The top 25 players in the Big 12: No. 9

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. 9: Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State

2012 numbers: Intercepted five passes and made 50 tackles, including three tackles for loss. Also broke up two passes and recovered a fumble.

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

Making the case for Zimmerman: You don't need to do much more than watch Kansas State's loss to Baylor to see proof of Zimmerman's talent and value to the Wildcats, who fielded one of the best defenses in the Big 12 a year ago. He suffered a leg injury late in the fall and missed K-State's final two regular-season games. The back line of the defense sprung a sizeable leak and K-State held its No. 1 BCS ranking for only one week.

The 6-foot-1, 204-pounder will be a fourth-year starter this season and has entrenched himself as one of the defense's leaders since he earned freshman All-American honors in 2010. Before sitting out against Baylor, he had started 35 consecutive games and picked off passes in K-State's first four Big 12 games, including wins over Oklahoma and West Virginia. All five of his interceptions came in Big 12 play, more than any other player in the conference.

He's the Big 12's best returning safety, and as long as he stays healthy he should stand alone as the best man in the league at his position for 2013.

The rest of the list: