Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The Big 12's top 10 defensive linemen
By David Ubben
So far this preseason, we've ranked the conference's best quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and linebackers. We'll even out the offense-defense balance a little more this afternoon with a ranking of the Big 12's top 10 defensive linemen.
This will encompass both ends and tackles, so get ready. The next few minutes you spend reading this could be among your life's most intense.
6. Adrian Taylor, DT, Oklahoma
Taylor faces an uphill battle after recovering from an ugly dislocated ankle in the Sun Bowl, but when he's at 100 percent, he's definitely one of the league's best. Overshadowed by NFL first-round talent Gerald McCoy last year, Taylor played nearly every snap alongside the star, finishing with 36 tackles, including seven for loss and 3.5 sacks. He'll line up next to former blue-chip recruit Jamarkus McFarland this year in the center of a defense that will try to stop the run like it did in 2009, when the Sooners ranked 10th nationally in rush defense.
7. Ugo Chinasa, DE, Oklahoma State
Chinasa should be one of the rocks of defensive guru Bill Young's defense in his second year in Stillwater. Chinasa's excellent speed off the edge helped him reach 6.5 sacks in 2009, including a strong finish against Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl, with 2.5.
8. Jake Laptad, DE, Kansas
One of the bright spots on a defense that struggled to a 10th-place finish in 2009, Laptad made 6.5 sacks as a third-year starter, earning All-Big 12 honorable mention. A better performance in conference (only two of his sacks came in Big 12 play, and one was against Colorado, who gave up 43 in 2009) would move him up this list in the postseason.
9. Pierre Allen, DE, Nebraska
Nebraska fans and coaches don't see a defensive dip in the team's future, and Allen is a big reason why. One of the new leaders of a defense that lost four starters from last year's team, Allen will get a chance to showcase his talents outside two good tackles once again in Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler. He'll be a third-year starter as a senior and by now, has seen about everything Big 12 offensive lines have to offer.
10. Kheeston Randall, DT, Texas
He's been called the key to the middle of Texas' defense, and the Longhorns' coaches expect a big season from their big 6-foot-5, 295-pound junior. He's got lots of talent around him, but after taking over as the starter last season, expect him to surpass his 25 tackles and two sacks from last season.
Honorable mention: Marquez Herrod, DE, Colorado; Lucas Patterson, DT, Texas A&M; Alex Okafor, DE, Texas; Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma