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Thursday, May 23, 2013
Top 10 opposing defensive players

By Josh Moyer

It’s Rankings Week at NittanyNation. Until today, we’ve ranked some aspect touching on PSU heading into the 2013 season. On this final day of Rankings Week, we're ranking the top defensive players Penn State will face this season.

Ranking the opposing defensive players

1. LB Ryan Shazier (Ohio State): Linebacker U remembers this player. He wound up with two sacks and an interception against Penn State last year, and he returns as arguably the best defensive player in the conference. He finished with 115 stops last year, and Ohio State will depend on him even more this season. It seems as if Shazier is up to the challenge.

2. CB Bradley Roby (Ohio State): So, not only does OSU have the top linebacker, but it also has the top DB. Roby is a future first-round NFL draft pick who deflected 19 passes last season and finished with 63 tackles. He can do a little bit of everything and poses a threat to every B1G quarterback.

Chris Borland
Linebacker Chris Borland gives the Badgers an identity on defense.
3. LB Chris Borland (Wisconsin): He's taken a big step each year, from B1G freshman of the year to preseason All-Big Ten to first-team All-Big Ten. What's next? Well, at the least, another huge season in which he fuels the Badgers' defense.

4. S Christian Bryant (Ohio State): He's a hard-hitting safety who finished second on the Buckeyes in tackles (71). He has only one interception on his career, but he's made that a point of emphasis this offseason. If he can cause more turnovers, he'll be a shoo-in for the All-Big Ten first-team.

5. CB Ricardo Allen (Purdue): Remember his name because you'll probably see him on Sundays. He's been timed as fast as 4.37 seconds in the 40, and he likely has a future waiting in the NFL. He had just one pick last year but still earned a spot on the All-Big Ten second-team.

6. CB Ciante Evans (Nebraska): He's the top DB in the Legends Division and helped lead Nebraska to a No. 4 national ranking in pass defense. He broke up eight passes and finished with three tackles-for-loss last year. He was part of a defense that didn't allow its opponents to complete half their passes.

7. DB Dezmen Southward (Wisconsin): The Big Ten bloggers named Southward the most indispensable player for Wisconsin on defense -- and for good reason. He's a leader and the top player in this secondary. He finished with 69 stops and eight tackles-for-loss last year.

8. DT Ra'Shede Hageman (Minnesota): He's 6-foot-6 and 311 pounds -- and managed to get to the quarterback six times last year, which tied him with PSU's Deion Barnes. Hageman could be in for a breakout season as he was held out of the spring game. The reasoning? The Gophers' staff didn't need to see him anymore. They know full well what he's capable of.

9. S Greg Heban (Indiana): Good defense and Indiana aren't exactly synonymous, but Heban's the exception. He led all B1G defensive backs in tackles, and he's the Hoosiers' top defensive playmaker. He can play anywhere in the secondary, too. Not too shabby for a former walk-on.

10. DT Jay Bromley (Syracuse): Finally a non-Big Ten player. He's a three-year starter who will anchor the line this season, and the DL coach has said he's hit the weight room harder than ever before. He's 294 pounds, and he should find the backfield a lot more often this season.