Big Ten rankings: No. 3, Dan Persa

Only three players are left in our preseason player countdown, based on past performance and potential impact for the 2011 season. Who's next on the rundown?

No. 3: Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern, Sr., 6-1, 210

2010 numbers: Led FBS and set Big Ten record for completion percentage (73.5); completed 202 of 322 pass attempts for 2,581 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions; finished ninth nationally in passer rating (159.04), also a team record; 164 rushes for 519 yards and nine touchdowns

Why he's here: Few college football players meant more to their teams than Persa did to Northwestern in 2010. The Wildcats went 7-3 with him on the field and could easily have had eight or nine wins. After Persa went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon on Nov. 13, Northwestern backslid on both sides of the ball, as defenders acknowledged Persa's absence hurt their play. The first-team All-Big Ten quarterback showed tremendous decision-making skills, elusiveness and accuracy, carrying Northwestern's offense for much of the season. How he responds from the Achilles injury and a long rehab is to be determined, and Persa likely will have to be more of a pocket passer this season to replicate his success. The good news is he has an excellent group of receivers at his disposal, and if he can stay on the field and make good decisions, Northwestern should put up a lot of points this fall.

  • No. 25: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin

  • No. 24: Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State

  • No. 23: Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa

  • No. 22: Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa

  • No. 21: Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois

  • No. 20: John Simon, DL, Ohio State

  • No. 19: Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue

  • No. 18: Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin

  • No. 17: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

  • No. 16: Derek Moye, WR, Penn State

  • No. 15: Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern

  • No. 14: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

  • No. 13: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

  • No. 12: David Molk, C, Michigan

  • No .11: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

  • No. 10: Mike Martin, DT, Michigan

  • No. 9: Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State

  • No. 8: Riley Reiff, LT, Iowa

  • No. 7: James White, RB, Wisconsin

  • No. 6: Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State

  • No. 5: Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska

  • No. 4: Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State