Big Ten: Big Ten All-Star 11

Major League Baseball's All-Star Game takes place tonight in the desert, and we're joining in the fun here in Big Ten land.

You've already seen all-star teams from both the Leaders Division and the Legends Division. Now it's time to vote: Who would win if these squads met on the gridiron?

If you need some help deciding, we're here for you.

Adam Rittenberg's case for the Leaders all-stars: What this squad lacks in superstars it makes up for with dynamic players primed for breakout seasons in 2011. Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase is a budding star at quarterback and boasts plenty of weapons around him, including reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year James White and Derek Moye. Big Ten fans need to know names of defenders like John Simon, Michael Mauti, Ricardo Allen and Tyler Moeller. These guys all should do big things this season. The team looks strong up the middle on both sides with Michael Brewster, the nation's top center, as well as Kawann Short, Devon Still, Mauti and Chris Borland. The secondary is packed with playmakers, and the kicking game will be solid. When this game ends, Leaders will be leading on the scoreboard.

Brian Bennett's case for the Legends all-stars: I don't expect the Leaders to be leading this game, while my squad should become true Legends. Just look at quarterback: No offense to Scheelhaase, who's a good young player, but I doubt he would have cracked the top three of my depth chart under center. I've got power and speed at running back, three standout receivers and the top pass-catching tight end in the league behind a stout offensive line. My defensive front has two of the best interior defensive linemen in the country in Mike Martin and Jared Crick. While I may be a little light at linebacker, I do have an All-American there in Lavonte David, and I've got two shutdown corners in Shaun Prater and Alfonzo Dennard. Legends by a touchdown, at least.
Since Adam Rittenberg inexplicably follows the Cubs, I had to explain to him the concept of "All-Stars." I'm not looking forward to him trying to grasp the concept of October baseball this fall.

I digress. We're playing off tonight's All-Star Game to present our own version in the Big Ten. Adam gave you his Leaders Division team this morning. Here's my All-Star team from the Legends Division. Later on, we'll let you vote for who would win in a matchup between these two. (And don't worry; home field in the Big Ten title game won't be decided by the outcome).

OFFENSE

OT: Riley Reiff, Iowa
OT: Al Netter, Northwestern
C: David Molk, Michigan
OG: Joel Foreman, Michigan State
OG: Patrick Omameh, Michigan
QB: Kirk Cousins, Michigan State
RB: Edwin Baker, Michigan State
RB: Marcus Coker, Iowa
TE: Kyler Reed, Nebraska
WR: Jeremy Ebert, Northwestern
WR: Marvin McNutt, Iowa
WR: Roy Roundtree, Michigan

DEFENSE


DE: Vince Browne, Northwestern
DE: Cameron Meredith, Nebraska
DT: Jared Crick, Nebraska
DT: Mike Martin, Michigan
LB: Lavonte David, Nebraska
LB: Gary Tinsley, Minnesota
LB: James Morris, Iowa
CB: Shaun Prater, Iowa
CB: Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
S: Brian Peters, Northwestern
S: Trenton Robinson, Michigan State

SPECIALISTS


P: Will Hagerup, Michigan
K: Dan Conroy, Michigan State
KR: Troy Stoudermire, Minnesota

I'd better explain my two most controversial selections. Quarterback was obviously the toughest call in a division that features Cousins, Denard Robinson, Dan Persa and Taylor Martinez. While Robinson and Persa are more exciting, I went with the steady Cousins for this reason: this is an All-Star game, and my quarterback is surrounded by talent. I don't need him to take off running like Robinson, Persa and Martinez are wont to do. I just need him to deliver the ball to my other studs, and I think Cousins is the best at this in the division. If things are going badly for my offense, I can summon Robinson or Persa from the bullpen for a spark.

At running back, I might have surprised you with the selection of Coker, who had one truly big performance last season in the bowl and is largely unproven. Nebraska fans will no doubt howl for Rex Burkhead there. My thought on this is that I want as well-rounded of a team as possible, so I want a big, bruising back to go along with the 5-foot-9, 209-pound Baker. That's why I went with the 230-pound bag of hammers that is Coker, who can lead block for Baker or crush defensive backs with the ball in his own hands.

And with that, I will paraphrase Norman Dale: My team is on the field!
It has been a brutal baseball season so far here in Chicago, as the underachieving White Sox and flat-lining Cubs limp to the break. Bennett's St. Louis Cardinals, meanwhile, are tied atop the NL Central and must fend off the suddenly mighty Pittsburgh Pirates.

In keeping with the baseball theme and tonight's All-Star Game in Phoenix, we've decided to compile the top all-star teams from the Big Ten. Now that there are two divisions, we can split the teams and project which squad would win if they met on the gridiron.

I'll get us started with the Leaders Division all-stars. Bennett will follow in a bit with the Legends Division all-stars. You'll then get to vote on which team would win.

Here we go ...

OFFENSE

T: Jeff Allen, Illinois
T: Mike Adams, Ohio State
C: Michael Brewster, Ohio State
G: Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin
G: Hugh Thornton, Illinois
QB: Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
RB: James White, Wisconsin
RB: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
TE: Ted Bolser, Indiana
WR: Derek Moye, Penn State
WR: Damarlo Belcher, Indiana
WR: DeVier Posey, Ohio State

DEFENSE


DE: John Simon, Ohio State
DT: Kawann Short, Purdue
DT: Devon Still, Penn State
DE: Nathan Williams, Ohio State
LB: Michael Mauti, Penn State
LB: Chris Borland, Wisconsin
S/LB: Tyler Moeller, Ohio State*
CB: Ricardo Allen, Purdue
CB: Antonio Fenelus, Wisconsin
S: Nick Sukay, Penn State
S: Aaron Henry, Wisconsin

SPECIALISTS

P: Brad Nortman, Wisconsin
K:
Derek Dimke, Illinois
KR: Jaamal Berry, Ohio State

*Plays nickel safety for Ohio State but can be used in hybrid role.

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