Ranking the Big 12's best players: No. 22

The official list of the Big 12's top 25 players is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we're revealing the list day by day here on the blog. Here's a refresher on my exact criteria.

No. 22: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma

2010 numbers: Made 109 tackles and intercepted three passes. He made 5.5 tackles for loss, had 1.5 sacks and broke up five passes.

Most recent ranking: Lewis was ranked No. 3 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Lewis: Racking up three consecutive seasons of 100 tackles is a rare feat, but Lewis has done it, making 144 stops as a freshman and 109 in both of the past two seasons, and he's already got the No. 2 spot in career tackles for the Sooners. Don't make a lot out of Lewis' fall down the list. He was passed more than he fell, but he's most valuable defending the run. That said, at least some of his reputation stems from one of the best freshman seasons in Big 12 history, and not as much as what he's done lately. He was second in the Big 12 in tackles in 2008, fourth in 2009 and eighth in 2010. His shortcomings in pass coverage and in rushing the passer make him less valuable than other linebackers in the Big 12, but he's definitely got a great future in the NFL, and could be one of the best linebacker prospects in the league in the 2012 draft. His best asset is his knowledge of the Sooners' defense and leadership, and he should be the unquestioned voice of a defense looking for a national title in 2011.

The rest of the list:

  • No. 23: Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma

  • No. 24: Tim Barnes, C, Missouri

  • No. 25: Lyle Leong, WR, Texas Tech