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Looking back on the 100-tackle defenders

1/24/2013

Defensive numbers are always harder to project than offensive numbers, because they're so dependent on other teams' schemes. Still, let's take a look back at the most likely players to top 100 tackles before the season, and how they did this season.

The Big 12 had nine players with 100 tackles this season. There were 89 players in FBS with at least 100 tackles. Let's have a look at projections vs. reality.

1. Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State: Knott was on track to hit 100, but a shoulder injury ended his career four games early. He was stuck on 79 tackles to end the season after nine games, capped by a home win over Baylor.

2. A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State: Klein was third in the Big 12 with 117 tackles, closing strong with 33 tackles in his final two games. After Knott's injury, Klein had six or fewer tackles in three consecutive games, but the strong finish helped him easily clear the 100-tackle threshold.

3. Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State: Brown made nine tackles in K-State's loss to Oregon to hit the 100-tackle mark on the number and finish ninth in the Big 12 in tackles.

4. Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas: Hicks got off to a great start, making 20 tackles in Texas' first two games, but a hip injury ended his season early against Mississippi in the third game of the season. He earned a medical redshirt and will still be a sophomore next season.

5. Mike Hicks, S, Baylor: Baylor's linebackers shouldered the load for tackles this year and were much stronger up front. Hicks needed just 67 tackles this season.

6. Alex Elkins, LB, Oklahoma State: Elkins was Oklahoma State's leading tackler, but finished the season with just 75 tackles. In four of his last five games, he had five or fewer tackles.

Here are the guys we overlooked:

Bryce Hager, LB, Baylor: Hager came out of nowhere to lead the Big 12 with 124 tackles. He made just 13 tackles in 2011.

Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma: Oklahoma's scheme change under Mike Stoops funneled a whole lot more tackles Jefferson's way, and he was there to make the plays. He had just 74 tackles in 2011, but racked up 119 this season to finish second in the Big 12.

Ben Heeney, LB, Kansas: Heeney made a rousing eight tackles in 2011, but emerged as a playmaker this season to finish fourth in the Big 12 with 112 tackles.

Eddie Lackey, LB, Baylor: The juco transfer became Baylor's biggest big-play threat on defense late in the season with a pair of pick-sixes, but he also made 104 tackles.

Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia: The true freshman became WVU's defense's biggest playmaker, racking up takeaways but making 102 tackles.

Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor: Baylor had two safeties make 100 tackles last year, but Dixon was the only one this year. It's hard to believe Baylor had three 100-tackle defenders this year, though. Dixon had 102.

Cody Davis, S, Texas Tech: Davis is the least surprising player who I didn't project for 100 tackles. He's been a huge part of Tech's defense, and nearly topped 100 stops in 2011. This year, he made 101 as a senior four-year starter.