Heisman Top 10: Big Ten Heisman Contenders in 2016


10. Maryland DB William Likely

The most unlikely (please forgive my weakness for puns) Big Ten Heisman contender, William Likely quietly had one of the best all-purpose seasons in all of college football a season ago. The Maryland defensive back returned two punts for touchdowns, took a kickoff to the house, and shined as one of the Big Ten’s best coverage corners with 11 pass deflections.

Maryland’s status as an also-ran in the deep Big Ten East leaves little room for a Heisman contender to emerge, say nothing of a non-traditional candidate such as Likely. However, should the Terps shell-shock the world, Likely is this bunch of Turtles’ Leonardo.

9. Penn State RB Saquon Barkley

Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott was the Big Ten’s best running back in 2015. Perhaps when speaking of Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Elliott was passing the torch.

Barkley was indeed the truth in his freshman campaign, breaking 1,000 yards rushing and catching for another 161. He’ll be the centerpiece of a Nittany Lion offense undergoing some changes in James Franklin’s third season, with Bill O’Brien-recruited quarterback Christian Hackenberg gone for the NFL.

Whether that means Barkley will be expected to take on too cumbersome of a load, or if the restructured offense will mean an uptick in production will define both his individual season, as well as Penn State’s standing in a loaded Big Ten East.