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2022 Under the Radar: Big Ten

Under the Radar Big Ten Cal Haladay

Under the Radar Big Ten Cal Haladay

Key Transfers, New Arrivals, and Position Shifts for the Big Ten in 2022

Ohio State - Tanner McCalister

Birm/Lettermen Row

Birm/Lettermen Row

What isn't under the radar in Columbus heading into the 2022 season is new Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles looking to improve a Buckeyes defense that struggled in 2021.

Knowles is known at running complex defenses, so, to help with transition, defensive back Tanner McCalister transferred from Oklahoma State to Ohio State.

McCalister will be supported by arguably the league's best cornerback tandem in Denzel Burke and Cameron Brown. Ronnie Hickman and Josh Proctor will round out the safeties.

McCalister should operate from the nickel in the secondary and help translate Knowles defense to a very talented secondary.

Michigan - Darrius Clemons

Jaime Crawford/Getty Images

Jaime Crawford/Getty Images

With the return of Ronnie Bell from an ACL injury from last season and Cornelius Johnson who is returning for a senior looking like they will start the season as a top-two wide receiver for Michigan, incoming freshmen Darrius Clemons made an instant impact early in his time in Ann Arbor.

The 6'3", 205-pound wide receiver made a great first impression on Blake Corum.

Corum told, “My first impressions when he early enrolled, I was like ‘that’s what a receiver should look like.’ He’s big, tall, muscled up, in the weight room, he was putting some crazy numbers up. Vertical jump, broad jump, bench, I was like ‘I can’t wait to see him put on pads,’ and when he put on the pads, it was no disappointment. He goes up and gets the ball, smooth routes, he’s clean. He takes good education; he takes advice from older players he soaks it all in.”

In Michigan's Spring Game, Clemons had 3 receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown.

Look for Clemons to take that next steps and grow into a future #1 receiver at Michigan.

Wisconsin - Jack Nelson

Tom Lynn

Tom Lynn

Nelson, with his 6'7", 303-pound frame, will be shifting from right guard to left tackle protecting quarterback Graham Mertz's blindside. A consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten at right guard in 2021 as a redshirt freshman, he helped Wisconsin last season run for 210.9 rushing yards per game.

The entire unit will be buoyed by the return of Bob Bostad as offensive line coach and no one more than Nelson. His athleticism and aggressiveness will be used to make an impact on the edge and dictate the success of the Badgers' 2022 offense.

Michigan State - Cal Haladay

Tom Fuller - USA Today Sports

Tom Fuller - USA Today Sports

As a freshman in 2021, Cal Haladay was a revelation for Mel Tucker's defense. Haladay played his way into the starting lineup that helped Michigan State return to a New Year's Six bowl for the first time since their College Football Playoff appearance in 2015.

He led the team in tackles with 96, five of those coming for a loss. He also forced two fumbles and had two interceptions for a touchdown. Haladay's performance garnered him Freshman All-American recognition, look for him to push for more national recognition for the Spartans.

Penn State - Kalen King

Penn State University

Penn State University

King was one of 29 Nittany Lions to make his debut for the Nittany Lions last season.

King was able during his true freshman season standout in a loaded secondary that consisted of Jaquan Brisker, Joey Porter Jr. and Ji'Ayir Brown.

Look for King to take the next steps in his development and become that next in line elite Nittany Lion defensive back.

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Iowa - Xavier Nwankpa

USA Today Sports

USA Today Sports

Rarely does the combination of 5-star athlete, from Iowa, go to Iowa, all happen and in last recruiting cycle Nwankpa became a Hawkeye despite a feverish recruiting efforts from national powers.

Nwankpa will be groomed earlier and be mentored by veteran safeties Kaevon Merriweather and Quinn Schulte.

It will only be a matter of time before the combination of athleticism, length, clutch play-making, swagger and instincts that made him that rare 5-star athlete from Iowa translates at the next level.

Rest of the Big Ten

Purdue - Kydran Jenkins

In my article about the 5 Toughest Defenders to Replace in the Big Ten for this season, I highlight Kydran Jenkins.

Expect the 2022 Preseason All-Big Ten Fourth Team defensive end to being making splashes this season.

Minnesota - Mohamad Ibrahim

Last we saw Ibrahim was in last season's opener gashing a woeful Buckeyes rushing defense before his Achilles injury.

Look for the 2020 Big Ten Running Back of the Year and Minnesota record holder to have an explosive finale.

Northwestern - Jack Lausch

The sleeper in last season's recruiting cycle in the Big Ten is easily Chicago Sun-Times Player of Year quarterback Jack Lausch.

Everything from his recruitment, status with baseball, and committing to Northwestern was all under the radar.

With the Wildcats hurting at quarterback it might be only a matter of when we see Lausch in action.

Maryland - Jaelyn Duncan

Mike Locksley has an inconsistent explosive offense.

When playing mediocre or less teams, the Maryland offense can hang 40 on anyone. Any team with substance, the offense struggles to find itself.

Duncan will be Taulia Tagovailoa's blindside tackle and anchor an offensive line looking to take a next step.

Nebraska - Caleb Tannor

Tannor had a career-high 33 tackles, with a career-high 5 1/2 tackles for loss and 2 sacks and 3 pass breakups last season and is looking to finish his career in Nebraska on a high.

Indiana - Dasan McCullough

The most decorated and accomplished Hoosier football recruit in program history starts his career in Bloomington this year.

Expectations will be high for McCullough but patience will be afforded for his development.

Illinois - Sydney Brown

Brown returns for his senior season to play safety and had his best season at Illinois last season where he led the team in tackles.

Look for Brown to vie for All-Big Ten recognition.

Rutgers - Gavin Wimsatt

4-star quarterback graduated early from high school last season and participated for the Scarlet Knights last season.

With the staff still somewhat loyal to veteran quarterback Noah Vedral, it may be a battle early but the inevitable is Wimsatt will be the starter in Piscataway.