Writers pick Shazier as B1G's top defender

After a breakout sophomore season, Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier is pegged for even better things this fall.

Shazier is the overwhelming choice for Big Ten preseason defensive player of the year, according to a poll of media members, including yours truly and ESPN.com colleague Brian Bennett. Shazier received 16 of 26 votes in the poll, compiled by The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises. The Buckeyes' linebacker received first-team All-Big Ten honors from the league's coaches last season after recording 115 tackles, including 17 for loss and five sacks, to go along with three forced fumbles, 11 pass breakups and an interception.

Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland finished second with four votes, followed by Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough (3), Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby (2) and Northwestern defensive end Tyler Scott (1).

All five players are excellent choices, but my vote went to Bullough, the most complete player on the Big Ten's best defense.

Michigan State defensive end William Gholston was the writers' choice for preseason defensive player of the year in 2012. Ohio State defensive lineman John Simon eventually took home the award.