You know the season is getting closer and closer as more publications come out with their official previews and preseason all-conference teams.
Phil Steele offered his All-Big Ten selections earlier this month, and now Athlon has come out with its picks for all-conference performers. You can view the publication's first-, second- and third-team choices here.
Some notes on the picks:
Athlon differs with Steele on a few key choices, including Penn State's Kyle Carter over Wisconsin's Jacob Pedersen as first-team tight end. I heartily endorse Athlon's call there. Athlon also has Ohio State's Corey Linsley as the first team center instead of Steele's pick of Northwestern's Brandon Vitabile.
On defense, Athlon shows love to the youngsters, picking Ohio State sophomore Noah Spence and Penn State sophomore Deion Barnes on its first-team defensive line. I agree with the Barnes pick and think Spence can get there, though teammate Adolphus Washington might beat him out for the honors. Wisconsin's Beau Allen also makes the first team at defensive tackle, along with Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman -- the one D-lineman that Steele and Athlon agree upon for the first team.
There are no surprises at linebacker or cornerback, but Athlon picks Northwestern's Ibraheim Campbell at safety instead of Steele's choice of Ohio State's Christian Bryant. Tough call between the two there.
Athlon is also high on Wisconsin sophomore running back Melvin Gordon, who makes the second team just as he did for Steele, while Nebraska's Kenny Bell is a second-team wide receiver (Steele had three receivers on the first team, compared to just two for Athlon).
Ohio State led the way with 13 selections on Athlon's three teams, including a whopping seven on the first team. The Buckeyes were followed by Wisconsin with 10 overall selections (three on the first team) and Michigan State with nine (four on the first team). Illinois and Minnesota tied for the fewest picks with two apiece.