College Football 2011: Big Ten's Best Cornerbacks Led by Nebraska's Dennard
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Nebraska senior Alfonzo Dennard is not only No. 1 in the Big Ten, but he's projected to be the first cornerback taken in the 2012 NFL draft.
Dennard was a second team All-Big 12 selection in 2010 with 30 tackles, seven pass breakups and four interceptions. He is the anchor on the second best secondary in the Big Ten.
The Ohio State Buckeyes have the best secondary in the conference. Their secondary features experience and depth with both cornerbacks and both safeties appearing in Bleacher Report Top 10 lists and defensive back C.J. Barnett prepared to play safety if/when Tyler Moeller slides to linebacker.
Nebraska, Ohio State and Iowa managed to place their starting cornerbacks on this list It leaves five teams—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern—without a player on the top 10 cornerback list.
Here's a look at the best cornerbacks in the Big Ten for 2011.
No.10 Cornerback: Dionte Allen, Ohio State Buckeyes
Why is Dionte Allen of the Buckeyes seen in this picture wearing a Florida State uniform? Because he transferred to Ohio State last fall so that he could play for them in 2011.
Allen was a starting cornerback for the Seminoles and should step right into the same role with Ohio State. He played in nine games for Florida State in 2009 before a broken thumb ended his sophomore season.
Allen will be paired with junior cornerback Travis Howard and be part of the best secondary in the Big Ten.
No. 9 Cornerback: Ciante Evans, Nebraska Cornhuskers
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Ciante Evans of the Nebraska Cornhuskers had an opportunity to study two of the best cornerbacks at work last season in teammates Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard.
Amukamara was drafted with the 19th pick in the first round by the New York Giants in this year's NFL draft. Dennard is back to play his senior year at Nebraska.
As a freshman in 2010, Evans was the third cornerback in the Cornhusker's secondary and had to fill in when Dennard was injured during the season. He will be a starter this year.
No. 8 Cornerback: Johnny Adams, Michigan State Spartans
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Junior Johnny Adams may be a cornerback on the rise.
Adams had three interceptions, forced a fumble, recovered a blocked punt and earned Big Ten second-team honors in 2010.
The Spartans are looking to Adams to provide shut down coverage on their opponent's best receiver.
No. 7 Cornerback: Travis Howard, Ohio State Buckeyes
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Junior cornerback Travis Howard may not get to hold the championship trophy again, but Ohio State expects him to emerge as their best cover cornerback.
Like Nebraska's Evans, Howard has learned from two talented cornerbacks. Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Thomas taught their young understudy well in 2010, as he finished with two interceptions and a fumble recovery in limited action.
Howard and Dionte Allen (No. 10 in this list) will be active members of the best secondary in the Big Ten this year.
No. 6 Cornerback: D'Anton Lynn, Penn State Nittany Lions
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D'Anton Lynn finished strong in the second half of 2010. The senior cornerback had three interceptions and seven passes defended.
Lynn also had an impressive 75 tackles and a fumble recovery The strongest area of the Nittany Lions defense is their secondary, so expect Lynn to have a solid senior year in 2011.
No. 5 Cornerback: Antonio Fenelus, Wisconsin Badgers
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Wisconsin's undisputed leader in the secondary is senior Antonio Fenelus. He led the Badgers in interceptions with four and passes defended with 11.
Fenelus finished second on the team in fumbles recovered with two. He will team with Devin Smith to provide Wisconsin with two strong cornerbacks in 2011.
If the Badger defense plays as well or better than last year, Fenelus will be an All-Big Ten selection.
No. 4 Cornerback: Micah Hyde, Iowa Hawkeyes
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Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde found the end zone twice last year by returning interceptions for touchdowns. He had two other interceptions and seven passes defended.
Hyde had 58 tackles and 24 assists. The junior from Fostorio, Ohio, was one of three true freshmen to play for the Hawkeyes in 2009.
He teams with senior Shaun Prater to provide the best pair of starting cornerbacks in the Big Ten.
No. 3 Cornerback: Ricardo Allen, Purdue Boilermakers
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The youngest member of the Top 10 list is sophomore Ricardo Allen of the Purdue Boilermakers. He had three pass interceptions and ran two of them back for touchdowns.
Allen was third on the team with 73 tackles. He is only 5'9" and 175 pounds but makes up for it with an aggressive style of play.
His reward last year was to be named a second team freshman All-American. Expect him to compete for All-Big Ten honors this year.
No. 2 Cornerback: Shaun Prater, Iowa Hawkeyes
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Here's a scary thought—cornerback Shaun Prater could be playing for Nebraska. The Omaha native decided to play for Iowa, and he is considered one of the best cover corners in college football.
In 2010 Prater had four interceptions,10 passes defended and recovered two fumbles. He also had 69 tackles.
Prater earned All-Big Ten first team honors last year and seems primed to repeat in 2011.
No. 1 Cornerback: Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska Cornhuskers
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Okay, it's 2010 and you are facing the Cornhuskers. Rather than throw the ball in the direction of All-American cornerback Prince Amukamara, you decide to direct your passes to the side of the field defended by Alfonzo Dennard.
Dennard proved last year that he could defend against the pass. He finished with four interceptions and seven passes defended.
The senior cornerback also had 30 tackles and serves as one of the leaders on Nebraska's highly-ranked defense. Currently, he is rated as the No. 1 cornerback eligible for the 2012 NFL draft.