Big Ten rankings: No. 15, Ra'Shede Hageman

We're counting down our rankings of the Top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2013 season. This list is based on past performance and potential for the upcoming season only. We do not consider NFL potential for purposes of these rankings.

Coming up next is a guy who might rank No. 1 if we did this list on sheer strength and athletic ability ...

No. 15: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota, Sr., 6-foot-6, 311 pounds

2012 postseason ranking: Not ranked

2012 numbers: Recorded 35 tackles and six sacks, with two pass breakups and a forced fumble.

Why he's here: Hageman is one of the most imposing physical specimens in the Big Ten. In fact, CBSSports' Bruce Feldman ranked him No. 2 on his annual "freaks" list, just behind Jadeveon Clowney, after Hageman reportedly bench-pressed 465 pounds, jumped 36 inches and finished a 10-yard sprint in 1.57 seconds.

But it would be only so impressive if Hageman was simply a workout warrior, a guy who put up big NFL combine type numbers but didn't deliver on the field. Early in his career, Hageman was one of those all-airport guys who wasn't contributing much after switching from tight end. Last season, however, he began to grow comfortable in his role at defensive tackle, and he started to develop into a big-time playmaker there.

By all accounts, Hageman had a huge offseason, and he looks to be tapping into his full potential. Minnesota is expecting a monster senior season from him and a much improved defensive line overall. Defensive tackle has long been a position of strength in the Big Ten but was hit hard by graduation and the NFL draft after last season. Hageman is staking an early claim as the league's top interior defensive linemen.

The countdown

No. 25: Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois

No. 24: Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa

No. 23: James White, RB, Wisconsin

No. 22: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

No. 21: John Urschel, G, Penn State

No. 20: Tyler Scott, DE, Northwestern

No. 19: Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State

No. 18: Deion Barnes, DE, Penn State

No. 17: Kenny Bell, WR, Nebraska

No. 16: Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin