Chi Chi Ariguzo is in some pretty elite company.
The Northwestern linebacker was one of eight Big Ten players named Friday to the preseason watch list for the Walter Camp Award, annually awarded to the best college football player in the nation.
Ariguzo, a senior from Ohio, heads into the season with big expectations after a strong 2013 campaign that saw him finish with 106 total tackles, six tackles for loss, a pair of sacks, a forced fumble and four interceptions. His 8.8 tackles per game ranked fifth in the conference. Ariguzo returns with nearly all of his fellow starting defenders from a season ago to lead what should be an impressive Wildcat defense.
In addition to the Northwestern linebacker, seven other players from the conference were named to the watch list.
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Top running backs Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska and Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin were both included, and the two are expected to battle for the conference rushing title after both finishing in the top 10 in the nation in rushing last year.
Heisman candidate and two-time-defending Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Braxton Miller, the Ohio State quarterback, is on the list, as well. Same for pass-catchers extraordinaire Stefon Diggs of Maryland and Devin Funchess of Michigan.
Joining Ariguzo from the defensive side of the ball are defending conference sacks leader Randy Gregory of Nebraska and All-Big Ten defensive end Shilique Calhoun of Michigan State.