It's Final Four time in our Big Ten Top 25 players countdown. These are the guys we see as the best of the best in the league for 2012.
As a reminder, these rankings are based on past performance and potential for this fall. This next guy started the 2012 calendar year off with a bang ...
No. 4: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State, junior, 6-foot-7, 278 pounds
2011 postseason rank: Not ranked
2011 numbers: Had 70 tackles, including 16 for loss and five sacks plus a forced fumble. Named to All-Big Ten second team by coaches and media.
Why he's here: We're basing these rankings off past performance and future potential, and few players combine both of those quite like Gholston.
His physical gifts are nearly unrivaled, as no one his size should be able to move as fast as Gholston does. He turned in a strong sophomore season and got Spartans fans truly excited for this season with his huge performance against Georgia in the Outback Bowl (five tackles for loss, two sacks). The light appeared to go on in that game for Gholston, much like it did for 2011 Big Ten defensive player of the year Devon Still in the same game a year earlier.
Gholston looked dominant at times during the spring and in preseason practices, and his coaches have said that giving a consistent effort is all the is keeping him from superstardom. We think Gholston makes that jump this year and cements himself as one of the unquestionably elite players in the Big Ten.
No. 12: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
No. 11: Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State
No. 9: Jonathan Brown, LB, Illlinois
No. 7: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue