B1G Awards Candidates

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Last updated: 07/06/2012 6:03 PM
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Sizing up the Big Ten's 2012 Awards Candidates
By Tony Gerdeman

It may not be a banner year for any one Big Ten team this season, but the conference does have its share of national awards candidates.

There may not be a more dynamic playmaker in the country than Michigan's Denard Robinson, and Wisconsin's Montee Ball had one of the greatest individual seasons we've ever seen last year.

There are linemen and linebackers up for awards every year in the Big Ten, and this year should be no different. Actually, there will be one difference, the Philly-based Bednarik folks won't really have any Nittany Lions to vote for.

Even if there are no worthy Nittany Lions, there are still seven or eight other teams with players worthy of being mentioned on the awards watch lists. What follows are the conference's most likely individual award winners. Keep in mind that "most likely" doesn't necessarily mean "likely".

Bronko Nagurski Trophy / Chuck Bednarik Award (Most Outstanding Defensive Player)

1. John Simon, DE Ohio State
2. Chris Borland, LB Wisconsin
3. Mike Taylor, LB Wisconsin
4. Denicos Allen, LB Michigan State
5. Johnathan Hankins, DT Ohio State

Chris Borland and Mike Taylor will probably cancel eachother out, as will John Simon and Johnathan Hankins. So congratulations to Denicos Allen for winning by default. How Sparty of him.

Butkus Award (Top linebacker)

1. Chris Borland, LB Wisconsin
2. Mike Taylor, LB Wisconsin
3. Denicos Allen, LB Michigan State
4. Johnathan Brown, LB Illinois
5. Ryan Shazier, LB Ohio State

Once again, Denicos Allen cleans up because more talented teammates cancel eachother out. I generally expect this type of rampant gutless thievery from a Wolverine, nature's most egotistical scavenger.

Chicago Tribune Silver Football (Big Ten MVP)

1. Montee Ball, RB Wisconsin
2. Denard Robinson, QB Michigan
3. James Vandenberg, QB Iowa
4. Braxton Miller, QB Ohio State
5. Le'Veon Bell, RB Michigan State

Montee Ball's name is already engraved on the trophy. The only unfinished business is to get the silver spray paint to dry. Silver spray paint is always classy. Almost as classy as gold spray paint.

Davey O'Brien Award (Best quarterback)

1. Denard Robinson, QB Michigan
2. James Vandenberg, QB Iowa
3. Braxton Miller, QB Ohio State
4. Nathan Scheelhaase, QB Illinois
5. Taylor Martinez, QB Nebraska

I almost feel like Denard Robinson is first just because he is supposed to be. I don't think he has even a slim chance at this award.

Doak Walker Award (Top running back)

1. Montee Ball, RB Wisconsin
2. Rex Burkhead, RB Nebraska
3. Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB Michigan
4. Le'Veon Bell, RB Michigan State
5. Silas Redd, RB Penn State

If somebody from the Big Ten other than Montee Ball wins this award, then either Ball got injured, or somebody rushed for 300 yards against Notre Dame. Both are legitimate possibilities.

Fred Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)

1. Keenan Davis, WR Iowa
2. Jared Abbrederis, WR Wisconsin
3. Antavian Edison,WR Purdue
4. Kenny Bell, WR Nebraska
5. Justin Brown, WR Penn State

Let's face it, a Big Ten receiver winning the Biletnikoff this year is as likely as Michigan beating Alabama. In other words, neither are happening.

Jim Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)

1. Johnny Adams, CB Michigan State
2. Bradley Roby, CB Ohio State
3. Isaiah Lewis, S Michigan State
4. Ricardo Allen, CB Purdue
5. C.J. Barnett, S Ohio State

This is actually a pretty good group. Granted, none of these candidates are overhyped because of some nickname or constant media infatuation, so they would actually have to win the award based on their performance.

John Mackey Award (Most outstanding tight end)

1. Jake Stoneburner, TE Ohio State
2. C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE Iowa
3. Jacob Pedersen, TE Wisconsin
4. Kyler Reed, TE Nebraska
5. Dion Sims, TE Michigan State

There is actually a pretty decent chance that somebody from the Big Ten could make the final cut for the Mackey Award. Provided the Man doesn't try to hold them down, of course.

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Trophy (Outstanding senior quarterback)

1. Denard Robinson, QB Michigan
2. James Vandenberg, QB Iowa
3. MarQueis Gray, QB Minnesota
4. Robert Marve/Caleb TerBush, QB Purdue
5. Matt McGloin, QB Penn State

I probably should have put Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush at numbers four and five, but by including Matt McGloin, you really get to see how few senior quarterbacks the Big Ten has right now.

Lombardi Award (Best lineman or linebacker)

1. John Simon, DE Ohio State
2. Chris Borland, LB Wisconsin
3. Johnathan Hankins, DT Ohio State
4. William Gholston, DE Michigan State
5. Jonathan Brown, LB Illinois

For as dominant as John Simon was this spring, I still can't shake the feeling that he will ultimately only end up with about 7.5 sacks and maybe 18 tackles for loss. Those aren't Lombardi numbers, but then Lombardi never put up those numbers either, so what the hell does he know.

Lou Groza Award (Top placekicker)

1. Brett Maher, K Nebraska
2. Anthony Fera, K Penn State
3. Dan Conroy, K Michigan State
4. Drew Basil, K Ohio State
5. Mitch Ewald, K Indiana

The Big Ten actually has some pretty good kickers, which will undoubtedly lead to some very exciting 9-6 games this season. Don't laugh, those are classics in the SEC.

Outland Trophy (Best interior lineman)

1. Ricky Wagner, OT Wisconsin
2. Johnathan Hankins, DT Ohio State
3. Kawann Short, DT Purdue
4. Travis Frederick, C Wisconsin
5. Taylor Lewan, OT Michigan

Badgers have won 33% of the last six Outland Trophies, which means they'll have to win it within the next three years to keep their current pace. Nebraska has won nine Outland Trophies, which is the most in the conference. If you don't know who those nine are, you can probably catch their names on some Big Ten Icons show or some such thing because they are Big Ten legends one and all.

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)

1. Brett Maher, P Nebraska
2. Cody Webster, P Purdue
3. Anthony Fera, P Penn State
4. Ben Buchanan, P Ohio State
5. Mike Sadler, P Michigan State

Punting, it's the middle relief of football. Without it, your defense can never close. With it, an opposing offense can disappear for hours at a time. And you can do it well into your 40s.

Rimington Trophy (Most outstanding center)

1. Travis Frederick, C Wisconsin
2. James Ferentz, C Iowa
3. Graham Pocic, C Illinois
4. Travis Jackson, C Michigan State
5. Brandon Vitabile, C Northwestern

There are some pretty good centers in the conference this year, so it makes sense that I would put Travis Frederick, who was a left guard last year, first on this list.

Ted Hendricks Award (Top Defensive End)

1. John Simon, DE Ohio State
2. William Gholston, DE Michigan State
3. Michael Buchanan, DE Illinois
4. Marcus Rush, DE Michigan State
5. Cameron Meredith, DE Nebraska

Some how, some way, somebody not on this list will lead the Big Ten in sacks this year. Either that, or Marcus Rush will do it. I'm pretty breezy on this one.

Walter Camp Award / Maxwell Award / Heisman Trophy

1. Montee Ball, RB Wisconsin
2. Denard Robinson, QB Michigan
3. Braxton Miller, QB Ohio State
4. Rex Burkhead, RB Nebraska
5. Le'Veon Bell, RB Michigan State

If Montee Ball does what he did last year, then he should walk away with at least two national player of the year awards. It won't be the Heisman, however, because he won't have ESPN's backing. At least the Maxwell people frequently hand out their award based on spite, so Ball has a chance there.

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