The Big 12: Home of Pro Bowl defensive tackles

June, 16, 2009
6/16/09
2:45
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

There was an interesting item the other day in Mike Sando's fine NFC West blog about the preponderance of Pro Bowl defensive tackles that the Big 12 has produced.

Sando's research indicates there are currently six players from Big 12 schools who have earned Pro Bowl honors at defensive tackle: Oklahoma's Tommie Harris (Chicago), Oklahoma State's Kevin Williams (Minnesota) and Jamal Williams (San Diego), Texas A&M's Pat Williams (Minnesota) and Texas' Shaun Rogers (Cleveland) and Casey Hampton (Pittsburgh).

No other conference has more than four Pro Bowl defensive tackles at the present time.

That esteemed Big 12 group better get ready for a couple of new members. Because if Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy are nearly as good as I suspect they will be at the next level, it wouldn't surprise me if either of them make a Pro Bowl roster or two in the future with continued health and development.

Looking at the Pro Bowl list showed me several players who were dominant in college in Harris, Rogers and Hampton. Kevin Williams was a strong player at Oklahoma State who really didn't come on until his senior season. And Jamal Williams and Pat Williams have really blossomed once they made the NFL. Pat Williams, in fact, didn't play in the Big 12 and has blossomed in his mid-30s while playing in the NFL.  

Sando's list made me think about who I think have been the best 10 defensive tackles in Big 12 history. These rankings are subjective and based solely on their performances in college football.

Here are my rankings of the top 10 defensive tackles of the Big 12 era:

1. Tommie Harris, Oklahoma (2001-03): Big 12's lone Lombardi Award winner at defensive tackle was a two-time consensus All-American and the only defensive tackle selected to Big 12's team honoring the conference's first 10 seasons.

2. Casey Hampton, Texas (1996, 1998-2000): Best defensive player on the Texas teams early in Mack Brown's tenure.

3. Jason Peter, Nebraska (1994-97): All-American who was key interior player on Nebraska team that shared the 1997 national championship.

4. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska (2005-present): Ranked just a shade above McCoy because of better production and lesser teammates around him.

5. Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma (2007-present): Could develop into one of Big 12's elite career linemen if he stays around for two more seasons. And he's already not too shabby, either.

6. Rod Wright, Texas (2002-05): Bullish interior player and All-American who was linchpin of the Longhorns' 2005 national championship team but only a seventh-round NFL draft pick.

7. Dusty Dvoracek, Oklahoma (2001-05): Came back driven for big senior season after he was suspended for most of 2004 season.

8. Marcus Tubbs, Texas (2000-03): Never played defensive tackle until he arrived at college, but contributed 19.5 sacks during his time with Longhorns.

9. Kevin Williams, Oklahoma State (1999-2002): Overshadowed most of his college career because of team's struggles and his lack of consistency.

10. Mario Fatafehi, Kansas State (1999-2000): Junior college player who blossomed during brief career with Wildcats, earning second-team honors in 1999 and first-team honors in 2000.

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