Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rittenberg's Top 30 Big Ten Players

ESPNs Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg has been chronicling the conference's top 30 players since May 8th. He's finally at #1, which will most likely be released this afternoon. I was going to wait until the entire list was finished but it's pretty easy to see that no Penn State player will be #1. No, that honor is going to Illinois WR Arrelious Benn who has not been listed yet.

Penn State had solid representation on Rittenberg's list, which ranked players based on "a combination of past accomplishments and future potential". Six Nittany Lions made his rankings, most in the conference. The rest of the conference stacked up as so: Iowa (4), Ohio State (3), Illinois (3 after Benn is listed), Minnesota (3), Michigan (2), Michigan State (2), Wisconsin (2), Northwestern (2), Indiana (2) and Purdue (1). Four of the six Penn State players picked were ranked in the top 10. In fact, the defending Big Ten Champs have four of the top seven players in the conference for 2009, according to Rittenberg.

Leading the way is recently anointed #2 on the list Daryll Clark, who some other experts believe is the third best QB in the conference. Preposterous, I know. Coming in at #4 is RB Evan Royster. Both Royster and Clark could be candidates for the 2009 Heisman as well (Clark, at least). Coming in at 6 and 7, respectively, are the dynamic linebacker duo of Navarro Bowman and Sean Lee, who Rittenberg seems to think may be a tad underrated on his list.

If Lee comes back at or near the level he was before the injury, he should earn All-Big Ten accolades and rank as one of the league's top five players.
Penn State's first player outside the top 10 is DT Jared Odrick. The final player (and first one from the university mentioned on the list) is C Stefen Wisniewski.

Taking a look at that list you realize that each of those players is not only considered a great player (top 30 in the conference) but is actually the best at his position according to this list. Clark is the highest rated QB. Same for Royster at RB, Odrick at DT and Wisniewski at C. Only Lee isn't #1 at his position - but it's shared with his teammate! I know many people are picking the Buckeyes as Big Ten Champs for the upcoming season but there is no doubt that Penn State - not Ohio State - has the big name players. If the complementary and new pieces come together, this team may be better than last year's squad.

It's up to you, offensive line and secondary.

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