As mentioned by ESPN, the Big Ten recently announced they will be playing a conference-only schedule for all fall sports due to the pandemic.

What the college football season looks like, or whether they even have one, remains to be seen. With the news of the Big Ten, let’s look at the 14 teams in the conference in football.

Here are the top-five NFL players at each of the 14 colleges since 1980. Those schools are ranked from worst to first when it comes to their five. Only the NFL is considered, and not what they did at college. If a player transferred away from the school, they weren’t considered (Richie Incognito is listed in honorable mentions for Nebraska because he was dismissed from Oregon without ever playing for them).

14. Minnesota

  • 1. Karl Mecklenburg (LB)
  • 2. Eric Decker (WR)
  • 3. Marion Barber III (RB)
  • 4. De’Vondre Campbell (LB)
  • 5. Tramaine Brock (CB)

Other than Mecklenburg who has plenty that believe he should be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, nobody else here has been named to a Pro Bowl.

Honorable mentions: Laurence Maroney (RB)

13. Northwestern

  • 1. Chris Hinton (OT/G)
  • 2. Steve Tasker (WR)
  • 3. Barry Cofield (DT)
  • 4. Zach Strief (OT)
  • 5. Napoleon Harris (LB)

Tasker is widely considered to be the best special teams performer of all-time, and Hinton was named to seven Pro Bowls.

Honorable mentions: Matt O’Dwyer (G), Luis Castillo (DE)

12. Indiana

  • 1. Kris Dielman (G)
  • 2. Trent Green (QB)
  • 3. Adewale Ogunleye (DE)
  • 4. Rodger Saffold (OT/G)
  • 5. Jordan Howard (RB)

Indiana has probably the worst of the guys to have their school’s top spot in the three-time Pro Bowler Dielman, but Green had an underrated career that included three seasons with over 4,000 passing yards.

Honorable mentions: Antwaan Randle El (WR), Tevin Coleman (RB), Ernie Jones (WR), Chris Liwienski (G/OT)

11. Illinois

  • 1. Simeon Rice (DE)
  • 2. David Diehl (OT/G)
  • 3. Brad Hopkins (OT)
  • 4. Kevin Hardy (LB)
  • 5. Vontae Davis (CB)

One of the most feared pass-rushers of his time, Rice had double-digit sack totals in eight of his 12 seasons and compiled 122 for his career.

Honorable mentions: Jeff George (QB), Whitney Mercilus (LB)

10. Rutgers

  • 1. Deron Cherry (S)
  • 2. Devin McCourty (S/CB)
  • 3. Ray Rice (RB)
  • 4. Shaun O’Hara (C/G)
  • 5. Bill Pickel (DT)

One of the forgotten stars from the 1980s, Cherry made six straight Pro Bowls from 1983-88 during a time where he totaled 40 interceptions.

Honorable mentions: Harry Swayne (OT), Kenny Britt (WR), Jay Bellamy (S), Mohamed Sanu (WR), Jeremy Zuttah (G/C), Logan Ryan (S), Gary Brackett (LB), Jason McCourty (CB)

9. Maryland

  • 1. Boomer Esiason (QB)
  • 2. Kris Jenkins (DT)
  • 3. Kevin Glover (C)
  • 4. D’Qwell Jackson (LB)
  • 5. Vernon Davis (TE)

The first college mentioned, having all five players make at least one Pro Bowl appearance is led by Esiason, the league’s MVP in 1988.

Honorable mentions: Randy Starks (DT), Neil O’Donnell (QB), Frank Wycheck (TE), Stefon Diggs (WR), E.J. Henderson (LB), Shawne Merriman (LB), Yannick Ngakoue (DE), Torrey Smith (WR)

8. Michigan State

  • 1. Flozell Adams (OT)
  • 2. Andre Rison (WR)
  • 3. Julian Peterson (LB)
  • 4. Derrick Mason (WR)
  • 5. Le’Veon Bell (RB)

Should Anderson, one of two kickers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, have been included?

Honorable mentions: Muhsin Muhammad (WR), Kirk Cousins (QB), Carl Banks (LB), Plaxico Burress (WR), Jack Conklin (OT), Morten Andersen (K)

7. Penn State

  • 1. Mike Munchak (G)
  • 2. Steve Wisniewski (G)
  • 3. NaVorro Bowman (LB)
  • 4. Tamba Hali (LB)
  • 5. Cameron Wake (DE)

Saquon Barkley was originally placed in the fifth spot, but it was hard to include him after just two seasons over a five-time Pro Bowler with 100.5 career sacks in Wake.

Honorable mentions: Saquon Barkley (RB), Dave Szott (G), Jeff Hartings (G/C), Marco Rivera (G), Kerry Collins (QB), Matt Millen (LB), Chris Godwin (WR), Allen Robinson III (WR), LaVar Arrington (LB), Sean Lee (LB), Larry Johnson (RB)

6. Iowa

  • 1. Marshal Yanda (G)
  • 2. Andre Tippett (LB)
  • 3. Jay Hilgenberg (C)
  • 4. George Kittle (TE)
  • 5. Merton Hanks (S)

Named the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year, Bob Sanders only had two seasons where he remained healthy and thus could not be included.

Honorable mentions: Bob Sanders (S), Brandon Scherff (G), John Alt (S), Chad Greenway (LB), Dallas Clark (TE), Micah Hyde (S)

5. Nebraska

  • 1. Will Shields (G)
  • 2. Roger Craig (RB)
  • 3. Ndamukong Suh (DT)
  • 4. Neil Smith (DE)
  • 5. Ahman Green (RB)

The 1988 Offensive Player of the Year, Craig became the first player to finish with over 1,000 yards both in rushing and receiving in 1985.

Honorable mentions: Irving Fryar (WR), Lavonte David (LB), Mike Brown (S), Richie Incognito (G), Kyle Vanden Bosch (DE), Carl Nicks (G)

4. Ohio State

  • 1. Orlando Pace (OT)
  • 2. Cris Carter (WR)
  • 3. Eddie George (RB)
  • 4. Chris Spielman (LB)
  • 5. Jim Lachey (OT)

This group of five combined for 26 Pro Bowl nods and the top two (Pace and Carter) have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Honorable mentions: Cameron Heyward (DT), Joey Galloway (WR), Malcolm Jenkins (S), Pepper Johnson (LB), Antoine Winfield (CB), Nick Mangold (C)

3. Purdue

  • 1. Drew Brees (QB)
  • 2. Rod Woodson (CB/S)
  • 3. Matt Light (OT)
  • 4. Cris Dishman (S)
  • 5. Ryan Kerrigan (LB)

Purdue is up this high in large part because of the first two as Brees is the NFL’s all-time leader in both passing yards and passing touchdowns while Woodson is third all-time with 71 career interceptions.

Honorable mentions: Jim Everett (QB), Nick Hardwick (C), Shaun Phillips (LB), Mike Alstott (FB), Cliff Avril (DE), Kawann Short (DT)

2. Wisconsin

  • 1. J.J. Watt (DE)
  • 2. Joe Thomas (OT)
  • 3. Russell Wilson (QB)
  • 4. Troy Vincent (CB)
  • 5. Travis Frederick (C)

It isn’t easy to decide how to order the first three, but Watt receives the nod at the top as he and Lawrence Taylor are the only three-time winners of the Defensive Player of the Year.

Honorable mentions: Tim Krumrie (DT), Al Toon (WR), Ryan Ramczyk (OT), Melvin Gordon (RB), T.J. Watt (LB), Melvin Gordon (RB)

1. Michigan

  • 1. Tom Brady (QB)
  • 2. Charles Woodson (CB)
  • 3. Steve Hutchinson (G)
  • 4. Ty Law (CB)
  • 5. Jake Long (OT)

Michigan has to lead the way as they are the only school here with four Hall of Famers led by Brady, who many see as the best quarterback to ever play the game. USA Today agreed in their article last year where they listed the best 100 quarterbacks of all-time.

Honorable mentions: Jon Runyan (OT), Anthony Carter (WR), Amani Toomer (WR), Jumbo Elliott (OT), Frank Clark (DE), Taylor Lewan (OT)

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