The 100 true newbies who will affect the 2021 faculty soccer season
Anthony Tyus, RB, Northwest
247Sport Composite: No. 574
The back room of the wild cats resets this off-season. Drake Anderson (256 yards) and Isaiah Bowser (230 yards) have disappeared after helping propel the northwest rotation for the past three years. Freshman Cam Porter (333 yards, 5 TDs) established himself as the future in late 2020 and Northwestern brought in graduate transfer Andrew Clair from Bowling Green to add some depth. With all of this movement in mind, there are opportunities for fresh faces in the Wildcat backfield. And Tyus is prepared to take advantage. Tyus is an old-school powerback who averaged over 10 yards per carry as a senior at Portage Northern High School in Michigan. He can help right away what has long been a two or three back rotation at Evanston.
Keagan Johnson, WR, Iowa
247Sport Composite: No. 360
Johnson is Iowa’s top-rated wide receiver signee in a decade, bringing both speed and versatility to a Hawkeye wide receiver room that needs help after two top pass catchers from a year ago, Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith. Johnson should see the field quickly and he might be the field stretcher in need of the offense as none of the team’s receivers averaged more than 12 meters per catch in 2020. Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz said he’ll have to leave the bouncy ball, which Johnson is trying to get the team’s fourth recipient.
TJ Bollers, LB, Wisconsin
247Sport Composite: No. 155
Wisconsin is a development program, but the coaching team has long shown a willingness to play real newbies, especially in the top seven. Bollers could be that guy in 2021. A muscular 6-foot-3,250 pound, Bollers entered Madison with a college-grade stature and the versatility to play both outside the linebacker and defensive. The Badgers are stacked on the outside linebacker, and Nick Herbig and Noah Burks are returning. Wisconsin DC Jim Leonhard mentioned Bollers as a young player who might be pushing for game time.
Justin Walley, CB, Minnesota
247Sport Composite: No. 713
Minnesota’s No. 1 cornerback from last season, Benjamin St-Juste, is in the NFL. Coney Durr is sure to keep one of the starting spots, but no one in the room took more than 150 snaps last season. While senior Phillip Howard will likely start against Durr, there are a ton of youth jockeys next in this rotation. That group includes Walley, who is one of the best overall athletes in the Gophers’ 2021 class. Walley isn’t particularly fast – he clocked 11.55 seconds on the HS 100m – but he plays a lot on the ball and is physically in cover.
The Walley family also has a history of early gambling. His brother Jaden is a broad receiver in the state of Mississippi and, as a true novice, caught 52 passes for 718 yards last year. In the worst case scenario, Walley will make a huge contribution in special teams for the Gophers. At best, he’s pushing himself into the Gophers’ CB rotation.
Gabe Ervin, RB, Nebraska
247Sport Composite: No. 688
Before that, every true newbie to Nebraska was surrounded by Thomas Fidone. However, this spring he suffered a non-contact knee injury and is out for a long time. That brings us to Ervin, who is in the middle of a heated battle to sit on the Huskers’ depth map. That job appeared to be owned by USC transfer Markese Stepp, but he missed all two exercises this spring after undergoing foot surgery. Ervin was impressed throughout the spring and finished the spring with 57 yards on 12 carries. Ervin is not the favorite at the start, but he is a fast-lock for the immediate game time.
Yanni Karlaftis, LB, Purdue
247Sport Composite: No. 261
Yes, another Karlaftis. Yanni, the brother of Star Purdue’s defensive end, George Karlaftis, joins Purdue as the Boilermakers’ top-rated recruit in 2021 and probably has the best chance of playing right away too. Yanni is a 6-foot-3,220-pound EDGE rusher. He’s not as physically ready as his brother left high school. But the Boilermakers really need help off the edge after ranking 115th out of 127 teams in the Pass Rush class by PFF College last season. Yanni helps. He’s not a super athlete, but he plays hard and is an aggressive downhill attacker on the sidelines. It’s disruptive enough to immediately play a role in a defense in need of help.
James Evans, P, Indiana
247Sport Composite: No. 2,493
The Australian punting pipeline continues in Indiana as Haydon Whitehead, the All-Big Ten selection, is replaced by Evans. We usually try to cover position players with such freshman lists. But with so many Hoosiers starters returning, it’s hard to imagine anyone having a bigger impact on the 2021 class than Evans.
For those players who may appear on the two-deep, watch out for wide receiver Jordyn Williams. One of the most explosive players in Texas as a high school graduate, Williams averaged 27 yards per catch and ended the year with 1,466 yards and 10 TDs. The Big Ten will be a big step in the competition in private school football in Texas. But Williams is able to play straight away from the slot.
Dylan Rosiek, LB, Illinois
247Sports Composite: No. 1,628
A true newcomer to Illinois is unlikely to have much of an impact on the 2021 season. The Illinois are bringing back most of their 2021 offensive and have plugged defensive holes through the transfer portal. Let us therefore concentrate on Rosiek, who caused a stir at an early stage due to his physicality and his love for contact in Champaign. Rosiek should be an outstanding team. Here is Illinois head coach Bret Bielema on the three-star linebacker.
“He’s a blast, man,” said Bielema. “It’s physical. He only knows one speed. His first tackle football game on Saturday – now it wasn’t set up properly and not in position, but he knew how to get that football – we played thud football, which means you hit them up and make a nice shape tackle on it. Whoever it was, picked it up, threw it down and pretended it was nothing else. He didn’t close an eye. He is full of it. “