10 B1G seniors I’d like to see return in 2021
The NCAA granted a free year of eligibility to every FBS player in 2020. Surely not everyone will take advantage of this, like those who are ready for the NFL and those who don’t figure into their team’s plans in 2021. But it is a great opportunity for some who may not quite be ready for the NFL or can be key contributors in 2021.
In light of Senior Days for many Big Ten teams last week and more to come this week, here are 10 seniors I’d like to see return next season.
Cole Banwart, G, Iowa
The starting right guard is finally getting his chance to play, and he is performing exceptionally well, as Pro Football Focus has him as the No. 13 guard in the country. Part of Iowa’s 2020 Leadership Group, he would be a core part of the 2021 team that will likely lose stars like left tackle Alaric Jackson, defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon, defensive end Chauncey Golston and receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette to the NFL. After missing nearly all of 2019 due to injury, the Ottosen, Iowa, native deserves a real senior year.
Danny Davis, WR, Wisconsin
The wideout emerged as a dynamic weapon in Wisconsin’s first 2 games, catching a 53-yard TD in the opener and running for a score against Michigan. He is a deep threat and tough to stop on jet sweeps (8 carries, 71 yards). It’s no surprise the Badgers have struggled in the 2 games Davis has sat out due to injury. The Badgers are averaging 47 points with him in the lineup this season and 6.5 without him. He would be very fun to watch in an offense that should be very good next season, led by a pair of freshmen in QB Graham Mertz and RB Jalen Berger.
Not done yet.
Danny Davis III (@DDIII_7) takes it in for 6 more.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 15, 2020
Coney Durr, CB, Minnesota
It’s been a very underwhelming season for the Golden Gophers — quite the opposite of 2019, in fact. Minnesota (2-3) has dealt with a COVID outbreak, and Durr reportedly got it while traveling to his grandmother’s funeral. Durr was projected as one of the B1G’s top corners this season, but he hasn’t shown it yet on a defense that ranks last in the Big Ten in yards per game. He is ranked 19th out of 26 B1G corners in terms of PFF grade. That’s why another season could work well for Durr and his NFL prospects.
— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) November 20, 2020
Ty Fryfogle and Whop Philyor, WRs, Indiana
How great would it be if one, or both, of these guys came back? On the one hand, this has been a dream season for the Hoosiers, who have climbed all the way up to No. 8 in the latest AP poll, their highest ranking since 1967. So while it would be hard to top, why not run it back with Michael Penix Jr.? Fryfogle has been one of the most surprising superstars, averaging nearly 100 receiving yards and a TD per game after having just 1 100-yard game in his first 3 seasons. It’s actually been a down year for Philyor relative to his junior year when he was fourth in the Big Ten in receiving, so he can come back and up his draft stock. Both guys will probably always be remembered for the way they’ve elevated this program, but they can add to that legacy with another year.
Haskell Garrett, DT, Ohio State
Garrett had one of the best defensive plays of the season against Michigan State, tipping a pass to himself in the end zone for a touchdown. The former top-100 recruit has been making plays all season, as he would be the B1G’s highest-graded defensive tackle if he had enough snaps to qualify (higher than Iowa’s Daviyon Nixon and Purdue’s Lorenzo Neal). The rare true senior, he deserves another year in the spotlight after spending the weeks before the season recovering from a gunshot wound to the face from breaking up a fight.
Ben Mason, FB, Michigan
The fullback, turned defensive tackle, turned fullback, is an invaluable guy in the locker room. He isn’t a flashy NFL prospect, but he does plenty of dirty work. Wherever this program is going, it needs guys like Mason to help lead the way, as he is a two-time recipient of the team’s Toughest Player Award.
One of my pet peaves is guys peaking at the ball carrier while executing a block.
Not Ben Mason. He just wants to maul.
Be more like Ben Mason everyone. Stop peaking. Start mauling. pic.twitter.com/j2VSI2lJNV
— Due# (@JDue51) October 25, 2020
C Michael Menet (Penn State)
One of the Big Ten’s top centers would be a valuable part of Penn State’s efforts to rebound from one of the worst seasons in its storied history. As we saw over the weekend in games featuring Ohio State and Wisconsin, centers don’t exactly grow on trees. The two-time team captain and Pennsylvania native would probably enjoy playing against 110,000 fans again, too.
PennSt C Michael Menet is not going to get bull-rushed into his QB, not even by a man like OhioSt NT Davon Hamilton (2019 game). Good initial quickness and just enough mobility to get a piece of the Mike or other LBs. #SnapScout21 pic.twitter.com/DGMt883rrU
— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) November 20, 2020
Peyton Ramsey, QB, Northwestern
I’m not sure what the status of Ramsey’s graduate degree is, but can he do another year at Northwestern? The Wildcats could sure use him. The Wildcats were last in the B1G West in 2019 without him; with him, they are West champs. The turnaround at Northwestern (5-1) has a lot to do with getting competent QB play. Ramsey’s numbers (189.3 passing yards per game, 8 TD passes, 6 interceptions) won’t get him any Heisman votes, but his impact goes well beyond the box score.
Jack Stoll, TE, Nebraska
The Huskers’ starting tight end suffered a knee injury in the opener against Ohio State and has played sparingly since, totaling just 49 plays on the season (per PFF). Stoll had started 25 straight games until missing the Northwestern game. Stoll has a litany of academic awards and has been on the John Mackey Award Preseason Watch List for the last 3 years. This isn’t the way he wanted to go out, and if he can get healthy and be a regular contributor on the team that returns the Huskers to their former glory (or at least to a bowl game), why not do it?