Who's the Defensive MVP on Each Big Ten Team?

Scout asked our Big Ten experts to pick each team's most essential defensive player. Here's what they had to say.

Riley Bullough, LB, Michigan State - "Bullough is the heart and soul of the Spartans defense and will continue to be the rock in the center of one of the top defensive units in college football." -- Dave Berk, Spartan Digest

Jason Cabinda, LB, Penn State - "When starting MLB Nyeem Wartman-White was injured in the 2015 opener at Temple, Cabinda approached the coaching staff and asked to be moved from Will to Mike. The sophomore went on to pace the team in tackles (100), including 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, plus a forced fumble and an interception. More importantly, he emerged as the vocal leader of the veteran unit." -- Mark Brennan, Fight On State

Anthony Cioffi SS, Rutgers - "While there are health concerns at other spots, Cioffi has been a consistent ballhawk and turnover machine. Cioffi was an anchor during the tough times in the defensive secondary. Now he has better coaching and a defensive-minded leader in Chris Ash." -- Sam Hellman, Scarlet Report

Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa - "He's the leader of the defense, extremely productive, instinctive, and a full-effort player who is contagious to the rest of the unit." -- Derek Young, Hawkeye Insider

Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois - "Smoot had as many sacks (8.0) as any returning Big Ten player, and the strong and quick pass rusher is projected as a first- or second-round draft pick next season." -- Jeremy Werner, Illini Inquirer

Raekwon McMillan, MLB, Ohio State - "McMillan is the heart of the Ohio State defense and impacts it in the way that J.T. Barrett does OSU's offense. He was a Butkus Award finalist as a sophomore in 2015 and enters this season as one of the nation's top returning linebackers." -- Ryan Ginn, Buckeye Sports Bulletin

Jermaine Carter, LB, Maryland - "Junior inside linebacker Jermaine Carter paced the defense in new head coach D.J. Durkin's first spring camp, and will lead the unit with his great instincts and thumper ability." -- Keith Cavanaugh, Terrapin Times

Marcus Oliver, LB, Indiana - "Led the Indiana defense in tackling last fall a year after suffering a season ending knee injury during the 2014 campaign. He should flourish in the new 4-2-5 defense IU will be using." -- Matt Weaver, Peegs


Nate Gerry, S, Nebraska - "The undeniable leader of the secondary, Gerry will be out to prove the Huskers' passing defense can improve in 2016. He will lead the team in tackles in 2016." -- Josh Harvey, Big Red Report

Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan - "Fortunately for the Wolverines, Lewis decided to return for his senior year after a breakout 2015 season. His ability to shut down each opponent's top receiver puts him above almost any other corner in the nation." -- Bryan Matecun, The Michigan Insider

Vince Biegel, OLB, Wisconsin "The emotional leader of the defense, Biegel returns for his senior season to lead a front seven that has an argument for being the best in the conference." -- Benjamin Worgull, Badger Nation

Damarius Travis, S, Minnesota "With the departure of Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun the NFL, Travis now assumes the leadership position among the defensive backs and the defense as a whole. He's going to have a huge year for the safety spot." -- Ryan Burns, Gopher Illustrated

Jake Replogle, DT, Purdue - "Replogle returns for his senior season and was one of the few bright spots for Purdue's defense last season. If the Boilermakers are going to have success on defense, it's going to start with Replogle and the defensive line." -- Bryan Matecun, Boiler Sports Report

Anthony Walker, MLB, Northwestern - "The Wildcats won 10 games in 2015 thanks to its elite defense, and no player contributed more than Walker. NU's football marketing wizards are promoting him as 'The Franchise,' and he's worthy of that nickname." — Mike Olson, Purple Wildcats

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