IOWA CITY, Iowa - Trying to pick an all-Big Ten quarterback this season is a tough task. It's hard to say who deserves it in a very average year at the position.
Youth and inexperience play into the equation. A bigger factor is the strong defenses in the league.
Not coincidently, those are the top four teams in the conference standings. Defenses definitely decided the Big Ten in 2009. The highest rated league team in overall offense in the country is Michigan State at No. 34.
Be that as it may, we still need to select the same amount of positions for offense and defense for our Hawkeye Insider all-Big Ten Teams. Here we go and we'll start with the defense:
DL O'Brien Schofield, Wisconsin - 29th nationally and fifth in the Big Ten at .73 sacks a content; Second in the conference and third nationally at 1.86 tackles for loss.
DL Adrian Clayborn, Iowa - 20th in the country and tied for second in the conference at .79 sacks an outing; 13th nationally and fourth in the league at 1.50 tackles per loss.
DL Skinny: Defensive line might be the toughest to pick of all the units. It's been a great year at the position and you're forced to leave off some top-flight names. I think the four guys I chose (all DEs) were a tick ahead of some others like the Ohio State duo of Thaddeus Gibson and Cameron Heyward. I think the two Buckeyes canceled each other out statistically as both were down the charts compared to some others. Northwestern's Corey Wootten and Penn State's Jared Odrick were selected to the first-team by the coaches last season as juniors. They'll get a lot of votes here as well. Indiana's Jammie Kirlew is very underrated.
LB Greg Jones, MSU - First in the conference and second nationally in tackles; Also 24th in the country and fourth in the league in sacks.
LB Pat Angerer, Iowa - Fifth in the country and second in the Big Ten in tackles;
LB Ross Homan, Ohio State - Four picks, two sacks, 17 tackles for loss, five passes defended; does it all.
LB Skinny: Jones and Angerer are no-brainers. Homan was all over the place in Columbus. Josh Hull put together a great season behind a pair of big-name linebackers on his own team in Sean Lee and Navarro Bowman, and just missed the cut. Lee Campbell from Minnesota just missed after enjoying a dominating season on a much-improved unit. Brian Rolle put together a fine year for the Buckeyes. I also think A.J. Edds should get some love, but he won't because he plays a position where statistics are hard to come by.
DB Kurt Coleman, OSU - Five picks for 129 return yards; also forced three fumbles; playmaker.
DB Tyler Sash, Iowa - Six interceptions for 203 return yards, including a huge Pick 6 against Indiana; forced two fumbles and seven tackles for loss; playmaker.
DB Chimdi Chekwa, OSU - Doesn't possess great statistics, but people would rather not throw his way.
DB Donovan Warren, Michigan - Four picks and seven passes defended on a poor defense; no denying talent here, though; he'll leave early.
DB Skinny - I know. Where's Iowa's Amari Spievey? He just missed. Part of the reasoning is that the three Hawkeye players I listed on the first-team are ahead of Spievey and I can't see Iowa getting four or one more than the Buckeyes. I hope I'm wrong here.
P Zoltan Mesko, Michigan - Tough call here between Mesko, Iowa's Ryan Donahue and Minnesota's Blake Haudan; Mesko gets the slight edge over Donahue for the spot with 44.46 average that ranks 6th nationally. Donahue led the conference in punts inside the 20.
QB – Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State - In a year without a player that really earned this award, Pryor led is team to victories at Penn State and against Iowa, the teams tied for second in the league. His passing leaves a lot to be desired, but there wasn't a gunslinger in the conference and a lot of the passers rolled up INTs, too. Pryor ranked eighth in the Big Ten in rushing and he's penalized for Sacks. He combined for 23 touchdowns by run and pass with 10 interceptions. Not bad.
WR – Keith Smith, Purdue - Rates first in the league in receptions per game (7.58) and receiving yards per game (91.6). Those were good for eighth and 16th nationally.
WR – DeVier Posey, Ohio State - Numbers are not outstanding, but that's probably more of a reflection of his offense more than his ability; 52 receptions, seven TDs and some big plays.
b>WR Skinny - If you would have told me before the season that neither Eric Decker and Arrelious Benn would be on my first team, I would have asked that you had your blood-alcohol checked. Tandon Doss and Blair White can make cases for their inclusion. Iowa's Derrell Johnson-Koulianos also was in the discussion (me talking to myself).
RB - John Clay, Wisconsin - Rates first in the league and 16th nationally at 111.27 yards per game; stud.
RB - Evan Royster, Penn State - Second in the conference and 37th in the country in rushing at 92.00 yards per game.
RB Skinny: A drop-off from last year at this position in the Big Ten, but these are two excellent backs. Purdue's Ralph Bolden and Iowa's Adam Robinson showed that next year's running back stable will take a step forward.
TE - Garrett Graham, Wisconsin - 41 receptions for 502 yards and seven touchdowns; this kid not being a Mackey semifinalist is a joke.
OL – Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin - Wisconsin is 18th in the country in rushing and second in the Big Ten; this guy is a big reason why.
OL – Bryan Bulaga, Iowa - It's not been a great year for the Iowa offense or its line, but this kid is one of the five best lineman in the league.
OL - Jared Zwilling, Purdue - Boilermaker front may have been the most consistently production in the Big Ten this season; the man in the middle was a big reason why.
OL – James Brewer, Indiana - Hoosiers were pretty good on offense this year; Brewer is a beast.
OL - Samuel Asamoah, Illinois - You don't hear a lot about this guy, but he's probably the best guard in the conference; he'll be playing on Sundays.
OL Skinny - Much like the running back position, a lot of young offensive linemen got their feet wet in 2009. This group will be a lot better next fall and our Top 5 this year is pretty solid.
K – Brett Swenson - Led the conference in overall scoring, averaging 7.8 points a game; 18 for 20 on field goals, 40 of 41 on PATs.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: John Clay, Wisconsin. OFFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE YEAR: Jared Zwilling, Purdue. DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Greg Jones, Michigan State. DEFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE YEAR: Brandon Graham, Michigan. FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Adam Robinson, Iowa.