Don’t envy everything about Wisconsin’s Ricky Wagner. Yes, the left tackle is one of the Badgers’ perennial can’t-miss Big Uglies, but he and the rest of the Big Ten offensive linemen have their work cut out for them in 2012.
They have the conference’s talented crop of defensive linemen to thank for that. Despite losing names such as Whitney Mercilus, Devon Still and Jerel Worthy to the NFL, the Big Ten’s defensive fronts are heavy on starpower.
Seriously, check out some of the names that were at the annual Big Ten Media Days: Illinois’ Michael Buchanan (13.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks), Ohio State’s John Simon (16 TFL, seven sacks), Penn State’s Jordan Hill (eight TFL, 3.5 sacks) and Purdue’s Kawann Short (17 TFL, 6.5 sacks).
That’s a lot of talent, and it doesn’t account for guys such as Illinois’ Akeem Spence, Michigan State’s William Gholston, Nebraska’s Cameron Meredith and Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins, among others, who weren’t in Chicago for the two-day event.
“It really seems like every week, it gets tougher,” Wagner said. “Every week, it seems like they’re better than last week. That’s what makes playing in the Big Ten so special: the defenses are so good.”
“We have some of the premier defensive linemen in the nation,” Buchanan said. “It’s like that every year. This conference is built in the trenches.”
Among the contingent in Chicago, Simon seemed to draw the most rave reviews. And for good reason. The player constantly praised for his motor and dedication is highly respected.
“I really like John Simon from Ohio State,” Hill said. “That guy is a good defensive lineman.”
It might have something to do with Simon living and breathing football seemingly all the time. Read these tweets about the Buckeye star:
Reporter to John Simon: "Boren says he is stronger than you." Simon: "…you better go ask him again because I think you heard him wrong."—
Tony Gerdeman (@GerdOzone) July 27, 2012
Boren called John Simon a "whack job." Said he only does 3 things: class, weightroom and video games. Occasionally loses in poker.—
Brandon Castel (@BCastOZone) July 27, 2012