We've reached the teens!!! O.k., not sure if that's something to celebrate as most of us wouldn't want to go back for the life of us, but here on the countdown that's a damn good thing. It means we are one step closer to solving the puzzle of who we see as the best player in the Big Ten heading into the 2013 football season.
Yesterday it was the reining player of the year at tight end, Jacob Pedersen, from Wisconsin making an appearance at No. 20. So, it's perhaps only fitting that up next is a player from the Border Battle rivals, Minnesota.
Before we get into the other half of the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, let us remind you of what criteria we used to make our Top 25 list. We used things like importance to your team, overall skill at your position, records set, past performance, conference honors (coaches, media, our list too), and the good old-fashioned eye test.
Now, let us take a look at our 2nd offensive lineman on this list, a name that may surprise a few of you for his inclusion. He's also the youngest player to appear on our list to date, being a redshirt junior in a sea of seniors so far.
No. 19: Zac Epping (C, Minnesota)
2012 Stats/Honors: 13 starts (LG, C, RG), named Minnesota's offensive lineman of the year
What makes him worthy: When you think of centers in football you think of nasty, down and dirty, hard work. It's never pretty, but there's a lot that goes into the position. Well, if you're looking for all of the above and supremely athletic then you're looking for Epping.
He really broke out on the scene this past season and his nasty streak really came out in the bowl game - to a fault at times. On the bright side, the Gophers racked up an impressive 222 yards, considering a lackluster 87 yard and 4 yard output in the final two regular season games I'd say that's impressive, huh? Overall though, he's given the Gophers O-Line a nasty identity and that should tell you all you need to know as to why he's on this list.
Ironically this is one offensive lineman that got away from the state of Wisconsin and you've got to wonder if the old regime at UW would've loved a do over on that recruitment.
Epping isn't just a center, although that appears to be the likely home for him this coming fall, he saw time at every interior line spot while starting every game for the Gophers as a redshirt sophomore last season.
He has a chance to really be one of the breakout stars along the offensive line in the conference this season and for his epic finish to 2012 he jumps into our preseason list.
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