Today is Day 21 of our countdown of the Big 12's 25 best players entering the 2010 season. The full results are locked in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player per day until we reach the top of the list.
We're inside the top 10 now, and I kind of expect discussion on this to get pretty heated. I feel pretty good about where I've slotted guys, but we'll see if we need to do a mega-mailbag at the end of all this so I can defend my order. You'll notice the list is intentionally weighted somewhat toward positions that have a greater amount of impact on a large percentage of the field.
Remember, this isn't a list of the top 25 NFL prospects in the league. It's heavily weighted toward players' actual accomplishments in their college careers, as well as their likely impact on their teams in the 2010 season.
No. 5: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
2009 numbers: No. 4 in the Big 12 in receptions (89). No. 4 in receiving yards (1,120). Also averaged a Big 12-best 15.87 yards per punt return, nearly three yards more than the next-best. No. 3 in the Big 12 in all-purpose yards per game (148.0). Most importantly, led the Big 12 in touchdowns (17).
Most recent ranking: Broyles was unranked in the past offseason's ranking of the conference's top 40 players.
Making the case for Broyles: Don't expect much of an argument for naming Broyles the most electrifying player in the conference with the ball in his hands. He's one of the fastest players in the Big 12, and the hardest to get two hands on in the open field. He also could have made the list of workout warriors from last week: He benches 310 pounds at 5-foot-11 and 178 pounds. Broyles impressed most in 2009 with his finish (22 rec., 259 yards, 3 TD in final two games) and his quick recovery from a fractured shoulder blade that held him completely out of one game (Baylor), all but one series of another (Miami) and limited his availability in a third (Texas). Outside of that stretch, Broyles caught at least seven passes in all but one game (BYU), when he had four receptions and a touchdown. A quick glance at the top 25 list shows how far the gap is between Broyles and his closest peer. With a maturing quarterback in Landry Jones, he should be ready for his first All-America year, especially if he keeps his position as Jones' safety blanket. The emergence of a second consistent, reliable target for Jones could open up the field more for staggering numbers from both Broyles and Jones.
The rest of the list:
No. 6: Nate Solder, LT, Colorado
No. 7: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
No. 8: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
No. 9: Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
No. 10: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
No. 11: Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma
No. 12: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
No. 13: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
No. 14: Alexander Robinson, RB, Iowa State
No. 15: Sam Acho, DE, Texas
No. 16: Roy Helu, Jr., RB, Nebraska
No. 17: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
No. 18: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
No. 19: Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
No. 20: Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M
No. 21: Tim Barnes, C, Missouri
No. 22: Brian Duncan, LB, Texas Tech
No. 23: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
No. 24: Tanner Hawkinson, OT, Kansas
No. 25: Blake Gideon, S, Texas