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Thursday, August 16, 2012
Big Ten rankings: No. 12, Ricky Wagner

By Brian Bennett

Our preseason Big Ten player rankings have reached the dandy dozen.

As a reminder, these rankings are based on both past performance and potential for the 2012 season. Next up is the latest star in the machine that is the Thick Red Line:

No. 12: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin, senior, 6-foot-6, 317 pounds

2011 postseason rank: Not ranked.

2011 numbers: Started all 14 games at left tackle for an offense that led the league in scoring, yards and rushing. Preseason candidate for the Outland Trophy.

Why he's here: Coach Bret Bielema has said it several times: Every left tackle who has started for him has won the Outland Trophy before leaving Madison. Wagner is trying to become the third player to do so under Bielema. He didn't start at left tackle until the beginning of last season, when he made the switch from the right side to replace Gabe Carimi. It's a testament to Wagner that the Badgers' offense not only didn't miss a beat but became even more potent in its passing and running games.

Wagner is a large human being, but like all of his predecessors he isn't just a stiff. He can road-grade for Montee Ball or protect the blind side for the quarterback. Several Wisconsin linemen have made jumps between their junior and senior seasons. If Wagner follows suit, he's a good bet to be an All-American, and quite possibly another Badgers Outland winner.

The countdown

No. 25Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
No. 24MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota
No. 23Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue
No. 22Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin
No. 21Jared Abbrederis, WR/KR, Wisconsin
No. 20Denicos Allen, LB, Michigan State
No. 19Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
No. 18: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
No. 17Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
No. 16: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois
No. 15Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan
No. 14Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State
No. 13: James Vandenberg, QB, Iowa