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Senior Bowl 2016: 10 Big Ten candidates for next year's game

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Connor Cook returns in 2015 as one of college football's top quarterbacks.

The 2015 Reese's Senior Bowl is over, which means, of course, that it is time to look ahead to the 2016 version of the game.

Here is a league-by-league look at seniors-to-be who very well could be in Mobile, Ala., next year for the Senior Bowl. We limited it to 10 players per league for each of the Power Fiver conferences and listed 10 players total for the non-Power Five leagues.

Here's a look at 10 players from the Big Ten (listed in alphabetical order).

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Michigan State C Jack Allen

The buzz: Allen (6-foot-2, 299 pounds), who will be one of the best centers in the nation next season, will be a four-year starter for the Spartans. He started half the season at guard in 2012 before moving inside and has been at center ever since. Allen is a mauler known for his physical and aggressive nature.

Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun

The buzz: Calhoun (6-5, 256) toyed with the idea of turning pro but decided to return for his senior season. He will be a three-year starter and should contend for All-America honors next fall. He is stout against the run and also has 15.5 sacks the past two seasons. He was the Big Ten defensive lineman of the year in 2013 but didn't match that level of play in '14; still, he is a legit star.

Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo

The buzz: Carroo is both big (6-1, 205) and fast (he has been clocked in the high 4.3s in the 40). He was productive in 2014 working with a quarterback with a scattershot arm and will be a guy who be challenged again by mediocre quarterback play in 2015. The key is to picture him working with a consistently competent quarterback.

Michigan State QB Connor Cook

The buzz: Cook is another Spartan who thought about going pro but decided to come back for his senior season. He has excellent size (6-4, 218) and a strong arm, but could stand to become more accurate; he completed 58.1 percent of his passes this season, a bit of a drop from his 58.7 percent in 2013. Cook has the look of a first-round pick in 2015, assuming he makes the requisite on-field growth next season.

Ohio State OT Taylor Decker

The buzz: Decker (6-7, 315) will go into the season as one of the top three tackles nationally, and if he makes the improvement expected of top prospects from their junior to senior seasons, he will be in the mix to be selected in the top 10 of the 2016 draft. Decker started as a sophomore on the right side, then moved to left tackle this season and was the Buckeyes' best lineman. He was a good high school basketball player, and that shows in his top-flight footwork.

Rutgers DT Darius Hamilton

The buzz: Hamilton needs to add weight and bulk (he's listed at 6-4 and 255 pounds), but he was productive for the Scarlet Knights this season, finishing with 45 tackles, six sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss, and has a high ceiling. Hamilton was a consensus national top-25 player in the 2012 signing class and will be a three-year starter for the Scarlet Knights. Hamilton is quick and is a technically sound player, not surprising when you consider his dad, Keith, played for 12 seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants.

Wisconsin OT Tyler Marz

The buzz: Marz (6-5, 321) will be a three-year starter at left tackle for the Badgers. Like all Badger linemen, he is a masher when it comes to blocking for the run. But he also is a proficient pass protector and has surprisingly light feet for a 320-pounder. Ohio State blasted Wisconsin 59-0 on the Big Ten title game, but Buckeyes star DE Joey Bosa said Marz was the best tackle he went up against this season.

Ohio State LB Joshua Perry

The buzz: Perry (6-4, 252) is a physical thumper who emerged as a legit stud linebacker this season, leading the Buckeyes with 124 tackles. Perry -- who also was a high school track standout in the long jump -- moved to weakside linebacker this season, a position that is called upon to make plays in Ohio State's scheme, and he came through. He had three games with double-figure tackles.

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Ohio State DT Adolphus Washington

The buzz: Washington (6-4, 295) arrived on campus as a highly touted end, but made the move inside this past season and is a potential All-American tackle for 2015. He is a good pass rusher for an interior lineman and also had 10.5 tackles for loss this season. Washington was an excellent high school basketball player, and his quickness and footwork is impressive for a guy who weighs almost 300 pounds.

Penn State DT Anthony Zettel

The buzz: Zettel (6-5, 276) will need to add weight for the next level, but he put up big numbers this season, his first as a starter. He finished with 42 tackles, a team-high eight sacks and a team-high 17 tackles for loss (second-most in the Big Ten). Zettel has excellent quickness -- he has been clocked as fast as the high 4.7s in the 40 -- and began his Nittany Lions career as an end. Zettel, who is from a small town in Michigan (West Branch, which has about 2,100 residents), set a state record in the discus in high school.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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