Any doubt that the Big Ten's strength this season is at or near the line of scrimmage can be put to rest.
The Rotary Lombardi Award preseason watch list is absolutely loaded with Big Ten players: 12 of them, to be exact. The award goes to "down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, or linebackers who set up no farther than 5 yards deep from the line of scrimmage."
As we all know, the Big Ten boasts plenty of players who fit the description.
Here's who made the list:
Iowa junior defensive end Broderick Binns
Ohio State senior guard Justin Boren
Wisconsin sophomore linebacker Chris Borland
Wisconsin senior left tackle Gabe Carimi
Iowa senior defensive end Adrian Clayborn
Ohio State senior defensive lineman Cameron Heyward
Ohio State senior linebacker Ross Homan
Michigan State senior linebacker Greg Jones
Purdue senior defensive end Ryan Kerrigan
Wisconsin senior tight end Lance Kendricks
Wisconsin senior guard John Moffitt
Penn State senior guard Stefen Wisniewski
In some ways, I'd be surprised if a Big Ten player doesn't win the Rotary Lombardi Award.
The list eventually will be cut to 12 semifinalists, and the winner will be announced in early December in Houston.
Michigan's LaMarr Woodley was the last Big Ten recipient of the award in 2006.