Debate It: 2014 Big Ten tackles leader?

Tackles are an inexact science, to be sure. Teams award them differently, so it’s not always as simple as comparing Player A from School A to Player B from School B. Whatever the case, someone will finish the season atop the tackles chart. Who will it be? Tom Dienhart, Sean Merriman and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.

Get our previous stat leader predictions:

2013 leader: Ryan Shazier, Ohio State – 143
2014 returning leader: Steve Longa, Rutgers – 123

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Dienhart: T.J. Neal, LB, Illinois. As a redshirt sophomore in 2013, he notched 38 stops. He then earned most improved defensive players in the spring. Now penciled in to start in the middle, Neal will pile up the tackles on a defense that will funnel a lot of action his way.


Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Merriman: Chi Chi Ariguzo, LB, Northwestern. This is a guy who continues to fly under the radar, despite putting up huge numbers in back-to-back seasons. In fact, not counting Rutgers’ Steve Longa, Ariguzo is the Big Ten’s top returning tackler (106). Pat Fitzgerald’s team returns a lot of talent in the secondary, which makes me believe that opposing teams will try to run it. Good luck getting by the guy who not only has the best name in the conference, but is also the top tackler. Don’t be surprised to see Ariguzo record 120-plus tackles in 2014. Yes, he’s that good.


Donnell Kirkwood


Brent Yarina: Mason Monheim, LB, Illinois. Monheim was around the ball a lot last season en route to tallying 97 tackles, but he should have no trouble besting that total this fall. Someone must replace playmaker Jonathan Brown’s team-leading 119 tackles, and Moneheim, the owner of 183 tackles in two seasons, is more than capable. The Illini defense figures to be on the field a lot this season, too, providing Monheim with ample opportunities.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (3 Comments)
Big Ten Fan on 7/22/2014 @ 8:52am EDT Said:

Depending on how much he drops into coverage, Mike Hull is the obvious choice. Hull is the top linebacker in the Big Ten if not the nation. He has moved back to the middle after playing outside in 2013 and he is playing for a defense that should challenge Michigan State for top honors in the league. How good is he? He was merely as good as all everything Chris Borland while playing at no better 75% last year.

Doug on 7/22/2014 @ 8:58am EDT Said:

I’d predict Jake Ryan of Michigan. Moving to the middle and with quickness, agressiveness and instincts for the ball, he’ll be right up there.

Doug on 7/22/2014 @ 7:22pm EDT Said:

Well Michigan Doug, that would be a wrong prediction, Langford about broke Ryan’s ankles last year juking by him time and time again