NCF Nation: Rejus Benn
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
If you can be ripped away from the wildly entertaining Oklahoma-Texas clash, check out what's going on in Champaign, Ill., right now.
Minnesota is continuing its surprising rise by building a 14-6 third-quarter lead on Illinois. If a Big Ten Coordinator of the Year award can be handed out, it should go to Minnesota defensive coordinator Ted Roof. The ousted Duke coach has transformed a Minnesota defense that ranked last nationally in yards allowed (518.7 yards per game) and set team records for futility last season. The Gophers are clogging rushing lanes and leveling some big hits on Illinois' ball carriers.
Though I think defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg should be disciplined for throwing a punch at Illinois wideout Rejus Benn, you've got to admire the passion the Gophers are showing. Second-year coach Tim Brewster has his team fired up in his return to his alma mater.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Penn State has been the league's most impressive team all season. Now it's safe to say the Nittany Lions are also the Big Ten's best squad. As you'll see below, Wisconsin's second-half meltdown at Michigan had consequences, and there's a bit of shuffling in the bottom half after some surprising performances (Michigan) and some disappointing ones (Purdue).
Unlike other BCS conferences, the Big Ten doesn't appear to have any terrible teams, so expect plenty of movement the rest of the season.
1. Penn State -- The Nittany Lions got some good news Thursday when Oregon State, a team they crushed Sept. 6, upset top-ranked USC. Things got better Saturday night after Penn State introduced itself to adversity for the first time this season and overcame it thanks to explosive play by Derrick Williams, Evan Royster and Daryll Clark. So far H and D have been the call letters in State College. They could soon be replaced by B, C and S.
2. Ohio State -- America's most over-publicized big toe has healed, and maybe so has Ohio State after a rocky start. An offensive backfield of freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor and a healthy Chris "Beanie" Wells got off to a strong start against Minnesota. Wells clearly provides an emotional boost for the offense, which was admittedly lackluster during non-league play. A road win against Wisconsin could spur Ohio State for a league title run.
3. Wisconsin -- The power run game went powerless, a physical defense lost its edge and the Badgers saw a 19-point halftime lead evaporate at Michigan Stadium. With both Penn State and Ohio State coming to Madison, Wisconsin looked to be in the driver's seat for the Big Ten title, but it began a rough stretch on a sour note. The good news is the Badgers can vault back on top the rankings by holding serve at Camp Randall Stadium, where they have never lost under coach Bret Bielema.
4. Michigan State -- The Spartans survived a wild game at Indiana and won their fourth straight. Coach Mark Dantonio certainly can't be happy with his defense giving up 473 yards, but Michigan State got a much-needed boost from senior quarterback Brian Hoyer, who threw two touchdowns and established an option besides Javon Ringer. Wins against slumping Iowa and undefeated Northwestern would put the Spartans in the league title discussion when Ohio State visits Spartan Stadium on Oct. 18.
5. Northwestern -- Respect is hard to come by for Northwestern, but the program's first 5-0 start since 1962 will gain notice around the league. Opportunistic play lifted the Wildcats past Iowa, and a slumping offense gained confidence behind quarterback C.J. Bacher in the second half. With home games against Michigan State and Purdue followed by trips to Indiana and Minnesota, Northwestern could continue to sneak up on the league.
6. Illinois -- Both Illini losses have come against top 10 teams (Missouri and Penn State), and wideout Rejus Benn did all he could to keep the team close against the Lions on Saturday night. But the defense just isn't the same without All-American J Leman in the middle, and a veteran line pegged to be the team's strength has underperformed. Illinois has some work to do to get back in the first tier.
7. Michigan -- I was ready to put Michigan at the bottom of the rankings after watching its first-half performance against Wisconsin. But quarterback Steven Threet never lost confidence and ignited the offense late in the third quarter. The Wolverines' offense limited mistakes and began utilizing all of its weapons in mounting the biggest comeback in Michigan Stadium history. But the real reason the Wolverines aren't several spots lower is a defense that shines in pressure situations.
8. Iowa -- The Hawkeyes identified their quarterback in sophomore Ricky Stanzi, but a five-turnover disaster against Northwestern left them with another loss. Saturday's trip to Michigan State is a must-win for Iowa and head coach Kirk Ferentz, who can't afford problems on the field after so many off-field issues. This is a good team with a solid defense and a dynamic running back (Shonn Greene), but it needs to start playing to its potential.
9. Minnesota -- It's still hard to get a good read on Minnesota. The Gophers are definitely better on defense, but they struggled to contain Wells and Pryor. Turnovers were a problem for the first time this season, as they were throughout 2007. Minnesota must show better discipline this week in a crucial home matchup against Indiana. The Gophers are ahead of the Hoosiers for now, but they need a win to stay that way.
10. Purdue -- The Boilers' defense really misses Jason Werner, but they had held things together until a disastrous third quarter against Notre Dame. Quarterback Curtis Painter always will put up big numbers, but the offense struggled in the red zone and lacks its usual weapons. Things don't get any easier for Purdue, which hosts high-powered Penn State this week before visiting Ohio State.
11. Indiana -- The Hoosiers did some good things against a superior opponent (Michigan State), but their defense simply isn't consistent enough. A 2-2 start with four home games to begin the season isn't what head coach Bill Lynch had in mind. The Hoosiers now travel to Minnesota for a crucial game that could make break their hopes for another bowl run.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Five lessons from a wild opening weekend of Big Ten Conference play:
Penn State is the league's best team -- Many of us had a sneaking suspicion this would be the case, but Wisconsin had the better nonconference résumé and fewer question marks entering the season. Yet the Badgers melted down at Michigan and No. 12 Penn State continued to roll with a 38-24 win against No. 22 Illinois. A talented Illini squad led by Rejus Benn gave the Lions their first true test, but the Spread HD offense was simply too much. Wideout/return man Derrick Williams had a historic night and running back Evan Royster and quarterback Daryll Clark showed why Penn State is one of the country's most explosive teams.
Don't count out Michigan -- There's no other way to put it. Michigan looked like the Big Ten's worst team in the first half against Wisconsin (21 net yards, 1 first down, 0 points). But then the well-conditioned Wolverines completely transformed themselves. A heroic and durable defensive performance bought enough time for Steven Threet and the offense to kick into high gear. Coach Rich Rodriguez's spread system showed just how quickly it can rack up points -- three touchdowns in 12 minutes -- and the Wolverines produced the second-biggest comeback in team history and the biggest in the Big House. Saturday's win could be the turning point for a team no longer stuck in transition.
Senior QBs step up -- Through the first four games, it looked as though Northwestern senior quarterback C.J. Bacher had regressed. The same held true for Michigan State's Brian Hoyer. But both players stepped up Saturday and led their teams to crucial road wins. Bacher had 224 yards passing and three touchdown strikes in the final three quarters as Northwestern overcame a 17-3 deficit to beat Iowa and secure its first 5-0 start in 46 years. Hoyer avoided major mistakes and had 261 yards passing and two touchdowns as Michigan State held off Indiana. Even demoted Ohio State sixth-year senior Todd Boeckman rebounded nicely against Minnesota with a 31-yard scoring pass to Brian Robiskie.
Buckeyes offense needs Beanie -- You're probably saying, "Duh," but Ohio State's offense seemed to have more problems than a hobbled Heisman Trophy candidate, particularly up front. Chris "Beanie" Wells seemed to provide the boost the Buckeyes needed against Minnesota, as the offense turned in its best performance of the season. Wells and quarterback Terrelle Pryor combined for 203 rushing yards and Robiskie caught two touchdown passes. The coaches didn't overwork Wells, who will take on a bigger role this week against Wisconsin.
Northwestern reclaims late-game poise -- After seeing a bowl berth slip away last fall because of fourth-quarter flops, the Wildcats have reclaimed their crunch-time composure. Iowa kept Northwestern in Saturday's game with five turnovers, but when the fourth quarter rolled around, the Wildcats took control. A playmaking defense briefly knocked Shonn Greene from the game and batted down Ricky Stanzi's fourth-and-goal pass. Bacher and his veteran wideouts made plays when it mattered. Northwestern improved to 16-3 in games decided by seven points or fewer.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Illinois linebacker Brit Miller noticed something different as soon as he walked into the weight room before dawn today.
Wideout Chris Duvalt was bouncing around, and other players had more zip to their step. After struggling at times on both sides of the ball in their first three games, the Illini had returned from a bye week refreshed and recharged.
"Whenever there's excitement on Monday morning at 6 a.m. during the lift," Miller said, "you know guys are ready to play."
Miller didn't sense the same excitement earlier this season, even before a much-anticipated opener against Missouri.
"People had that first-game wonderment, kind of wondering what's going to happen," Miller said. "This team has grown since that first game, knowing you have to go out and take it from your opponent. Having the guys excited and having people talking about Penn State this morning, that's a big deal. We had that a lot last year."
Another thing Illinois had a lot last year -- and for most of this decade -- was the underdog tag. Coming off consecutive 2-win seasons in 2005 and 2006, few outside the Champaign-Urbana corridor pegged the Illini for a Rose Bowl run. But the team pulled several upsets, none bigger than a road win against top-ranked Ohio State.
The Illini are underdogs once again heading into their Big Ten opener Saturday night at No. 12 Penn State (ABC, 8 p.m. ET). The Nittany Lions looked dominant in non-league play, albeit against weak competition, and will test an Illinois team that can prove it hasn't regressed from 2007.
"I've heard that, that we're the underdog going in," defensive end Will Davis said. "We've played our best games like that. When people say we can't win, we come out and play our hardest. That's what's happened in the past and you've got prove it on Saturday."
After an underwhelming 20-17 win against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 13, Illinois coach Ron Zook challenged his best players to start performing like it. Zook certainly was referring to junior quarterback Juice Williams, who had only 147 passing yards against the Rajin' Cajuns, but also players like wideout Rejus Benn, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Benn has yet to catch a touchdown pass this season but can change games at any time, as he showed last season against Penn State with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
"Coach expects a lot out of us," Benn said. "We came here to be on the forefront of that stage and be depended on in certain situations."
Illinois knows it can depend on Williams in hostile environments like Penn State. He turned in his signature performance last November at Ohio State (four touchdown passes, 70 rush yards) and relishes situations like the one he'll enter Saturday night at Beaver Stadium.
"It's a lot easier being the underdog," Williams said. "There's less pressure for you. We can pretty much go out there and play the game, not worry about everything. I've been the underdog my whole life. It gives you the opportunity to prove yourself."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to the first installment of Big Ten picks, which will appear every Thursday throughout the season. I'll pick the winners and the scores, using a bit of logic as well as some good ol' gut instinct. The Big Ten isn't one of those wacky leagues that plays games on Tuesday morning or Friday night, so I'll recap the picks after every weekend.
Let's get to it:
Illinois 31, Missouri 30: Illini quarterback Juice Williams has made the necessary steps as a passer and has the weapons to work with, including a fully healthy Rejus Benn. Chase Daniel will do his thing, but an underrated Illinois defensive line makes enough plays, including a key fourth-quarter takeaway to seal a mini-upset.
Utah 24, Michigan 21: Two quarterbacks will play for Michigan and both will struggle. The Wolverines' improved defense will contain Utah for most of the game before veteran signal caller Brian Johnson takes control in crunch time. I've got to go with experience here, and Utah has plenty.
California 33, Michigan State 28: Cal's decision to start mobile sophomore quarterback Kevin Riley instead of statue-like senior Nate Longshore made me change my pick. Riley and dynamic running back Jahvid Best spell trouble for a Michigan State defense that loses two standout pass rushers and recently shuffled its secondary. Javon Ringer will have a big day for Sparty, but it won't be enough on the road.
Northwestern 34, Syracuse 21: The Orange aren't settled on a running back, but Northwestern knows exactly who will be carrying the ball Saturday. Wildcats senior Tyrell Sutton shows why he's one of the Big Ten's best running backs when healthy, and a new-look offensive line holds up at home.
Minnesota 30, Northern Illinois 24: Northern Illinois isn't the pest it was in the early part of this decade, and the Huskies don't have a definitive starter at quarterback, though defensive end Larry English is a beast. Gophers quarterback Adam Weber will start strong, finding wideout Eric Decker for two touchdowns as Minnesota matches last year's wins total.
Ohio State 41, Youngstown State 10: Beanie Wells had only 46 rushing yards against the Penguins last year, a number that should triple or quadruple as the Buckeyes begin their road to redemption. Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor produces a highlight or two as Ohio State rolls at home.
Wisconsin 31, Akron 17: The Badgers have some injury concerns and Akron will keep it close for a while. But new starting quarterback Allan Evridge will settle in after halftime as Wisconsin's running backs begin to wear down the Zips defense. Expect a big game for running back P.J. Hill and linebacker DeAndre Levy.
Iowa 24, Maine 13: Both teams averaged fewer than 19 points a game last season, so don't expect many offensive fireworks. Iowa will play two quarterbacks and one of them -- I'll go with Ricky Stanzi -- turns in a strong second half to seal a much-needed opening victory. Hawkeyes defensive tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul force a turnover or two.
Penn State 33, Coastal Carolina 14: Daryll Clark's debut as the starting quarterback will be a good one, thanks in part to an opponent that went 5-6 last season. Get ready for the Stephfon Green experience as Penn State's Spread HD offense flexes its muscles in the opener.
Indiana 31, Western Kentucky 17: It might take a quarter for Kellen Lewis to get settled, but the junior will prove why he was the right choice at quarterback. Indiana's defense should be much improved this fall, and despite not having sack master Greg Middleton, the Hoosiers will stymie Western Kentucky.
|AP Photo/Tony Ding|
|Michigan's Rich Rodriguez is one of the new faces in the Big Ten.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
As the Big Ten season kicks off Saturday afternoon -- or morning, depending on the time zone -- here are 25 things I can't wait to see this fall.
1. Terrelle Pryor lead an offensive drive -- He might be a Tim Tebow-like weapon near the goal line, but I'm more interested in how the Ohio State freshman quarterback handles a real offensive series. Pryor's athleticism is undeniable, but it will be important to monitor his passing accuracy and the way he leads older teammates.
2. Michigan's quarterbacks -- Rich Rodriguez has ushered in a new era in Ann Arbor and will turn to unproven players like Steven Threet, Nick Sheridan and possibly Justin Feagin to lead his spread offense. There will undoubtedly be growing pains, but if one of those three takes control, the Wolverines will surge.
3. Jump Around at night -- Camp Randall Stadium is intimidating enough during daylight hours, but the electricity will reach new levels this fall with back-to-back night games against Ohio State and Penn State. The Badgers haven't lost at home under coach Bret Bielema, and they should have a tremendous home-field edge this fall.
4. The Spread HD -- Penn State's new offense remains somewhat of a mystery, but the Lions will try to utilize their many weapons at wide receiver, running back and quarterback. "Hopefully HD will stand for high def, highly diverse," quarterback Daryll Clark said, "and hopefully it doesn't turn out to be huge dud."
5. Jim Tressel vs. Pete Carroll -- Two of the sport's elite coaches couldn't be more different in personality or style (can't exactly picture Carroll in a sweater vest), but they will match wits when Ohio State visits USC in Week 3.
6. Little brother in the Big House -- The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry is growing, thanks to Mark Dantonio, but the Spartans need to win one of these games sooner or later. After six straight losses, Sparty heads to Ann Arbor on Oct. 25 determined to show they're nobody's little brother.
7. New quarterbacks -- Three teams will start new quarterbacks this fall, and Iowa's situation under center is far from settled. Wisconsin needs Allan Evridge to effectively manage games, while a greater load will be placed on Penn State's Clark and Michigan's new signal callers.
8. Beanie vs. P.J. -- Forget about the spread offense when Wisconsin and Ohio State meet Oct. 4 in Madison. The Big Ten's rushing roots will be on display as Heisman contender Beanie Wells goes up against P.J. Hill and the Badgers.
9. Juice in the pocket -- Juice Williams came on strong at the end of last season, and the Illinois quarterback continued to make strides in the spring and summer. He takes over an offense without Rashard Mendenhall and looks to pass more this fall.
10. Ferentz under fire -- Iowa's Kirk Ferentz still might be one of the league's top coaches, but he has to prove it this fall. With his reputation suffering on and off the field, Ferentz needs a strong season from a squad that has major questions on offense.
11. Tiller's farewell tour -- Joe Tiller revolutionized offense in the country's premier cold-weather conference, and the Purdue coach should be celebrated as he goes through his final season. The regular-season finale against Indiana will surely be emotional for Tiller and the Boilers fans.
12. Rejus Benn in the backfield -- The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year is fully healthy following shoulder surgery, and that means more touches this fall. Defensive coordinators will shudder at the thought of Juice Williams and Benn running the option in the same backfield.
13. Grande Dos -- That's the self-appointed nickname of Illinois linebacker Martez Wilson, who was named to the Butkus Award watch list despite no career starts in college. Wilson will get every opportunity this fall to show why he could be the next Simeon Rice.
14. RichRod vs. Charlie Weis -- Both have been lauded as offensive innovators, though Weis' honeymoon ended when Notre Dame went 3-9 last year. Michigan is dealing with some eerily similar personnel losses, and Rodriguez's coaching ability will be tested when the Wolverines visit South Bend on Sept. 13.
15. Brian Hoyer in crunch time -- The Michigan State quarterback has taken heat for his fourth-quarter shortcomings, but he'll have plenty of chances to redeem himself this fall. Hoyer's poise under pressure will largely determine whether the Spartans back up their preseason hype.
16. Stephfon Green in the open field -- The Penn State running back enters the fall with tons of hype despite never playing a collegiate game. If the reports prove true, Green will torch defenses if he gets any room to run.
17. The renovated Memorial Stadium -- Illinois is bringing in so many great players for its reopening of Memorial Stadium on Sept. 6 that I expect Red Grange to miraculously turn up. The 1923 relic has been spruced up big time, and it should give coach Ron Zook another recruiting tool.
18. Lewis and the no-huddle -- Indiana coaches had Kellen Lewis in mind when they installed the no-huddle offense in the offseason. Lewis got a late start with the system after being suspended for spring ball, but the junior quarterback should catch up fast.
19. Painter's pursuit -- Purdue senior quarterback Curtis Painter is on pace to set a bevy of Big Ten career passing records this fall. The underrated Painter has a new group of receivers to
work with but consistently puts up big numbers.
20. Gilreath on the move -- Wisconsin sophomore David Gilreath is quickly developing into the league's most dangerous return man. He might not merit the Devin Hester treatment quite yet, but expect Gilreath to break some electrifying runs this fall.
21. Mike Hankwitz's impact -- Northwestern hasn't fielded a decent defense since adopting the spread offense in 2000. Hankwitz, the league's most experienced coordinator, steps in this fall and tries to change the script in Evanston.
22. Michigan Stadium makeover -- The team on the field isn't the only thing getting overhauled in Ann Arbor this season. Fans will enter a construction site every Saturday at Michigan Stadium, setting up an unusual game day experience.
23. Ringer returning kickoffs -- Michigan State star running back Javon Ringer will showcase his speed on kickoff returns this fall. How long the arrangement lasts isn't known -- I'm not sure how wise it is to put your best player on such a dangerous play -- but Ringer is sure to produce a highlight or two.
24. Minnesota's JUCOs -- Gophers coach Tim Brewster needed some immediate help on defense and got it with junior-college transfers like Tramaine Brock, Traye Simmons, Cedric McKinley and Rex Sharpe. How quickly those players blend in will determine whether Minnesota makes a jump this fall.
25. Finch on the field -- Indiana's Jerimy Finch has been cleared to play this fall, and the Florida transfer gives a big boost to the secondary. Considered arguably the nation's top safety coming out of high school, Finch will make his presence known right away.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
|Tom Dahlin/Getty Images|
|Juice Williams is prepared for the added leadership role he must assume this season.|
James, a potential starter at wide receiver, already knew he wouldn't be playing that day against Missouri after tearing his ACL in training camp. Williams started the game at quarterback, determined to muzzle his doubters after an erratic freshman season, but left in the second quarter after taking a blow to the head from Missouri's Hardy Ricks on a 4-yard run.
Together, they watched as backup quarterback Eddie McGee rallied Illinois to within six points before throwing an interception at the goal line in the final minute.
"He talked to me about not finishing the game," James said of Williams. "He was real sad and upset."
"He took that loss to heart," added Illini linebacker Brit Miller.
Fast-forward to Monday as Williams and James sat in the film room at Memorial Stadium studying Missouri. This time they spoke with a tone of optimism, sensing the opportunity that soon awaited them.
It arrives Saturday as Illinois heads back to St. Louis to face Missouri (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The game has added meaning for Williams, who matches up against Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Daniel.
"Even without the injury, it would still be special," Williams said. "The first game of the season, you prepared all offseason to get better as a player, as a leader, as a role model of this team. You're just so thrilled to go out there and show the world what you can do."
A greater burden will be placed on Williams this fall after Illinois lost running back Rashard Mendenhall, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley wants to pass more to exploit a deeper-than-expected receiving corps and a junior quarterback no longer prone to poor decisions and an unsightly completion percentage.
Williams likely will look to air it out immediately against a Missouri defense that ranked 96th nationally against the pass last season (256.9 ypg).
"I'm pretty sure he can't wait to show the world what he can do as far as the passing," star wide receiver Rejus Benn said. "He's labeled as an option quarterback, a runner, but he's a passer and he's going to show that."
Williams spent a week this summer working with Eagles quarterback and fellow Chicagoan Donovan McNabb, who encouraged him to rely on more than just his arm strength to lead the offense. After completing just 39.5 percent of his passes as a freshman and struggling early last season, Williams began to get comfortable and played his best down the stretch, most notably in an upset of then-No. 1 Ohio State in Columbus.
He completed 6 of 9 passes against Missouri and added 11 rushing yards before the injury, which occurred when he started to slide on a scramble.
"I kind of learned my lesson," Williams said. "After that game, the coaches have pretty much been on me to run physical. As the season went on, I started running harder, breaking a bunch of tackles here and there, so it really paid off."
Illini coach Ron Zook doesn't expect Williams to think about the injury Saturday, which speaks to the quarterback's growing maturity.
"He has improved in every area, whether it be the way he talks with the media, the way he practices, all the things," Zook said. "Now it's going to be important that he goes out there and shows what we all think is going to happen, that he is a much-improved player."
Williams should get help from his receivers. In addition to Benn, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, the Illini will start James and junior Chris Duvalt, who had a very strong preseason. Not having the 6-foot-5 Jeff Cumberland (foot) will hurt, but freshmen Fred Sykes, A.J. Jenkins and Cordale Scott all are expected to contribute.
"I can't even imagine the feeling I'll have running onto the field knowing that I'm going to be able to play this year," said James, who started the final four games in 2006. "It's exciting knowing you can get out there and know where you are from the start, going against a top team like Missouri."
Despite the Ohio State win and a run to the Rose Bowl, Illinois enters this fall needing to shed the one-year-wonder tag. What better way to start than against a team that many around the country would have rather seen in a BCS bowl than the Illini.
"Being able to go out there and win a game against a top-notch program would mean a lot for this program," Williams said. "It would hopefully make other guys start to believe in the Illini program, that the Illini guys are back and last year was not a fluke."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It's time to predict the Big Ten all-conference team for 2008. Some of the names you'll recognize. Others might be a little hazy at this point, but not for long.
QB: Curtis Painter, Purdue, Sr., 6-4, 230
RB: Chris "Beanie" Wells, Ohio State, Jr., 6-1, 237
RB: Javon Ringer, Michigan State, Sr., 5-9, 202
WR: Arrelious "Regus" Benn, Illinois, So., 6-2, 214
WR: Brian Robiskie, Ohio State, Sr., 6-3, 199
TE: Travis Beckum, Wisconsin, Sr., 6-4, 236
LT: Alex Boone, Ohio State, Sr., 6-8, 312
LG: Kraig Urbik, Wisconsin, Sr., 6-6, 332
C: A.Q. Shipley, Penn State, Sr., 6-1, 297
RG: Rich Ohrnberger, Penn State, Sr. 6-2, 291
RT: Xavier Fulton, Illinois, Sr., 6-5, 300
DE: Maurice Evans, Penn State, Jr., 6-2, 264
DT: Mitch King, Iowa, Sr., 6-3, 280
DT: Terrance Taylor, Michigan, Sr., 6-0, 319
DE: Greg Middleton, Indiana, Jr., 6-3, 279
LB: James Laurinaitis, Ohio State, Sr., 6-3, 240
LB: Greg Jones, Michigan State, So., 6-1, 222
LB: Marcus Freeman, Ohio State, Sr., 6-1, 239
CB: Vontae Davis, Illinois, Jr., 6-0, 204
CB: Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State, Sr., 6-1, 201
S: Anthony Scirrotto, Penn State, Sr., 6-0, 192
S: Anderson Russell, Ohio State, Jr. 6-0, 205
PK: Austin Starr, Indiana, Sr., 6-3, 198
P: Jeremy Boone, Penn State, Jr., 5-9, 194
KR: Marcus Thigpen, Indiana, Sr., 5-9, 193
PR: David Gilreath, Wisconsin, So., 5-11, 165