The top Big Ten football players by jersey number

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The top Big Ten football players by jersey number

When talking about the best football players in Big Ten history, it is near impossible to choose just one player worthy of the title, “the best.”

[ MORE: Can a Big Ten West team win the conference title in 2016? ]

So, what’s the right way to break down this argument? You could do it by position, but even that could be extremely difficult.

Making a list of the top Big Ten players to wear every number would be great, but is that even possible? The answer is yes.

I went through every jersey number, 1-99, and created a list of the best Big Ten college football players to sport every number on the gridiron.

From Anthony Carter and Charles Woodson, to Tom Harmon and J.J. Watt, this list is filled with excitement.

Here is a look at the top Big Ten players to wear every number on the football field.

Did I miss one? Tweet me your answers, @BTNSean.

* Only players who actually played in the Big Ten Conference during their playing days were used in this article.

1 – WR Anthony Carter, Michigan

Three-time All-American who finished his career as Michigan’s all-time leading receiver.

2- DB/WR Charles Woodson, Michigan

Two-time All-American, national champion, and still the only defensive player in college football history to win the Heisman Trophy.

3. S Tripp Welborne, Michigan

The star of Michigan’s defense in the late 80s, Welborne was a two-time All-American. He was also an exceptional punt returner, holding the Wolverines record for punt return yards in a season, which was later broken by Steve Breaston in 2003.

4 – WR Plaxico Burress, Michigan State

Set a Big Ten record by hauling in 65 catches in his first season at Michigan State. Burress ranks among the school leaders in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

5 – QB/WR Braxton Miller, Ohio State

A two-time winner of the Silver Football Award, Miller holds the Ohio State school record with 88 total touchdowns and ranks second in school history with 8,609 yards of total offense.

6 – RB Tyrone Wheatley, Michigan

The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and conference rushing leader in 1992, Wheatley also led the Wolverines to two Big Ten championships and was the 1993 Rose Bowl MVP.

7 – WR/KR Tedd Ginn Jr., Ohio State

A three-time All-American at Ohio State, Ginn holds the Big Ten record for most career punt return touchdowns with six.

8 – QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan State

Finished his career as Michigan State’s all-time record holder in passing touchdowns (66), passing yards (9,131), completions (723), passing efficiency (146.1 rating), total offense (9,004 yards) and 200-yard passing games (26).

9 – QB Mark Herrmann, Purdue

Consensus first-team All-American and the Big Ten MVP in 1980. He finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting that year.

10 – QB Troy Smith, Ohio State

Unanimous All-American and the winner of the 2006 Heisman Trophy, Smith became the first player in Ohio State history to beat Michigan three straight times as a starting quarterback.

11 – QB Antwaan Randle El, Indiana

Randle El played four years at Indiana and became the first player in college football history to record 2,500 total yards of offense in four consecutive years.

12 – QB Kerry Collins, Penn State

An All-American at Penn State, Collins is the last Big Ten quarterback to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

13 – RB Maurice Clarett, Ohio State

Clarett set Ohio State’s freshman rushing record, running for 1,237 yards and 18 touchdowns while leading the Buckeyes to the 2002 National Championship.

14 – QB Otto Graham, Northwestern

Graham broke every Big Ten passing record during his playing years. He finished third in the 1943 Heisman Trophy voting and was named the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player that same year.

15 – QB Drew Brees, Purdue

Brees holds Big Ten records in passing yards (11,792), touchdown passes (90), total yards (12,693), completions (1,026), and attempts (1,678).

16 – QB Chuck Long, Iowa

The runner-up for the 1985 Heisman Trophy award, Long holds the Iowa career record for yards passing, completions, touchdown passes, passing attempts and total offense.

17 – LB Larry Foote, Michigan

An All-American and two-time All-Big Ten selection at Michigan, Foote finished his college career with more than 200 tackles and ranks among the program leaders in tackles for loss.

18 – QB Connor Cook, Michigan State

Cook finished his career at Michigan State as the winningest quarterback in school history with 34 victories, while also holding the school record for career touchdowns passes (71), passing yards (9,194), total offense (9,403 yards) and passing attempts (1,170).

19 – DB Ahmed Plummer, Ohio State

Plummer was an All-Big Ten and third-team All-American during his time at Ohio State. Plummer was a semifinalist for the 1999 Jim Thorpe Award.

20 – RB Mike Hart, Michigan

Rushed for more than 5,000 yards during his career at Michigan. He became just the fourth player in Big Ten history to pass the 5,000 yard rushing mark.

21 – WR/KR – Desmond Howard, Michigan

Winner of the 1991 Heisman Trophy, Howard became the first receiver in Big Ten history to lead the conference in scoring that year. Totaled 37 touchdowns during his time at Michigan.

22 CB Ty Law, Michigan

Law, a unanimous All-Big Ten selection in 1993 and 1994 and a 1994 All-America honoree, amassed 19 pass breakups, 164 tackles and eight interceptions in his three seasons in Ann Arbor.

23- RB Shonn Greene, Iowa

He was a unanimous All-American in 2008 and won the Doak Walker Award in 2008, given to the nation’s outstanding running back. Greene was the only running back in the nation to run for over 100 yards in every game that season.

24 – RB Nile Kinnick, Iowa

Iowa’s only Heisman Trophy winner, Kinnick also became the first college football player to ever win the AP Male Athlete of the Year in 1939. Iowa’s football stadium is named after this Hawkeye great.

25 – RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Rushed for 2,587 yards in 2014, which is the second-highest rushing total in a single season in FBS history, trailing only Barry Sanders.

26 – DB Rod Woodson, Purdue

Woodson was a two-time All-American at Purdue. He left school with 13 individual records and currently ranks among Purdue’s leaders in interceptions, tackles and kick return yardage.

27 – RB Eddie George, Ohio State

George won the 1995 Heisman Trophy after rushing for 1,927 yards, which is a school record. He ranks second all-time in OSU career rushing with 3,668 yards, trailing only Archie Griffin.

28 – RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin

He rushed for more than 5,000 yards and totaled 84 touchdowns during his four years at Wisconsin, which is the most touchdowns by any player in college football history.

29 – DB Leon Hall, Michigan

A consensus All-American in 2006, Hall was one of the top defensive backs in Michigan football history.

30 – LB Riley Bullough, Michigan State

Bullough was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2015 after recording 106 tackles and four sacks.

31 – RB/S Vic Janowicz, Ohio State

The 1950 Heisman Trophy winner, Janowicz starred on both sides of the ball for the Buckeyes. He accounted for 16 touchdowns during the 1950 season.

32 – RB Anthony Thompson, Indiana

He was a two-time All-American and Silver Football winner at Indiana. Thompson won the Maxwell and Walter Camp Award in 1989. Finished his collegiate career with more than 5,000 rushing yards.

33 – RB Ron Dayne, Wisconsin

One of the greatest running backs in college football history, Dayne still holds the record for carer rushing yards. He is one of five players in NCAA history to rush for more than 1,000 total yards in each of his four seasons.

34 – RB Lorenzo White, Michigan State

Became the first running back in Big Ten history to pass the 2,000-yard rushing mark in 1985.

35 – LB Alan Ameche, Wisconsin

Ameche won the Heisman Trophy in 1954. He rushed for 3,212 yards in his Wisconsin playing career, which was an NCAA record at that time.

36 – LB Chris Spielman, Ohio State

One of the greatest linebackers in college football history, Spielman was a two-time consensus All-American at Ohio State.

37 – LB Erick Anderson, Michigan

A former Butkus Award winner, Anderson is the only player in Michigan history to lead the program in tackles for four straight years.

38 – LB Austin Spitler, Ohio State

A five-time Big Ten champion, Spitler was one of the Buckeyes’ top linebackers in the mid 2000’s.

39 – RB Darrell Thompson, Minnesota

One of the greatest running backs in Big Ten history, Thompson’s 4,654 career rushing yards and 40 touchdowns are Gopher records.

40 – RB Howard Cassady, Ohio State

Winner of the 1955 Heisman Trophy, Cassady held the record for all-purpose yards at Ohio State until he was surpassed by Archie Griffin.

41 – RB Keith Byars, Ohio State

An All-American at OSU, Byars rushed for 1,764 yards in 1984, which is the second highest total in school history.

42 – RB Paul Warfield, Ohio State

Known as one of the top athletes in Ohio State history, Warfield totaled more than 1,500 yards during his three years at OSU.

43 – LB Darron Lee, Ohio State

A two-year starter at Ohio State, Lee recorded 146 tackles and 11 sacks in his collegiate career.

44 – LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin

Borland was a three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection at Wisconsin, as well as the 2013 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

45 – RB Archie Griffin, Ohio State

Considered by many to be the greatest running back in college football history, Griffin is the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner and the only Big Ten player to start in four straight Rose Bowls.

46 – FB Bob Ferguson, Ohio State

He was a two-time All-American at Ohio State. In 1961, Ferguson won the Maxwell Award, and finished as the runner up for the Heisman Trophy.

47 – DB Bennie Oosterbaan, Michigan

Considered one of the greatest athletes in Big Ten history, Oosterbaan left school as the first three-time first-team All-American in Michigan football history. During his time at Michigan, he was a Big Ten batting champion in baseball, Big Ten scoring champion in basketball, and Big Ten touchdown leader in football.

48 – LB Percy Snow, Michigan State

The 1989 Dick Butkus and Lombardi Award winner, Snow was one of the greatest defensive players in Michigan State football history.

49 – QB Bob Chappuis, Michigan

Re-wrote the Michigan passing records during his time as the Wolverines’ quarterback. Chappuis is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

50 – LB Dick Butkus, Illinois

Butkus was a two-time All-American at Illinois. He finished with collegiate career with an eye-popping 374 tackles.

51 – LB Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Northwestern’s head coach was a two-time consensus All-American, winning both the Nagurski Trophy and the Bednarik Award in 1995 and again in 1996.

52 – LB Abdul Hodge, Iowa

Hodge, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and a finalist for the Lott Trophy, finished his career with 453 tackles, third-most in program history.

53 – LB Randy Gradishar, Ohio State

A consensus All-American for the Buckeyes, Gradishar finished sixth in the 1973 Heisman Trophy voting.

54 – RB Bruce Smith, Minnesota

Played running back on Minnesota’s back-to-back national championship teams in 1940 and 1941. Smith won the Heisman Trophy in the 1941 season.

55 – C Ben Hamilton, Minnesota

One of the best interior linemen in Minnesota program history, Hamilton was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and consensus first-team All-American in 1999 and 2000.

56 – LB LaMarr Woodley, Michigan

One of the fiercest hitters in Michigan football history, Woodley was a unanimous All-American in 2006 and the winner of the Lombari Award.

57 – RB George Taliaferro, Indiana

He was a three-time All-American, leading the Hoosier football program to their only undefeated Big Ten championship.

58 – LB Steve Tovar, Ohio State

A three-time All-Big Ten selection, Tovar ranks fourth in school history in career tackles at Ohio State with 408.

59 – OL Alex Agase, Illinois

Agase was an All-American guard at Illinois in the 1940s. He is a member of the Illinois All-Century team.

60 – OL Mark Donahue, Michigan

A two-time consensus All-American, Donahue was a staple on the Wolverines’ offensive line in the mid 70s.

61 – C Greg Eslinger, Minnesota

A four-year starter, three-time All-Big Ten selection and consensus All-American. Eslinger won the Outland Trophy and the Rimington Trophy in his senior season.

62 – OL Jim Parker, Ohio State

Parker was a unanimous All-American at Ohio State and the winner of the 1956 Outland Trophy.

63 – OL Bob Kula, Michigan State

He was a unanimous All-American in 1989 and was the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year in that same year.

64 – OL John Urschel, Penn State

One of the smartest players in Big Ten history, Urschel was also a standout on the field. He was two-time All-Big Ten selection and a third-team All-American selection his senior year.

65 – OL Ed Bagdon, Michigan State

A standout at Michigan State in the late 40s, Bagdon was named the 1949 Outland Trophy winner.

66 – OL Peter Konz, Wisconsin

An All-American at Wisconsin, Konz was a two-time Big Ten champion and one of the top interior lineman in the Big Ten over the last decade.

67 – OL Levi Brown, Penn State

A dominant left tackle during his years at Penn State, Brown was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and earned All-American accolades as well.

68 – OL LeCharles Bentley, Ohio State

Bentley was one of the best centers in Ohio State history. He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and a first-team All-American in 2001. He also won the Rimington Trophy that season.

69 – DT Tom Brown, Minnesota

A standout on Minnesota’s offensive line, Brown won the Outland Trophy in 1960 as the nation’s best lineman.

70 – OL Dave Foley, Ohio State

An outstanding offensive tackle, Foley was a consensus All-American in 1968 and a three-year Academic All-American at Ohio State.

71 – DT Devon Still, Penn State

Still was the 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American for the Nittany Lions.

72 – FB/DT Bronko Nagurski, Minnesota

An All-American who starred on both sides of the ball for Minnesota, Nagurski is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame

73 – OL Marshal Yanda, Iowa

Received All-Big Ten honors during his time at Iowa and has become one of the top offensive linemen in the NFL today.

74 – OL John Hicks, Ohio State

He was a two-time All-American at Ohio State and won the Lombardi Award as the nation’s most outstanding lineman.

75 – OL Orlando Pace, Ohio State

One of the most dominant offensive tackles in college football history, Pace was a two-time All-American and Lombardi Award winner. He finished in fourth place in the 1995 Heisman Trophy voting and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

76 – OL Steve Hutchinson, Michigan

A four-year All-Big Ten selection and two-time All-American, Hutchinson did not allow a single sack during his final two seasons at Michigan. He won the Jim Parker Award and was the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2000.

77 – RB Red Grange, Illinois

A three-time consensus All-American and a national champion at Illinois, Grange is considered one of the best running backs in college football history.

78 – DE Bobby Bell, Minnesota

Bell was a two-time All-American at Minnesota and was the winner of the 1962 Outland Trophy.

79 – OL Tony Mandarich, Michigan State

This massive offensive tackle was a consensus All-American, an Outland finalist and a two-time Big Ten Lineman of the Year.

80 – WR Derrick Mason, Michigan State

This former Michigan State star was an outstanding wide receiver, and an even better return specialist. He set a school record for kickoff return yards with 2,384.

81 – TE Tony Moeaki, Iowa

Former first-team All-Big Ten selection, Moeaki recorded more than 75 catches and 11 touchdowns in his Iowa career.

82 – WR James Hardy, Indiana

Indiana’s all-time leader in receptions (191), receiving yards (2,740) and receiving touchdowns (36), the three-time All-Big Ten honoree and two-sport athlete (basketball) caught 10 touchdowns in each his first two seasons before adding 16 in his final campaign.

83 – WR Terry Glenn, Ohio State

This former walk-on was a consensus All-American for the Buckeyes in 1995 and won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver.

84 – WR Gene Washington, Michigan State

He was a two-time All-American at MSU and helped lead the Spartans to back-to-back Big Ten and National Championships in 1965-66.

85 – K Mike Nugent, Ohio State

Nugent is considered by many to be the greatest kicker in Big Ten history. During his OSU career, he broke or tied 22 Buckeye records and won the Lou Groza Award in 2004 as the nation’s top kicker.

86 – DE/LB Courtney Brown, Penn State

Brown was a two-time All-Big Ten player and a consensus All-American in 1999. He went on to be the No. 1 pick of the 2000 NFL Draft.

87 – TE Ron Kramer, Michigan

A three-star athlete at Michigan, Kramer was a two-time consensus All-American and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

88- WR Pat Richter, Wisconsin

An All-American while at Wisconsin, Richter set a then-Rose Bowl record with 11 catches for 163 yards in 1963.

89 – DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

A three-time All-Big Ten player at Michigan State, Calhoun finished his college career with 27 sacks, which ranks second in MSU history.

90 – LB George Webster, Michigan State

He was a two-time All-American and national champion during his time at Michigan State. Webster is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

91 – DL Tamba Hali, Penn State

An All-American while at Penn State, Hali was awarded the 2005 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Award. He ranks among Penn State’s career leaders in sacks.

92 – G/FB Biggie Munn, Minnesota

A fullback, guard and punter at Minnesota, Munn was an All-American and considered one of the best athletes in Minnesota history.

93 – DE Will Smith, Ohio State

He was a first-team All-American in 2003 and helped anchor the defense of the 2002 Ohio State national title team.

94 – DE/LB Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue

His 2010 season was among the greatest in Purdue history. Kerrigan was a first-team All-American and the winner of the Bill Willis trophy, given to college football’s top d-lineman.

95 – DL Bubba Smith, Michigan State

Arguably the best defensive player in MSU history, Smith was a two-time All-American and helped lead the Spartans to back-to-back Big Ten titles and national championships in 1965 and 1966.

96 – DL Don Thorp, Illinois

Thorp was an outstanding defensive lineman for the Illini in the early 80s. He won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football.

97 – DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State

Bosa was a two-time All-American and the winner of the Nagurksi-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year in 2014. He led the Buckeyes’ defense to the first-ever College Football Playoff Championship in 2015.

98 – RB Tom Harmon, Michigan

Harmon was an All-American twice and was the winner of the 1940 Heisman Trophy. He is considered one of the greatest players in Michigan football history.

99 – DL J.J. Watt, Wisconsin

Watt was a first-time All-Big Ten member and All-American at Wisconsin. He is considered the best defensive player in the NFL today.

Sean Merriman, BTN.com web editor

BTN.com web editor Sean Merriman covers football and men's basketball and provides original content for BTN.com. You can follow him on Twitter @BTNSean.

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