Dienhart: Big Ten Trophy Tracker

It’s almost time to hand out the postseason hardware, as there is just one week left to impress. Many of the trophy races are still in flux, including the Player of the Year award. Who is my leader? Russell Wilson? Kirk Cousins? Montee Ball? Marcus Coker? Denard Robinson? Check out my latest Trophy Tracker.

BIG TEN TROPHY TRACKER

Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year
1. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
2. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
3. Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State

THE BUZZ: Ball is closing fast. He ran a career-high 38 times for a career-high 224 yards in a 28-17 win at Illinois. He now has run for 613 yards in the last three weeks (204.3 ypg). Want more? Ball leads the Big Ten in rushing and ranks third nationally (133.3 ypg). Will he get Heisman consideration?

Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year
1. Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
2. Whitney Mercilus, E, Illinois
3. Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois

THE BUZZ: Yes, Nebraska is coming off a tough loss, but David continues to do his part. He had 17 tackles—14 of them unassisted–at Michigan. Brown is finally getting respect. He paces the Big Ten in tackles for loss and is third in sacks.

Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year
1. Brady Hoke, Michigan
2. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
3. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin

THE BUZZ: Hoke may not have been Michigan’s first choice as coach, but he’s quickly turning into a gem in his first year in Ann Arbor. Hoke has the Wolverines at 9-2, and possibly in line to claim an at-large BCS bowl berth if they win on Saturday. Amazing.

Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year
1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
2. Kenny Bell, WR, Nebraska
3. Donovonn Young, RB, Illinois

THE BUZZ: Young is coming off a strong game that has seen him push his rushing totals to 406 yards and six touchdowns. Bell has 24 catches for 315 yards and two scores. Miller is enduring growing pains, but he has flashed great potential.

Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year
1. Mike Adams, T, Ohio State
2. Ben Burkett, G, Northwestern
3. Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin

THE BUZZ: The Badgers are without C Peter Konz, who is hurt. But the dominating blocking continues with Kevin Zeitler. He is part of a front that has helped the Badgers pace the Big Ten in rushing and rank 10th in the nation (245.1 ypg).

Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year
1. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
2. Devon Still, Penn State
3. Jerel Worthy, Michigan State

THE BUZZ: Still is a force in the interior who ranks third in the Big Ten in tackles for loss. He also is able to push the pocket from the inside out. Few players are as capable of plugging a hole as Worthy.

Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year
1. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
2. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State
3. Dan Persa, Northwestern

THE BUZZ: Cousins has been the quintessential leader in addition to pacing the Big Ten in attempts and completions. Wilson leads the conference with 26 touchdown passes and has just three interceptions, as he leads the country in passing efficiency.

Ameche-Dayne Running back of the Year
1. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
2. Marcus Coker, Iowa
3. Silas Redd, Penn State

THE BUZZ: Ball is coming off a career rushing day at Illinois (career highs with 38 carries for 224 yards) and also pushed his touchdown total to 30 this season. And Ball averages 6.6 yards per tote. Redd has been dinged up but rebounded with a strong game at Ohio State with 63 yards on just 8 carries.

Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year
1. Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State
2. Micah Hyde, Iowa
3. Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska

THE BUZZ: Hyde has been a steady force all season, pacing the conference in passes broken up. Lewis is tied for the Big Ten lead in interceptions for the best defense in the conference. Few are more adept at defending the run and pass as Dennard.

Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year
1. Lavonte David, Nebraska
2. Jonathan Brown, Illinois
3. Mike Taylor, Wisconsin

THE BUZZ: David is the third-leading tackler in the Big Ten. Few possess his instincts and passion for the game. The Badger offense draws the headlines, but Taylor is a star in his own right on an underrated defense. He’s the Big Ten’s top tackler.

Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year
1. Marvin McNutt, Iowa
2. Jeremy Ebert, Northwestern
3. A.J. Jenkins, Illinois

THE BUZZ: McNutt is the quintessential playmaker on the edge. He’s equally adept at going over the middle as he is streaking down the sideline. And he has strong hands, too. Ebert is the most quietly effective receiver in the Big Ten—if not the nation.

Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year
1. Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern
2. Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin
3. Brian Linthicum, Michigan State

THE BUZZ: Dunsmore is the ultimate security blanket for Dan Persa, showing a knack for getting open. Pedersen is a red zone threat who is effective at operating in traffic and getting open. Witness his eight touchdown grabs.

Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year
1. Brett Maher, Nebraska
2. Anthony Fera, Penn State
3. Drew Basil, Ohio State

THE BUZZ: Maher is money, nailing 17-of-20 field-goal attempts. And he has 50-yard range. Fera has been a steady force all season.

Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year
1. Brett Maher, Nebraska
2. Cody Webster, Purdue
3. Ben Buchanan, Ohio State

THE BUZZ: Maher averages 45.5 yards on 47 punts, leading the Big Ten and ranking seventh in the nation. Webster has been one of the league’s top punters all season, averaging 43.7 yards on 41 boots. Buchanan has a league-high 62 punts, averaging 40.9 yards to rank fourth in the league.

Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed. You can send him your football questions to his Big Ten mailbag, too.

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Faygo on 11/28/2011 @ 10:20am EDT Said:

How can you possibly not list B.J. Cunningham among your candidates for receiver of the year? Even if McNutt is likely to win it, there’s no way B.J. should be left out of the list.