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 would have made a mockery out of recruiting rankings if anyone had bothered to rank him out of high school ...
No. 12: Spencer Long, G, Nebraska, senior, 6-foot-4, 315 pounds
2012 postseason ranking: No. 22
2012 numbers: Started all 14 games at right guard as Nebraska led the Big Ten in total yardage and rushing.
Why he's here: Nebraska has a rich history of developing walk-ons into star linemen. Long is the latest example of that tradition.
Long had exactly zero FBS scholarship offers when he was a 245-pound defensive end coming out of Elkhorn (Neb.) High School. Since then, he's put on more than 60 pounds, started 27 straight games at right guard and become an All-American. Last season, he was a second-team All-America choice by the Associated Press and Walter Camp Foundation, as well as a consensus first-team All-Big Ten performer.
He anchors a line that paves the way for the Huskers' powerful and dynamic rushing attack, which produced 16 individual 100-yard rushing days last season. Head coach Bo Pelini has said this year's offensive line could be the best he's had in Lincoln, and there's no doubt Long is leading the way. He is a top Outland Trophy candidate in 2013.
Long is also an outstanding student who is interested in attending medical school when his playing days are over. But the way he's been going, that might be a long time from now.