Big Ten rankings: No. 15, Max Bullough

Our postseason Big Ten player rankings march on, as we reach the top 15 and land on our second Michigan State defender. Remember, these rankings are all about last year's performance only. This next guy was the anchor for one of the nation's top defenses ...

No. 15: Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State, junior, 6-foot-3, 252 pounds

Preseason rank: No. 14

2012 numbers: Led Michigan State with 111 tackles, including 12.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks. Also forced a fumble and recorded an interception.

Why he's here: Bullough was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and ranked in the top 10 in the league in both tackles and tackles for loss. But his sheer numbers, which were outstanding, don't tell the whole tale of Bullough's impact.

The third-generation Spartan serves as the nerve center behind Pat Narduzzi's entire defensive operation. He's responsible for making the calls and getting teammates lined up and ready to go before the snap. Obviously, he is awfully good at his job, since Michigan State finished the season ranked No. 4 in the FBS in total defense.

Bullough decided to come back for his senior season rather than skip to the NFL, where his intelligence, instincts and ideal size will be valued. He'll look to lead the Spartans in tackles for the third straight year in 2013, when he could wrap up a decorated and memorable career.

The countdown

No. 25: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan

No. 24: Michael Carter, CB, Minnesota

No. 23: Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern

No. 22: Spencer Long, G, Nebraska

No. 21: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

No. 20: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska

No. 19: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

No. 18: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin

No. 17: Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan

No. 16: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State