Next up in Tom Dienhart's post-spring position check: The secondary. Which schools are in the best shape in the defensive backfield?
With spring practices finished, schools are focusing on offseason work before fall camp kicks off. Some positions are in better shape than others for certain schools. Let’s take a look at the seven schools in the best shape at defensive line.
Is there a better defensive back in the nation than Iowa’s Desmond King, the reigning Jim Thorpe Award winner? Probably not. He emerged last year as a special talent for a Hawkeye defense that helped the program race to a school-record 12-0 start en route to winning the Big Ten West and earning the school’s first Rose Bowl bid since the 1990 season. [ MORE: Top 7 quarterbacks | Top 10 wide receivers | Top 10 running backs | Top 10 offensive linemen | Top 10 defensive linemen | Top 10 linebackers | Full unit rankings ] King is so talented,
Linebackers have to be a special breed of athlete, able to be strong enough to play the run and quick enough to drop in coverage and play in space. The Big Ten is loaded with some promising linebackers who fill the bill. [ MORE: Top 7 quarterbacks | Top 10 wide receivers | Top 10 running backs | Top 10 offensive linemen | Top 10 defensive linemen | Full unit rankings ] Here is my ranking of the league’s top 10 linebackers. 1. Anthony Walker, Northwestern, Jr. He announced his arrival as a superstar last year when he led the
Ask any coach, and he’ll tell you the most difficult position to recruit is defensive line. It’s a challenge to find players who are big AND quick. That’s why good d-linemen are so cherished. And, Michigan State has a good one in Malik McDowell, who leads my list of top 10 Big Ten defensive linemen. [ MORE: Top 7 quarterbacks | Top 10 wide receivers | Top 10 running backs | Top 10 offensive linemen | Full unit rankings ] Here’s my complete top 10 list. 1. Malik McDowell, Michigan State, Jr. He thinks he’s the best d-lineman in the
Football is won in the trenches. Without a good line, an offense has little chance for success—no matter how many five-star running backs are on the roster. [ MORE: Top 7 quarterbacks | Top 10 wide receivers | Top 10 running backs | Full unit rankings ] And no one in the Big Ten is better at getting a push than Ohio State’s Pat Elflein. He heads my list of the top 10 offensive linemen in the Big Ten. 1. Pat Elflein, G, Ohio State, Sr. He eschewed a chance to turn pro to be the anchor of a rebuilt
No Big Ten team will have a better DB than Iowa corner Desmond King, who won the Thorpe Award. But instead of turning pro coming off that season of glory, King opted to return to Iowa City. And that’s a big reason why the Hawkeyes top my ranking of Big Ten West defensive backfields. [ MORE: West offensive lines | West pass-catchers | West backfields | West defensive lines | West linebackers | West predictions ] See my full ranking below. 1. Iowa. This could be the top secondary in the Big Ten. Senior corner Desmond King eschewed the NFL
There is a lot to like about Michigan in 2016, as Jim Harbaugh begins his second season in Ann Arbor in pursuit of the program’s first Big Ten title since 2004. Among the many areas of strength is the secondary, led by Jourdan Lewis—one of the best corners in America. [ MORE: East offensive lines | East receiving corps | East backfields | East defensive lines | East linebackers | East predictions ] Here is my ranking of the Big Ten East defensive backfields. 1. Michigan. Senior Jourdan Lewis lacks size but is one of the nation’s best corners and
Yes, Ohio State’s all-world talent Ezekiel Elliott is gone, in addition to Illinois’ Josh Ferguson, Iowa’s Jordan Canzeri and Maryland’s Brandon Ross. But the Big Ten is loaded with plenty of options/depth at running back entering the 2016 season. The impressive group is led by Penn State wunderkind Saquon Barkley. [ MORE: Top 7 quarterbacks | Top 10 wide receivers | Full unit rankings ] Here is my ranking of the Big Ten’s top 10 running backs for 2016. 1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State, So. The future seems limitless for a guy who set the Penn State freshman rushing record
Talented, quick, deep … those are just three words that aptly describe the linebacking corps at Wisconsin, which tops my ranking of Big Ten West linebackers. But the LBs will have to adjust to a new coordinator. What impact will that have? [ MORE: West offensive lines | West pass-catchers | West backfields | West defensive lines | West predictions ] Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten West linebacker units. 1. Wisconsin. Senior Vince Biegel and sophomore T.J. Edwards are the bellwethers of this strong unit. Biegel tallied 14 TFLs in 2015 and is the leader of the defense