- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The preseason top 25 player countdown continues as we inch our way closer to the top 5.
As a reminder, these rankings are based primarily on 2011 performance and potential for the 2012 season. NFL potential is taken into account, but it's not the deciding factor.
The next selection is part of Wisconsin's home improvement tandem (along with fellow LB Mike Taylor). He's quite the tackling machine.
No. 8: Chris Borland, LB, junior, 5-foot-11, 242 pounds
2011 postseason rank: Not ranked
2011 numbers: Finished second in the Big Ten (behind Taylor) with 143 tackles, including a team-high 19 tackles for loss. He also led Wisconsin with five forced fumbles and added two interceptions, 2.5 sacks and five pass breakups in 14 starts.
Why he's here: From the moment he set foot in Madison, Borland has been among the most versatile and productive defenders in the Big Ten. After missing most of the 2010 season with a shoulder injury and moving to middle linebacker, Borland anchored the Badgers defense along with Taylor. Despite the move to the middle, Borland continued to attack the opposing backfield. His tackles for loss total ranked 12th nationally and marked the most by a Badgers linebacker in team history.
Borland, who also forced five fumbles in 2009 en route to earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, is constantly around the ball and wreaking havoc. His career turnovers totals -- 10 forced fumbles, three interceptions, three fumbles recovered -- are exceptional, and he still has two years of eligibility remaining.
The junior should be even more comfortable in his second season as the man in the middle. Expect more big plays from No. 44 and a constant presence around the football.
No. 12: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
No. 11: Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State
No. 10: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
No. 9: Jonathan Brown, LB, Illlinois
4dDan Murphy and Austin Ward