B1G's most overlooked defensive players in 2016
There was no shortage of defensive talent in the B1G last season.
Despite Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State receiving most of the defensive accolades in 2016, the skill that peppered the conference could be found on nearly every roster. No, not every team had a Jabrill Peppers, T.J. Watt or Malik Hooker, but there were certainly some quality players that weren’t given much recognition.
We’ve already taken a look at the B1G’s most overlooked offensive players, now it’s time to check out the other side of the ball.
Here are five defenders in the B1G who didn’t get as much recognition as they deserved in 2016:
Because of its underwhelming performance in 2016, nobody paid much attention to Purdue’s defense, or any of its players outside of defensive tackle Jake Replogle.
One of the few bright spots for the Boilermakers was Bailey, who rounded out the year as the team’s leader in tackles (97) and interceptions (4). Four times he recorded 10 tackles or more in a single game and also had six stops for a loss at the end of the season.
Purdue’s defense was bad, but Bailey was one player who should’ve received more attention. He should be a solid defender for the Boilermakers in the future.
4. Marcus Allen, S – Penn State
Allen only had a few big plays last season. Maybe you remember that blocked field goal against Ohio State that turned into a game-winner for the Nittany Lions?
The safety was a tackling machine for Penn State, racking up 110 stops on the year, including six tackles for loss. Not only did he lead the Nittany Lions in the category, he ranked third in the B1G and 38th in the nation.
Allen had a huge performance in a crucial win over Minnesota, tallying 22 tackles in the overtime victory. He also notched 10 stops against Indiana and 11 in the B1G Championship.
Thanks to some really talented defensive backs in the B1G, Allen didn’t get as much credit as he deserved throughout the year.
3. Jesse Aniebonam, DL – Maryland
Surprisingly, Maryland had the third-most sacks in the B1G in 2016. A big reason for that was because of Aniebonam’s productivity on the defensive line.
Aniebonam accounted for nine of Maryland’s 38 sacks and also posted 14 tackles for loss. He also added 46 tackles, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble to an impressive stat line for the Terrapins.
Maryland’s defense had a lot of holes and many believed the defensive line was the biggest weakness of the team last year. That’s probably why Aniebonam was overlooked despite posting solid numbers in his junior season
2. Montra Hartage, CB – Northwestern
Ifaedi Odenigbo, Anthony Walker Jr., and Godwin Igwebuike were the stars of a pretty good Northwestern defense. Left on the outside was Hartage, who made some pretty big plays for the Wildcats, too.
Hartage’s five interceptions led Northwestern in 2016 and he broke up an additional nine passes on the year. But maybe it was this interception against Indiana that should really have you talking about the cornerback:
The sophomore has already proven to be a pretty big commodity for the Wildcats and is capable of making big plays.
Maybe his name didn’t surface because great teammates stole most of the spotlight, but Hartage won’t be off the radar long if he continues to play the way he did last season.
1. Brandon Snyder, S – Iowa
It seems like Iowa has this type of player somewhere on the roster each and every year. But with Kirk Ferentz’s brand of football, it’s understandable that players have to make a bigger splash to get some of the attention they deserve.
Not to mention, Desmond King, Josey Jewell and Jaleel Johnson stole plenty of the thunder when it came to Iowa’s defense.
Snyder had a great season all-around. He was the team’s third-leading tackler with 85 stops, intercepted three passes, forced three fumbles and had three tackles for loss as a sophomore. He was really that do-it-all type of player that every team wishes it could have.
What makes Snyder’s story better was that he was redshirted in 2014 after walking on to the program.
Snyder didn’t take long to have a huge impact for the Hawkeyes and he’ll likely be one of the better defenders in the B1G over the next few seasons.