The “slow” part of the offseason is here as college football is finally at a standstill. The NFL draft is over, the transfer portal is closed, and spring ball has come to an end. It is officially time to think about the 2022 season. Now is your chance to gather your surroundings, buy a few magazines and figure out who is on which roster and what players to key on. If you don’t know where to begin, B1G Thoughts is here to give you five players at each position to watch in the 2022 season.
Running back is somehow one of the most important and most underrated positions in football. Many coaches, analyst and fans will tell you that running back is replaceable, but a great running back is a difference maker. What would Michigan State be without Kenneth Walker III or LeVeon Bell before that? Ohio State’s dominance has been built off the backs of Archie Griffin, Maurice Clarett and Ezekiel Elliott. Wisconsin has won the West on the backs of Jonathan Taylor and Melvin Gordon.
2022 may be a running back resurgence in the Big Ten. There are more than five to watch, but here are the top five running back to watch in 2022.
Sophomore - Ohio State
TreVeyon Henderson broke out in 2021 as a true freshman, rushing for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns on 183 carries. He also showcased his versatility in the passing game with 312 yards and four touchdowns on 27 receptions. With a total on 19 touchdowns, Henderson broke Ohio State’s record for TDs in a season by a freshman, a record held by Maurice Clarett.
Henderson has a lot of hype behind him — deservedly so — but he did not finish 2021 as strong as he started. That’s fair for a true freshman, but entering his sophomore season, Henderson will need to be ready to carry the Buckeyes through a 15 game season if he hopes to win a national championship. He is one of the best running backs in the nation, and will be a must-watch in the 2022 campaign.
Check out Henderson’s 2021 highlights:
Sixth-year senior - Minnesota
If there is anyone who can contend with TreVeyon Henderson for the title of best running back in the Big Ten, it’s Mohamed Ibrahim. Ibrahim was on a tour de force against Ohio State in week one before he suffered a season ending injury. In three quarters against a national championship contender, he had 30 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns. You could argue this was a sign of things to come for Ohio State’s defense but Mo Ibrahim almost single handedly upset the Buckeyes.
Without him, Minnesota went 9-3 and was in the running for the Big Ten West championship until the end. With Ibrahim carrying the rock, maybe they would have won. He’s coming back for a sixth season and hopes to lead Minnesota to a breakthrough and a Big Ten West title.
Check out Ibrahim’s 2021 highlights:
Sophomore - Wisconsin
Braelon Allen saved the Wisconsin Badgers’ season in 2021, and that is not hyperbole. Wisconsin struggled early in the season due to issues at running back and a quarterback that did not take the expected step up. Then Braelon happened. After a 1-3 start, Wisconsin won seven straight games on the back of Allen, ultimately winning every game where he rushed for 100 or more yards.
Allen finished the 2021 season with 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns on 186 carries despite being a non-factor in the first couple of games. Wisconsin is at its best when it has a game breaking running back, and Allen has all the makings to be one of the best they’ve ever had. He’s must-see TV, and will look to bring Wisconsin back to the mountain top.
Check out Allen’s 2021 highlights:
Junior - Illinois
Illinois was not the most interesting team to watch in 2021, so it’s okay if you’ve never heard of Chase Brown. Heading into 2022, Illinois will be looking to build on a season that saw them lose a bunch of games but set a foundation for the future. Brown is one of the key pieces they’re looking to build upon after rushing for 1,005 yards and five touchdowns on 170 carries.
Illinois under Bret Bielema is a throwback to Big Ten days of old, built off big tough guys in the trenches, a staunch defense, a grind it out running back and a quarterback who does just enough. With Brown carrying the rock, Illinois has a chance to get to bowl eligibility and scare a few Big Ten contenders.
Check out Brown’s 2021 highlights:
Junior - Michigan
Blake Corum was the lightening to Hassan Haskins’ thunder. While Haskins got the bulk of the carries and much of the shine for leading Michigan past Ohio State and into the playoffs for the first time under Jim Harbaugh, Corum was a major factor to their success. He ran for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns on 144 carries and made it tough on opposing defenses.
If you load the box and key on the inside run, then Corum would sub in the game and run past the whole defense. He comes into the 2022 season hoping to hold off upcoming underclassman Donovan Jackson for the No. 1 running back spot. Michigan has lost a lot of talent from last year’s squad. If they hope to build on last year’s success, Corum will need to have a monster season.
Check out Corum’s 2021 highlights: