As promised, this is today's second installment in our Big Ten top 25 player countdown. Once again, these rankings are based on performance during the 2011 season and a player's impact on his team, and not on factors such as NFL potential.
Our top 10 kicks off with "Superman:"
No. 10: Rex Burkhead, RB, Jr., 5-11, 210
Preseason rank: Not ranked
2011 numbers: Carried 284 times for 1,406 yards and 15 touchdowns. Also caught 21 passes for 177 yards and two scores. Named first-team All-Big Ten performer.
Why he's here: We dropped the ball by not ranking Burkhead in the preseason, but Burkhead almost never failed to come through for his team. As a junior, he was a true workhorse (his 284 carries were two shy of the Nebraska school record) and a major playmaker who turned in seven 100-yard games while finishing third in the league in rushing yards.
Burkhead had big performances in key wins against Washington, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa and cemented his status as a rock star among the Huskers fan base with his rugged, hit-you-before-you-hit-me running style. He even played a little quarterback in certain offensive sets, and teammates insist he has the arm to make things happen in the passing game.
We are anxious to see what Burkhead has in store for his senior season, when he could be a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate. One thing's for sure: We won't underestimate him in the preseason again.
No. 11: Mike Martin, DT, Michigan
No. 12: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
No. 13: Riley Reiff, LT, Iowa
No. 14: B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State
No. 15: John Simon, DL, Ohio State
No. 16: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
No. 25: Fitz Toussaint, RB, Michigan