As Nebraska moves into its third season in 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 defensive line position in the Big Ten heading into 2013.
1. Deion Barnes, Penn State, 6-4, 244, So.
Penn State sophomore defensive end Deion Barnes had a breakout redshirt freshman season in 2012 with 10 tackles for loss and six quarterback sacks where he was named the Big Ten's freshman of the year. Heading into 2013 the 6-foot-4, 244 pound Barnes is considered the top defensive end in the Big Ten by many. Barnes, alongside defensive tackle DaQuan Jones gives PSU one of the better defensive line combos in all of the Big Ten. Don't be surprised if he finishes the year with 10 or more sacks.
2. Tyler Scott, Northwestern, 6-4, 265, Sr.
Northwestern isn't known for their defense, but senior defensive end Tyler Scott is definitely a player that will contend for All-Big Ten honors in 2013. The 6-foot-4, 265 pound Scott had nine quarterback sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 2012 and he should give head coach Pat Fitzgerald a consistent pass rushing presence off the edge.
3. Marcus Rush, Michigan State, 6-2, 250, Jr.
Michigan State defensive end Marcus Rush is not going to wow you with his athletic ability or size, but he plays with a relentless motor you aren't going to find from very many players round the Big Ten. The 6-foot-2, 250 pound Rush has started 27 straight games for the Spartans and should be one of the leaders for an MSU defense that's considered the Big Ten's best in 2013.
4. Adolphus Washington, Ohio State, 6-3, 292, So.
Ohio State sophomore defensive end Adolphus Washington wasn't a starter in 2012, but he's expected to be a breakout player in the Big Ten this season. The 6-foot-3, 292 pound Washington was a highly decorated recruit coming out of high school and during a spring scrimmage in Cincinnati he showed his ability by accounting for four quarterback sacks. If Ohio State's defense is going to help the Buckeyes contend for a national championship, Washington is a player head coach Urban Meyer is going to count on for some major production.
5. Jason Ankrah, Nebraska, 6-4, 265, Sr.
Heading into his fifth-year at Nebraska, senior defensive end Jason Ankrah has played in 36 and started 18 total games for the Huskers. However, the one thing really missing for Ankrah has been that big breakout season. Ankrah has just three career quarterback sacks and nine tackles for loss in those 36 games. With Nebraska's defensive line completely depleted heading into 2013 Ankrah will be counted on as a leader up front for the Big Red. The major question is if he can become a better pass rushing presence off of the edge.