Top five football newcomers in the Big Ten
QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Fields transferred to Ohio State from Georgia and expectations are high for the former No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2018. Fields is 6-foot-2, 223 pounds and is fast — he runs a 4.5 40. From all accounts, Fields has a big arm to match is ability to run. He’s following in the footsteps of Dwayne Haskins, who threw for 50 touchdowns last season but no one is expecting him to match those numbers. Ohio State is thin at quarterback and the key will be to keep Fields healthy while letting him use his athleticism.
QB Hunter Johnson, Northwestern
Johnson was a five-star recruit in 2016 class who transferred to Northwestern from Clemson and sat out last season. He saw playing time in seven games during the 2017 season and was 21-of-27 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-2, 216-pound Johnson had looked at Duke also before ultimately choosing the Wildcats.
RB Zach Charbonnet, Michigan
Charbonnet just might have room to run for the Wolverines this fall now that Karan Higdon and Chris Evans must be replaced. Charbonnet was the Los Angeles Times Running Back of the Year last season. The 6-2, 220-pounder had 1,770 yards and 13 touchdowns and averaged 8.2 yards a carry.
DE George Karlaftis, Purdue
Karlaftis, a highly pursued recruit out of West Lafayette High, decided to stay home and play for Purdue at defensive end. He is a dynamic pass rusher and had 41 sacks in high school. Karlaftis enrolled early at Purdue this year and worked with the first-team defense during preseason camp. He was named to the Football Writers Association of America preseason All-Freshman team.
RB Anthony Williams, Michigan State
Williams Jr. just might be what Michigan State needs in the backfield along with veteran Connor Heyward. Williams, an early enrollee, turned heads during spring practice. The 6-foot, 194-pounder was rated three starts coming out of Bolingbrook, Ill. MSU coach Mark Dantonio told reporters that Williams reminds him of Jeremy Langford. Can he get on the field this season? As long as he gets his pass-protection down and hangs onto the ball, more than likely.
Angelique S. Chengelis