Silver Football finalists: Clark, Clay, Graham

Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark, Wisconsin running back John Clay and Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham have been named finalists for the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football award, given annually to the Big Ten's top player.

The winner will be announced Tuesday (Big Ten Network, 11 p.m. ET). Big Ten coaches vote on the award, which went to Iowa running back Shonn Greene last season.

Of these three candidates, I'd definitely vote for Graham. Though Clark and Clay both had good seasons, the Big Ten unquestionably was a defense-oriented league this fall. While I'm a bit surprised not to see Michigan State's Greg Jones or Penn State's Jared Odrick -- the Big Ten's co-Defensive Players of the Year -- named as finalists, Graham would be a very deserving recipient after leading the nation with 26 tackles for loss.

Here's a list of Silver Football winners this decade (note: a defensive player hasn't won since Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson, the Heisman Trophy recipient, in 1997).

2008: Iowa RB Shonn Greene

2007: Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall

2006: Ohio State QB Troy Smith

2005: Penn State QB Michael Robinson

2004: Michigan WR Braylon Edwards

2003: Michigan RB Chris Perry

2002: Iowa QB Brad Banks

2001: Indiana QB Antwaan Randle El

2000: Purdue QB Drew Brees