The secondary isn't the Big Ten's strongest position group entering the season, although things could be different come November.
Several outstanding defensive backs depart the league, but three Big Ten players have been named to the preseason watch list for the Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back.
The Big Ten contingent:
Iowa safety Tyler Sash
Ohio State safety Jermale Hines
Ohio State cornerback Chimdi Chekwa
Sash is a slam-dunk choice, and both Hines and Chekwa had their moments last season. Wisconsin safety Jay Valai and Minnesota safety Kim Royston also would have been strong choices.
According to a news release, the Thorpe Award watch list is "determined by analysis of the preseason All-American teams listed in at least six preseason college football annual magazines. Four points are awarded for first team, three points for second team, two points for third and one point for honorable mentions. This procedure determines approximately 30-40 players on the pre-season watch list."
The field will be narrowed to 10-12 semifinalists in November, and three finalists will be announced later that month. Former Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins was the last Big Ten recipient of the Thorpe Award, taking home the hardware in 2008.