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The NFL draft is in the books and the annual spring games have come to an end across the Big Ten and it is time to start diving into who to watch and what to expect during the 2022 season. We already dove into the top five returning rushers, passers, receivers, overall scorers and kick return leaders in the Big Ten, but in addition to the top kick returners, I wanted to break down the top returning punt returners.
Many of the names on this punt return list will match those on the kick return list, but it is still interesting how these names are shuffled.
Let’s get into it.
A.J. Henning, Michigan
A.J. Henning runs the ball during the Michigan spring game Saturday, April 2, 2022, at Michigan Stadium. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network
A.J. Henning is a real speedster who finished the season second in the Big Ten in punt return yards with 274 and I fully expect him to have a bigger role in the offense in 2022.
Michigan WR A.J. Henning is being experimented at RB, per Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh envisions a Deebo Samuel type of role for the receiver 👀pic.twitter.com/03zcJ3P1OO
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 15, 2022
Jayden Reed, Michigan State
Michigan State receiver Jayden Reed is defended by defensive back Marqui Lowery during the spring practice on Saturday, April 16, 2022, at Spartan Stadium. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network
Jayden Reed has been on multiple of these lists and he finished last season third in the Big Ten with 238 punt return yards. With Kenneth Walker out of the picture, Reed should have a bigger role this season.
Payton Thorne ➡️ Jayden Reed ❄❄❄
Faltam 92 dias até a volta do college football.pic.twitter.com/J5frdhCdGB
— College Sports Brasil (@collegesportsbr) May 27, 2022
Tarheeb Still, Maryland
Dec 29, 2021; New York, NY, USA; Maryland Terrapins punt returner Tarheeb Still (right) celebrates his punt return touchdown with wide receiver Rakim Jarrett (left) in the first half during the 2021 Pinstripe Bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Yankee Stadium. Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Tarheeb Still is likely not going to make waves on offense as he plays corner for Maryland, but Still did finish last season fourth in the Big Ten with 158 punt return yards.
Tarheeb Still vs. the worst punt coverage of the season.
Result: TOUCHDOWN pic.twitter.com/4d8V7bOqyF
— Unnecessary Roughness (@UnnecRoughness) December 29, 2021
Donny Navarro, Northwestern
Oct 9, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini wide receiver Donny Navarro III (86) can’t make the reception on this pass as Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Donte Burton (4) defends during the second half at Memorial Stadium. Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Donny Navarro finished last season fifth in the Big Ten with 121 punt return yards, but he will hope to elevate that number and make more of an impact on offense as he has transferred to Northwestern.
T.J. Sheffield, Purdue
Purdue wide receiver TJ Sheffield (8) catches a pass in the end zone to score in front of Tennessee defensive back Kamal Hadden (13) during the third quarter of the Music City Bowl, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network
T.J. Sheffield already made an impact on special teams finishing sixth in the Big Ten with 109 punt return yards last season, but with David Bell gone and Milton Wright declared ineligible, Sheffield should see an uptick in offensive production.
T.J. Sheffield with an incredible over the shoulder snag for #Purdue…
— Oliver Hodgkinson (@ojhodgkinson) December 30, 2021