Three Big Ten student-athletes have been named semifinalists for national awards honoring the top overall and defensive players in the country.
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball were chosen as semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, which honors the nation's most outstanding player. Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson was named a Maxwell Award semifinalist last season. Current Big Ten schools have claimed the Maxwell Award on 20 occasions, most recently when Penn State running back Larry Johnson was honored in 2002.
Ohio State defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins was tabbed as a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given annually to the country's top defensive player. Four Big Ten student-athletes were named Bednarik Award semifinalists last season - Illinois' Whitney Mercilus, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy, Nebraska's Lavonte David and Penn State's Devon Still, who was eventually named a finalist for the national honor. Current conference teams have earned the Bednarik Award eight times, including two-time honorees Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern (1995 and 1996) and Paul Posluszny of Penn State (2005 and 2006). Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh was honored in 2009.