- David Ubben, College Football
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The season has come and gone, and brought with it an All-Big 12 team. But where do these guys come from? How easy is it for a no-name recruit to earn all-conference first-team honors?
We looked at the All-Big 12 offense on Monday. Then we moved on to the defense on Tuesday. Let's take a look at some of the league's top specialists today. I didn't limit this list to just first-teamers.
You'll need ESPN Insider to see each player's recruiting page from back in the day, but I excerpted a bit of what the scouts had to say about each player coming out of high school.
Quinn Sharp, K/P/KOS, Oklahoma State
Sharp was not ranked or scouted when he came out of Arlington, Texas in the 2008 class. He did put 75 percent of his kicks into the end zone for touchbacks, made a 52-yard field goal and was 13-of-14 on field goals as a senior in 2007.
Anthony Cantele, K, Kansas State
Cantele went to Missouri State to play soccer after high school. Then ended up at Kansas State and became one of the Big 12's best kickers. (Snyder, y'all. Seriously.) He was 10-of-12 on kicks as a senior in Wichita, Kan. and was 20-of-23 for his career.
Kirby Van Der Kamp, P, Iowa State
Van Der Kamp was the nation's No. 27 kicker in the 2010 class. The West Des Moines, Iowa native was graded at a 74 by scouts. He was also a goalie on the soccer team. Scouts take: Van Der Kamp plays wide receiver at a top-level high school, but he is blossoming as a punter. The 6-foot-3 athlete has solid leg speed and hands. On punts of 50-plus yards, he can hit 4.9 second on his hang time. His lefty spin on the ball should make it difficult for Big 12 returners. The FBS level talent had multiple solid showings at Kohl's events and he should get better in college when he is able to focus specifically on punting.
Tyler Lockett, KR, Kansas State
Lockett was the nation's No. 170 receiver and drew interest from Kansas and Houston, as well as TCU. The Tulsa, Okla. native was graded at 74 by scouts. Scouts take: Lockett is a savvy, versatile slot receiver that could also play running back in the spread offensive as a utility player. He is undersized, but stocky and looks to have a sturdy build. He is very crafty and makes plays. Isn't always flashy, but has a knack for getting open and is very good against zone coverage. Comes off the ball quickly and gets into coverage. Accelerates nicely, runs low and is an effective player in all three phase. Locates soft spots in zone coverage, knows where to settle and can be counted on the make the catch across the middle or in a crowd. He is a sneaky deep threat.
Tavon Austin, PR/KR, West Virginia
Austin was the nation's No. 41 running back, and the Baltimore native was given a grade of 78 by scouts. He was also the No. 75 player in his region. Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Penn State also recruited him. Scouts take: Austin is a smallish but dynamic prospect who has the skills to be a good change-of-pace or scatback runner at the next level. He lacks great size, but he runs harder and bigger than his measurables suggest. He's dangerous on the perimeter and in space, but also very good between the tackles as a zone runner. Can pick and stab his way through traffic and decisively hit small cutback creases without losing much in transition. Shows good body control, vision and balance. Excels at changing gears and eluding defenders with sudden bursts and sharp cuts.
Tramaine Thompson, PR, Kansas State
Thompson was the nation's No. 137 athlete in the 2009 class. The Jenks, Okla. native was graded at 74 by scouts and drew interest from Arkansas, Colorado and Oklahoma State. Scouts take: Thompson is a quick-footed slot receiver prospect who excels at creating mismatches in space and could be a nice weapon in an open spread offense. Has very marginal height and overall size which is a concern when projecting for the next level. Does utilize his smaller frame and great foot-quickness when matched up versus less agile linebackers and safeties in space. Can stretch a defense with his good vertical speed and is also very difficult to mirror tightly as a route runner with his sharpness and quickness out of his breaks.