Big Ten rankings: No. 1, Adrian Clayborn

The Big Ten preseason player rankings, based on past performance and 2010 potential, wrap up with ...

No. 1: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa, Sr., 6-4, 285

2009 numbers: Finished third in the Big Ten and tied for ninth nationally in sacks (11.5, .88 per game); finished third in the Big Ten and tied for 10th nationally in tackles for loss (20, 1.54 per game); tied for fifth in the league and tied for 23rd nationally in forced fumbles with four; recorded a blocked punt that he returned for a touchdown; nine quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.

Most recent ranking: No. 3 in the 2009 postseason player rankings.

Making the case for Clayborn: The best player in a league makes the most memorable plays, and no Big Ten returning star made more than Clayborn in 2009. He set the tone for Iowa's entertaining surge by blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown at Beaver Stadium to rally the Hawkeyes past Penn State in the Big Ten opener. Clayborn recorded three tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble against Michigan State in a 15-13 win that Iowa claimed on the final play of the game. He was all over the field against Ohio State, recording a career-high 12 tackles, including three for loss and a sack. He did his best work in Big Ten play, ranking second in tackles for loss (1.8 per game) and tying for third in QB sacks (.81). And Clayborn arguably saved his best for last, racking up a career-high nine solo tackles, including two sacks, against Georgia Tech in Iowa's Orange Bowl victory to earn game MVP honors. He earned consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors and appeared on several All-America squads. Is Clayborn the most decorated player in the league? Michigan State's Greg Jones probably receives more honors. But Clayborn separates himself with game-defining plays and truly dominant performances. Even though Clayborn declared in December he would return to Iowa for his senior season, coaches around the Big Ten were stunned that he didn't make the jump to the NFL. His return is huge for Iowa and bad news for the rest of the league.

The rundown

  • No. 25: Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt

  • No. 24: Illinois RB Mikel LeShoure

  • No. 23: Iowa DT Karl Klug

  • No. 22: Northwestern LB Quentin Davie

  • No. 21: Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins

  • No. 20: Ohio State LB Brian Rolle

  • No. 19: Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien

  • No. 18: Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi

  • No. 17: Ohio State WR DeVier Posey

  • No. 16: Wisconsin LB Chris Borland

  • No. 15: Wisconsin G/C John Moffitt

  • No. 14: Indiana WR Tandon Doss

  • No. 13: Purdue WR Keith Smith

  • No. 12: Ohio State LB Ross Homan

  • No. 11: Wisconsin LT Gabe Carimi

  • No. 10: Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan

  • No. 9: Ohio State G Justin Boren

  • No. 8: Penn State G/C Stefen Wisniewski

  • No. 7: Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor

  • No. 6: Penn State RB Evan Royster

  • No. 5: Iowa S Tyler Sash

  • No. 4: Wisconsin RB John Clay

  • No. 3: Ohio State DL Cameron Heyward

  • No. 2: Michigan State LB Greg Jones