Big Ten rankings: No. 23, Kain Colter

Our postseason Big Ten player rankings march on today with the number Michael Jordan made famous. Remember, these rankings are based on 2012 performance only. Jordan would be proud of this other Chicago-area athlete's accomplishments ...

No. 23: Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern, Jr., 6-foot, 190 pounds

2012 preseason rank: Not ranked

2012 numbers: Completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 872 yards, with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Ran 170 times for 894 yards and 12 touchdowns. Caught 16 passes for 169 yards.

Why he's here: What is Colter, exactly? Is he just a great athlete playing quarterback? A terrific runner with an underrated arm? A future receiver?

Those questions are part of what made Colter so dangerous in 2012, because other defenses didn't have the answers. In perhaps his most memorable performance, Colter played both receiver and quarterback in the Big Ten opener against Indiana, running for 161 yards and four touchdowns and catching nine passes for 131 yards. Before Denard Robinson made his late-season move, Colter was the Big Ten's most versatile, hard-to-peg player.

There were times this season when Pat Fitzgerald pulled Colter for Trevor Siemian, who has a stronger arm. But in general, Northwestern's offense seemed to function better when Colter was at the controls, making defenses worry about the threat of a run from both him and Venric Mark. And while Colter does need to continue to evolve as a thrower, he did connect on nearly 68 percent of his pass attempts.

Maybe the best defining trait for Colter this past season was this: He was the starting quarterback on a 10-win team. The rest is just details.

The countdown

No. 25: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan

No. 24: Michael Carter, CB, Minnesota