Big 10 Best Returning Linebackers

The Big 10 best returning linebackers is a tough list to create. The position group is a deep one, featuring disruptive pass-rushers and strong linebackers in pass coverage. Creating a top-three ranking is a tall task and requires finding a set of versatile defenders that can impact the game in a variety of ways. With that being said, here are the top three Big 10 returning linebackers. 

Big 10 Best Returning Linebackers

  1. Seth Benson, Iowa

As indicated earlier, there were about five or six linebackers considered for this third spot. Benson earns the nod at No. 3. Benson has improved in each season. He played seven games in his first two years, improving his production in year two. However, Benson truly broke out in 2021. 

Spearheading a stingy Hawkeyes’ defense, Benson posted 105 tackles in 14 games. He recorded 5.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. He also broke up three passes and notched an interception for the Hawkeyes. His interception came in a big road upset of the Iowa State Cyclones. Benson also showed up in a host of big conference games, notching 10+ tackles in three Big 10 battles. Teammate Jack Campbell and Benson are leading Iowa’s fearsome linebacker unit into play this fall, and they’ll be a tough matchup for every offense. 

Big 10 best returning linebackers

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  1. Luke Reimer, Nebraska 

Out of the three on this list, Reimer has a case to be considered the best in pass coverage. He notched an interception and broke up six passes in 2021. Reimer broke out in a big way against Buffalo last season, recording 16 tackles and an interception. It was one of five games with 10+ tackles for Reimer. He notched a season-high 19 versus Purdue en route to finishing the campaign with 108 tackles. 

Reimer wasn’t only a pass-coverage specialist amidst the Nebraska linebacker corps. He also finished the year with six tackles for a loss, doubling his career total, and a sack. Additionally, Reimer forced three fumbles, including two in the season finale versus Iowa. Nebraska finished 20-21 with a tough-luck 3-9 record, including eight one-possession losses. They have hopes of turning some of those tight losses into wins and hunting down a bowl game. Reimer figures to quarterback the defense from his linebacker position, and another big season could be in store for the redshirt junior. 

Big 10 best returning linebackers

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  1. Nick Herbig, Wisconsin

Wisconsin always features a strong linebacker corps, and 2022 will be no exception. Herbig wasn’t the headliner of the 2021 Badgers’ defense, but he put together a fantastic season. The stats almost read like a misprint. 14.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, four pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. As a linebacker, Herbig delivered three multi-sack games. He accomplished the feat on big stages, doing so first against Notre Dame at Soldier Field. Then, in a big conference win over Iowa, Herbig recorded 2.5 sacks. He duplicated that number in Wisconsin’s bowl game against Arizona State. 

Herbig’s numbers could potentially dip this year simply because a lot more attention will be on what he can do, and offenses will adjust their plan around his talent. So while the statistical production could go down, Herbig is going to be an absolute force and tops the list of the Big 10 best returning linebackers. Few figured out how to slow down the Hawaiian last year, and don’t bet on it happening too much this year. 

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