The 2010 Big Ten postseason player rankings (Top 25) are in the books. Wipe those tears away. A new rundown for 2011, which will include Nebraska players, isn't too far in the distance.
Let's begin to break down the rankings.
Ohio State: 6
Michigan State: 2
Penn State: 1
Ohio State and Wisconsin dominated the rundown, and each team could have had more players (Brian Rolle, Montee Ball) on the list. Illinois had three players finish in the top eight, all juniors who declared for the NFL draft.
Some certainly will question the selections, but after several seasons where quarterback was a weakness in the Big Ten, the signal caller spot undoubtedly became a position of strength this season. Nearly every Big Ten team had a quarterback who improved -- in several cases, dramatically so -- upon his 2009 production. Even some of the quarterbacks who didn't make the rankings, like Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase and Minnesota's Adam Weber, really helped their teams this past season.
Looking back at the preseason Big Ten rankings, 14 of the 25 players selected also made the postseason rundown.
Several players ended up more or less where they were projected: Wisconsin's John Moffitt (preseason No. 15, postseason No. 14); Indiana's Tandon Doss (preseason No. 14, postseason No. 19) and Iowa's Ricky Stanzi (preseason No. 18, postseason No. 17). Other players made major moves up the board, like Wisconsin's J.J. Watt (preseason No. 25, postseason No. 2) and Illinois' Mikel Leshoure (preseason No. 24, postseason No. 7). And some players came from off the radar to soar up the rankings, like Illinois' Corey Liuget (preseason unranked, postesason No. 5).
Despite doing these rankings for several years, I'm still struggling to find the formula that best resonates. My rankings are subjective and not designed to please everyone, but the best criteria (NFL potential, college production, impact) is still open for debate. I'll definitely reach out to you folks for help before putting together the 2011 preseason rankings.
Who just missed the cut for the Top 25? It's tough to narrow down the pool to 25 names, and these 10 players were strongly considered for the rundown.
Ohio State LB Brian Rolle
Iowa DT Karl Klug
Michigan DT Mike Martin
Iowa WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos
Wisconsin RB Montee Ball
Michigan State RB Edwin Baker
Michigan State P Aaron Bates
Northwestern WR Jeremy Ebert
Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus
Iowa CB Shaun Prater
A few final notes and a request:
Not surprisingly, Terrelle Pryor's selection at No. 13 generated the most amount of feedback (mostly negative). It's interesting how many Ohio State fans came to Pryor's defense, arguing that the quarterback should have been rated higher. In hindsight, he could have been a few spots higher in the rankings, perhaps on par with Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien. But when it came to Ohio State's highest-rated player for these rankings, Dane Sanzenbacher was an easy choice. There's a reason why his teammates elected him as their MVP.
There also was grumbling about the three Illinois players in the top 10. I'd argue that all three were the best players at their respective positions, two by substantial margins (Leshoure and Liuget). We can certainly debate my selections, but I'll staunchly defend Liuget at No. 5. He was just as dominant, if not more so, than Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick, the 2009 Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Year and my No. 2 player from 2009. Liuget's rise up the NFL draft boards is no accident, and if you don't think he should be at No. 5, you weren't watching the games.
For the second consecutive season, a defensive end on a losing team finished No. 1 in the rankings, as Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan followed Michigan's Brandon Graham in 2009. Both Kerrigan and Graham were ranked No. 10 in the preseason rundown.
Whether you liked my rankings or hated them, you have your own opinions. Send me your top 25 Big Ten players from 2010 and include a short rationale (150 words or less). I'll include the best ones in a post later this week.