Okung returns to school, checks in as No. 12 player in Big 12

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 12

With all of the skill-position weapons on Oklahoma State, one of the biggest keys for the Cowboys is massive tackle Russell Okung.

Okung's value will never be more apparent than this season, when we'll see if he can help the Cowboys contend for their first South Division title and first BCS berth in school history.

It's a big challenge, but the Cowboys' biggest and most powerful offensive lineman should be up for it.

Player: Russell Okung
Team: Oklahoma State
Position: Tackle
Vitals: 6-foot-6, 305 pounds; Sr.; Fort Bend, Texas (Bush)

Why he was picked: The linchpin of Oklahoma State's offensive line, Okung has made 34 consecutive starts, a streak that dates to his freshman season. He was one of the major reasons why the Cowboys racked up their third straight Big 12 rushing title, top 10 rankings in scoring and total offense and ranked among the top 20 nationally in fewest sacks allowed. Okung led the Cowboys with 71 knockdown blocks and 27 "dominating" blocks. He was in for 874 snaps last season.

What 2009 will hold: The Cowboys' hopes for contending for the Big 12 championship started when Okung decided to return for his senior season. If he can build on his strong college career, he will likely become one of the top offensive linemen in OSU history and a high first-round NFL draft selection.

The countdown:

13. Texas DE-LB Sergio Kindle
14. Oklahoma T Trent Williams
15. Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
16. Baylor LB Joe Pawelek
17. Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
18. Texas WR-KR Jordan Shipley
19. Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
20. Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr.
21. Texas Tech DT Colby Whitlock
22. Kansas WR-KR Dezmon Briscoe
23. Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal
24. Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
25. Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
26. Kansas QB-WR Kerry Meier
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State LB Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR-KR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB-KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Chris Hall
38. Texas Tech DE-DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp