Crystal Ballin' 2: Electric Boogaloo: Predictions For The Big Ten’s 2012 Defensive End Of Season Awards

The Big Ten's best?

Let’s finish what we started. This is where, in my opinion, we’re much more likely to see the Silver Bullets collecting hardware at the end of the year. Again, some of these "likely candidates" are just ideas that we’re spitballing, not necessarily people most favored to clinch the awards. So as we again ask you to keep your scoffing to a dull roar, let's dive right in to the best candidates for the Big Ten’s final individual defensive honors.

Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year

Last year’s winner: Devon Still, Penn State.

This year’s likely candidates: John Simon, Ohio State; Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State; Kawann Short, Purdue; William Gholston, Michigan State; Anthony Rashad White, Michigan State; Craig Roh, Michigan; Brendan Kelly, Wisconsin; Michael Buchanan, Illinois; Akeem Spence, Illinois.

Predicted 2012 winner: John Simon, Ohio State.

Man, are we homers or what? No, seriously; Simon’s got a ton of competition within the league – Gholston, Hankins, and Short are all expected to be very good players and very high draft picks – but Simon’s going to have both the highlight reel and the gaudy stats to take home this award. Call us bold, but we don’t think this is the only hardware Simon’s going to take home this season.

Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year

Last year’s winner: Lavonte David, Nebraska.

This year’s likely candidates: Ryan Shazier, Ohio State; Max Bullough, Michigan State; Denicos Allen, Michigan State; Etienne Sabino, Ohio State; Kenny Demens, Michigan; Michael Mauti, Penn State; Jonathan Brown, Illinois; Christian Kirksey, Iowa; Chris Borland, Wisconsin.

Predicted 2012 winner: Denicos Allen, Michigan State.

Allen flew all over the field during 2011, including a sack of Braxton Miller. He dominated the inaugural Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin with three sacks, bringing his total to 10 for the year. Allen is a playmaker and part of the leadership on Michigan State’s defense and despite being slightly undersized, he’s willing to play up next to the line. He appears for all intents and purposes to be a star in the making.

Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year

Last year’s winner: Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska.

This year’s likely candidates: Bradley Roby, Ohio State; Micah Hyde, Iowa; Jordan Kovacs, Michigan; Johnny Adams, Michigan State; Troy Stoudermire, Minnesota; Greg Heban, Indiana; CJ Barnett, Ohio State; Ricardo Allen, Purdue; Terry Hawthorne, Illinois; Damion Stafford, Nebraska.

Predicted 2012 winner: Micah Hyde, Iowa.

Johnny Adams and Bradley Roby may be the most talented athletes, but Micah Hyde will put up the best stats. Hyde is a ballhawk who can really cover, and somehow was recruited directly out of OSU’s backyard. He is constantly matched up with the best receivers in the Big Ten and holds his own. Hyde led the league in pass breakups and notched three interceptions.

Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year

Last year’s winner: Brett Maher, Nebraska.

This year’s likely candidates: Maher; Ben Buchanan, Ohio State; Eric Guthrie, Iowa; Brad Nortman, Wisconsin; Mike Sadler, Michigan State.

Predicted 2012 winner: Brett Maher.

He’s the best in the league. It’s getting closer as Ben Buchanan improves, but Maher did a wonderful job handling both kicking and punting. The Huskers suffered zero dropoff when all-everything Alex Henery (now with Philadelphia) graduated. Maher belongs on all the preseason Ray Guy and Lou Groza award watch lists, and don’t be surprised if he takes home some of those trophies, too.

Nagurski-Woods Defensive Player of the Year

Last year’s winner: Devon Still, Penn State.

This year’s likely candidates: John Simon, Ohio State; Johnny Adams, Michigan State; William Gholston, Michigan State, Denicos Allen, Michigan State; Micah Hyde, Iowa; Christian Kirksey, Iowa; Ryan Shazier, Ohio State; Jonathan Brown, Illinois; Kawann Short, Purdue; Michael Buchanan, Illinois.

Predicted 2012 winner: John Simon, Ohio State.

Simon is the most disruptive defensive force in the Big Ten. It’s really that simple. He’ll also get the respect given to seniors, and he will put up the gaudiest statistics defensively, especially in the tackles for loss department. Simon is a special player, and could be the best defensive player in the Big Ten when everything's said and done.

Dave McClain/Schembechler-Hayes Coach of the Year

Last year’s winner: Brady Hoke, Michigan.

This year’s likely candidates: Urban Meyer, Ohio State; Brady Hoke, Michigan; Mark D’Antonio, Michigan State; Kirk Ferentz, Iowa; Bret Bielema, Wisconsin; Danny Hope, Purdue.

Predicted 2012 winner: Mark Dantonio, Michigan State.

As I've mentioned previously, I’m high on Michigan State to repeat as champions of the Legends division. Doing so after graduating so much talent on the offensive side of the ball will earn Coach Dantonio the trophy he already won in 2010. Also, that coaches’ trophy name is really awkward.

Thoughts, feelings, concerns, questions? Any names we overlooked? All are welcome in the comments.

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