Projecting B1G sack leaders
You already know about Joey Bosa and Shilique Calhoun. Both of them have a chance to not only lead the conference, but also lead the country in sacks. Who else will be in the mix for the Big Ten sack crown?
5. Drew Ott, Iowa
When the Hawkeye defensive lineman isn’t eating eggs whole — gross but impressive — he gets after quarterbacks. His eight sacks last year earned him second-team All-Big Ten honors and more importantly, got the overworked Iowa defense off the field. The Giltner High School grad will be the leader of a Hawkeye defensive line that should be improved this season. I mean, he spent the offseason tossing hay bales. How can he not be even better?
4. Kemoko Turay, Rutgers
If you wondered how freakish the Rutgers defensive end was, all you had to do was see him jump on his blocked kick against Penn State. Um, wow. Turay made a living blocking kicks last year, but that was a result of his finest skill — making plays in the backfield. The freshman All-American recorded eight sacks last season, which was good for seventh in the Big Ten. Keep in mind that Turay only played one year of high school football, though he led the state with 19 sacks. He’s still raw as a run stopper, but as a pass rusher, few will be as feared as Turay.
3. Anthony Zettel, Penn State
He tackles trees, roundhouse kicks and sacks quarterbacks. There are worse things to have at the top of a resume. Zettel is back to anchor the Nittany Lions defense after helping lead one of the top units in the country. The former defensive end showed he can wreak just as much havoc lining up at tackle, where he recorded eight sacks last year. He even picked off three passes at and was the only FBS player to finish among the nation’s best in sacks and interceptions. A man of many talents, Zettel definitely is.
2. Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
It would’ve been easy for Calhoun to turn pro after a junior season that ended with him leading Michigan State to a Cotton Bowl victory and earning second-team All-America honors. Instead, Calhoun elected to come back to East Lansing to haunt more Big Ten quarterbacks. The “No Fly Zone” only happens because of Calhoun’s ability to rush the passer. For a unit that experienced plenty of change this offseason — MSU lost its top two DB’s and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi — Calhoun will be the steadying force on a defense that has to be even better in order to dethrone Ohio State.
1. Joey Bosa, Ohio State
Preseason player of the year, No. 1 prospect in college football, favorite to win a national championship…there are just a few expectations surrounding the junior. No defensive end in the country pursues quarterbacks like Bosa. The shrugging Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is a matchup nightmare coming off the edge at 6-5, 270 pounds. But Bosa doesn’t need to come off the edge. He can stunt and bowl over guards or running backs that stand in his way of the quarterback. Talent aside, the All-American received an important reminder with his one-game suspension. That might result an even hungrier Bosa. You know, just in case he wasn’t scary enough.