Ranking the Top 25 Big 12 players: No. 10

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.

We're in the top 10 now, so it might get a big heated.

Got beef? Let's squash it.

No. 10: Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State

2010 numbers: Made 131 tackles (70 solo), six tackles for loss and intercepted four passes. He also had a sack, forced four fumbles and broke up five passes.

Most recent ranking: Knott was unranked in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Knott: I'll give Knott the title: He's the most underrated player in the entire league, closely followed by his teammate, Kelechi Osemele, who is No. 13 on our list.

The culprit is playing for Iowa State, a team short on publicity but long on heart, and Knott arguably has the most on a team loaded with players who personify that. Knott broke his arm during spring practice on an ugly play, but 24 hours later, he was back on the practice field directly from the hospital to be with his teammates at practice.

Knott was everywhere for the Cyclones' defense last season, and is the Big 12's leading returning tackler after making 130 stops in 2010 as a first-year starter. He'll lead a defense looking to improve, but he and fellow outside linebacker A.J. Klein help make up the Big 12's second-best linebacking corps.

The 6-foot-2, 243-pound team captain isn't the fastest linebacker in the league, but he might be its most instinctive. I'd expect him to only improve in 2011.

The rest of the list: