Thursday, May 12, 2011
Poll: The Big Ten's most improved player
By Adam Rittenberg
Let's face it: College football's offseason drags on forever. One way to pass the time is to project everything about the upcoming season -- league champions, sleeper teams, disappointing teams and everybody's favorite, breakout players.
It's time to examine which Big Ten player will be most improved in 2011. Now there are far more possibilities than the five men I've listed below, and every Big Ten squad should have a handful of players make a significant jump this fall.
Last season, we saw Wisconsin's J.J. Watt go from a solid defensive lineman to a first-round draft pick. The same held true for Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget. Not many folks pegged players like Northwestern receiver Jeremy Ebert, Wisconsin cornerback Antonio Fenelus and Michigan State running back Edwin Baker to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors last year, but all three men were among the league's most improved.
Who will have the designation this season? Quarterbacks like Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase, Nebraska's Taylor Martinez and Minnesota's MarQueis Gray, who returns to quarterback from the wide receiver spot, all have chances to make major strides. Penn State running back Silas Redd also could take a big step forward. Ohio State defensive lineman John Simon has been billed as a future All-American. Can he have a breakout season in 2011?
Let's hear from you on this topic, which will be revisited throughout the offseason.