Olin Buchanan Rivals.com College Football Senior Writer
Not often does a player from Indiana warrant Big Ten offensive player of the year honors, but not often is a player as productive as Hoosiers wide receiver James Hardy.
The 6-foot-7 Hardy, a nightmare matchup for shorter cornerbacks, caught a touchdown pass in every game but one and had two touchdowns in five games to help the Hoosiers to seven victories, their most since 1993.
Linebacker production never has been an issue at Penn State, but none have been more productive than league defensive player of the year Dan Connor, who set the school's career tackles record.
Illinois' Ron Zook was an easy choice for coach of the year after leading the resurgent Illini to a 9-3 finish, which was more victories than it managed in the previous four seasons combined.
Rivals.com 2007 All-Big Ten First Team
QB Kellen Lewis, Indiana, Soph., 6-1/185 HIGH SCHOOL: Jacksonville (Fla.) Mandarin BUZZ: Lewis, who has excellent mobility, led the Hoosiers to bowl eligibility for the first time in more than a decade. He passed for 1,839 yards with 26 TDs and 10 interceptions.
RB Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois, Jr., 5-11/224 HIGH SCHOOL: Skokie (Ill.) Niles West BUZZ: He exceeded 100 yards in seven games and rushed for more than 200 twice in leading the Big Ten in rushing with 1,526 yards. He scored 16 TDs and also had 29 receptions.
RB Chris Wells, Ohio State, Soph., 6-1/225 HIGH SCHOOL: Akron (Ohio) Garfield BUZZ: Though he finished second in the Big Ten in rushing with 1,463 yards, he has rushed for 821 in the past five games. "Beanie" has scored 14 touchdowns while averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
WR James Hardy, Indiana, Jr., 6-7/220 HIGH SCHOOL: Ft. Wayne (Ind.) Elmhurst BUZZ: A finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the nation's top receiver, Hardy caught a touchdown pass in every game but one and had two in five games. He has 74 receptions for 1,075 yards and 16 touchdowns.
WR Mario Manningham, Michigan, Jr., 6-0/181 HIGH SCHOOL: Warren (Ohio) Harding BUZZ: Also a Biletnikoff Award finalist, Manningham is among the nation's premier deep threats. Manningham averages 16.4 yards per catch and has 67 receptions. He has 1,096 receiving yards and 11 TDs, including one that covered 97 yards.
TE Travis Beckum, Wisconsin, Jr., 6-4/224 HIGH SCHOOL: Milwaukee Oak Creek BUZZ: A finalist for the Mackey Award, which honors the nation's best tight end, Beckum was second in the nation in receptions among tight ends with 73 for 960 yards and six touchdowns. He is the Badgers' go-to receiver.
OT Jake Long, Michigan, Sr., 6-7/313 HIGH SCHOOL: Lapeer (Mich.) East BUZZ: Long was named the Big Ten's top lineman two consecutive years by the league's coaches. He allowed one sack all season, and the Wolverines averaged more than 6 yards on plays run behind him.
OT Kirk Barton, Ohio State, Sr., 6-6/300 HIGH SCHOOL: Massillon (Ohio) Perry BUZZ: He's the top-rated lineman on an offense that averaged 201 rushing yards and allowed just 14 sacks so far this season.
OG Kraig Urbik, Wisconsin, Jr., 6-6/332 HIGH SCHOOL: Hudson (Wis.) High BUZZ: A starter in 38 consecutive games, Urbik is a key figure in the Badgers' running game. Wisconsin ranks second in the Big Ten in rushing.
OG Martin O'Donnell, Illinois, Sr., 6-5/322 HIGH SCHOOL: Downers Grove (Ill.) South BUZZ: He's the best blocker on an offensive line that led the Big Ten in rushing and set a school record with fewer than one sack allowed per game.
C A.Q. Shipley, Penn State, Sr., 6-1/293 HIGH SCHOOL: Coraopolis (Pa.) Moon BUZZ: A former defensive tackle and guard, Shipley anchored the line for a Penn State offense that averaged 399 yards per game.
DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State, Jr., 6-4/264 HIGH SCHOOL: Detroit Cass Tech BUZZ: He ranks sixth in the nation with 13 sacks, including three against Michigan. If that wasn't enough, he notched the only sack that Wolverines OT Jake Long allowed this season.
DE Greg Middleton, Indiana, Soph., 6-3/265 HIGH SCHOOL: Indianapolis Pike BUZZ: Middleton posted two sacks in three of his past four games and has a nation's-best 16 sacks. He finished with 17 tackles for loss, which was the most at Indiana in 10 years.
DT Nick Hayden, Wisconsin, Sr., 6-5/300 HIGH SCHOOL: Hartland (Wis.) Arrowhead BUZZ: More than just a run-stopper, Hayden posted 46 tackles, including 8.5 for losses, and 4.5 sacks.
DT Mitch King, Iowa, Sr., 6-3/264 HIGH SCHOOL: Burlington (Iowa) High BUZZ: A starter in 16 consecutive games and 31 in his career, King was a stalwart on the Hawkeyes' solid defense. He recorded 58 tackles, 14.5 tackles for losses and 4.5 sacks.
LB James Laurinaitis, Ohio State, Jr., 6-3/244 HIGH SCHOOL: Plymouth (Minn.) Wayzata BUZZ: A Butkus Award finalist, he led team with 103 tackles, 8.5 tackles for losses and five sacks. He's also good in pass coverage and recorded two interceptions.
LB Dan Connor, Penn State, Sr., 6-2/233 HIGH SCHOOL: Wallingford (Pa.) Strath Haven BUZZ: The Lions' career leader in tackles, he notched 136 stops this season to lead the Big Ten. Fourteen were for losses, and he also had 6.5 sacks.
LB J Leman, Illinois, Sr., 6-2/237 HIGH SCHOOL: Champaign (Ill.) Central BUZZ: Leman accumulated double-digit tackle totals in nine of 12 games en route to finishing with 124 stops, including 9.5 for loss. He also had two pass breakups.
CB Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State, Jr., 6-1/202 HIGH SCHOOL: Piscataway (N.J.) High BUZZ: A lockdown corner on the nation's top-ranked pass defense, Jenkins posted 44 tackles, five for losses, with three interceptions and five pass breakups.
CB Vontae Davis, Illinois, Soph., 6-0/205 HIGH SCHOOL: Washington (D.C.) Dunbar BUZZ: The youngest semifinalist for the Thorpe Award, which is presented to the nation's top defensive back, Davis played a key role in Illinois' resurgence this season. He was credited with 63 tackles, four interceptions and eight pass breakups.
SS Kevin Mitchell, Illinois, Sr., 6-0/209 HIGH SCHOOL: Fort Wayne (Ind.) Homestead BUZZ: Mitchell ranked among the nation's leaders in pass breakups with 16, and had five interceptions. He also forced a fumble and had 65 tackles.
FS Anderson Russell, Ohio State, Soph., 6-0/205 HIGH SCHOOL: Atlanta Marist BUZZ: Another big reason the Buckeyes have the top-ranked pass defense, he posted 58 tackles, three sacks and five pass breakups.
K Jason Reda, Illinois, Sr., 6-1/204 HIGH SCHOOL: Rock Island (Ill.) High BUZZ: He was 15 of 16 overall, including 8-for-9 from 40-plus yards. He was 3-for-3 from at least 50 yards, with a long of 51.
P Justin Kucek, Minnesota, Jr., 6-0/200 HIGH SCHOOL: Columbus (Ohio) Canfield BUZZ: One of the few bright spots for the Golden Gophers this season, Kucek led the Big Ten with a 42.7-yard average and had a long effort of 61 yards.
KR Dorien Bryant, Purdue, Sr., 5-10/175 HIGH SCHOOL: Kingsway (N.J.) Regional BUZZ: Led the Big Ten with a 28.5-yard average per return. He returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown against Toledo and 98 yards for a touchdown against Penn State.
PR David Gilreath, Wisconsin, Fr., 5-11/160 HIGH SCHOOL: New Hope (Minn.) Robbinsdale Armstrong BUZZ: Averaged a conference-leading 14.9 yards on 23 returns, including a best effort of 56 yards.
ALL-PURPOSE Arrelious Benn, Illinois, Fr., 6-2/215 HIGH SCHOOL: Washington (D.C.) Dunbar BUZZ: As exciting as he is versatile, Benn had 49 catches for 596 yards and rushed for 158 yards. He also averaged 29.4 yards on kickoff returns and brought one back for a touchdown.
Rivals.com 2007 All-Big Ten Second Team
QB Todd Boeckman, Ohio State, Jr., 6-5/243 HIGH SCHOOL: St. Henry (Ohio) High BUZZ: Proved a solid replacement for '06 Heisman Trophy recipient Troy Smith. Boeckman passed for 2,171 yards - with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions - in directing the Buckeyes to the Big Ten championship.
RB Mike Hart, Michigan, Sr., 5-9/196 HIGH SCHOOL: Syracuse (N.Y.) Onondaga Central BUZZ: Hart was a Heisman Trophy contender before suffering an ankle injury. He rushed for 1,232 yards and 12 touchdowns despite missing three games. Hart exceeded 100 yards rushing in every game but one.
RB Javon Ringer, Michigan State, Jr., 5-9/200 HIGH SCHOOL: Dayton (Ohio) Chaminade-Julienne BUZZ: Rushed for more than 100 yards in six games en route to compiling 1,346 yards and six touchdowns. He averages 6.0 yards per carry and also caught 34 passes for 278 yards.
WR Devin Thomas, Michigan State, Jr., 6-2/218 HIGH SCHOOL: Canton (Mich.) High BUZZ: The Big Ten leader in receiving yards, Thomas caught 75 passes for 1,226 yards and eight touchdowns. He had 139 yards receiving and three touchdowns in the regular-season finale against Penn State.
WR Brian Robiskie, Ohio State, Jr., 6-3/195 HIGH SCHOOL: Chagrin Falls (Ohio) High BUZZ: Stepped into the role as Ohio State's go-to receiver in place of Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez and averaged 17.7 yards on 50 receptions. He had 10 touchdowns catches in the regular season.
TE Dustin Keller, Purdue, Sr., 6-4/240 HIGH SCHOOL: Lafayette (Ind.) Jefferson BUZZ: Posted the nation's fourth-highest receptions total for a tight end with 61 catches. He picked up 731 yards and scored six touchdowns.
OT Alex Boone, Ohio State, Jr., 6-8/313 HIGH SCHOOL: Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward BUZZ: A solid tackle on a line that blocked for an offense that averaged 32 points per game.
OT Xavier Fulton, Illinois, Jr., 6-5, 280 HIGH SCHOOL: Flossmoor (Ill.) Homewood-Flossmoor BUZZ: After taking a year off to rehabilitate an injured left knee, he moved from defensive tackle and flourished as part of an offensive line that allowed just 11 sacks. Illinois ranks fifth in the nation in rushing.
OG Adam Kraus, Michigan, Sr., 6-6/296 HIGH SCHOOL: New Orleans Brother Martin BUZZ: Though also seeing action at center, he helped pave the way for tailbacks who rushed for 100 yards in 10 of 12 games. After Jake Long, he was considered the Wolverines' top blocker.
OG Roland Martin, Michigan State, Jr., 6-5/328 HIGH SCHOOL: Chicago Harper BUZZ: Martin is considered the most consistent blocker on the Big Ten's No. 2 offense (426.2 yards per game). Martin helped pave the way for one running back to rush for more than 1,000 yards and another to go past 800 yards.
C Ryan McDonald, Illinois, Jr., 6-5/293 HIGH SCHOOL: Holland (Mich.) West Ottawa BUZZ: Stood out on a line that opened holes for the Big Ten's top rushing offense and allowed the league's fewest sacks.
DE Matt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin, Jr., 6-6/247 HIGH SCHOOL: Norwich (Conn.) High BUZZ: Had 55 tackles, 16 for losses, and five sacks for the Badgers, who ranked fourth in the Big Ten in total defense.
DE Jonal Saint-Dic, Michigan State, Sr., 6-1/255 HIGH SCHOOL: Elizabeth (N.J.) High BUZZ: He posted 47 tackles and 10 sacks, and the sack total may not have been his most impressive statistic. He led the nation with eight forced fumbles.
DT John Gill, Northwestern, Jr., 6-3/290 HIGH SCHOOL: San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep BUZZ: Had his best game against Michigan in which he notched a career-high 10 tackles, including seven on Mike Hart. He made 50 tackles and was second on the team with four sacks.
DT Terrance Taylor, Michigan, Jr., 6-0/308 HIGH SCHOOL: Muskegon (Mich.) High BUZZ: This season, Taylor more than doubled his previous career tackles total. He racked up 54 stops, which included 8.5 for losses and 3.5 sacks. He had the most stops of any Michigan lineman.
LB Shawn Crable, Michigan, Sr., 6-5/245 HIGH SCHOOL: Massillon (Ohio) Washington BUZZ: Not only did Crable lead the Wolverines with 84 stops, he also set a school record with 26.5 tackles for loss; that is five more than any other player in the conference.
LB Sean Lee, Penn State, Jr., 6-2/232 HIGH SCHOOL: Pittsburgh Upper St. Clair BUZZ: Notched the third-most tackles in the Big Ten with 124, which included 9.5 for losses and 3.5 sacks. He also had an interception and broke up seven passes.
LB Mike Humpal, Iowa, Sr., 6-3/242 HIGH SCHOOL: New Hampton (Iowa) High BUZZ: He recorded a team-leading 123 tackles, with five for loss. He also had three interceptions and recovered a fumble for a solid defense.
CB Jack Ikegwuonu, Wisconsin, Jr., 6-1/193 HIGH SCHOOL: Madison (Wis.) Memorial BUZZ: Ikegwuonu had 14 pass breakups in league play, which led the conference. Overall, he had 15 pass breakups, an interception and 23 tackles.
CB Tracy Porter, Indiana, Sr., 5-11/185 HIGH SCHOOL: Port Allen (La.) High BUZZ: A four-year starter, Porter posted a team-high six interceptions and also has four pass breakups. His six interceptions are the most by an Indiana player since 1982.
SS Dominique Barber, Minnesota, Sr., 6-0/210 HIGH SCHOOL: Plymouth (Minn.) Wayzata BUZZ: One of the few bright spots for the Gophers this season, Barber led his team with 100 tackles and had a sack, eight pass breakups and three fumbles recoveries.
FS Shane Carter, Wisconsin, Soph., 6-2/206 HIGH SCHOOL: Troy (Ohio) High BUZZ: He led the Big Ten with seven interceptions, including two against Michigan, and had a strong second half of the season.
K Austin Starr, Indiana, Jr., 6-2/207 HIGH SCHOOL: Logansport (Ind.) High BUZZ: Converted 19 of 21 field-goal attempts, including 10 of 11 from at least 40 yards. He hit a clutch 49-yarder with 30 seconds left to defeat Purdue and ensure a bowl appearance for the Hoosiers.
P Ken DeBauche, Wisconsin, Sr., 6-2/214 HIGH SCHOOL: Suamico (Wis.) Bayport BUZZ: Averaged 41.2 yards on 52 punts. He had a long kick of 58 yards and had 14 downed inside the 20.
KR A.J. Wallace, Penn State, Soph., 6-1/195 HIGH SCHOOL: Waldorf (Md.) McDonough BUZZ: Wallace averaged 27 yards per return and had one touchdown.
PR Derrick Williams, Penn State, Jr., 6-0/203 HIGH SCHOOL: Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt BUZZ: The former five-star prospect averaged 11.2 yards on 22 returns and took one back for a touchdown.
ALL-PURPOSE Eric Peterman, Northwestern, Jr., 6-1/200 HIGH SCHOOL: Springfield (Ill.) Sacred Heart-Griffin BUZZ: Reliable and steady, Peterman may be the Wildcats' best overall player. He caught 66 passes for 744 yards, rushed for 58 and averaged 6.1 yards on punt returns.