- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're down to our final two in the Big Ten preseason player countdown, based on past performance and potential impact for the 2011 season. Should the No. 1 guy on this list not be able to fulfill his duties, the crown will go to our runner-up ...
No. 2: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan, Jr., 6-0, 193
2010 numbers: Completed 182-of-291 passes for 2,570 yards with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions; Ran 256 times for 1,702 yards and 14 touchdowns; set FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback while leading the Big Ten in rushing and total offense. He is the first player in FBS history to have more than 2,000 pass yards and 1,500 rush yards in the same season.
Why he's here: The Big Ten's 2010 offensive player of the year would have won the Heisman Trophy last season had the award been handed out in October. As it stood, he still ranked as the most scintillating player in the league if not the nation when healthy and on his game. "Shoelace" could take a broken play or designed run for a touchdown at any time, and if you crowded the line too much to stop him, he could beat you over the top with his arm.
On the downside, Robinson got banged up and had trouble finishing games because of all the hits he took, and his accuracy in the passing game suffered against the best Big Ten opponents. Still, Michigan never would have made it to a bowl game last year without his heroics, as he often had to direct scoring drives after his own defense gave up one.
We also have to remember than 2010 was Robinson's first year as a full-time starter. So he should get better with more experience, though he is entering a new offensive system under new coaches this year, and it remains to be seen how he and the Wolverines will adjust. Robinson is expected to be under center more this season, but offensive coordinator Al Borges will want to take advantage of his quarterback's unique talents. Those talents make him one of the very best players in the Big Ten.
No. 25: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
No. 24: Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State
No. 23: Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
No. 22: Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa
No. 21: Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois
No. 20: John Simon, DL, Ohio State
No. 19: Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue
No. 18: Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
No. 17: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
No. 16: Derek Moye, WR, Penn State
No. 15: Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern
No. 14: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
No. 13: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
No. 12: David Molk, C, Michigan
No .11: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
No. 10: Mike Martin, DT, Michigan
No. 9: Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State
No. 8: Riley Reiff, LT, Iowa
No. 7: James White, RB, Wisconsin
No. 6: Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
No. 5: Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
No. 4: Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State
No. 3: Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern
2dDan Murphy and Mitch Sherman
2dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
3dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy