B1G rankings: No. 18, Johnathan Hankins

We're about one-third of the way through the preseason top 25 player countdown. And for the second straight day, we're hanging out in the Buckeye State.

As a reminder, we're considering past performance and 2012 potential in these rankings. It's time to spotlight a big man with big expectations on his shoulders this season ...

No. 18: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State, junior, 6-foot-3, 317 pounds

2011 postseason rank: Not ranked

2011 numbers: Ranked fourth on the team with 67 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss and three sacks. He also had a fumble recovery.

Why he's here: It seems like the Big Ten features a dominant interior defensive lineman almost every season, and "Big Hank" could be the next in line. Although he's not the highest-rated defensive tackle on the preseason countdown, he has the potential to earn major national awards after a solid junior season.

There's a reason why Hankins appeared as the top Big Ten player on Mel Kiper Jr.'s first Big Board for the 2013 NFL draft. Hankins has a unique combination of size, strength and agility, and his production from the defensive tackle spot in 2011 stands out. He has worked to get his weight in order and wants to be an every-down lineman. He'll work alongside fellow national awards candidate John Simon this fall on a defensive line that looks like the Big Ten's strongest. "His ceiling's through the roof," Simon told me this spring. "He's a playmaker for us, a big-time player. You're going to need two guys to take him up."

If Hankins can maintain his tackles production and become an even bigger playmaker for Ohio State, he'll finish much higher on this list after the season.

The countdown

No. 25: Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska

No. 24: MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota

No. 23: Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue

No. 22: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin

No. 21: Jared Abbrederis, WR/KR, Wisconsin

No. 20: Denicos Allen, LB, Michigan State

No. 19: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State