College Football 2011: Spartan Trenton Robinson Atop Big Ten Safety Rankings
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Maybe we've returned to the "big two and little eight" days of Big Ten football, because most experts rate the Spartans' Trenton Robinson and Wisconsin's Aaron Henry as the top two safeties in the conference and then debate who should round out the top 10 list.
Ohio State and Illinois should be pleased, because they placed both their free safety and strong safety in the list. Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana and Iowa failed to place anyone in the top 10.
No. 10 Safety: Drew Astorino, Penn State Nittany Lions
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Strong safety Drew Astorino is considered the quarterback of the Nittany Lions defense.
He is an aggressive tackler and earned an honorable mention at safety on the All-Big Ten team. Astorino had 70 tackles in 2010, which was good for fourth on the team.
Penn State's star safety saved his best performances for the primetime win over Michigan and the comeback victory over Northwestern.
He started 12 games for the Nittany Lions and grabbed one interception last year. He is expected to play his senior year with the same intensity he showed in 2010.
No. 9 Safety: Tavon Wilson, Illinois Fighting Illini
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Senior Tavon Wilson (uniform No. 3 in the picture) is the Illini's starting strong safety and earned an All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2010.
He played and started all 13 games last year, recorded 48 tackles and lead the team in pass breakups with eight. Wilson had one interception and two fumble recoveries.
All these numbers seem pretty impressive for a player who switched to safety in 2010. Wilson played cornerback his first two seasons at Illinois.
No. 8 Safety: Jordan Kovacs, Michigan Wolverines
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Despite the poor overall performance of the Michigan defense, safety Jordan Kovacs seemed to be tackling anything that moved on the football field in 2010.
He finished with 115 stop last year, which is frightfully high for a defensive back. However, Kovacs also recorded 8.5 tackles for losses and had two interceptions.
The junior safety should be even better this year as Michigan tries to rebound from a disappointing 2010 season.
No. 7 Safety: Trulon Henry, Illinois Fighting Illini
Free safety Trulon Henry was an honorable mention on the All-Big Ten team in 2010. He led the Fighting Illini with three interceptions, forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble and was credited with three pass breakups.
Henry also had 64 tackles and the returning senior will team with strong safety Tavon Wilson (No. 9 on this list) to stifle an opposing Big Ten team's passing game.
No. 6 Safety: Tyler Moeller, Ohio State Buckeyes
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Tyler Moeller plays safety like a linebacker. In other words, the Buckeye senior is not timid when it comes to tackling opponents.
His biggest problem was missing more than half of the season last year due to a torn pectoral muscle. Before his injury, Moeller proved to be quite a playmaker with 4.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and an interception.
Moeller will team with strong safety Orhian Johnson (No. 3 on this list) to be the best pair of starting safeties in the Big Ten this year.
No. 5 Safety: Courtney Osborne, Nebraska Cornhuskers
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As a sophomore last year, Courtney Osborne proved that he could compete as a Nebraska safety.
He made contributions in every game in 2010 and started in four of them. Osborne had 41 tackles, five tackles for loss, an interception and one sack.
Though his junior year will be his first as the Cornhuskers' full-time free safety, Osborne should help Nebraska compete for the Legends Division title and the Big Ten championship.
No. 4 Safety: Brian Peters, Northwestern Wildcats
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Brian Peters is as important to the Wildcats defense as star quarterback Dan Persa is to the Northwestern offense.
The senior free safety has played in every game the last three years. Peters also knows how to locate the football with three interceptions in 2010 and three in 2009.
He was an All-Big Ten second-team selection and had 107 tackles last year.
No. 3 Safety: Orhian Johnson, Ohio State Buckeyes
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You look at picture after picture of the Ohio State defense in 2010, and safety Orhian Johnson seems to be in every play.
The junior safety enters this season as one of the Buckeyes' leading tacklers. Johnson deflected three passes, broke up two and intercepted one in 2010.
He and fellow safety Tyler Moeller will be the most punishing set of safeties in the Big Ten this year.
No. 2 Safety: Aaron Henry, Wisconsin Badgers
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It's hard to believe that last season was Aaron Henry's first year as Wisconsin's free safety.
He seemed to be the defensive instigator on the Badgers' defense with 58 tackles, seven pass breakups, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and one forced fumble. Opposing offenses had to keep an eye on Henry, because he seemed to come from nowhere to make critical defensive stops.
Henry would like nothing better than to finish his senior season with the Leaders Division and the Big Ten titles.
No. 1 Safety: Trenton Robinson, Michigan State Spartans
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Bleacher Report joins rivals.com, ESPN.com and nfldraftscout.com in declaring that Spartan senior safety Trenton Robinson is the best safety in the Big Ten.
Last year, Robinson had 76 tackles, 12 pass breakups and four interceptions. He was the critical "glue" in the Michigan State secondary that helped lead the team to an 11-2 record and a share of the Big Ten title with Wisconsin.
Robinson would like to finish his career at MSU with a Legends Division title and a win in the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis.