Big Ten rankings: No. 20, Tyler Scott

We're in the midst of our preseason countdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2013 season. This list is based on past performance and potential for the upcoming season only. We do not consider NFL potential for purposes of these rankings.

Up next is the guy who had more sacks last season than any returning Big Ten player ...

No. 20: Tyler Scott, DE, Northwestern, senior, 6-foot-4, 265 pounds

2012 postseason ranking: Not ranked

2012 numbers: Collected 42 tackles, including nine sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss, and forced three fumbles.

Why he's here: Scott tied Ohio State's John Simon for the most sacks in the Big Ten last year. Like Simon, Scott is a high-effort player who excels in the weight room almost as much as on the field.

And on the field, he was pretty darn good. He had two sacks and three tackles for loss in the Gator Bowl win over Mississippi State, a key forced fumble late in the win over Vanderbilt, a pair of sacks and a forced fumble against Minnesota and a sack and pass breakup in the narrow win at Syracuse. He was named the Wildcats' defensive MVP for the season.

Scott needs eight more sacks to finish in the top 5 in school history in that category. He has made tremendous improvement throughout his career, thanks largely to a great motor, work ethic and physical strength. If that continues this year, he should once again be one of the toughest players to contain off the edge in the Big Ten.

The countdown

No. 25: Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois

No. 24: Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa

No. 23: James White, RB, Wisconsin

No. 22: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

No. 21: John Urschel, G, Penn State