Whitney MercilusDefensive end | Illinois
Mercilus had the top of his left index finger cut off this spring after a weightlifting accident. Who knew he'd be such a handful for opposing offenses in the fall?
In his first full year of starting, the Illinois junior led the nation in sacks (14.5) and forced fumbles (a Big Ten record nine, one shy of the NCAA single-season mark) and ranked sixth with 19.5 tackles for loss. The Hendricks Award winner registered a sack in 10 of 12 games this season and forced a fumble in each of his last four contests.
-- Brian Bennett