Jones repeats as preseason top playerPublished 8:10pm Tuesday, August 3, 2010
PARK RIDGE, Ill. — For the second straight year, Michigan State’s Greg Jones and Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor were selected as the Big Ten’s Preseason Defensive and Offensive Players of the Year, respectively, the conference announced on Monday.
Ohio State was tabbed first in the conference preseason poll, followed by Iowa and Wisconsin. The Preseason Players of the Year and poll were voted on by media members attending the conference’s football media days.
This year marks the first since 1998 that the Big Ten’s Preseason Defensive and Offensive Players of the Year have been repeat selections from the previous season. Ohio State’s Andy Katzenmoyer (defense) and Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne (offense) are the only other pair to accomplish the feat since at least 1996. Jones is the first back-to-back Preseason Defensive Player of the Year since Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis in 2007 and 2008, and Pryor is the first player to repeat as Preseason Offensive Player of the Year since Dayne earned the honor in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Jones was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year last season and was a first-team All-Conference pick.
A consensus All-American in 2009, the senior linebacker is on the preseason watch lists for the Butkus, Lombardi and Nagurski Awards and Lott Trophy. As a junior, Jones led the Big Ten and ranked third in the nation with 11.8 tackles per game and was fifth in the conference with nine sacks for 53 yards. His 154 tackles last season marked the seventh-highest total in program history.
Pryor has guided Ohio State to two Big Ten Championships and two Bowl Championship Series games in his first two seasons and was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the 2010 Rose Bowl Game. Last year, he completed 167 of 295 passes for 2,094 yards and 18 touchdowns and led the Buckeyes with 779 yards rushing. Having played just two seasons, Pryor already ranks 11th among Ohio State’s career total offense leaders with 4,808 yards.
Ohio State enters the 2010 campaign having won at least a share of the last five Big Ten titles, looking to match the Big Ten record of six consecutive, set by the Buckeyes from 1972-77.
Ohio State went 7-1 in Big Ten play and 11-2 overall last season, including a 26-17 victory over Oregon in the Rose Bowl Game. Head coach Jim Tressel enters his 10th season with the Buckeyes and welcomes back 16 total starters from a year ago, including 10 on offense.
Iowa tied for second in the Big Ten with a 6-2 mark in conference play and an 11-2 overall record, including a 24-14 victory against Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Entering his 12th season with the Hawkeyes, head coach Kirk Ferentz returns 16 starters from a season ago, including first-team All-Big Ten selections Adrian Clayborn and Tyler Sash.
Wisconsin posted a 5-3 Big Ten record in 2009, tying for fourth in the conference standings. The Badgers went 10-3 overall, winning the Champs Sports Bowl with a 20-14 victory against Miami (Fla.). Coach Bret Bielema welcomes back 18 starters from last season, including Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year John Clay.
The 115th season of Big Ten football kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 2, as Indiana hosts Towson, Minnesota plays at Middle Tennessee State, and Ohio State welcomes Marshall. The conference’s other eight teams open action on Saturday, Sept. 4.