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Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Big Ten rankings: No. 10, Darqueze Dennard

By Brian Bennett

We're counting down our rankings of the Top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2013 season. This list is based on past performance and potential for the upcoming season only. We do not consider NFL potential for purposes of these rankings.

We've reached the exclusive company of the Top 10 in our rankings. Kicking it off is a guy toward whom you don't want to throw many passes, unless you want to see a possession change ...

No. 10: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State, senior, 5-foot-11, 197 pounds

2012 postseason ranking: No. 19

2012 numbers: Had 52 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, along with three interceptions and seven passes defended.

Why he's here: Dennard had operated in the shadow teammate Johnny Adams for a couple of seasons, but he announced himself in 2012 as not only the best cornerback on the Spartans, but also one of the best in the nation.

He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and ESPN.com. He'll challenge fellow Georgia native and Ohio State junior Bradley Roby for the title of best corner in the league and possibly the country this season.

Dennard was hard to miss in 2012. He had two interceptions against Nebraska, including one that would have gone for a touchdown and perhaps sealed the game if not for a controversial penalty on Adams during the return. And he got flagged for interference in the end zone to help Nebraska win the game, a call that still rankles Michigan State fans. Dennard also dropped a potential interception in the overtime loss to Iowa.

Some of those missed plays still haunt him and motivate him to be even better in 2013. The truth is, however, he made a whole lot of great plays last season. We expect him to do the same this fall.

The countdown

No. 25Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois
No. 24: Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa
No. 23: James White, RB, Wisconsin
No. 22: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
No. 21: John Urschel, G, Penn State
No. 20: Tyler Scott, DE, Northwestern
No. 19: Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
No. 18: Deion Barnes, DE, Penn State
No. 17: Kenny Bell, WR, Nebraska
No. 16: Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
No. 15: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
No. 14: Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern
No. 13: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
No. 12: Spencer Long, G, Nebraska
No. 11: Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan