Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 17

We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

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. 17: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma

2012 numbers: Made 119 tackles (90 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and three pass breakups.

Most recent ranking: Jefferson was ranked No. 13 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Jefferson: Jefferson's numbers benefited in a big way from Mike Stoops' new scheme and decision to move him to traditional safety. He was one of Oklahoma's most athletic defenders and one of its surest tacklers, and he made stop after stop in a scheme that funneled ballcarriers Jefferson's way. He didn't make a ton of plays in the passing game, but he was mostly solid until a late-season slide affected the entire Sooner D. Still, he left school early after a strong junior season that was a fitting crescendo to a career that began with a Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year nod back in 2010.

He's a physical presence at 5-foot-11 and 212 pounds who may need to work on his speed a bit to make a huge impact at the next level, but he was a star for the Sooners and finished second in the league in tackles this season. He's one-third of the Sooners' Cali Trio, who brought a whole lot of personality to Oklahoma's team on and off the field in each of the past three years.

The rest of the list: