Big Ten postseason player rankings: No. 15


The first week of the rankings countdown is in the books, so we're off to the second -- and final -- week of this series. Who'll be No. 1? How many teams will be represented in the top 10? Stay tuned; that will all be revealed by Friday.

As a reminder, these rankings are based solely on performance from the 2013 season. Projected production and past accolades don't mean a thing. But, if we were ranking entire careers, this next player might be a little higher on the list ...

No. 15: James Morris, MLB, Iowa

Previous ranking: Not ranked

Making the case for Morris: Linebackers were a strength for the Hawkeyes, and none were stronger than Iowa's home-grown Morris.

He specialized in stopping the run and helped the Hawkeyes to the No. 19-ranked rush defense in the nation (128.4 ypg) -- up 44 spots from the season before. But he was more than just the man who plugged up the middle for the Hawkeyes. He was a senior leader, an opportunistic defender (4 INTs, 2 FFs, 1 FR) and a mainstay in opposing offenses' backfields.

He was twice named Big Ten defensive player of the week, and he recovered a critical fumble against Northwestern in the eventual overtime victory. The Hawkeyes didn't boast a high-powered offense -- they were No. 81 nationally in scoring offense -- so Morris and his defense were depended upon week in and week out.

Morris rarely, if ever, disappointed. He finished second in the conference in tackles for loss (17), fourth in sacks (7) and eighth in tackles (106). He was a unanimous All-Big Ten second-team selection and also one of four finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.

The Hawkeyes flipped their regular-season record from 4-8 in 2012 to 8-4 in 2013 (8-5, if you count the bowl game). And a big reason for that turnaround was the defense -- and Morris' production.

The countdown

  • No. 25: Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase

  • No. 24: Indiana WR Cody Latimer

  • No. 23: Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford

  • No. 22: Iowa LT Brandon Scherff

  • No. 21: Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon

  • No. 20: Michigan State QB Connor Cook

  • No. 19: Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis

  • No. 18: Minnesota DT Ra'Shede Hageman

  • No. 17: Michigan State LB Denicos Allen

  • No. 16: Ohio State CB Bradley Roby