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Ask Farrell: Which Big Ten freshmen will impress in 2020?

Jalen Berger
Jalen Berger (Nick Lucero/

Many players from the 2019 class had a huge impact on their teams across the Big Ten last season as high-profile prospects quickly emerged as major contributors.

At Michigan, four-star running back Zach Charbonnet led the team in rushing and he solidified himself as the future of the Wolverines’ backfield. Five-star defensive back Daxton Hill was tied for the team lead at Michigan with two fumble recoveries.

High four-star prospect Noah Cain was a big addition to Penn State’s backfield as he was second on the team in rushing and Cain, ranked as the third-best running back in the 2019 class, should only have more opportunities with the Nittany Lions in the coming years.

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CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

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At Nebraska, four-star junior college running back transfer Dedrick Mills led the Huskers in rushing and Wan’Dale Robinson maybe was not used as much as expected but he was still a big help to the passing attack.

Purdue worked hard to land four-star receiver David Bell in its 2019 class since he was the state’s top prospect and he was excellent for the Boilermakers, leading the way with 86 catches for 1,035 yards and seven scores in his freshman season. Those numbers weren’t as good as Rondale Moore the year before but they were close and definitely a huge part of Purdue’s offense.

At Wisconsin, Graham Mertz did not play a whole bunch but he is expected to be the future of the Badgers’ offense at quarterback. Indiana freshman running back Sampson James had an impressive start for the Hoosiers and made even bigger news in the last few days as he entered the transfer portal, only to then pull his name from that list.

Across the conference, prospects in the 2019 class made a significant contribution and had a major impact from some of the best teams to some of the worst teams in the Big Ten.


We ask Rivals National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell to take a look across the 2020 class in the Big Ten and make predictions on some players who could have huge first seasons at their school and break down why he picked them.

"Jalen Berger stands out to me as someone who can make an immediate impact at Wisconsin with Jonathan Taylor gone and the way New Jersey backs flourish out there. At Ohio State, one of the three big receiver recruits — Jaxon Smith-Njigaba, Julian Fleming and Gee Scott — will have a huge impact; Fleming is the most physically ready.

"At Michigan, Andre Seldon strikes me as a player who will be hard to keep off the field. Finally, look out for linebacker Curtis Jacobs at Penn State and receiver Zavier Betts at Nebraska."