A look at Phil Steele's All-Big Ten teams

May, 31, 2011
5/31/11
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Yay, a non-Ohio State/Tressel/Pryor post!

Since that's out of the way, decorated college football prognosticator Phil Steele has released his preseason All-Big Ten teams for 2011. Click the link to check out all four All-Big Ten teams, but I've listed the first-team squad below.

OFFENSE

QB: Dan Persa, Northwestern
RB: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
RB: Edwin Baker, Michigan State
WR: Damarlo Belcher, Indiana
WR: Marvin McNutt, Iowa
WR: Derek Moye, Penn State
TE: Kyler Reed, Nebraska
C: Mike Brewster, Ohio State
G: Joel Foreman, Michigan State
G: Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin
T: Riley Reiff, Iowa
T: Jeff Allen, Illinois

DEFENSE

DE: Nathan Williams, Ohio State
DT: Jared Crick, Nebraska
DT: Mike Martin, Michigan
DE: Vince Browne, Northwestern
LB: Michael Mauti, Penn State
LB: Lavonte David, Nebraska
LB: Andrew Sweat, Ohio State
LB: Chris Borland, Wisconsin
CB: Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
CB: Shaun Prater, Iowa
S: Aaron Henry, Wisconsin
S: Trenton Robinson, Michigan State

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Derek Dimke, Illinois
P: Brad Nortman, Wisconsin
KR: Troy Stoudermire, Minnesota
PR: Keshawn Martin, Michigan State

Some notes and observations on Steele's selections:
  • Defensive tackle looks to be a much stronger position than defensive end this fall. I can't argue with either of Steele's first-team selections, but Michigan State's Jerel Worthy, projected by colleagues Mel Kiper and Todd McShay as a top 10 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, is listed as a second-teamer. The top six defensive tackles on Steele's list -- Crick, Martin, Worthy, Purdue's Kawann Short, Iowa's Mike Daniels and Penn State's Devon Still -- all are significant building blocks. The end spot, meanwhile, looks thin, although I wouldn't be surprised if several stars emerged. I would list Ohio State's John Simon a little higher than Steele does.
  • Wide receiver is another spot that boasts quite a few top-line players. I might shuffle the first three teams a bit, but all nine players Steele lists are potential go-to wideouts. As I've written before, Big Ten teams should be fine at the No. 1 receiver spot, but depth could be a concern. Michigan State is the only team with multiple receivers (B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin) listed on Steele's teams.
  • I'm not surprised by Steele's quarterback selections. Persa makes sense for the first-team, and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins will be entering his third season as a starter. Michigan's Denard Robinson, meanwhile, will be operating in a new offense this fall.
  • Linebacker could be a strength in the Big Ten, but the group has plenty of question marks. Borland makes Steele's first team despite missing most of the 2010 season with a shoulder injury. Steele also has several somewhat unproven players -- Penn State's Gerald Hodges, Michigan State's Max Bullough, Ohio State's Etienne Sabino -- listed, so it will be interesting to see who pans out.
  • Wide receiver DeVier Posey is the only member of Ohio State's "Tat-5" to make Steele's teams. I'm pretty surprised not to see tackle Mike Adams on the list, as he could be a first-round pick in the 2012 draft. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor and running back Dan Herron also are nowhere to be found despite big numbers in 2010.
  • Center is another spot where the Big Ten looks loaded. Brewster and Michigan's David Molk headline the group, and Iowa's James Ferentz, a member of the preseason Remington Trophy watch list, doesn't even make Steele's selections.
  • Nebraska receiver Jamal Turner is the only Big Ten true freshman to make Steele's list, appearing on the fourth team. Turner's impressive performance in Nebraska's spring game certainly helped his cause.
  • Cornerback is another position group I really like. To have Purdue's Ricardo Allen as a second-team selection speaks volumes about the league's depth. All eight corners listed boast good talent.

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