Big Ten rosters in April are far from settled. But the competitive nature of spring practice won't stop us from ranking the top 10 players on each team in the league over the next two weeks.
These lists are subject to change before the season and include only players in camp with their teams this spring.
Up first are the Indiana Hoosiers:
1. RG Dan Feeney: Indiana’s offensive rock and a returning first-team All-American, he’s started 37 games and allowed just one sack. Last year, Feeney played a major role in helping Indiana finish as the fourth FBS team with a 3,500-yard passer, two 1,000-yard backs and a 1,000-yard receiver. Then Feeney turned down a chance to leave a year early for the NFL.
2. CB Rashard Fant: If the Hoosiers are to experience big improvement in defending the pass, they’ll need to overcome the loss of their entire defensive line -- and they’ll need a lockdown corner. Fant is a strong candidate for the latter after he led the Big Ten and ranked second nationally as a sophomore last year with 22 pass breakups. He’s a solid tackler, too, and forms a nice duo with sophomore corner Andre Brown.
3. WR Simmie Cobbs: A proven receiving threat after his 60 catches for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns, Cobbs may find his work more challenging as a junior without QB Nate Sudfeld. But he’s still the Hoosiers’ best chance to produce a difference-maker at wideout. In Big Ten games, Cobbs was third in the league with an 18.1-yard average per reception.
4. RB Devine Redding: He burst to prominence as a sophomore last year, going over 1,000 yards for the season with a 227-yard performance on 35 carries against Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl. It was a preview of what Indiana will ask of Redding as its workhorse in 2016 while searching for stability from QB candidates Richard Lagow, Zander Diamont and Danny Cameron.
5. K Griffin Oakes: A kicker? You'd better believe it. Oakes, the Big Ten kicker of the year in 2015 as a sophomore, connected on 24 of 29 field goals. His reliable and durable right leg serves as a weapon and a safety net. Without him, the Hoosiers are a less dangerous team.
6. RT Dimitric Camiel: Experienced and talented, he’s a fifth-year senior who played a key role as Indiana led the Big Ten in scoring, total offense and passing yardage last season. Imposing at 6-7 and 310 pounds, he’s likely to stay on the right side, but Camiel serves with Feeney as the glue for a line that may again rate as a strength for the Hoosiers.
7. LB T.J. Simmons: The quarterback of the IU defense, Simmons returns as a senior as Indiana’s career leader in tackles with 35 starts to his credit. He enjoyed a monster performance with 15 tackles, including 2 1/2 sacks, at Michigan State last year. The Hoosiers, maligned on defense, need Simmons’ leadership under new coordinator Tom Allen.
8. WR Mitchell Paige: An important complement offensively to Cobbs and a threat on special teams after he returned two punts for touchdowns last year, Paige returns as a senior to again fill a jack-of-all-trades role. He led the Hoosiers last year with six touchdown catches and, at 5-foot-7 and 176 pounds, Paige presents a unique challenge any time he gets the ball in his hands.
9. S Chase Dutra: Indiana ranked 102nd nationally and 13th in the Big Ten in opponent-adjusted defensive QBR. The fix starts with experience in the secondary, where Dutra earned significant time as a freshman two years ago and ranked fifth on the team in tackles last season. He's sitting this spring with a foot injury.
10. LT Brandon Knight: The loss of Jason Spriggs at the premier spot up front looms large. But Knight, a sophomore named IU’s offensive newcomer of the year after working at tackle and tight end, looks like a solid replacement. If Indiana thinks enough of him to stick Knight at left tackle, he belongs on this list.