Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big 12 [Print without images]

Monday, March 21, 2011
Who was the Big 12's best player in 2010?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

It's been a fun month counting down the Big 12's best players during the 2010 season. We've talked about plenty, but none were better in the 2010 season than the man who topped our list, a decision that wasn't a difficult one.

Wondering why players were ranked where they were ranked? Here's my criteria for the list.

Without further ado, the best player in the Big 12 was...

Justin Blackmon
Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon caught 111 passes for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns this past season.
No. 1: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

2010 numbers: Blackmon caught 111 passes for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also carried the ball four times for 77 yards and a touchdown.

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

Making the case for Blackmon: It's pretty easy to gloss over a player catching eight balls for 125 yards against Washington State, even if he scored three touchdowns. It's Washington State. The Cougars won three games and finished 110th nationally in scoring defense. Even when Blackmon did the same to Tulsa and Louisiana-Lafayette's similarly struggling defenses, it was hard to feel supremely confident a player with 20 career catches entering the season could keep that pace.

But he made us keep watching.

And when the season was over, he made every defense he faced look like Washington State, putting together one of the greatest seasons by a receiver in college football history. His season featured six games with at least 10 catches, and four more with at least eight. He scored at least two touchdowns in six games, but the most impressive part of Blackmon's excellence is his consistency.

His streak got plenty of attention at the end of the year, but think about how many receivers have played college football, and how many greats have written their legacies at wideout over the past few decades. Not one caught a touchdown and accounted for 100 receiving yards in every game he played. Blackmon did.

Additionally, there's no avoiding just how important Blackmon was to Oklahoma State's offense. The Cowboys finished No. 3 in scoring offense with more than 44 points per game, and never scored fewer than 33 points in any game this season with Blackmon in the lineup.

In the one game Blackmon sat out with a suspension, Oklahoma State managed to score just 24 points against one of the Big 12's worst defenses, Kansas State, which was giving up more than 445 yards and almost 30 points a game.

From August to January, Blackmon went from relative unknown to the unquestioned best player in the Big 12. It's pretty obvious how rare that is. And the best news for Oklahoma State fans? He and his quarterback, Brandon Weeden (No. 10 on this list) will be back in 2011.

I'm excited to see what they've got in store.

The rest of the list: