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Top Ten Plays of 2016 #10: The Big Toe’s Big Hit

The 2016 Big Ten Championship football season was full of big hits, breakway runs, circus-like catches, and overall jaw-dropping plays. As a gear up to the highly anticipated 2017 season, we at Black Shoe Diaries have ranked our ten favorite and most impactful plays of last season. Up first in the official countdown: Joey Julius, special teams monster

NCAA Football: Iowa at Penn State
I just crush fools
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

You know, at one point, this play was expected to top this list.

Before the showstopping Rose Bowl or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway turn taken during the second half of the Big Ten Championship Game. Before overtime against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, or the fourth quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Before all of that, Penn State had two wins and two losses in its first four games. Those losses came to historic rival Pitt and conference blue blood rival Michigan, the latter by way of blowout.

On Sunday, September 25th, Penn State stood at 2-2 in the season, 16-14 dating back to 2014, and it looked as though the James Franklin Era in Happy Valley might end up as a short-lived experiment.

We’d always have Joey Julius, though.

He did it once before this season, of course. Against Kent State in the comfort of Beaver Stadium, Joey Julius laid out a kick returner up along the sidelines. It was the biggest hit of the day.

That was great, but it was against Kent State. No disrespect to the Golden Flashes, but that’s not really what we’re looking for here. Reasonableness aside, there is some expectation at Power Five schools that scholarship kickers are good enough to hold their own against a squad that finished almost dead last in the Mid-American Conference.

September 24th certainly didn’t go very well for Penn State. At the end of the first half, it was 28-0, and Penn State was essentially out of linebackers. Or so it seemed. Because in the fourth quarter, Joey Julius transformed from large kicker into something more...Lavar Arrington -esque.

It was not a good day, to put it mildly. But the Joey Julius hit was cathartic. That he did it to Jourdan Lewis, Michigan’s best player (sorry, not sorry, Jabrill) made it even better.

In an early season calamity, Joey Julius gave us all hope. What more can you ask from your kickoff specialist?