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Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
Season Stats: 36 tackles, 14 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD, 2 FF, 2 FR, 2 TD
Michigan State's defense was known in 2013 for being a unit that could not only stop any offense in the Big Ten, but score quite a few points on its own. Shilique Calhoun was a big part of that scoring, scoring three awesome "fat guy" touchdowns all by himself.
For every turnover forced by Calhoun, six points resulted this season. And even when he wasn't leading all Big Ten defenders in touchdowns, he was breaking up plays in the backfield or putting punishing hits on the quarterback (finishing tied for second in the Big Ten with 7.5 sacks).
Randy Gregory, Nebraska
Season Stats: 60 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 PBU
Nebraska's "black shirts" defense could probably be better described in 2013 as some shade of gray. The Cornhuskers certainly improved as the season wore on, but still finished with just the fifth-best total defense in the conference. Not exactly the standard on which Nebraska has built a proud and deserving reputation.
But there were still some stellar individual performances from the Nebraska defense this season, not the least of which was Randy Gregory's impressive first year of playing. The sophomore from Fishers, Indiana looked like a steely veteran defensive end for Bo Pelini this season, and as he and his teammates grow and mature, the Huskers may be back to their old stifling ways before too long.
Noah Spence, Ohio State
Season Stats: 50 tackles, 14 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 1 FF, 2 PBU
Perhaps part of the problem with Ohio State's defense this season was that it was so inexperienced. If that was truly the case, Buckeyes fans should breathe a little easier this offseason knowing that young studs like defensive end Noah Spence are only going to get better as the years pass.
While not always putting together highlight-reel performances, Spence was the definition of consistency for Ohio State late in the season, recording at least a half tackle for loss in each of Ohio State's last six games. Spence also recorded at least three tackles in all but two games in 2013, and has emerged as a leader for the Ohio State defense.
Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Season Stats: 34 tackles, 11 TFL, 2 sacks, 8 PBU, 2 kick blocks
It's been a while since we've had the chance to talk about Minnesota when it comes to conference accolades, but with an 8-4 record the Gophers are not only bowl bound but looking to take home some individual awards as well.
Ra'Shede Hageman earns a nod from us in his senior season as an All-Big Ten lineman not only for his stats but for his leadership of his team on the field. Sure, 11 tackles for loss and a league-leading two blocks are nice on paper, but his dedication and tenacity have caught on in Minneapolis. Hopefully the Golden Gophers can perpetuate this newfound success as they begin to move the program forward under head coach Jerry Kill.