The top 25 players in the Big 12: No. 16

We're counting down to the beginning of the season with the top 25 players in the Big 12. The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing players from the bottom of the list all the way to No. 1.

Here's more on my criteria.

Let's move on with the list:

No. 16: Cornelius Lucas, LT, Kansas State

2012 numbers: Helped Kansas State rush for 2,522 yards and pass for 2,701 yards while giving up just 14 sacks.

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

Making the case for Lucas: Consider Lucas a warning shot from Kansas State to the rest of the Big 12. This time last year, nobody knew who Lucas was and for good reason: He had hardly played. As a junior in his first season as a starter, he emerged as one of the Big 12's top linemen.

The long-armed 6-foot-9, 328-pounder has freakish size and used his length to make a big splash as a first year starter for an offensive line full of questions in front of Collin Klein. He's a poster boy for what players who buy into Snyder's "16 Goals" can do. Expectations are high in his second year while question marks abound on the defensive line and just about everywhere else on defense, but guys like Lucas have to give K-State fans a lot of hope. He's another in a long line of hidden gems for Snyder at the school. He was just a two-star prospect who signed with the Wildcats as a 280-pound kid from New Orleans that only non-AQ schools in the area like Tulane or Louisiana-Lafayette were chasing.

For obvious reasons, his new size has NFL scouts eyeing him, and he kept the quickness and athleticism you'd expect from a smaller tackle. Now that he's filled out his frame, though, he's an imposing presence that should help K-State hold off a strong class of defensive linemen across the Big 12 this season.

The rest of the list: