The Big Ten led all conferences with three of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive end. Big Ten finalists for the Hendricks Award are Iowa's Adrian Clayborn, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Wisconsin's J.J. Watt. The Big Ten has claimed one Hendricks Award since it was created in 2002, with Michigan's LaMarr Woodley being honored in 2006.
Clayborn is a first-team AFCA All-America selection and was named to the All-Big Ten first team as well. He has recorded 51 tackles, 3½ sacks and 7 tackles-for-loss this season. Kerrigan was also named a first-team All-America honoree by the AFCA and became the first Purdue player to receive Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors since 1992. Additionally, Big Ten coaches honored him as the conference Defensive Lineman of the Year. Kerrigan's statistics are among the nation's leaders: 2.17 tackles-for-loss per game (1st), 1.04 sacks per game (2nd), 0.42 fumbles forced per game (T-2nd). Watt finished his junior season with 7 sacks, 21 tackles-for-loss (3rd in the nation), 10 QB hurries, 3 forced fumbles and 3 blocked kicks. He was also named a first-team All-Big Ten honoree.