that lost lots of experience at his position.
RB Gavin Williams, sophomore. He looks ready to take over for Tyler Goodson, who declared for the NFL draft after leading the Hawkeyes in rushing three straight years. Williams’ playing time increased the second half of the season and he ran for 98 yards on 16 carries against Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.
TE Brevyn Spann-Ford, senior. The 6-foot-7 Spann-Ford took a step forward as a pass-catcher last season with 23 receptions for 296 yards and one touchdown. His blocking responsibilities undoubtedly will expand with the departure of sixth-year stalwart Ko Kieft.
RB Anthony Grant, junior. The Huskers have had a revolving door of running backs since last having a 1,000-yard rusher in 2018. Grant could be the answer. He ran for 1,730 yards and 18 touchdowns on a junior college-leading 241 carries for New Mexico Military Institute last season.
LB Mac Uihlein, redshirt freshman. The departure of longtime defensive anchor Chris Bergin clears the way for Uihlein to get on the field. Uihlein was the highest-ranked recruit at his position in program history, and he should provide immediate help for one of the Big Ten’s worst defenses in 2021.
WR Zion Steptoe, freshman. David Bell’s departure creates lots of pass-catching opportunities, and Steptoe is poised to take advantage. The four-star recruit from Little Elm, Texas, landed at Purdue after de-committing from Utah. He had five catches for 52 yards and a TD in the spring game.
LB Jordan Turner, sophomore. The Badgers are going to need some unproven inside linebackers to step up as they replace stars Leo Chenal and Jack Sanborn. Turner bears watching after he made the most of his limited snaps spread over six games. He had two interceptions.
AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell, Tom Canavan, Larry Lage, Steve Megargee, Mitch Stacy, Noah Trister and AP freelance writer John Bohnenkamp contributed.
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