NO. 10 - LINEBACKER BEN NIEMANN
Through the non-conference play he was probably ranked much higher on this list but several other players have emerged once Big Ten play began. Niemann has still had a terrific season and has shown flashes of being a very effective pass rusher off the edge. His biggest contribution has been his ability to make plays sideline to sideline.
NO. 9 - DEFENSIVE END NATE MEIER
As is the case with a few players on this list, Meier probably is ranked higher in terms of how valuable his effort has been with defensive Drew Ott being limited or out for most of the season. His quickness on the defensive line has been tremendous and he's proven to be tough to block this season. He's had a very disruptive season.
NO. 8 - QUARTERBACK C.J. BEATHARD
Many will opine that he should be higher on this list but he's much more valuable than outstanding. He's a difference maker in terms of leadership, poise, and knack for making the clutch play but his numbers haven't always been impressive. His injuries have also limited his effectiveness but he still deserves to be listed because he is producing at a high level.
NO. 7 - LINEBACKER JOSEY JEWELL
If this list was made before Big Ten play, Jewell probably gets left out. He's just taken his game to an entirely new level since the start of the conference slate. He's been impactful in the running game especially against Wisconsin, Illinois, and Northwestern. He also has an interception on the year. Jewell gets better every game and could continue to climb the rankings as the season pushes forward.
NO. 6 - RUNNING BACK JORDAN CANZERI
This is another surprise as many will most likely expect Canzeri to reach the top five. However, there's been a few games where he just didn't factor in much at all such as the games against Illinois State where Daniels got most of the load at running back and against Northwestern where he left the game very early with an injury. He also only played considerable minutes against Iowa State in the second half. When he's played, he's been magnificent, but he just hasn't always been the guy producing in the backfield. The backfield as a whole would definitely be ranked in the top five.