Big Ten fresh faces: Five freshmen who will have breakout seasons in 2017

Get to know these names. They may be new, but they're important. They're the fresh, baby-faced guys around college football that are poised to make an immediate impact this fall.

Today, we bring you five freshmen to watch this year in the Big Ten that could make an instant impact at the start of the season.

1. J.K. Dobbins, running back, Ohio State: Recruitniks may have forgotten about Dobbins after he missed his entire senior season in high school, but he's the same guy that rushed for 5,000 yards over the course of his sophomore and junior seasons in Texas. He's one of the most explosive and dynamic players in the Class of 2017, and he made an early impression at Ohio State and has worked himself into the regular running back rotation. He'll be the best back on the roster by midseason.

2. A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa: The Hawkeyes ares one of the best programs in the country at turning unheralded recruits into NFL stars, but Kirk Frerentz is going to have to settle for developing a ready-made superstar out of this freshman class. Epenesa, ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the No. 1 strong-side defensive end in the country, is a rare specimen. At 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, the former five-star is one of the best discus throwers in the country, he's a high level basketball player, and he's the type of guy that has the physical tools to be an immediate force in the Big Ten.

3. Tarik Black, wide receiver, Michigan: The Wolverines lost their top three pass catchers from last season, but fortunately they brought in one of the nation's top wide receiver classes to compensate. Several newcomers are good enough to see snaps with the first offense but the most ready appears to be Black, a 6-foot-4 polished pass catcher out of Connecticut. He seems to have battled his way into the No. 3 wide receiver spot but don't be surprised if Donovan Peoples-Jones and Oliver Martin show up with some meaningful catches this season, too.

4. Tyjon Lindsey, wide receiver, Nebraska: Maybe the most impressive recruiting win of the Mike Riley era at Nebraska, Lindsey decommitted from Ohio State to pledge with the Cornhuskers and brings with him outstanding big-play ability. Lindsey has a chance to be one of the most dangerous slot receivers in the Big Ten after being one of the most exciting prospects in the country on the high school level. He'll work himself into a steady rotation in year one if not the starting lineup.

5. Bo Melton, wide receiver, Rutgers: I expect freshmen to be playing all over the field for Chris Ash in Year 2, but Melton should make the biggest impact. He's a do-everything type of wide receiver that can carry the ball out of the backfield or on jet sweeps. He's also a crisp route-runner who has big-time speed and athleticism. He'll provide a big-play threat that Rutgers' offense was missing last fall.

CBS Sports Writer

Barton Simmons has been involved in college football and recruiting since 2000, first as a player and then as a reporter and analyst. As a player, he was a two-time All-Ivy League safety at Yale before... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories
    24/7 Scores, News, Highlights