Big Ten rankings: No. 6, Denard Robinson

It's less than a week away from the start of the 2012 college football season, and the preseason player rankings are coming to an end.

As a reminder, the rankings are based on recent performance, particularly in the 2011 season, and potential for the 2012 campaign. While NFL potential is considered, it's not the deciding factor.

Now it's time for a guy who gets shout-outs from President Obama and LeBron James. He needs no introduction ...

No. 6: Denard Robinson, QB, senior, 6-foot, 197 pounds

2011 postseason rank: No. 16

2011 numbers: Completed 142 of 258 passes for 2,173 yards with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Rushed 221 times for 1,176 yards and 16 touchdowns. Averaged 257.6 yards of total offense per game. Started all 13 games.

Why he's here: He's without a doubt the most recognizable and most exciting player in the Big Ten, and he's also the most polarizing. His placement in the preseason countdown is sure to spark debate on both sides. Robinson is the ultimate difference-maker, a player who can take over games at times and also make costly mistakes. This much is clear: you can't take your eyes off of No. 16.

After a record-setting season in 2010, Robinson transitioned to the new coaching staff and a slightly different offense, and had mostly positive results. He led a dramatic comeback against Notre Dame and put up huge numbers through the first six games. While he still faces the perception that he fades down the stretch, he ended the regular season with big performances in wins against Nebraska and Ohio State. The downside: his completion ratio dropped from 62.5 percent to 55 percent, and he threw four more interceptions (15) than he did in 2010. It could have been worse, too, as Michigan's receivers, particularly Junior Hemingway, bailed out Robinson from several more interceptions.

Robinson enters 2012 as a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate. National recognition is no problem for "Shoelace," and he certainly has grown up both on and off the field, as he showed with an impressive speech at the Big Ten kickoff luncheon. The big plays will come, but Robinson won't win the Heisman or Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors unless he improves his passing and trims his interceptions total. He has an excellent opportunity to show his progress in Week 1 as Michigan takes on defending national champion Alabama. Other tough games follow against Notre Dame (road), Michigan State (home), Nebraska (road) and Ohio State (road).

Buckle up.

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

No. 8: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin

No. 7: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue