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May 30, 2013

Ranking the Big Ten: Defensive tackle

As Nebraska moves into its third season in the Big Ten Conference, HuskerOnline.com will get you ready with ranking analysis pieces breaking down each position in the league. Today, we look at the defensive tackle position in the Big Ten heading into 2013.

1. Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota, 6-6, 311, Sr.
Ra'Shede Hageman has always had all of the physical tools to be one of the most dominant defensive tackles in college football, but for whatever reason he just hasn't been able to reach his full potential. Going into his senior year, though, Hageman appears to be on track to finally live up to the lofty expectations many have had for him for years. Reports are he had a great spring, and he could be a top-10 NFL draft pick next year if he can keep it up.
2. Beau Allen, Wisconsin, 6-3, 333, Sr.
Having played in all 41 games of his career so far, Wisconsin senior Beau Allen has as much experience as any defensive tackle in the Big Ten. There's a reason he's had a home in the Badgers' defensive line rotation since his true freshman season, as he has the size and the skills to be force in the middle of the line. He will once again anchor another strong UW front four this season.
3. DaQuan Jones, Penn State, 6-3, 333, Sr.
His numbers haven't been anything to write home about over the past three years, but senior DaQuan Jones is Penn State's most experience player on the defensive line this season and will be counted on to play a vital role for the Nittany Lions' up front. Jones will be asked to fill some of the biggest shoes on PSU's roster this year in replacing first-team All-Big Ten tackle Jordan Hill.
4. Bruce Gaston, Purdue, 6-2, 303, Sr.
A starter in every game the past three seasons, senior Bruce Gaston could very well be Purdue's most valuable defensive player this year. Given the big question marks the Boilermakers have at linebacker, having a big, physical presence like Gaston will be crucial for Purdue's front seven to try and hold its own in the Big Ten. He's racked up 17 tackles for loss during his career so far, and the Boilermakers are hoping Gaston can continue to disrupt opposing offenses.
5. Ethan Hemer, Wisconsin, 6-6, 296, Sr.
As if having Allen wasn't enough, Wisconsin's strength up front is bolstered even more with senior Ethan Hemer lining up next to him. Hemer and Allen have been called the Badgers' best defensive tackle tandem in at least a decade, and with the talent UW has at linebacker behind them, it's going to be difficult for any team to successfully run the football against Wisconsin this season.

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