Now we get to the good stuff: Player of the Year polls. In mid-May. Gotta love it.
The race for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year isn't easy to forecast. The league loses most of its elite defenders, including five linemen selected in the first round of last month's NFL draft. A former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year -- Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones -- also departs along and four underclassmen who would factor into this year's race -- Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt, Illinois DT Corey Liuget, Illinois LB Martez Wilson and Iowa S Tyler Sash -- also are NFL bound. Eight Big Ten squads lose their leading tacklers from 2010.
So who's left? Nebraska hasn't played a game as a Big Ten member, but the Huskers might have the top two choices for Defensive Player of the Year. Defensive tackle Jared Crick and linebacker Lavonte David both earned second-team All-America honors in 2010 and are poised for big senior seasons. Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy also is very much on the NFL draft radar for 2012, and several Big Ten defensive backs could contend for the award, including dynamic Purdue sophomore cornerback Ricardo Allen. The Big Ten hasn't had a defensive back win the award since Ohio State safety Mike Doss in 2002, but that could change this fall.
It's your turn to weigh in on the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year field.