It's that time of year again.
You know it, you love it, you can't live without it: our rankings of the top 25 players in the Big Ten.
Today we begin our preseason countdown of the best of the best in the B1G. For reference sake, here's how we ranked the top players after the 2011 season ended. Of course, many of those players were seniors who now have moved on, opening up some new spots for others. And unlike our postseason rankings, which accounted solely for performance during the previous season, these also weigh the player's potential for the upcoming season.
Without further ado, let us begin the countdown with ...
No. 25: Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska, Jr., 6-foot-1, 200 pounds
2011 postseason rank: Not ranked
2011 numbers: Completed 56.2 percent of his passes for 2,089 yards, with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Also ran for 874 yards (averaging 4.6 yards per carry) with nine touchdowns.
Why he's here: Based on his 2011 numbers alone, Martinez would be a borderline call for our Top 25 player rankings. While he remained a dangerous threat with the ball in his hands, Martinez's low completion percentage and otherwise pedestrian passing numbers did not inspire much praise.
But the third-year starter has worked hard this offseason to become a much better passer, spending his spring break with a passing instructor and attending the Manning camp this summer. Head coach Bo Pelini had very good things to say about Martinez's work ethic and improvement during media days last week and mentioned that an ankle injury bothered his quarterback more than Martinez let on most of last season.
Better mechanics and footwork, along with having continuity with the same offensive coordinator and system for the first time in his career, all point to a strong junior season on the way for Martinez. If he can become a 60 percent passer while cutting down on interceptions, he'll be one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks around. And that should mean he's at least one of the top 25 players in the Big Ten.