By TOM LEA
MADISON - A panel of 10 ESPN Wisconsin writers, hosts and producers submitted a compilation of the 20 most important Wisconsin Badgers football players and coaches — ranked 1-20 — as it relates to success in 2012.
Success, as defined to the panelists, is regarded as winning a Big Ten championship. So, knowing the parameters, which players or coaches need to perform at the highest level in order for the Badgers to win their third-straight Big Ten title?
Through the next four weeks ESPN Wisconsin will countdown the top 20 players or coaches as voted on by the panel.
No. 1 on the list came in with 161 points and 19 players or coaches received votes, but not enough to make the actual list of 20. Those receiving votes can be seen at the bottom of this post.
Without further pomp and circumstance, No. 19 on said list is…
BEAU ALLEN, Junior defensive tackle: (36 points)
Now a junior, Allen, a sizeable, waiting-to-break-out talent at the defensive tackle position, seems poised to make a sizeable gain in 2012, both in productivity and as a leader. Considering he’s at a position in dire need of added push and pass rush, Allen has a weighty pressure on his back similar to the 323 pounds he checks in at every time he stands on a scale.
Ethan Hemer and Jordan Kohout are the only other defensive tackles with any semblance of experience at the position outside Allen so it’s important for the junior (the only returning defensive tackle to make our top 20 most important Badgers poll) to collect on a strong spring camp and seemingly strong winter conditioning program.
Guys like Warren Herring — recently moved to defensive tackle after starting his career at defensive end — and Bryce Gilbert seem to be up and coming, but they’ve still got to become more consistent with footwork and striking ability to really factor into Charlie Partridge’s rotation at the defensive tackle position.
Allen started coming on strong toward the back end of the 2011 season, one that ended with a loss to Oregon in the 2012 Rose Bowl. He racked up 22 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and four quarterback sacks throughout his sophomore season.
He finished 17th on UW’s roster in tackles and tied for third amongst defensive tackles with Kohout. Hemer led the group with 34 total tackles, but he only had one quarterback sack.
Is this finally the year Beau Allen breaks out and becomes the physical — yet disciplined — force so many thought the Badgers had secured with Allen’s commitment during the winter of 2010?
If Allen’s words — he repeatedly said he needs to break through and have a big season throughout spring camp — are any indication it seems as though he’s entirely focused on taking the next step in 2012. That should be encouraging for any Badger fans out there.
OTHER IMPORTANT BADGERS: