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Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Ranking the Top 25 Big 12 players: No. 5

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.

We're in the top 10 now, so it might get a bit heated.

Got beef? Let's squash it.

No. 5: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

2010 numbers: Completed 304-of-454 passes (67 percent) for 3,501 yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Also ran for 635 yards and eight touchdowns on 148 carries. He added one reception for nine yards.

Most recent ranking: Griffin III was ranked No. 13 in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Griffin III: After suffering a torn ACL in 2009, Griffin shrugged off questions about his knee before the 2010 season, then showed the Big 12 why he wasn't concerned.

Defenses seemed intent on keying on containment for Griffin, which limited his carries a bit (he had 173 as a freshman in 2008) but he showcased a refined arm that's perfect for the Bears' short passing game. He also showed a much more accurate deep ball.

Griffin took big strides in 2010, and as a junior in 2011 with an offense that returns a lot of talent at receiver, that should continue. So could the Bears' rise if Phil Bennett can shape up a defense that finished 10th in the league in total defense. Griffin helped Baylor reach a bowl game for the first time since 1994, but the Bears have bigger things in mind for this season.

Griffin is the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the league, and if his improvement as a passer continues, he'll only continue to give defenses and their coordinators headaches throughout the season.

The rest of the list: