A number of notable 2010 all-conference selections from Big Ten secondaries will return this season. This is in direct contrast to the defensive lines and linebackers.
For the former, only three second-team players are returning, and for the latter, no all-conference players came back. Nebraska does have one all-conference lineman and one all-conference linebacker amongst its returning players, but that was in the Big 12.
In effect, when one looks to analyze the holes in 2011 conference defense, one might be inclined to look for running teams to have a slight advantage.
Either way, this is the way the Big Ten teams stack up in the secondary.
A few notes
The players in italics are returning starters. A "returning starter," for my purposes, is any player that has started four or more games in his career.
Players in italics and bold denote multi-year starters.
Players with an asterisk next to their names were first- or second-team, media or coaches, all-conference last season.
Players with three asterisks next to their names would be returning consensus All-Americans, but as there are none this season, this is irrelevant.
Finally, I have not factored true freshmen into this projection. Nonetheless, while true freshmen can fill out a depth chart and have important roles to play, if a true freshman is starting, that is rarely a good sign.