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Monday, May 16, 2011
Player polls: What you think, what I think

By staff

If you missed my take on our team polls last week, here you go. Moving on to the player polls.
Justin Blackmon
Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon will open the season as a leading candidate to be the Big 12's offensive player of the year.
Who is the offensive player of the year? Comment: Interesting results here. Personally, I'll be voting Blackmon in the preseason, but if I had to guess, I think Jones wins the official award in December. Blackmon should have a big season, but I don't think he'll be able to duplicate what he did last season with defenses focused on shutting him down and a new, inexperienced playcaller.

Meanwhile, if Jones duplicates what he did last season and Oklahoma wins 11 games, Jones will take this award home, and probably the Heisman. Christine Michael's return will be great for the Aggies, but bad for Gray's chances to win the award.

Who is the defensive player of the year? Comment: Like I wrote last week, this one's wide open. I'll probably be voting for Lewis in the preseason, but at the end of the season, I can't shake the feeling that someone will come out of nowhere to win the award, a la Blackmon a year ago. Lewis is the most established name in the group (which, by the way, should have included Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott. My bad on that one.), but we haven't really seen any of these guys take over a game the way Von Miller or Jeremy Beal could, or even the way Nebraska's secondary worked together to do it.

Which player will have the conference's biggest impact?
Comment: Rather than mix the top offensive and defensive players in this poll, I went with relative unknowns nationally. I was pretty surprised with the results. Brown being the best of this group next season wouldn't surprise me one bit, but I'm going with Arthur Brown, who if I was pressed right now, I'd bet on being the best defensive player on Kansas State's team next season, with apologies to David Garrett.

Malcolm Brown will have brighter lights on him in Austin, but Arthur Brown was making a big impact on the scout team last season and this spring as a likely starter.

Who will be the conference's most improved player? Comment: Both good choices here, and about what I expected. Moore has more space to make an impact with his improvement, but Nelson sounds ready to be a major player at this level. He just has to wait for his opportunity to be a key cog for the defense.

Moore, meanwhile, could have a very different profile nationally this time next year.

Who is the Big 12's toughest player to replace? Comment: No love for my pick here, Daniel Thomas. He had just eight percent, the second fewest votes. Gabbert probably would have been my No. 2. Miller's raw size-speed numbers are the hardest to replace or duplicate, but in terms of what he meant to the defense or offense, Thomas and Gabbert should leave behind bigger holes.

Miller was hurt early in season, and (admittedly, Damontre Moore had a lot to with it) the Wrecking Crew held on. There was a lot of talent around Miller and the Aggies should still be fine next seaosn.

Can anyone imagine what Missouri or Kansas State would have looked like without Gabbert or Thomas? Bryce Brown has plenty of hype, but Thomas' production the past two years with so much attention being paid to the line of scrimmage was staggering. He was the Wildcats' entire offense the last two years. Kansas State probably would have won 5-6 games in 2009 and 2010 without him. We'll see how they do with his replacement.

As for Gabbert, Franklin will learn on the go this season, but him trying to do it last season? Scary thought for Tigers fans.

This is a question that, perhaps more than the others, we can't answer until maybe October, but finding out will be fun.