Big Ten rankings: No. 18, Deion Barnes

We're counting down our rankings 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.

Coming up next is a guy with raised expectations after a terrific debut last season …

No. 18: Deion Barnes, Penn State, sophomore, 6-foot-4, 249 pounds

2012 postseason ranking: Not ranked

2012 numbers: Had 27 tackles, including 10 for loss and six sacks, plus three forced fumbles in 12 games.

Why he's here: Barnes had an outstanding redshirt freshman season, so much so that he was named the Big Ten freshman of the year. He was an obvious choice for that honor after leading Penn State in sacks and tackles for loss and tying for the team lead in forced fumbles.

Barnes is already one of the league's top pass rushers. The challenge for him now is to become a more complete player, one who can also be much more effective in the running game and stay on the field every down. He'll also face much higher expectations and likely more attention from opposing offenses.

The good news is that Barnes is extremely gifted physically, with great quickness, long arms and a high motor. He worked on adding some weight and strength this offseason to become a more well-rounded player. After what he showed in his first collegiate season, we're betting that he's only going to get better.

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

No. 20: Tyler Scott, DE, Northwestern

No. 19: Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State