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Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The Big 12 Top 25: Honorable mention

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

So, after today, we only have three players left in our top 25. The most devoted among you can probably name them. Though I won't divulge the order until the time is right, you'll see.

Anyway, there were lots of players I considered but didn't include. Here are the top players that just missed the cut, in no particular order.

Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri: Egnew, at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, is a heck of an athlete. He showed it with 90 catches for 762 yards and five scores last year. It's not meant as a criticism, but his gawdy numbers are more a product of big opportunities in Missouri's offense than anything he's done individually. Egnew was a huge part of the bubble screen game in 2010, but when that job went more often to Danario Alexander in 2009? Egnew had three catches for 25 yards. His 8.47 yards per catch in 2010 ranked 44th in the Big 12. Very good player. Not an irreplaceable player like so many others on the top 25.

Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M: Michael has the clear ability to be in the top 25, but you can't put in a player that missed half the season. Here's guessing Michael, who I think enters 2011 second only to his teammate, Cyrus Gray, in ability, cracks the postseason top 25. He's up 12 pounds to 221 this season. No linebacker wants to see that coming through the hole in the offensive line.

Kheeston Randall, DT, Texas; Tony Jerod-Eddie, DT, Texas A&M; Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma: These three are arguably the best defensive linemen in the league, behind Missouri's Brad Madison. I had each on my first-team All-Big 12 ballot. Unfortunately, there aren't any defensive linemen in the Big 12 that truly scare offenses, and defensive lines on the whole are a weak spot in the Big 12. Each of these players may develop into players offensive lines truly fear, but none are there yet. At least not enough to warrant placement on the top 25 list.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: A few Aggies wanted me to take into account Tannehill's receiving acumen in 2008 and 2009, as well as his talents at QB that finally found the spotlight in 2010. Nope. Tannehill took hold of a shaky team in midseason last year, and he was close to the top 25, but six starts with very, very modest numbers aren't enough to put him on the level of Griffin, Weeden or Jones just yet. Maybe by the end of this season, but right now? No way. That said, his status as the fourth-best QB in the league is nothing to shrug off. I see big things for him in 2011.

Trent Hunter, S, Texas A&M: Very good player, but not quite a game changer just yet in a pretty good group of Big 12 safeties. Hunter made 62 tackles and two picks for a much-improved defense. Without Von Miller, it will need his senior leadership.

Josh Cooper, WR, Oklahoma State: Cooper's huge 2010 season got completely dwarfed by some guy named Justin Blackmon. Cooper's 68 catches ranked No. 7 in Oklahoma State school history and were more than six Big 12 team's leading receivers. Receiver in the Big 12 is absolutely stacked, but don't count me among those that hasn't taken notice of Cooper's efforts.