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Big Ten rankings: No. 12, Ricky Wagner

8/16/2012

Our preseason Big Ten player rankings have reached the dandy dozen.

As a reminder, these rankings are based on both past performance and potential for the 2012 season. Next up is the latest star in the machine that is the Thick Red Line:

No. 12: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin, senior, 6-foot-6, 317 pounds

2011 postseason rank: Not ranked.

2011 numbers: Started all 14 games at left tackle for an offense that led the league in scoring, yards and rushing. Preseason candidate for the Outland Trophy.

Why he's here: Coach Bret Bielema has said it several times: Every left tackle who has started for him has won the Outland Trophy before leaving Madison. Wagner is trying to become the third player to do so under Bielema. He didn't start at left tackle until the beginning of last season, when he made the switch from the right side to replace Gabe Carimi. It's a testament to Wagner that the Badgers' offense not only didn't miss a beat but became even more potent in its passing and running games.

Wagner is a large human being, but like all of his predecessors he isn't just a stiff. He can road-grade for Montee Ball or protect the blind side for the quarterback. Several Wisconsin linemen have made jumps between their junior and senior seasons. If Wagner follows suit, he's a good bet to be an All-American, and quite possibly another Badgers Outland winner.

The countdown

No. 25: Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska

No. 24: MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota

No. 23: Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue

No. 22: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin

No. 21: Jared Abbrederis, WR/KR, Wisconsin

No. 20: Denicos Allen, LB, Michigan State

No. 19: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State

No. 18: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

No. 17: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State

No. 16: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois

No. 15: Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan

No. 14: Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State

No. 13: James Vandenberg, QB, Iowa