Big Ten loaded with top-shelf talent
ESPN.com's Mel Kiper says the top talent in the Big Ten is spread around on both sides of the ball.
Originally Published: July 7, 2004By Mel Kiper Jr. | Special to ESPN Insider
- Editor's note: ESPN.com's Mel Kiper Jr. kicks off his look at the best players in each conference by examining the top five players on the roster of every Big Ten team (schools listed in alphabetical order). Illinois Fighting Illini
1. E.B. Halsey, RB, so. -- A versatile back who rushed for 525 yards and could have been the Big Ten Freshman of the Year had he not injured his knee late in the season against Michigan.
2. Matt Sinclair, ILB, sr. -- A sideline-to-sideline player who led the Illini with 129 tackles last season.
3. Mike O'Brien, DE, sr. -- A sixth-year senior, O'Brien was the best defensive player for the Illini in their 2003 opener against Missouri but tore his ACL in practice the following week. Should boost a unit that could not stop the run last year because of depth problems.
4. Kelvin Hayden, CB, fr. -- A former JUCO all-american who led the Illini in receiving last year, Hayden has moved to cornerback in an effort to make Illinois more athletic on that side of the ball. At 6-0, 200 pound he has a chance to give the defense a shot in the arm.
5. Jon Beutjer, QB, sr. -- Another sixth-year player, Beutjer underwent back surgery last November and is back and ready to go. He will bring leadership and experience to the offense and will be counted on to provide consistency and stability.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
We see that you are not an ESPN Insider. Upgrade today and gain access to our exclusive coverage.
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
- Miami's Knighton out of hospital after falling ill
- Stanford hires Texas' Akina as secondary coach
- Stanford's Shaw opposed to early signing day
- Nebraska, Pelini agree to one-year extension
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
- NCAAF Home
- CFB Nation
- Awards Tracker
- BCS Standings
- Bowl Projections
- Pick Center
- Power Rankings
- Revenue and Expenses
- Weekly Leaders
- FCS Insider
ESPN.com: Help | Press | Advertise on ESPN.com | Sales Media Kit | Interest-Based Ads | Corrections | Contact Us | Site Map | Jobs at ESPN | Go.com