Brent Yarina, BTN.com Senior Editor, March 17, 2015
Who is the Big Ten's best football player as we prepare for next month's spring games?
It's Ohio State stud defensive end Joey Bosa, according to Athlon's pre-spring player rankings.
Bosa, the 2014 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, beat out Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook for the top spot.
The publication ranked Bosa No. 1 because "he should be one of college football?s top defenders in 2015."
Indeed. Bosa was dominant in 2014, recording 55 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, a Big Ten-leading 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, and he should only get better in 2015.
Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott comes in at No. 3, followed by Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg and Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun to round out the top 5.
In all, Ohio State grabbed six of Athlon's 15 spots, with "Ohio State quarterbacks" coming in at No. 9. Michigan State filled four spots, meaning the Spartans and Buckeyes account for 10 of the 15 players.
Too high: No. 4, Christian Hackenberg – Penn State. The Nittany Lions quarterback has no shortage of talent, but he struggled as a sophomore, throwing more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (12) and averaging just 192.8 yards passing in Big Ten play. The potential is there for a huge bounceback season, but No. 4 seems to be reputation-based.
Too low: No. 9, Ohio State Quarterbacks. I know Tom Herman is gone, now the head coach at Houston, but whoever wins this job, or gets the majority of the reps, figures to be one of the best players in the nation. J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller all have experienced unbelievable success, and the Buckeyes can win big with any of the three under center. That's how good these guys are, plus it's a testament to the overall talent of this offense.
Biggest snub: Corey Clement, Wisconsin. It's Wisconsin. When was the last time the Badgers didn't have a running back who was one of the best in the Big Ten? They'll have another one this fall in Clement, who has run for 1,496 yards and 16 touchdowns in his two seasons as Melvin Gordon's backup.