Big Ten rankings: No. 8, Chris Borland

The preseason top 25 player countdown continues as we inch our way closer to the top 5.

As a reminder, these rankings are based primarily on 2011 performance and potential for the 2012 season. NFL potential is taken into account, but it's not the deciding factor.

The next selection is part of Wisconsin's home improvement tandem (along with fellow LB Mike Taylor). He's quite the tackling machine.

No. 8: Chris Borland, LB, junior, 5-foot-11, 242 pounds

2011 postseason rank: Not ranked

2011 numbers: Finished second in the Big Ten (behind Taylor) with 143 tackles, including a team-high 19 tackles for loss. He also led Wisconsin with five forced fumbles and added two interceptions, 2.5 sacks and five pass breakups in 14 starts.

Why he's here: From the moment he set foot in Madison, Borland has been among the most versatile and productive defenders in the Big Ten. After missing most of the 2010 season with a shoulder injury and moving to middle linebacker, Borland anchored the Badgers defense along with Taylor. Despite the move to the middle, Borland continued to attack the opposing backfield. His tackles for loss total ranked 12th nationally and marked the most by a Badgers linebacker in team history.

Borland, who also forced five fumbles in 2009 en route to earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, is constantly around the ball and wreaking havoc. His career turnovers totals -- 10 forced fumbles, three interceptions, three fumbles recovered -- are exceptional, and he still has two years of eligibility remaining.

The junior should be even more comfortable in his second season as the man in the middle. Expect more big plays from No. 44 and a constant presence around the football.

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

No. 21: Jared Abbrederis, WR/KR, Wisconsin

No. 20: Denicos Allen, LB, Michigan State

No. 19: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State

No. 18: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

No. 17: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State

No. 16: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois

No. 15: Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan

No. 14: Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State

No. 13: James Vandenberg, QB, Iowa

No. 12: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin

No. 11: Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State

No. 10: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

No. 9: Jonathan Brown, LB, Illlinois