ESPN.com has taken on the herculean task of ranking the top 100 players in college football entering the 2014 season. These are based on expected contributions for the 2014 season, regardless of position.
The list is being released in 20-player increments, and today we reach players ranked Nos. 60-41. Five Big Ten players can be found in this group, and here they are:
No. 44: Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
No. 46: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
No. 48: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
No. 51: Noah Spence, DE, Ohio State
No. 56: Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State
Obviously, there are some very good and quite possibly underrated names in this batch.
All Langford did was run for more than 1,400 yards and a Big Ten-best 18 touchdowns last season. There aren't many more productive running backs in the country than him, although the league is stacked at tailback going into 2014.
Spence is an interesting case. He finished second in the Big Ten with eight sacks a season ago as a first-year starter and is a big time pass-rusher. But he also will miss the first two games of the season because of a suspension. That might hurt his numbers a bit, but he can still make his presence known.
Diggs may make this ranking look silly if he can stay healthy all season. He was in line for a monster year as a sophomore before an injury cut his 2013 short. He could contend for the Biletnikoff Award if he remains on the field for 13 games.
The final two players in this group are also supreme talents. Hackenberg was magnificent as a true freshman and has an unlimited ceiling. He will be adjusting to a new coaching staff and life without Allen Robinson, though, so this could be a transition year. Bennett, meanwhile, has already been projected by some as a first-round NFL draft pick next year. He's quicker and more athletic than many defensive tackles and is a leader on Ohio State's defense.
Diggs, Hackenberg and Bennett all have cases to be ranked much higher than this. If there are 40 players better than those three in the country, we're in for a treat this college football season.