Predicting the 2017 preseason All-Americans from the B1G
It’s not about how you start the season, but how you finish.
Last year, the B1G had six players earn All-American honors from the media. By the end of the year, the conference had seven players earn AP’s first-team All-America honors, while six others earned second-team accolades.
But since there’s still 200 (!) days until the start of a new college football season, we might as well take a look at who could garner some preseason attention this summer.
After great years in 2016, here are the best candidates to receive preseason All-American honors when August rolls around:
Saquon Barkley, Penn State – RB
The Penn State running back isn’t just an All-American, he’s a Heisman-caliber player. And if you aren’t convinced by his incredible sophomore numbers, just watch this run against USC in the Rose Bowl:
Barkley was the B1G’s second-leading rusher in 2016, totaling 1,496 yards and scoring 18 TDs on 272 carries. But what makes the to-be junior so special is his effectiveness in the passing attack as well. He caught 28 passes for 402 yards and four scores in addition to his big rushing numbers.
There’s no doubt Barkley is the best offensive player one of the most dangerous teams in the country. He’ll be one of the most highly-praised running backs heading into 2017.
Billy Price, Ohio State – OG
Price has been a fixture on Ohio State’s offensive line for the past three seasons. At the end of the 2016 season, he was a second-team All-American selection and should be an easy pick this preseason.
The Buckeye has started 41-straight games for Ohio State, dating back to the season-opener in 2014. Serving as an anchor up front, Price has played a major role in Ohio State’s B1G-leading rushing attack each of the past two seasons.
Ohio State averaged 245 yards per game on the ground in 2015 and 2016.
Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin – TE
It’s hard to believe a guy with a 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame could stay hidden for the majority of a season. But because the B1G had some quality tight ends last year, Fumagalli didn’t get the recognition he deserved.
That all changed in the Cotton Bowl after a six-catch, 83-yard performance against Western Michigan:
Fumagalli led the Badgers in receptions last season, catching 47 passes for 580 yards and a pair of TDs. But the most important number of his junior campaign was 36. That’s how many of Fumgalli’s receptions led to first downs for Wisconsin, a pretty impressive mark.
For his efforts, he earned second-team All-B1G honors from coaches and third-team recognition from the media.
With the Badgers needing guys to step up at the skill positions, Fumagalli should be a more integral part of the offense in 2017.
Tegray Scales, Indiana – LB
How good was Scales in 2016?
The junior became the first Indiana linebacker to get All-American honors in three decades, earning second-team honors last season. But that’s the reward for a player who led the B1G in tackles (126) and tackles for loss (23.5) in a conference full of supreme defenders.
Scales’ return for his final year was Tom Allen’s first big victory as the head coach of the Hoosiers. He won’t just be the best player on Indiana’s defense, he might be the most effective linebacker in the B1G in 2017.
Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State – DL
With so much turnover for Ohio State every year, Lewis’ decision to return was a nice surprise for Urban Meyer and company.
Lewis was the B1G’s Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year, recording 29 stops, 10.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He was also a first-team All-B1G selection by the coaches and media at the end of the 2016 season.
— Buckeye SloopCast (@SloopCast) October 30, 2016
The defensive lineman has been a fixture for the Buckeyes up front, starting each of the past two years. He’s going to be one of the toughest assignments for offensive linemen to contain, giving Ohio State a continued presence in the pass rush.
You won’t find many defenders better than Lewis in college football next season.
Others to keep an eye on:
Trace McSorley, Penn State – QB
With so many talented quarterbacks returning in 2017, McSorley probably won’t get much recognition nationally prior to the start of the 2017 season. Still, he should be on the radar after throwing for over 3,600 yards and 29 TDs in his first year as a starter.
Mason Cole, Michigan – OL
Cole has started every game over the past three seasons (38) for the Wolverines and was a second-team All-B1G selection by the media and the coaches in 2016. He’ll be the anchor for Michigan’s line in the fall.
Justin Jackson, Northwestern – RB
It may be a surprise, considering how much attention Barkley and Corey Clement received last year, but it was actually Jackson that lead the B1G in rushing, tallying 1,524 yards and 15 TDs in his junior season. He’s having one of the best careers for a running back in conference history.
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State – QB
Like McSorley, Barrett will enter the year behind several returning quarterbacks. But the multi-year starter is one of the best dual-threat players in the country. Because of that, he’ll get some attention heading into the year.
Josey Jewell, Iowa – LB
Jewell has been a tackling machine for the Hawkeyes, totaling 250 tackles in the past two seasons. He also had six stops for loss, five quarterback hurries and nine pass break-ups to his name in his junior campaign.
Janarion Grant, Rutgers – KR/PR
If it weren’t for a season-ending injury, Grant could’ve had a special year in 2016. But he’ll have that chance in 2017. Grant might be one of the most dangerous return men in the country. He had a kickoff and a punt returned for a touchdown in just four games last and averaged 32.5 yards per return on kickoffs, the top average in the B1G.
Mike Gesicki, Penn State – TE
Gesicki caught more passes than any other tight end in the B1G last season. He had 679 yards and five TDs on 48 receptions. He’ll be one of the top tight ends returning in college football and a great weapon in Penn State’s offense.
Brian Allen, Michigan State – OL
As Michigan State tries to regroup in 2o17, Allen’s presence on the line is a huge advantage for Mark Dantonio. Allen is a 25-game starter and was a preseason third-team All-American selection by Athlon Sports in 2016.