- David Ubben, College Football
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The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.
On with the show ...
No. 21: James Sims, RB, Kansas
2012 numbers: Carried the ball 218 times for 1,013 yards and nine touchdowns. Caught 14 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown.
Most recent ranking: Sims was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.
Making the case for Sims: I had my doubts about whether Sims would lose his spot as the Jayhawks' featured back after being suspended in the first three games of 2012, which were also coincidentally the first three games of the Charlie Weis Era in Lawrence. KU had a solid stable of backs, highlighted by Tony Pierson, a shiftier back with home-run potential.
Shows what I know. Pierson had two 100-yard games in those three games, but Sims still made it clear who the team's best back was, and was a workhorse on the way to becoming one of just three Big 12 backs to crack 1,000 yards. After going for 91 yards in a near-win on the road against BCS-bound Northern Illinois, Sims ripped off six consecutive 100-yard games. This is all the more impressive considering how poor Kansas' passing game was this season. There are few, if any, backs in the Big 12 who could have done that. KU ranked 117th nationally in pass offense, and gave defenses zero reason to respect them through the air. Despite everyone in the stadium knowing who would be getting the ball quite often, Sims continued to be productive. Fantastic stuff that lands him on this list easily.
The rest of the list: