Last week, we wrapped up our series looking at the most indispensable players on each Big Ten team. By indispensable, we didn't necessarily mean the best players, but rather the ones who would be hardest to replace if they were suddenly unavailable.
Now, we want to know who you think are the most indispensable players in the league overall. We'll start today with the offensive guys. The choices:
Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan: Gardner is not only a standout player with a chance to put up huge numbers this year, he's the only experienced quarterback on the roster. Russell Bellomy's ACL tear left only walk-ons as Gardner's backups this spring, and true freshman Shane Morris might be forced into action if something happens to Gardner. Needless to say, that's a scary scenario for the Wolverines, who have been looking for a transfer quarterback this offseason.
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State: Backup quarterback Kenny Guiton led the Buckeyes to a comeback win against Purdue last year and could reasonably handle the offense in a pinch. Still, there aren't many players who could actually replace Miller, the reigning Big Ten offensive player of the year. Miller's running ability and knack for the clutch play gives Ohio State a dimension that would be nearly impossible to replicate.
Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska: The Cornhuskers' backup QB situation doesn't look as dire as it has in the recent past after Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg III both turned in nice springs. Still, Martinez has taken just about every snap for Nebraska in the past three years and knows the offense inside and out. While the Huskers have plenty of talent surrounding him, he is still the engine that drives everything.
Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern: A 1,000-yard rusher and All-American returner last year, Mark is the Wildcats' true gamebreaker. He put up over 2,100 all-purpose yards last season and was a threat to score on nearly every touch. While Northwestern could likely put together a solid offensive attack without him, it would dearly miss all the things he brings to the table.
Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin: As I wrote earlier this month about Abbrederis, "Nowhere on the team is there such a large difference between the best player at his position and the No. 2 guy." The Badgers spent much of last year searching for a complement to Abbrederis in the passing game and never found the answer. The search continues this year, as they still need to develop consistent receivers who can take pressure off of their senior star.
Vote now in our poll.