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Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Ranking the Big 12's best players: No. 9

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

The official list of the Big 12's top 25 players is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we're revealing the list day by day here on the blog. Here's a refresher on my exact criteria.

Sam Acho
Texas' Sam Acho finished with eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss last season.
We're inside the top 10 now, so things should heat up a little bit. Have a gripe with the list? Let me know in the mailbag.

No. 9: Sam Acho, DL, Texas

2010 numbers: Acho made 58 tackles, including 15.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He also had 12 quarterback hurries, forced five fumbles and broke up a pass.

Most recent ranking: Acho was ranked No. 15 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Acho: Don't let the Longhorns' disappointing season be too much of a distraction: Acho put up an All-American caliber season as a senior and easily earned a spot in the top 10 of our ranking. He was the only Longhorn to truly impress this year, but he did it in a big way.

His five forced fumbles were second-most nationally, and his eight sacks were fourth-most in the league. His 15.5 tackles for loss were third in the league, too. Acho was a consistently disruptive force for a Longhorns defense that ended up being pretty underrated at season's end, thanks to the offensive struggles and team's overall record.

Few players in the league were in the backfield more and tougher to block than Acho, who was one of the team's defensive leaders. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder won the Campbell Trophy, analogous to the Academic Heisman that's open to all sports, and earned a well-deserved unanimous spot on the All-Big 12 first team.

The two-year starter will be missed next year. He's expected to be selected during the first two days of the NFL Draft in April.

The rest of the list: