Big Ten rankings: No. 23, Ricardo Allen

Our preseason countdown of the top players in the Big Ten rolls on with a stop at the number Michael Jordan made famous.

As always, we remind you that these rankings are based on both past performance and potential for the 2012 season. This next guy does pretty well in both those categories, even if he is overlooked at times because of his physical build:

No. 23: Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue, Jr., 5-foot-9, 176 pounds

2011 postseason rank: Not ranked

2011 numbers: Registered 79 tackles and three interceptions, including one returned for a 37-yard touchdown.

Why he's here: We told you all about Allen on Tuesday; he's the Boilers' little engine that could -- and does. Despite his small stature, he's one of the top cornerbacks in the Big Ten, a guy who can not only cover players much taller than him but who becomes a threat to reach the end zone any time he grabs an interception.

Allen is also a sound tackler; just look at those 79 stops a year ago, which is a high number for a cornerback. He hasn't been shy about saying he wants to be known as one of the top shutdown corners in the country this year. He's not far away from that now as one of the Big Ten's best defenders.

The countdown

No. 25: Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska

No. 24: MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota