The Big Ten postseason player rankings march on with a walk-on who has made good at a program famous for walk-ons making good. As a reminder, these rankings are based solely on performance during the 2012 season. Our next selection isn't the only former walk-on in our countdown, but he's the first up ...
No. 22: Spencer Long, G, Nebraska, junior, 6-foot-4, 305 pounds
Preseason rank: Not ranked
2012 numbers: Started all 14 games for Nebraska and helped the Huskers eclipse 200 rush yards in 12 contests.
Why he's here: We were very selective with offensive linemen in the postseason countdown and left out several very good players, but Long earned his spot after being named a second-team Associated Press All-American. He also earned second-team All-America honors on the Walter Camp squad. After establishing himself as a starter in 2011, Long helped anchor a Nebraska offensive line that turned out to be one of the Big Ten's best.
Nebraska led the Big Ten in total offense (460.8 ypg) and rushing offense (253.4 ypg) and finished second in scoring offense (34.8 ppg). The Huskers played most of the season without their best player, running back Rex Burkhead, but didn't skip a beat as Long and his line mates created plenty of room for Ameer Abdullah, Taylor Martinez and the Huskers' other ball-carriers. Long was one of three linemen to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors from both the coaches and the media. He put himself on the radar for both the Outland Trophy and the Rotary Lombardi Award.
The Huskers' walk-on tradition is nationally known, and Long, an unheralded high school prospect out of Elkhorn, Neb., has carried it on after starting his career as a scout team defensive lineman. He'll enter 2013 as one of the favorites for Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors.