Happy Fourth of July. May your parades feature temperate weather, may your beverages be perfectly chilled, and may your grills be stuffed to the brim.

In the college football world, Independence Day means media days are right around the corner in most conferences. And once leagues hold their annual media events, fall camps usually start to open. The countdown toward the 2024 season is salting away.

In honor of the fireworks that have been shocking our unsuspecting family members half to death for days, here’s a rundown of some (not all; don’t yell at me) of the most explosive players in the Big Ten entering the 2024 season.

These are the guys who flip games on a dime, who set social media ablaze, who have a singular ability to make a defender look silly while they turn an otherwise modest gain into a house call. These are the Big Ten’s best at making their stadiums’ pyrotechnic crews work overtime on gamedays.

RB Quinshon Judkins, Ohio State

Judkins was a 3-star recruit coming out of high school. In the 2022 class, he was ranked as the No. 46 back in the industry-generated 247 Composite. In 2 seasons with the Ole Miss Rebels, Judkins produced 81 runs of 10 yards or more and 25 runs of 20 yards or more. He forced 154 missed tackles, more than any other FBS player over the last 2 years, per Pro Football Focus.

RB TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State

Judkins is a tank who has produced monster numbers since entering the college ranks, and Henderson probably has better big-play ability. He has a certain wiggle that makes him a nightmare to contain. Ohio State expects the duo to form a “thump and run” partnership in the Buckeye backfield that has the potential to rival some of the all-time greats. A 5-foot-10, 208-pound senior, Henderson has 8 players from scrimmage of more than 50 yards in his career. He had an explosive run rate of 14.7% last year and tied Purdue’s Tyrone Tracy Jr. for the most 20-yard rushing attempts in the Big Ten. Among all qualified Big Ten rushers (incoming teams included), Henderson ranked top-10 in yards per carry after contact, 10-yard runs, and breakaway percentage.

WR Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State

If we’re being honest, this list could run even deeper with Ohio State talent. Jeremiah Smith could have gotten a call-out, but let’s just focus on the star of the room. Egbuka monster, Shaq-sized shoes to fill as the No. 1 wideout for the Buckeyes. Marvin Harrison Jr. had that title for the previous 2 seasons, Jaxon Smith-Njigba had it before him, and Chris Olave wrestled with Garrett Wilson over the title before JSN. The caliber of receivers to come out of Columbus in recent years is nothing short of remarkable. Egbuka had a quiet season in 2023, affected by an ankle sprain in Week 6 that required in-season surgery. He played in 10 total games while bringing in 41 receptions for 515 yards and 4 scores. When he was healthy in 2022, he finished just 1 reception shy of the Big Ten lead for 20-yard catches (19) and tied for the lead in 30-yard receptions (10). He ranked third among qualified Big Ten receivers that season in yards per route run. Egbuka is a smart route-runner and he’s tough over the middle. Big plays aren’t just found on go routes down the sidelines. A healthy Egbuka is one of the best in the country.

Related: Want to bet on the Buckeyes this upcoming season? Here’s a FanDuel Ohio bonus code to get you off and running. FanDuel has a ton of Ohio State-related props on the board ahead of the new year. 

WR Tez Johnson, Oregon

One year after setting the program record for receptions in a single season, Johnson takes over for Troy Franklin as the No. 1 receiver in what is arguably college football’s best passing offense. Johnson ranked second among qualified Power 5 receivers last season in yards per route run. (Franklin was fourth.) His 8.5 yards after the catch was the seventh-best average. He forced 22 missed tackles (sixth) and brought in 81.1% of his targets (third). Drops were something of an issue, but Johnson’s debut season in Eugene was a smashing success as he cemented his status as one of the most dangerous receivers in football. And in a receiver room that looks to be the deepest in America, Johnson is still likely to find himself in a ton of that damn green grass everyone in Eugene talks about.

WR Evan Stewart, Oregon

Stewart was a 5-star recruit when he signed with Texas A&M out of the 2022 class and he was a 5-star transfer when he left Texas A&M earlier this offseason. He’s lean, but he’s a track star with enough athleticism to give some away and still make you miss in the open field. He’s twitchy off the line, a showman at the catch point, and dangerous after the catch. He’s a guy quarterbacks trust to go make a play down the field, with an average target depth of 14.4 yards last season and 36 career contested targets (12 catches). In Oregon’s offense with a proven quarterback distributing the football, he’s going to have a highlight-filled year.

WR Jurrion Dickey, Oregon

Big Ten circles might not yet be familiar with Dickey, and that’s fine. He played sparingly in 2023 as a true freshman and made just 1 reception for 7 yards. He was the best receiver I saw in the 2023 class — a multi-sport athlete (basketball and track) who used every tool in the book to dominate defenses. Dickey averaged 18.1 yards a catch with 47 total touchdowns as a high schooler. He had 37 receiving scores, 2 kickoff returns, 2 rushing scores, and a pick-six. He has all the tools of a big-play merchant within this Oregon offense. He’s just waiting his turn.

WR Zachariah Branch, USC

The best part of USC’s 2023 campaign was the emergence of Branch, who became the first player in program history to be a first-team All-American as a true freshman. Branch’s debut was electric. He had a 96-yard kick return, 66 yards on 3 punt returns, and 58 yards with a touchdown on 4 receptions in his first-ever game. He scored again the following week, then returned a punt for a touchdown the next week. Branch was more subdued over the back end of the season, but USC slowly imploded as the year went on and Branch battled injury. When healthy and on the field, he’s one of those can’t-miss players that can flip a game in an instant. You don’t want to mention the guy who wore No. 5 for USC because it’s an unfair comparison to make, but he’s of that same ilk when it comes to showstopping talent.

RB Kyle Monangai, Rutgers

Who led the Big Ten last season in missed tackles forced? Who led the Big Ten last season in yards after contact? Who led the Big Ten last season in 10-yard runs? Who led the Big Ten last season in overall rushing? This isn’t a trick, the answer is Monangai. Rutgers’ 5-foot-9 senior from New Jersey produced 1,262 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns last season, becoming the first Scarlet Knight to clear the century mark on the ground in more than a decade. Only 3 Power 5 running backs forced more missed tackles or had more yards after contact than Monangai, and he did it without fumbling the football once. In fact, in 413 career rushing attempts, Monangai hasn’t lost a fumble.

WR Kaden Prather and WR Tai Felton, Maryland

The 6-foot-2 Felton was a third-team All-Big Ten receiver last year after averaging 15.1 yards per catch. He was 1 of 3 Maryland receivers that produced double-digit 20-yard receptions. Prather was another. A 6-foot-3 wideout who lines up on the outside and beats his man for big plays the hard way. Felton has elite speed. Prather is a dynamite X receiver. Together, they produced 10 yards or more on 60% of their receptions last season and 20 yards or more on 26% of their receptions.

Related: Maryland residents who want to bet on their team in 2024 can do so by signing up with one of the top Maryland sports betting apps. Sign up with your book of choice and take advantage of preseason futures and other odds currently on the board.