Before we begin the 2017 football season, I want you to pick who you think is the best running back in the Big Ten. If you said Saquon Barkley, a LOT of people would agree with you. Barkley is a heavy favorite in the Big Ten this season, and some media sources have already started talking about how Barkley will be in New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation at the end of the year.
But what about Justin Jackson?
Nobody seems to be talking about the Big Ten’s leading rusher from 2016, and that’s not a good thing. Jackson led the conference in rushing yards last season, and finished in the Top 3 in rushing touchdowns, yards from scrimmage, and touchdowns from scrimmage. Since 1956, there have been 16 players that have ran for more yards than Justin Jackson in the Big Ten. He’s on pace to finish this season with the third most rushing yards in Big Ten history, and the two guys ahead of him (Ron Dayne and Archie Griffin) have won the Heisman. The ONLY reason Jackson is on pace to finish third all time in Big Ten rushing yards is because he “only” ran for 1187 yards his freshman year in Evanston. Take that year out of his average, and Jackson is on pace to surpass Griffin for 2nd all time in conference. WHY ISN’T ANYBODY TALKING ABOUT HIM!?
This guy is dangerous.
Last season saw an increase in Jackson’s receptions, rushing yards, average yards per carry, and touchdowns. If there is one thing that Fitzy and the cats can rest easy about, it’s Justin Jackson and his ability to make plays out of the backfield. Illinois will be facing Jackson in his final game for the Northwestern Wildcats, and we’re certain that he will be looking to put on a show when he sets foot in Champaign in late November.