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7 Redshirt Freshmen to Watch in the Big Ten West

Mike Riley

Mike Riley

Predicting which freshmen will play or make an impact on any given season is no easy assignment. Considering some players aren’t quite ready for the physical nature of college football or may need a year to work on developing within the scheme or playbook, a good chunk of every team’s signing class will take a redshirt season. With the 2016 season just a few months away, it’s never too early to take a look back at some of the recruits from 2015 classes who used last season as a redshirt year. Here are seven potential impact redshirt freshmen to watch in the Big Ten for 2016.

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5 Redshirt Freshmen to Watch in the Big Ten West in 2016

Avery Anderson, S/Eric Lee, CB, Nebraska

Nebraska’s secondary has room to improve after ranking 78th nationally in pass efficiency defense last season. Most of the unit returns intact for coordinator Mark Banker, which includes likely All-Big Ten performers in safety Nate Gerry and cornerback Joshua Kalu. However, two redshirt freshmen – Avery Anderson and Eric Lee – could earn more playing time as the season progresses. Both players were regarded as four-star recruits in the 2015 signing class and should help a secondary that surrendered eight passing plays of 50 yards or more last season.  

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Carlos Davis/Khalil Davis, DL, Nebraska

At the conclusion of spring practice, it was no secret the defensive line was the biggest concern for coach Mike Riley. This unit lost standout tackles Vincent Valentine and Maliek Collins early to the NFL, end Greg McMullen decided not to return to the team for 2016, and end Jack Gangwish expired his eligibility. While there’s a lot of turnover here, the Cornhuskers still have talented options in place for new line coach John Parrella. After a redshirt year, twin brothers Carlos and Khalil Davis will be counted upon to make an impact up front. Both players were three-star recruits in the 2015 signing class by the 247Sports Composite. Fellow redshirt freshman Alex Davis is another name to remember up front.

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Alex Hornibrook, QB, Wisconsin

Bart Houston is considered the favorite to replace Joel Stave under center in 2016, but Hornibrook made a late push in spring practice for the No. 1 job. The redshirt freshman stated his case for the starting spot by completing four of eight passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. Even though it’s tough to read too much into spring game totals, Hornibrook certainly did enough to keep the battle open into the summer and fall workouts. The Pennsylvania native was a three-star recruit in Wisconsin’s 2015 signing class.

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Gabe Megginson, OL, Illinois

The pieces are in place for the Fighting Illini to have a solid offensive line in 2016. Tackles Austin Schmidt and Christian DiLauro provide a good foundation on the edges, while center Joe Spencer also returns after starting 12 games last season. Megginson ranked as Illinois’ top recruit in its 2015 signing class, as he was regarded as a four-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite. With both guard spots up for grabs, expect this talented redshirt freshman to claim a spot on the interior. 

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Elijah Sindelar, QB, Purdue

David Blough showed promise in his first opportunity for snaps with the Boilermakers last season, throwing for 1,574 yards and 10 scores in 10 games. The sophomore is still expected to win the starting job for 2016, but Sindelar is a name to watch if Blough struggles at any point. The Kentucky native was Purdue’s top recruit in the 2015 signing class, ranking as a three-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite. Sindelar capped spring workouts with a solid performance (16 of 30, 248 yards and two touchdowns) in the Gold vs. Black game.