I posed a simple question to our “writers”…Who is the best returning player for your team? Below are a combination of the answers I received and my own picks. Feel free to debate them in the comments below.
Thumpasaurus - Punter Blake Hayes.
Townie – I’m going with WR Josh Imatorbhebhe. He was a top producer for Illinois with 33 catches for 634 yards and 9 touchdowns. That’s 3 times the production of the next closest wide receiver.
Candystripes - Probably Stevie Scott, but an argument could be made for a couple of other guys also.
Townie – Stevie Scott was great in 2019. But WR Whop Philyor had a 1,000-yard season (I know, right?). And Peyton Hendershot was a beast at tight end was just kicked off the team. I’m giving my nod to Philyor. He was outstanding last year.
Stewmonkey13 - With Iowa returning a stable of competent, if not outright good, offensive skill positions, and what should be a decent OL, the biggest, most important piece is going to be the new quarterback, probably Spencer Petras.
Oh, we talking best, not most important. Nevermind, then. It’s OL Alaric Jackson, almost certainly.
Creighton – OL Tyler Linderbaum best overall, RB Tyler Goodson best skill position.
Townie – Jeez, these guys and their offensive linemen. Yawn. This Iowa team has a lot of good returning players. But the best is a feel-good story, DB Jack Koerner. As a sophomore walk-on, he led the team in tackles last year and didn’t earn a scholarship until after the Nebraska game.
Ben Dawson - Rashod Bateman, but Tanner Morgan is one hell of a silver medalist.
Townie – I agree on both counts. Although I’ll switch the two. Rising Junior QB Tanner Morgan had a heck of a sophomore season. He had one of (if not THE) best receiving pair in the B1G to throw to last year. But Bateman is back and they already have great chemistry.
BrianB2 - Uhhhhhhhhh, um, pass.
DJ - Um…Can I hide in the corner and not think about why I can’t answer this?
Townie – Oh come on guys. I know that Gaddy twins are transferring. And Javon Leake and Antoine Brooks left for the NFL. But there were some bright spots.
Okay, well then. I’m going with rising junior linebacker Ayinde Eley. All-Big Honorable Mention. Third on the team in tackles and solid in pass pro. Dad’s a coach and it showed.
Mr. Brown – Ambry Thomas
Townie - Did you know Michigan didn’t have a single player reach 1,000-yards from scrimmage in 2019? Not one.
Lots of star power on the way out for Michigan this year. Josh Metellus, Lavert Hill, Khaleke Hudson, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Shea Patterson are all gone. The defense will need some serious rebuilding.
They return some great talent on the offensive side. Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins are two fantastic running backs. And rising junior Ronnie Bell was electric, for only having a single touchdown catch.
But my pick for the best returning player in 2020 is Nico Collins. He’s coming back for his senior year after a strong, but underwhelming 2019. He led the team in receiving touchdowns and only trailed Charbonnet for most on the team.
Andrew Kosciuszko - Uhhhhhhhhh...Pete Mote.
(Probably Antjuan Simmons)
Townie – I mean, since it’s Sparty, we should go for a defensive player, right? And Simmons was a great linebacker last year. Safety Xavier Henderson also had a great 2019, coming in 5th in the B1G in solo tackles with 56.
But I was so damned impressed by Elijah Collins. He had 237 total plays from scrimmage – third in the B1G…as a RS Freshman. He had 1,087 yards from scrimmage, more than any player on Michigan’s roster. And he’s back for 2020.
Townie – Wan’Dale Robinson. /mic drop
Okay, okay…some kid by the name of Martinez comes back too. Big deal.
MN Wildcat - Paddy Fisher. Note that my runner-up option is T.J. Green, a sixth-year QB who most of us did not want to see as the starter in 2019 and who missed the last 11 games of 2019 after injuring his foot in the opener.
That’s how bad Northwestern 2020 could be.
Townie – That’s the “glass half full” Northwestern fans for ya!
But seriously, that offense was horribad last year. The only “bright” spot I saw as Drake Anderson the running back. He had 154 carries for 634 yards and 3 touchdowns…yeah you guys are screwed.
Townie – Fun fact, J.K. Dobbins had more yards from scrimmage than Michigan and Northwestern’s best three players. Glad he’s gone…right?
OSU’s best returning player is Justin Fields. But damn, Master Teague was good last year and he’s back. Cornerback Shaun Wade is back too. He’ll be special in 2020…but it’s Justin Fields. It just is.
pkloa - Micah Parsons
Townie – PSU has some solid players returning in 2020. LB Micah Parsons is far and away the best on defense. But QB Sean Clifford, TE Pat Freiermuth and RB Journey Brown lit things up on offense and they are all back.
Force me to choose, I think the best returning player for PSU is Journey Brown. The kid had over 1,000 all purpose yards. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry. He’s a stud.
Bman31 - Rondale Moore
Townie – I’m sorry. I know Rondale is shifty, but there’s another kid at Purdue that is just head and shoulders better…David Bell. And it isn’t close. Rondale had 32 plays for 390 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bell had 89 plays for 1,047 yards and 8 touchdowns. He ranked 1st in the B1G in receptions, 3rd in receiving yards, 7th in receiving touchdowns and 8th in yards from scrimmage.
He’s really good. Really, really good. He will be playing on Sundays. Rondale? We’ll see…
Purdue also gets George Karlaftis back. The rising sophomore DE was a force on defense last year. He ranked 3rd in the B1G in tackles for loss and 10th in sacks. He impressed the heck out of me in 2019.
Anon - Aron Cruickshank – WR (2019 Second Team All B1G return specialist for Wisconsin)
Townie – Funny story, rutger has a kid, RB Isaih Pacheco, that outrushed everyone on Northwestern and Michigan. It’s true, google it.
But I really like LB Tyshon Fogg. He’s getting a good defensive-minded head coach in Schiano. He could have a good year in 2020.
Townie – I’m sure Wisconsin has a townhouse sized offensive lineman returning who will be a world-class road grader. But I want to focus on defense.
There was a young linebacker who I really liked, Jack Sanborn. As a true sophomore, he was second on the team in solo tackles and had three picks. He played like a much older kid. He’ll be a solid anchor for the 2020 defense which loses Zack Baun and Chris Orr.
We know their offense will be fine. Getting Sanborn back will be critical for that defense.
That’s all we got. Feel free to disagree in the comments below.