QB: Connor Cook – Michigan State; Hinckley, Ohio 6-4, 220 Sr: 3 year starter, Cook has Quarterbacked the Spartans to it’s best 3 year period in it’s history. Michigan State battled through a lot of injuries to take the Big 10 East title and then won the entire thing with a tough win over Iowa. Cook threw for just under 3,000 yards and 24 Touchdowns.
QB: Nate Sudfeld – Indiana: Modesto, California 6-6, 240 Sr: Sudfeld was the leader of a good Hoosier offense this season and he threw for 3,184 yards and 24 Touchdowns against only 5
Interceptions. Indiana qualified for a bowl in it’s last game against Purdue which gives Sudfeld another chance to improve his numbers and showcase his skills for NFL scouts.
RB: Ezekiel Elliott – Ohio State; St Louis, Missouri 6-0, 225 Jr: No doubt, Elliott is done with college football after bowl season is over. But, what a couple of seasons it has been for Ezekiel Elliott. This season, he has run for 1,672 yards, so far, with 19 Touchdowns. He also has 26 receptions. At 225 pounds, Elliott is a big guy with great speed. In high school, he was state champion in the 100 and 200 meters and the 110 meter high hurdles and the 300 hurdles. He should go really high in the next draft.
RB: Jordan Howard – Indiana; Gardendale, Alabama 6-1, 230 Jr: One of my favorite players I wrote about him before the season: Jordan Howard Howard was all that was expected after replacing last year’s Indiana star Tevin Coleman. He missed 3 entire games and most of 2 others and still he ran for 1,213 yards and 9 Touchdowns. His best game came against Michigan when he ran for 238 yards.
RB: Saquon Barkley – Penn State; Coplay, Pennsylvania 5-11, 220 Fr: Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year and I wrote about him here: Barkley After Penn State lost to Temple for the first time since 1941 and Barkley only carried once for one yard, Barkley took off and ran for just over a 1,000 yards on the regular season. Great power back with speed and could be the best Penn State Running Back in years.
WR: Aaron Burbridge – Michigan State; Farmington Hills, Michigan 6-1, 210 Sr: The Spartans needed somebody to step up at WR for Connor Cook this season and Burbridge was that guy. He hauled in 80 receptions this season and many of them were of the circus variety. His receptions led to 1,219 yards and 7 Touchdowns. Burbridge and his cardiac challenging teammates won the Big 10 but have their work cut out for them against Alabama.
WR: Geronimo Allison – Illinois; Tampa, Florida 6-4, 200 Sr: Talented good sized receiver that snagged 65 passes for 882 yards and 3 Touchdowns. The Illini did not have a bad season, but Allison missed receiving sidekick Mike Dudek who was lost for the season because of a knee injury. Dudek kept some of the pressure off of Allison last year.
WR: Alex Erickson – Wisconsin; Darlington, Wisconsin 6-0, 197 Sr: Erickson has never gotten much respect, but he led the Badgers in receiving yet again with 72 catches for 924 yards and 3 Touchdowns. All that came after opposing teams knew he was going to get the ball.
WR: Jordan Westerkamp – Nebraska; Lombard, Illinois 6-1, 195 Jr: Nebraska’s version of Alex Erickson. Can’t be stopped so easily even when everyone knows he is getting the ball. The roommate of Nebraska Quarterback Tommy Armstrong is also the favorite receiver. He landed 63 receptions for 874 yards and 7 Touchdowns.
WR: Michael Thomas – Ohio State; Los Angeles, California 6-3, 210 Jr: You know you have made it as a college football program when you finish the regular season with 11 wins and a loss and
people are disappointed. The Buckeyes sorely missed last year’s big play Devin Smith, but Michael Thomas was still a dependable guy outside for them this year. He caught 49 passes for 709 yards and 8 Touchdowns. He is a big receiver that can win battles with Defensive Backs
TE: Jake Butt – Michigan; Pickerington, Ohio 6-6, 250 Jr: Butt is one of the top Tight Ends in the nation, if not the very best. He’s a great blocker, but is also very good in the passing game. With great hands and leaping ability, Butt can make the difficult catch look easy. He finished the regular season with 48 receptions for 620 yards and 3 Touchdowns.
TE: Henry Krieger-Cole – Iowa; Mount Pleasant, Iowa 6-4, 250 Sr: Hawkeye’s second leading receiver behind Matt VandeBurg with 32 receptions for 385 yards and a Touchdown. As expected of an Iowa Tight End, he’s also an excellent blocker.
OT: Jack Conklin – Michigan State; Plainwell, Michigan 6-6, 325 Jr: Unloved, unwanted and unranked coming out of high school, this guy has been a great find for Michigan State and head coach Mark Dantonio. Conklin has already announced he is returning for his senior year because he has unfulfilled goals. This kind of guy is what college football is all about and look for a post about him here in the following weeks.
OT: Taylor Decker – Ohio State; Vandalia, Ohio 6-8, 315 Sr: Huge Left Tackle for the Buckeyes and long time starter. As a sophomore, Decker started at Right Tackle. Last year, he was the only returning Offensive Lineman and he switched over to the Left Tackle position and never looked back. He has the size and talent to make a good long time NFL player.
OT: Jason Spriggs – Indiana; Elkhart, Indiana 6-7, 305 Sr: One of the premier Left Tackles in the country with great athletic ability and balance. He’s very quick on his feet and is dominating in run blocking as well as against an opponents top pass rusher. He should be popular come draft day.
OT: Tyler Marz – Wisconsin; Springfield, Minnesota 6-7, 325 Sr: The injury bug hit a lot of teams hard this year and the Badgers were one of those teams, also. Marz is a giant of a man and the typical Big 10 Left Tackle. He can crush people in the running game and is quick enough to move laterally in pass protection.
OG: Dan Feeney – Indiana; Orland Park, Illinois 6-4, 310 Sr: As far as I am concerned, Indiana’s Offensive Line is about as good as anyone and Feeney is one of the top Offensive Guards in the country and a team leader for the Hoosiers. Feeney has quick feet and drives defenders off the ball.
OG: Ben Braden – Michigan: Rockford, Michigan 6-6, 330 Sr: Jim Harbaugh couldn’t get to Michigan soon enough for Ben Braden. After shuffling around all over the Offensive Line, Braden found a home at Offensive Guard for the Wolverines after the arrival of Harbaugh and now he’s
looking like an All Conference and All American Guard.
OG: Ted Karras – Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana 6-4, 310 Sr: Another in a long line of members of the Karras family to play in the Big 10. His grandfather, Theodore Karras, played in the NFL as did his great uncles Lou and Alex Karras. Ted Karras’ father also played some in the NFL. 4 year starter at Illinois at Offensive Guard.
OG: Pat Elfien – Ohio State; Picherington, Ohio 6-3, 300 Jr: Hard working Offensive Lineman who is big, strong and very physical. He’s particularly tough in run blocking and has been one of Ezekiel Elliott’s best blockers.
OC: Robert Kugler – Purdue; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 6-3, 300 Sr: The son of UTEP coach Sean Kugler and the older brother of Michigan back up Offensive Lineman Patrick Kugler. Kugler was recruited as a Tight End, but moved to Center during the Spring after his freshman year and has started ever since. Good leader up front for the Boilermakers.
OC: Austin Blythe – Iowa; Williamsburg, Iowa 6-3, 290 Sr: Iowa always has a strong Offensive Line and this year is no different. Blythe was one of their leaders, helping Iowa finish the regular season at 12-0.
DE: Joey Bosa – Ohio State; Fort Lauderdale, Florida 6-5, 275 Jr: talented and relentless Defensive End that is always wrecking havoc in opponents backfield. He missed the first game and got behind on his sack totals, but he it’s sometimes more important that he is just causing problems for other offenses. Bosa will be one of the top players picked and could even the very first guy in round 1.
DE: Carl Nassib – Penn State; West Chester, Pennsylvania 6-7, 275 Sr: Former walk-on player is inspirational. He put on more than 50 pounds and worked so hard to finally get some playing time and then he led the nation in Quarterback sacks this past season. With his size and quickness, expect him to find a spot on an NFL roster next season.
DE: Shilique Calhoun – Michigan State; Middletown, New Jersey 6-5, 250 Sr: Does it mean anything that players stick around for their senior seasons at Michigan State? Calhoun has been a sack master and disruptive player for the Spartans for the past 2 seasons. This year, Calhoun made 45 total tackles with 14.5 coming behind the line of scrimmage and 10.5 Quarterback sacks. But, even more so, he hurried the opposing Quarterbacks an amazing 18 times which causes errant throws, generally. Should be an Outside Linebacker in the NFL.
DE: Nick Mangieri – Indiana; Peoria, Illinois 6-5, 275 Sr: The Hoosiers don’t have the greatest of defenses, but they do have a few good players on that side of the ball. Mangieri had 9 Quarterback sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 2015 as the Hoosiers battled to the end on most every game.
DE: Yannick Ngakoue – Maryland; Bowie, Maryland 6-2, 255 Jr: He has already made his intentions known that he will skip his senior season and make himself available for the NFL. Are you kidding me? This kid is being lied to by some grubby relative. He’s 6-2, 255 and plays Defensive End. What NFL team is looking for that and I know his position will have to be at Linebacker. He is quick and had 13 Quarterback sacks coming off the edge which is good enough for All Conference, but does not translate to leaving early for the NFL. I would be almost stunned if he is even drafted.
DT: Austin Johnson – Penn State; Galloway, New Jersey 6-4, 325 Jr: Fantastic and quick Defensive Tackle that plays equally well against the run and the pass. He showed his athletic ability against San Diego State when he returned a fumble 71 yards. Johnson has been one of the most productive interior linemen in the nation the past couple of seasons.
DT: Jihad Ward – Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 6-6, 295 Sr: Member of the All Name team and he plays to match his name. Ward is huge, aggressive and difficult to block. He was a Junior College transfer last season.
DT: Maliek Collins – Nebraska; Kansas City, Missouri 6-2, 300 Jr: Brick wall of a man at
Defensive Tackle for the Huskers. He should declare early and be a fairly high pick by the NFL.
DT: Adolphus Washington – Ohio State; Cincinnati, Ohio 6-4, 290 Sr: Fantastic Defensive Tackle that is tough to move for most any Offensive Lineman. Washington has 49 tackles and 7 of those behind the line of scrimmage. He also had a 20 yard interception return.
DT: Anthony Zettel – Penn State; West Branch, Michigan 6-4, 285 Sr: Zettel had a better junior season than he had this past season. But, he is still one of the better Defensive Tackles in the country. His stats are way down this season, but his quickness, strength and athletic ability make him a top college lineman.
DT: Jake Repogle – Purdue; Centerville, Ohio 6-5, 275 Jr: Of course, the Boilermakers are horrible. But, that has no bearing on the talent of Repogle. It’s still a team game. This super quick and athletic Defensive Tackle had 60 tackles and 14 for loss this past season. He needs to return to the team next year and help his coach save his job.
LB: Steve Longa – Rutgers; Saddle Brook, New Jersey 6-2, 235 Jr: 3 year starter for the Scarlett Knights and the team leader in tackles. Rutgers had a rough season and fired their coach, but Longa is a bright spot for them.
LB: Raekwon McMillon – Ohio State: Hinesville, Georgia 6-2, 240 Soph: Leading tackler for the Buckeyes and one of the better Linebackers not only in the Big 10, but also the country. The Buckeyes didn’t finish their regular season as they would have preferred but their defense was never the problem all season long.
LB: Joe Schobert – Wisconsin; Waukesha, Wisconsin 6-2, 235 Sr: The Badgers used Schobert in
pass coverage, but most of the time as a pass rusher off of the edge. He sacked the Quarterback 9.5 times in 2015, but also got serious pressure on him 14 more times. He also had 76 tackles including 18.5 for loss. But, his most impressive stat was 5 forced fumbles.
LB: Cole Fisher – Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska 6-2, 235 Sr: The Hawkeyes won the Big 10 West mostly because of outstanding defensive play. Fisher was one of the Hawkeyes best defenders and their second leading tackler.
LB: Riley Bullough – Michigan State; Traverse City, Michigan 6-2, 230 Jr: Third generation Bullough family member playing for the Spartans. Bullough led Michigan State in tackles this season and was a play maker for them all year. He picked off 2 passes and returned 1 for a score, plus he caused 2 fumbles and recovered another. Team leader for the Spartans in their Big 10 championship season. It was the 2nd in the 3 seasons for Sparty to win the Big 10.
LB: Anthony Walker – Northwestern; Miami, Florida 6-2, 235 Soph: Northwestern finished 10-2 with very few star players, but Walker is the exception. The sophomore out of Miami led the team in tackles and had 19.5 tackles for loss. Great player.
LB: Josey Jewell – Iowa: Decorah, Iowa 6-2, 230 Soph: The Hawkeyes leading tackler and a big play guy. He had 3 Interceptions and returned 1 for a Touchdown. Jewell broke up 6 other passes, had 7.5 tackles for loss and was generally disruptive all over the field. Excellent Big 10 Linebacker with the typical little fanfare.
CB: Jourdan Lewis – Michigan: Detroit, Michigan 5-11, 175 Jr: The Wolverines top cover Corner, he gets responsibility for the opponents best receivers and he does not fail often. He broke up 19 passes while picking off 2 and returning 1 for a Touchdown. Lewis is a big play guy for the Wolverines and also returns Kickoffs.
CB: Desmond King – Iowa; Detroit, Michigan 5-11, 200 Jr: This guy is quietly one of the top players in the country and recorded 8 Interceptions one of which he returned for a Touchdown. He also is a return man and is one of the best out there at that, as well. He is big, strong and fast and
could make it big at the next level as well.
CB: Rashard Fant – Indiana; Atlanta, Georgia 5-11, 175 Soph: Fant is one of the better players in America that most have never heard of. He was one of the top Corners in the country this season and he led the Big 10 in passes broken up. He’s slightly undersized, but very quick and aggressive and possesses great ball skills as they love to say these days.
CB: William Likely – Maryland; Belle Glade, Florida 5-7, 175 Jr; One of the smallest players in America, but also one of the more exciting. He has become something of an Iron Man with his CB position and playing Offense and returning Kicks and Punts.
DB: Jabrill Peppers – Michigan; East Orange, New Jersey 6-1, 205 Soph: Don’t rule out Peppers as a Heisman candidate next season. Harbaugh and Michigan use him much in the same way as USC uses Adoree Jackson. Peppers plays Defensive Back and is one of the leading tacklers on a great defense. He posted 45 tackles and broke up 10 passes in 2015. But, he also returns punts and kicks, plays WR and RB on offense, plus the Wildcat and he is particularly effective near the goal line.
DB: Vonn Bell – Ohio State; Rossville, Georgia 5-11, 205 Jr: One of the top tacklers on the team and a big play performer with 2 scores off of Interceptions or fumble returns.
DB: Clayton Fejedelem – Illinois: Former Walk-on, Fejedelem wanted to prove he could play with the big boys. Surely he can as he leads the Big 10 in tackles.
DB: Nate Gerry – Nebraska; Sioux Falls, South Dakota 6-2, 205 Jr: Gerry had a much better sophomore season under previous head coach, Bo Pelini. But, he still lead the Huskers in tackles this year, picked off 4 passes and broke up 7 others.
Punt Returner: William Likely – Maryland, Mitchell Paige – Indiana
Kick Returner: Janarion Grant – Rutgers
Kicker: Kenny Allen – Michigan
Punter: Sam Foltz – Nebraska
Coach of the Year: Kirk Ferentz – Iowa, Jim Harbaugh – Michigan
Freshman of the year Offense: Saquon Barkley – Penn State
Freshman of the year Defense: Jonathan Crawford – Indiana
Offensive player of the year: Ezekiel Elliott – Ohio State, Nate Sudfeld – Indiana
Defensive player of the year: Carl Nassib – Penn State