We are continuing our series of the top players at every position in the Big Ten with the guys in the middle of the defense — the linebackers. The Big Ten has always been known for quick and tough-as-nails linebackers that always seem to find their way around the ball.
The 2023 season has great linebackers returning across the conference. Here are the top five linebackers in the Big Ten.
5. Aaron Casey - Indiana
Casey makes the cut at No. 5 because of his experience. In 2022, he made a huge jump in production and became one of the bright spots for the Indiana defense late in the season. He led the team in tackles and was sixth in the Big Ten in tackles for loss with 10. Returning for his sixth season, Casey is going to be the heart and soul of the Hoosiers in 2023.
4. Junior Colson - Michigan
Colson increased his production from his true freshman season and made a huge impact for the Wolverines. He led the team in tackles and also had two sacks. His speed and quickness give him the ability to be a consistent playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. As possible prospect for the 2024 NFL draft, Colson is going to be wreaking havoc in the Big Ten once again.
Going to see a lot more of this from the returning Freshman All-American LB Junior Colson 〽️〽️ pic.twitter.com/48WK36kBU5— Beat (@michigan_beat) August 8, 2022
3. Maema Njongmeta - Wisconsin
His name may not be the easiest to say, but in 2023, you will be hearing a lot about Maema Njongmeta. In 2022, he quickly became a leader for the Wisconsin defense, recording 95 total tackles and three sacks.
What makes Njongmeta such a great linebacker is his versatility. He’s not only a great pass rusher but he fares well in coverage, too. He will be a key piece for the Badgers to have a dominant defense.
The highest-graded returning Power Five linebacker?— Max Chadwick (@MaxChadwickCFB) February 13, 2023
Wisconsin’s Maema Njongmeta (89.9).
One of my Top- linebackers heading into next season. pic.twitter.com/dIoT3CCCzG
2. Abdul Carter - Penn State
Micah Parsons, LaVar Arrington, Navorro Bowman and Brandon Bell all had something in common — they all wore No. 11 for the Nittany Lions. Last season when Carter was awarded No. 11 as a freshman, Carter recorded 56 total tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles. This season, he will be looking to continue his success and be one of the top linebackers not only in the Big Ten but in the entire country.
Anyone else miss watching Abdul Carter wreck havoc on opposing offenses?— The Basic Blues Podcast (@BasicBluesPod) February 8, 2023
1. Tommy Eichenberg - Ohio State
It was definitely a surprise Tommy Eichenberg decided to come back for another year, but the Buckeyes are surely happy with his decision. Eichenberg was one of the best linebackers in the country last season and will be in the running for the Butkus Award once again. Last season, he had 120 total tackles and 20 tackles for loss to help him achieve All-American Honors.