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June 12, 2014

Ranking the Big Ten: Return men

As Nebraska prepares for another run through the Big Ten Conference, HuskerOnline.com will get you ready with ranking analysis pieces breaking down each position in the league. Today, we look at the top return men in the Big Ten heading into 2014.

1. Kevonte Martin-Manley, Iowa, 6-0, 205, Sr.
It was hard to find a more productive punt returner in the country last season than Iowa's Kevonte Martin-Manley. His 15.7 yards per return ranked second in the Big Ten and eighth nationally, and he also led the conference with two returns for touchdowns - both of which coming in the same game on back-to-back punts in a win over Western Michigan. Martin-Manley became the first Big Ten player ever to return consecutive punts for scores.
2. Kenny Bell, Nebraska, 6-1, 185, Sr.
Not only will Kenny Bell be Nebraska's No. 1 receiving target this season, he also returns as one of the most electric kickoff returners in the country. Bell tied for the Big Ten lead and ranked 18th nationally last season with 26.5 yards per return, with his best highlight coming on a game-changing 99-yard touchdown in a win over Penn State.
3. V'Angelo Bentley, Illinois, 5-10, 180, Jr.
When Illinois' V'Angelo Bentley got the chance to have the ball in his hands on punt returns last season, he was as dynamic as any return man in the country. His 15.8 yards per return led the Big Ten and ranked seventh nationally, and he also had a 67-yard return for a touchdown. However, because the Fighting Illini struggled so much defensively in 2013, Bentley only managed 12 returns all year.
4. Akeem Hunt, Purdue, 5-9, 184, Sr.
Purdue tried to do all it could to get the ball in the hands of its all-purpose weapon Akeem Hunt as much as possible last season. While his numbers weren't much offensively, Hunt was able to have a big impact as a kickoff returner, ranking third in the Big Ten at 26.1 yards per return and taking the opening kickoff of the season 99 yards for a touchdown.
5. Kenzel Doe, Wisconsin, 5-8, 170, Sr.
Along with competing for one of Wisconsin's top receiver spots this season, Kenzel Doe will once again man the Badgers' return game duties. Doe has established himself as a true playmaker as a return man, tying Bell for the Big Ten lead at 26.5 yards for kickoff return and taking one back 91 yards for a score in last year's Capital One Bowl.

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