The Big Ten postseason top 25 player rankings are in the books for 2012.
What did you think? Send your thoughts here and here. Again, this is a very exclusive list that, because of its size, omits a bunch of great players. Narrowing things down to 25 isn't easy, but that doesn't mean we didn't make mistakes or overlook deserving stars.
Before putting these to bed, let's take a closer look at how things shook out. First, here are the team and position breakdowns.
Ohio State: 6
Penn State: 4
Michigan State: 3
Ohio State and Penn State both had good balance, placing multiple offensive and defensive players on the list. Nebraska's selections all played offense as the Huskers' defense struggled last season. Four teams -- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Purdue -- aren't represented on the list.
Linebacker depth stood out around the Big Ten this season. We could have included more backers, including Penn State's Gerald Hodges. The quarterback spot also took a small step forward this past season, particularly with dual-threat players like Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, both of whom improved a lot. The Big Ten still doesn't have enough pure passers in the league. Safety once again was a weak position around the league, and the lack of elite wide receivers is a concern. Although we knew wideout depth would be a problem before the season, we considered only two other receivers for the top 25 (Nebraska's Kenny Bell and Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis) besides Penn State's Allen Robinson. Not good.
WHO JUST MISSED THE CUT?
As mentioned previously, we had some very difficult choices this year and left out some very good players. The three players who came closest to making the top 25 were: Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short, Penn State's Hodges and Nebraska's Bell.
Short received All-Big Ten recognition and had some huge games, but he also disappeared for stretches and played for an underachieving line. Hodges was overshadowed a bit by Michael Mauti and some of the other linebackers on the list. Bell had some strong performances but faded a bit down the stretch.
Others who merit mentions include:
Penn State C Matt Stankiewitch
Iowa CB Micah Hyde
Northwestern K Jeff Budzien
Nebraska K/P Brett Maher
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Wisconsin C Travis Frederick
Indiana DT Adam Replogle
We'll be back this summer with the preseason top 25 player countdown for 2013. Of the 25 players who made the postseason rundown, 15 return for 2013, including No. 1 selection Miller, No. 5 selection Martinez and No. 7 selection Taylor Lewan.