The Big Ten postseason player rankings march on with No. 24. As a reminder, these rankings are based on performance during the 2011 season and impact on a team/season. They do not take into account NFL potential.
Without further ado ...
No. 24: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin, Jr., 6-foot-2, 230
Preseason rank: Not ranked
2011 numbers: Led the Big Ten with 150 tackles and ranked 13th nationally in tackles per game (10.7). He tied for fourth in the league in forced fumbles with (3). He had two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, nine tackles for loss, two sacks and three pass breakups.
Why he's here: Taylor took his game to the next level in 2011 and solidified the Badgers defense alongside fellow linebacker Chris Borland, who nearly made our rundown as well. Taylor was a solid player before 2011 and had battled through injuries but stayed on the field throughout the past season and consistently made plays. Taylor recorded nine or more tackles in 10 contests, including a career-high 22 (2.5 tackles for loss) against Ohio State in Columbus. He posted the eighth-highest single-season tackles total in team history.
He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the media and second-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches. Perhaps more important, he was named Wisconsin's co-MVP along with quarterback Russell Wilson. Taylor finished the regular season extremely well, racking up 66 tackles, one interception, two fumble recoveries and 3.5 tackles for loss in Wisconsin's final five contests, as the Badgers clinched the Leaders division and went on to their second consecutive Big Ten championship.