Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 13

August, 15, 2012
8/15/12
2:30
PM ET
Our official list of the Big 12's top 25 players entering the 2012 season marches on. Here's more on my criteria for who makes it, who doesn't and who lands where.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day leading up to the season.

Next up on the list:

No. 13: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma

2011 numbers: Made 74 tackles (52 solo) and had 7.5 tackles for loss. Picked off four passes and made 4.5 sacks. Also forced a fumble and broke up three passes.

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

Making the case for Jefferson: No. 13 on this list feels low for Jefferson when it comes to total talent, but for Jefferson the production has to be there too. I expect that to be the case this year, and for Jefferson to make his case as a top 10 player, if not a contender for Defensive Player of the Year.

Why? He's moving back to his more natural position under new coordinator Mike Stoops. Jefferson will be patrolling the free safety spot instead of spending so much time at the nickel back spot. Teammates know that's where Jefferson's strength lies, and we'll see it on display this year. The Sooners have a solid replacement for him at nickel back in Joseph Ibiloye, and the Sooners move arguably their most talented defender to the spot where help is needed most.

The back of the defense was exposed far too often last season, and on big stages. Jefferson's move should plug that up, and give him more freedom to roam where he's far more comfortable. Jefferson shared the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Award in 2010, but was relatively quiet last season. Three of his four interceptions came on consecutive possessions against Ball State.

This year, I hope you're not expecting the 5-foot-11, 212-pound California native to stay quiet for long.

The rest of the list:

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