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Friday, June 18, 2010
Ranking the Big 12's best: No. 12

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Today is Day 14 of our countdown of the Big 12's 25 best players entering the 2010 season. The full results are locked in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player per day until we reach the top of the list.

Remember, this isn't a list of the top-25 NFL prospects in the league. It's heavily weighted toward actual accomplishment in players' college careers, as well as the likely impact for their teams in the 2010 season.

No. 12: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

2009 numbers: Second in the Big 12 in passing yards (3,593). Fourth-most touchdown passes (24). Second-fewest interceptions among full-season starters (8). Second-highest QB rating (140.46).

Most recent ranking: Gabbert was unranked in the past offseason's ranking of the conference's top-40 players.

Making the case for Gabbert: In his first season as starter, Gabbert nearly matched former Tigers quarterback Chase Daniel's numbers, and in Daniel's second season, he threw for almost 800 more yards, five more touchdowns and led his team to a North title and No. 1 ranking in December. There's no telling what's in Gabbert's future, but a similar jump could be a possibility. Though Daniel was more accurate, Gabbert has a stronger arm, and a prototypical quarterback frame at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. As a sophomore, he threw for at least 290 yards in eight games, and his numbers aren't skewed in any direction home or away, somewhat surprising for a first-year starter. Gabbert also played with a badly injured ankle for much of the conference season, courtesy of Ndamukong Suh in the conference opener. Though he loses his top target in Danario Alexander, the nation's leader in receiving yards, he'll have some experienced new receivers to throw to in Jerrell Jackson and Wes Kemp, as well as newcomer T.J. Moe.

The rest of the list: