Big Ten rankings: No. 21, Jared Abbrederis

If you enjoy good stories, you'll like the next guy in our preseason player rankings countdown. He's a former walk-on who not only claimed a starting receiver spot, but finished the 2011 season among the nation's top punt returners.

We've reached No. 21 in the top 25. As a reminder, these are based on both past performance and potential for the 2012 season.

Let's head back to Badger Country for ...

No. 21: Jared Abbrederis, WR/Returner, Wisconsin, Jr., 6-foot-2, 180 pounds

2011 postseason rank: Not ranked

2011 numbers: Recorded 55 receptions for a team-high 933 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, averaging a team-best 17 yards per reception. Returned 20 punts for 315 yards and a touchdown (15.8 ypr) and 28 kickoffs for 686 yards (24.6 ypr).

Why he's here: Abbrederis has quickly made himself one of the Big Ten's most versatile offensive weapons. He's the league's leading returning receiver from 2011 and the only one returning with more than 800 receiving yards. With Nick Toon gone to the NFL, he becomes the top pass-catching target for Wisconsin's yet-to-be-named starting quarterback. Abbrederis is a legitimate big-play threat on the outside, having averaged 16.3 yards per reception in two years with the Badgers.

His work as a return man, though, really boosts his stock. Abbrederis led the Big Ten and finished third nationally in punt return average. He already holds the team records for both kickoff return average (25.8) and punt return average (14.1). While Montee Ball gets the hype on Wisconsin's offense, Abbrederis will play a big role for the Badgers this fall.

The countdown

No. 25: Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska

No. 24: MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota

No. 23: Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue

No. 22: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin