Ranking the Top 25 Big 12 players: No. 8

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 bit heated.

Got beef? Let's squash it.

No. 8: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma

2010 numbers: Made 109 tackles (64 solo), and 5.5 tackles for loss. He intercepted three passes, broke up five more and made 1.5 sacks.

Most recent ranking: Lewis was ranked No. 22 in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Lewis: Lewis is the lone defensive player left over from last season's top 25 postseason list, and comes in as the top defensive player after a solid 2010.

I didn't knock him down the list after breaking a toe in preseason camp that will cause him to miss the first month of the season, which was certainly a debatable decision.

But in that same breath, remember this: Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller was essentially a non-factor for the first month of the Aggies season after an ankle injury and trying to play through it. By season's end, he was my pick for the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, though Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and Oklahoma defensive end Jeremy Beal split the media and coaches' awards.

Lewis has more experience than any defender in the Big 12, and it's a shame we likely won't get to see him until October. He's instinctive, and his best attribute is his toughness. He's shown a lot of improvement in pass coverage, but he could still serve to improve and give his NFL stock a further boost.

My guess is the injury will end his streak of three consecutive seasons leading Oklahoma's defense in tackles, but he's still clearly its leader in every other way, even though he's injured.

The rest of the list: