At long last, the Big Ten postseason Top 25 player countdown has reached the final five names. In case you've been in a cave for the past few weeks -- or just don't read carefully -- we'd like to remind you that this list is based on 2011 performance and impact on a given team, and not any other factors like NFL potential.
It's time to recognize one of the toughest players in the country at ...
No. 5: David Molk, C, Michigan, Sr., 6-foot-2, 286
Preseason rank: No. 12
2011 numbers: Appeared in all 13 games and started 12 (he missed the first series in the Sugar Bowl because of injury but returned). Molk finished his career with 41 starts for the Wolverines.
Why he's here: Molk was regarded as the best center in college football, earning the Rimington Trophy among many honors. Yet his value to Michigan's 2011 breakthrough season went much deeper. He played an instrumental role in the transition from Rich Rodriguez's offense to Al Borges' offense, and Borges placed a heavy burden on Molk, which the senior had no trouble handling. As Borges said, "The center is the quarterback of the offensive line, and David Molk certainly fits that mold."
A co-captain, Molk was part of a senior class that guided Michigan through transition and to an 11-2 record and a Sugar Bowl championship. He showed his toughness in the bowl by playing all but one series after severing a tendon in his foot during warmups. Molk triggered an offense that ranked 13th nationally in rushing and 26th in scoring despite some bumps along the way.
He earned Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the league's coaches.
No. 6: Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
No. 8: Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
No. 13: Riley Reiff, LT, Iowa
No. 14: B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State
No. 15: John Simon, DL, Ohio State
No. 17: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
No. 18: A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois
No. 19: Gerald Hodges, LB, Penn State
No. 20: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
No. 22: Silas Redd, RB, Penn State
No. 23: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
No. 24: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin
No. 25: Fitz Toussaint, RB, Michigan