- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Big Ten postseason player rankings march on with a familiar name. As a reminder, these rankings are based entirely on performance during the 2012 season. Both members of Wisconsin's "Home Improvement" tandem made our list, and first on the list is ...
No. 18: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin, senior, 6-foot-2, 224 pounds
Preseason rank: No. 22
2012 stats: Led Wisconsin in both total tackles (123) and tackles for loss (15); recorded three sacks, four pass breakups and a fumble recovery; started all 14 games
Why he's here: Taylor has been one of the most durable and consistently productive linebackers in the country the past three seasons. He started his final 40 games, and in his final two years for the Badgers he recorded 273 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss and nine sacks. While some college players are never the same after suffering major knee injuries early in their careers, as Taylor did in 2009, he had no reoccurrences and finished strong.
His tackles numbers and turnover numbers went down from 2011, but Taylor recorded more sacks, more tackles for loss and more solo tackles, and continued to be a factor in coverage. Taylor recorded 10 tackles or more in five of Wisconsin’s first eight games, and had a sack and a fumble recovery in the Big Ten championship against Nebraska. He finished fifth in the Big Ten in both tackles and tackles for loss.
Taylor earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the media and helped Wisconsin rank 15th nationally in total defense. He continued to form one of the nation’s top linebacker tandems with Chris Borland, and both shared Defensive MVP honors from the team. Although other Badgers defenders have had bigger individual seasons than Taylor, his consistency won’t soon be forgotten in Madison.
No. 25: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
No. 24: Michael Carter, CB, Minnesota
No. 23: Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern
No. 22: Spencer Long, G, Nebraska
No. 21: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
No. 20: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
No. 19: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
4dBrian Bennett and Josh Moyer