The Big Ten's hidden gems of the 2023-24 college football season
Houston, Texas - Who will become the next college football breakout star in 2023-24?
As fans piece together their predictions for the 2023 college football season, the most prominent players are naturally finding the spotlight.
This upcoming season in the Big Ten, Ohio State will see arguably the best returning receiver in Marvin Harrison Jr., while Michigan and Penn State will have touted running backs Blake Corum and Nick Singleton return, too.
Yet despite these key positions, the real mark of a top-ranked team's roster is its depth.
As important as these standout athletes are, they are simply one piece of a whole puzzle, that is chock-full of under-the-radar contributors.
Shifting the spotlight to the hidden gems, here are some of the top under the radar players in the Big Ten to watch out for this coming college football season.
Dallan Hayden, RB - Ohio State
Former five-star prospect TreVeyon Henderson has totaled a massive 1,586 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns as a true freshman for Ohio State.
In the shadow of Williams, though, was the underrated yet talented freshman Dallan Hayden.
The up-and-coming star running back became one of the clutch performers the Buckeyes leaned on at the end of last season. Hayden ended his true freshman campaign with 553 yards and five scores on the ground, putting himself in excellent position to become the Buckeyes' future featured back.
The Buckeye tailback performed three games rushing for more than 100 yards including against Maryland, where he also scored three touchdowns.
Dominic DeLuca, LB - Penn State
Dominic DeLuca is the Nittany Lions' hometown kid. DeLuca began his Penn State football career in relatively quiet fashion, but soon earned scout team Defensive Player of the Year honors.
After showboating during the 2022 Spring game with two interceptions, the redshirt sophomore became a regular contributor during the 2022-23 season.
This year, DeLuca will be coming off of 29 tackles - the 10th-most on the team. He was also given the team's Outstanding Run-On Award.
After two seasons with the program, DeLuca became a scholarship player in January. Penn State football shared the touching moment on social media.
Mason Graham, DL - Michigan
Last season, Michigan boasted one of the top defenses in the nation. And leading the way for the Wolverines was four-star freshman Mason Graham.
Graham collected 27 tackles with 2.5 stops for loss (all sacks) last year and garnered at least one tackle in 13 of the Wolverines' 14 games.
This season, Graham is projected to be a full-time starter as Michigan aims for to make their third straight trip to the College Football Playoff.
The 2023-24 college football season will kick off with Week Zero starting on August 26.
Cover photo: Collage: Carmen Mandato & Scott Taetsch & GREGORY SHAMUS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP