As Nebraska moves into the Big Ten Conference, HuskerOnline.com will get you ready with ranking analysis pieces breaking down each position in the league. Today we look at the top defensive tackles in the Big Ten heading into 2011.
1. Jared Crick, Nebraska, 6-6, 285, Sr.
With Ndamukong Suh next to him Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick racked up 9 ½ quarterback sacks in 2009. However, maybe the most impressive stat is without Suh next to him in 2010 Crick once again had 9 ½ quarterback sacks go along with 70 tackles. Crick is a consensus preseason All-American heading into the 2011 season and one of the favorites to be named the league's preseason defensive players of the year.
2. Jerel Worthy, Michigan State, 6-3, 305, Jr.
The last two seasons Michigan State's Jerel Worthy had 8 ½ quarterback sacks and 17 tackles for loss. He is considered one of the top NFL draft prospects in the Big Ten and will surely contend for first-team All-Conference honors. With names like Worthy and Crick leading the way, defensive tackle may be the deepest overall position in the entire league righ now.
3. Mike Martin, Michigan, 6-2, 300, Sr.
Michigan's Mike Martin was a second team All-Big Ten selection as a junior and has started 24 consecutive games at nose tackle for the Wolverines. Over the course of this career he's recorded 108 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 6 ½ quarterback sacks to lead Michigan's defense up front. If the Wolverines are going to get things turned around in 2011, they are going to need a big year from Martin.
4. Kawann Short, Purdue, 6-3, 305, Jr.
Leading the way for Purdue's defense in 2011 will be junior defensive tackle Kawann Short. In 2009 Short was a freshman All-American racking up 48 tackles to go along with two interceptions. In 2010 Short had 41 tackles, including 12 ½ tackles for loss and six quarterback sacks. Short also had eight pass breakups and blocked two field goals. He's arguably one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the Big Ten in terms of knocking down passes and making plays at the line of scrimmage.
5. Baker Steinkuhler, Nebraska, 6-6, 290, Jr.
Junior Nebraska defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler is a physical run stopper that will play a big part in NU's defense this fall. As a sophomore Steinkuhler had 46 tackles, including 3 ½ quarterback sacks. The tandem of Crick and Steinkuhler give NU one of the best defensive tackle duos in the nation.