10 Big Ten Football Players Who Will Emerge in 2014

10 Big Ten Football Players Who Will Emerge in 2014

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The Big Ten will field a litany of returning stars in 2014, with a few others poised to break out into some of the conference's elite playmakers. While these players will snag all the headlines, there are others who emerge from relative obscurity to help shape their program's identity. These 10 players may only be contributors in 2014, but you will know their names by season's end.

10. Drew Wolitarsky

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10. Drew Wolitarsky

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Minnesota's passing game was anemic last season, but the Golden Gophers will at least have some continuity with Mitch Leidner set as the undisputed starter at QB in 2014. While Minnesota could still struggle a bit throwing the football, Wolitarsky will prove to be reliable target each game. The California native had 94 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Gophers' bowl game — momentum that should carry over into 2014.

9. Adam Breneman

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9. Adam Breneman

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With Allen Robinson off to the NFL, Penn State will depend on a bunch of receivers to make up his production. As a true freshman, Adam Breneman made it onto the field for eight games, hauling in one touchdown reception in each the Nittany Lions' final three games and 78 receiving yards in PSU's season finale at Wisconsin. Penn State is really deep at tight end, but Breneman's red zone impact will help him stand out.

8. Derrick Willies

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8. Derrick Willies

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Iowa is going to be a team to watch offensively in 2014, and while redshirt freshman Derrick Willies may not even end up with the third-most receiving yards on his team, his spring game performance opened eyes to his big-play potential. A former high school state-champion sprinter, Willies' name and number will be burned into the eyes of Big Ten defensive backs this season as they watch him gallop towards the end zone.

7. Mike Moudy

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7. Mike Moudy

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A shoulder injury suffered last November was still limiting Moudy this spring, but expect the senior guard to become a leader of the Huskers' line after filling in nicely for All-American Spencer Long last season. Nebraska is going to feature one of the conference's best rushing attacks with Ameer Abdullah returning, giving Moudy plenty of opportunities to ensure his name is worked in when analysts are praising the Huskers.

6. Jabrill Peppers

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6. Jabrill Peppers

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Jabrill Peppers, ESPN's second-ranked recruit in the nation for the 2014 class, is one of those rare true freshman who will make an instant impact on his team. Michigan will start the high school track star at the nickel position, but he could see time anywhere in the defensive backfield and also in the return game, according to head coach Brady Hoke. 2014 will just be a tease of what's to come with Peppers.

5. Vonn Bell

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5. Vonn Bell

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After three starters departed from its defensive backfield, Ohio State will look to sophomore Vonn Bell to step up this season. The highly-touted recruit got his feet wet last season, even recording a pick in his first career start for the Buckeyes in their Orange Bowl game against Clemson. There may be a bit of a learning curve in his first season as a starter, but Bell should be playing his best ball by the end of the year.

4. Darian Hicks

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4. Darian Hicks

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The next man up for Michigan State's "No-Fly Zone," Hicks will have all eyes on him as he is projected to start opposite Trae Waynes as the Spartans' second starting corner. Replacing Thorpe Award winner Darqueze Dennard will be impossible as a first-year starter, but the sophomore has drawn rave reviews from MSU coaches this spring, something they don't casually toss out. Hicks will be tested, but expect him to win more often than not.

3. Ifeadi Odenigbo

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3. Ifeadi Odenigbo

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One of the best names in the Big Ten, Ifeadi Odenigbo will be on everyone's radar after the 2014 season. Though he recorded just nine tackles as a freshman last year, 6.5 of those were for a loss. With a year of playing experience and 5.5 sacks under his belt, Odenigbo is going to become every quarterback's worst distraction as a sophomore — as long as the Wildcats can get healthy and provide him with some help from the rest of the line.

2. Vince Biegel

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2. Vince Biegel

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Vince Biegel, who is the son of former BYU linebacker Rocky Biegel, showed flashes of his potential as a redshirt freshman in 2013. The former four-star recruit appeared in all 13 games — with two starts — and demonstrated good pass rush and coverage ability from the outside linebacker spot. With Wisconsin looking to replace three of its four top tacklers from last season, Biegel (25 tackles in 2013) will be well-known by the end of 2014.

1. Wes Lunt

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1. Wes Lunt

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The present and future of Illinois football, former Oklahoma State freshman phenom Wes Lunt has the tools to get the Illini headed in the right direction. Back in his home state, the signal-caller returns to the spotlight after a transfer year with an offensive coordinator in Bill Cubit who can maximize his talent. Lunt will not be a program savior in year one, but the super sophomore will show signs of future All Big-Ten play.

Michael Briggs is a College Football Writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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