ESPN.com's Big Ten all-freshman team

The Big Ten doesn't name an official all-freshman team, but that won't stop us from coming up with our own.

There were many impressive debuts this year in the league, and several players showed off promising potential. Here is our 2012 all-freshman squad, captained by freshman of the year Deion Barnes:


QB: Joel Stave, Wisconsin*

RB: Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin*

RB: Imani Cross, Nebraska

WR: Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State

TE: Kyle Carter, Penn State*

TE: Devin Funchess, Michigan

TE: Dan Vitale, Northwestern

OL: Jack Allen, Michigan State*

OL: Jason Spriggs, Indiana

OL: Donovan Smith, Penn State*

OL: Austin Blythe, Iowa*

OL: Dan Feeney, Indiana


DL: Deion Barnes, Penn State*

DL: Adolphus Washington, Ohio State

DL: Noah Spence, Ohio State

DL: Dean Lowry, Northwesterm

LB: Mason Monheim, Illinois

LB: Joe Bolden, Michigan

LB: Mike Svetina, Illinois

LB: James Ross, Michigan

DB: Nick VanHoose, Northwestern*

DB: Frankie Williams, Purdue*

DB: RJ Williamson, Michigan State*


K: Taylor Zalewski, Illinois*

P: Drew Meyer, Wisconsin*

KR: Dennis Norfleet, Michigan

All-purpose: Josh Ferguson, Illinois*

* -- redshirt freshman

As you can see, we got creative again -- we had a 3-4 defense for our ESPN.com All-Big Ten team, and now we have a revolutionary 4-4-3 setup on our all-freshman defense. Why? Well, the pool for newbie defensive backs in this league was very shallow, so we preferred to recognize an extra linebacker instead of forcing the issue at DB. ... You might also notice our 12-man, three-TE offense. We believe the young tight ends in this league are extremely promising, and we didn't even include Penn State's Jesse James. Outside of Burbridge, there wasn't much production from freshman receivers. ... We left off some pretty good young offensive linemen who just missed the cut, including Minnesota's Josh Campion and Illinois' Ted Karras. ... Stave gets the nod over the Gophers' Philip Nelson even though he missed the final month with a broken collarbone. Nelson had a great game against Purdue but had some poor statistical outings down the stretch. ... Carter was the only freshman who also made our All-Big Ten team. ... Gordon showed what a high ceiling he has with his 200-plus yard performance in the Big Ten title game. He could be an absolute superstar.