The start of the college football season is just a few short weeks away and it promises to be an entertaining race in the Big Ten. Now, if you are an Ohio State fan, you are hoping it is not too interesting, especially after coming up short last season. But the other 13 teams have scholarships and uniforms too and there is no denying that there is plenty of talent spread out around this conference.
It got us to thinking about the top players at specific positions going into the season. Ohio State fans are always well-aware of who their favorite team has but what about the rest of the teams in the league?
Cornerback play is more important than we can tell you, but you already knew that. Have one great corner and things are going to look pretty good. Have two? Then you are on to something special.
The Big Ten has had no shortage of solid corners through the year and Ohio State has really taken charge in being “DBU” through the years. It has been a minute since the last member of BIA went in the first round of the NFL Draft, but that could be all changing here soon with one particular Buckeye who is back for his second year of starting in the secondary.
Does anyone in the Big Ten edge him out? Let’s take a look.
5. Cameron Brown – Ohio State
Once again, a lot of players could have made this spot, but we are going to take the one we know best with Cam Brown.
Brown has seen a thing or two over his five-year career with the Buckeyes and will be a huge steadying force in Ohio State’s new defensive scheme, one that will see five defensive backs on the field in most instances.
Brown’s numbers don’t exactly jump off the page but sometimes the mark of a good corner is “less is better”. Brown had 20 tackles, an interception with six PBUs and was targeted 34 times last season giving up fewer than 200 yards and did not yield a touchdown.
4. Tiawan Mullen – Indiana
It is not fair to say that the loss of Mullen was the main reason that the Hoosiers had a dismal 2021 but it sure did not help.
He missed a bunch of games and just was not able to have the same impact that he did in 2020 when the Hoosiers pushed the Buckeyes in the Big Ten race and in their head-to-head game.
Mullen is not the biggest corner, just a listed 5-foot-10, but he plays bigger and is not going to let the love of 6-foot corners slow down his drive to be the best in the conference.
How high can Mullen go this year? It all depends on his foot, but he has had a lot of time to rehab that, and the hope is that he is 100-percent right to start the season for IU.
3. Joey Porter Jr. – Penn State
The NFL legacy may play a different position than his dad, but he seems to have a future in the NFL in his near vision.
2021 may not have resulted in the team goals that Penn State had but Porter had a good year with 51 tackles, four PBU’s and a forced fumble and the numbers could be higher in 2022.
Another thing that stands out about Porter is his size, at 6-foot-2 and close to 200-pounds, he is a big corner who can move and cover, something that certainly gives him an edge as the current iteration of football craves big corners.
2. Denzel Burke – Ohio State
With Ohio State’s talented corner class that Burke was part of, many people expected JK Johnson or Jordan Hancock to be the first to emerge, but it was Burke.
Burke would go on to be named to the second team of the All-B1G squad by the coaches and third by the media as he would not allow a touchdown in coverage as he recorded 31 tackles and had nine PBUs. Burke not only is good in coverage but also had getting a defender to the ground if the catch is made, something that can be hit-and-miss with corners who sometimes make business decisions about getting a ball-carrier down in the open field.
Another thing to like about Burke is he is always out there, he was credited with 429 snaps last season, not a small number by any means.
1. Riley Moss – Iowa
Well, the winner of the B1G Corner of the Year (Tatum-Woodson Award) is back, so it would be hard not to have him number one. Plus, he was first-team All-B1G last year as well, so the belief that Moss is the tops at his position is not a narrow one.
Last season Moss has nine passes defended and four picks, two of those being returned for touchdowns against Indiana.
Moss is a demon in coverage and helped fuel a defense that gave up just slightly more than one passing touchdown per game. If there is one knock against Moss it is that he is not great at getting guys down to the ground, so it is just best that he knocks the pass down or lands the interception because outside of that, he comes back to the pack.