- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Our Big Ten postseason player countdown rolls on today as we've reached the teens. Remember, these are based on 2012 performance only.
Up next, a guy who describes himself on his Twitter profile as "a laid back ... kool dude who is nothing short of blessed."
No. 19: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State, junior, 5-foot-11, 188 pounds
Preseason rank: Not ranked
2012 numbers: Had 52 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, plus three interceptions and 10 passes defended.
Why he's here: It's funny. When the season began, we -- like just about everyone else -- were much higher on Michigan State's "other" cornerback. Johnny Adams ranked No. 11 in our preseason Top 25. But while Adams saw his stock dip in 2012, the less-heralded Dennard's soared.
He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection at defensive back by both the league's coaches and by ESPN.com. He played as well as any cornerback we saw all year. His best game probably came at Nebraska, where he was cruelly the victim of two questionable calls. Dennard had two interceptions in that game and would have scored on one of them if not for a phantom penalty on, ironically, Adams during the return. And then, with the clock waning, he was flagged for a terrible pass interference call against Kenny Bell in the end zone, helping set up Nebraska's game-winning touchdown.
But those moments shouldn't overlook what was a breakout season for Dennard. The best news for Michigan State is that he'll be back for his senior season, when you can bet he won't be overshadowed anymore.