- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's late June, which means preseason magazine season is very much upon us. Athlon Sports released its latest Big Ten-related prognostication Thursday in unveiling all-conference teams.
I think Athlon got it right with its first- and second-team running backs. It's a very close call between Nebraska's Rex Burkhead and Penn State's Silas Redd for the second spot on the first team (alongside Montee Ball), but Burkhead is deserving of the nod. Redd and Michigan's Fitzgerald Toussaint are the obvious choices for second team. It wouldn't surprise me to see Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell on the first or second team by season's end, but he's about where he should be entering the fall (third team).
The big snub from a quarterback perspective is Iowa's James Vandenberg. He should be at least the second-team selection, and a third-teamer at the absolute worst. While Ohio State's Braxton Miller could be a star and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez has a chance to be a difference-maker, Vandenberg is more accomplished than both players.
The wide receiver and tight end selections look good, and wide receiver, along with offensive line, is a position where the Big Ten's lack of proven depth shows.
The defensive line choices are good for the most part, although I might have placed Illinois' Michael Buchanan on the first team ahead of Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins. Penn State DT Jordan Hill also might end up on the first team by season's end.
There are some tough choices at linebacker, but I would have put Illinois' Jonathan Brown ahead of one of Wisconsin's selections (Chris Borland and Mike Taylor). Brown not only put up ridiculous numbers in 2011 (19.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, forced fumble, interception, four pass breakups), but he could be even better this year. Borland and Taylor are both great players, too, but I'd probably switch Brown and Taylor.
Cornerback actually might be a strength for the Big Ten this year. All six players selected by Athlon -- Michigan State's Johnny Adams (first), Purdue's Ricardo Allen (first), Ohio State's Bradley Roby (second), Iowa's Micah Hyde (second), Michigan's Blake Countess (third) and Illinois' Terry Hawthorne (third) -- are playmakers and potential shutdown guys.
One final snub for you: Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs. In a league with as many question marks at safety as the Big Ten, there's no way Kovacs should be on the third team.
4dDan Murphy and Austin Ward