- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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The preseason top 25 player countdown rolls on as we reach lucky number seven.
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 guy on the list has popped up on a few preseason All-America teams, and with good reason ...
No. 7: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue, senior, 6-foot-3, 315
2011 postseason rank: No. 23
2011 numbers: Had 54 tackles, including 17 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Also forced a fumble and blocked a kick. Named first team All-Big Ten by the media.
Why he's here: Penn State's Devon Still was the Big Ten defensive player of the year in 2011 as a dominant defensive tackle, but you could have made a strong argument for Short as well. Consider that Short and Still had the same number of tackles for loss and Short had two more sacks than Still.
That's not a knock on Still but simply a compliment to Purdue's own defensive star, who was unblockable at times. He had a huge game in the upset win over Ohio State by sacking Braxton Miller three times. Short turned down a chance of being selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft so he could earn his degree and improve his stock. If he plays every down with consistency and a high motor, the athletic former high school basketball star could earn his way into first-round status. And he could very well be an All-American and the best defensive lineman in the Big Ten.
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
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
No. 8: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
19hBrian Bennett and Austin Ward