The Big Ten may not have a ton of "star power" this season, but what it lacks there it certainly makes up for in balance. However, it's hard to argue that there isn't a deeper position group than linebacker. So far on the list we've given you just two from the position, but starting today that's about to change.
Our No. 7 player has gone from promising freshman to explosive playmaker in just two seasons in Columbus and what he does in 2013 will be hugely important for the Buckeyes, after all he is one of just two starters returning on the defensive front seven.
Can Shazier live up to the heights he set last season and become the best linebacker in the Big Ten? He'll have plenty of competition, but the junior sure has the highlight reel to make that seem more than possible.
No. 7: Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State):
2012 Stats/Honors: 115 tackles, 5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, 1 INT, 3 forced fumbles, 11 passes defensed; 1st team All-Big Ten (media), 2nd team All-Big Ten (coaches)
What makes him worthy: Ohio State is expected to contend for the Big Ten title at a minimum this season and a big part of that expectation has to do with the play of Shazier on the defensive side of the ball. If 2011 was his entrance theme than 2012 was Shazier's statement year.
Hard to make a bigger statement than coming in 2nd in tackles in the league in just your sophomore season, but that's exactly what Shazier did and he did it in a punishing way more often than not. Shazier isn't just a tackling machine either, he's also one of the more sound blitzers in the league too. He's 4th in sacks amongst all returning players in the Big Ten for 2013.
On the whole there may not be a more impressive linebacker in space in the B1G than Shazier as he plays with great pad level, has awesome vision and most importantly understands where he's at on the field. He rarely is caught over committing on a tackle or to a play and that's a secondary's best friend right there.
2013 will be vastly different for him though as he's now the most experienced member of the front seven and that fact more than anything could affect his numbers, but that doesn't mean he can't impact that game just the same this season. He'll just need to do it in a different way as a true leader.
The Top 25 List:
No. 25: Christian Bryant (S, Ohio State)
No. 24: Ryan Groy (OL, Wisconsin)
No. 23: Isaiah Lewis (S, Michigan State)
No. 22: Carlos Hyde (RB, Ohio State)
No. 21: Denicos Allen (LB, Michigan State)
No. 20: Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wisconsin)
No. 19: Zac Epping (C, Minnesota)
No. 18: Jordan Hall (RB, Ohio State)
No. 17: Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana)
No. 16: Kenny Bell (WR, Nebraska)
No. 15: James White (RB, Wisconsin)
No. 14: Kain Colter (QB, Northwestern)
No. 13: Jared Abbrederis (WR, Wisconsin)
No. 12: Venric Mark (RB, Northwestern)
No. 11: Ra'Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota)
No. 10: Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
No. 9: Chris Borland (LB, Wisconsin)
No. 8: Ameer Abdullah (RB, Nebraska)
Keep up with the rest of the Top 25 and the goings on in the Big Ten by following us on Twitter @TheB1GTime and by giving us a Like on Facebook.
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