Northwestern running back Justin Jackson ran for 2,605 yards in his first two seasons of college football, and he was one of 10 Big Ten running backs on the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award, which annually honors the top running back in college football.
Jackson's name was mysteriously absent from the original press release, but that turned out to be just an error.
That initial absence was of a great deal of shock considering how remarkably productive Jackson has been for the Wildcats in his first two seasons. Last year, he ranked second in the conference — trailing only Ohio State star and first-round draft choice Ezekiel Elliott — with 1,418 rushing yards, going for triple digits in eight of the team's 13 games. In wins over Ball State, Penn State and Illinois, he went for 172 yards or more. Jackson earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors from both coaches and members of the media.
The Big Ten had an impressive showing on the list with a contingent of Jackson, Illinois' Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Indiana's Devine Redding, Iowa's LeShun Daniels, Michigan's De'Veon Smith, Minnesota's Shannon Brooks, Nebraska's Terrell Newby, Penn State's Saquon Barkley, Purdue's Markell Jones and Wisconsin's Corey Clement.
Barkley was third in the conference in rushing last season with 1,076 yards in a breakout freshman campaign. He's gaining a lot of attention heading into this season after going over 100 yards in five games last season, including nearly hitting the 200-yard mark in games against Rutgers and Ohio State. Barkley earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors from both coaches and the media.
Clement hardly played last season, battling injuries in what was supposed to be his breakout season after taking over the starting job from Melvin Gordon. But there's reason to believe he can be the next great Badger back after he rushed for 947 yards and scored nine touchdowns as Gordon's backup in 2014.
Redding looks to follow Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard as star backs at Indiana. He rushed for 1,012 yards last season backing up Howard and finished the season off incredibly strong with 130-, 144- and 227-yard performances in the Hoosiers' final three games.
Vaughn impressed as a freshman last year for the Illini, backing up and filling in for Josh Ferguson. Vaughn dropped jaws with a terrific game against Purdue, rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Jones ranked eighth in the Big Ten with 875 rushing yards. He picked up a sizable amount of that total with 157 yards against Michigan State.
Newby ranked 10th in the league with 765 yards. Smith rushed for 753 yards last season, good for 12th in the Big Ten. Brooks was 14th with 709 yards. And Daniels ranked 20th with 646 yards.