Monday, January 23, 2012
The Big 12's 2011 All-Interview Team
By David Ubben
Excluding the shy guys, most players love interviews at first. After time, though, it does get old. Still, these are the players who made stories like mine and others great throughout the season.
With a nod to our buddies in the SEC, here is the Big 12 All-Interview team.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State: Weeden and the man below him on this team probably did more interviews than any player in the entire league in 2011. It was close for both. Through it all, though, Weeden showed up every week and held court, often for 30 minutes to an hour after games, offering up refreshing honesty and insight, as well as some good humor, often.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: Speaking of humor, RG3 is more than a Heisman winner with catchy socks. He's always good for a one-liner and his relentless positivity is more than a shtick. It's a huge reason why his team rallied around him the past few seasons and why so many talented players came (and will come) to Baylor. If you saw his Heisman acceptance speech, it's easy to see why he's on this team.
Fozzy Whittaker, RB, Texas: Whittaker's been through it all at Texas. Injury after injury, including a devastating knee injury that ended his career at Texas. A national championship run -- and title-game loss. A losing season. Being replaced by a freshman at the top of the depth chart. Every step of the way, he answered questions with a smile on his face and intellect in his answers. His teammates gave him a standing ovation the week after his knee injury, and I wish this blog could do the same.
Ben Habern, C, Oklahoma: More often than not, offensive linemen are a team's best interview. Throughout his career, Habern's held that title, and that was the case this season. He's smart, and helps guys like us in the media better understand the game from the inside, much like some coordinators do. It's appreciated.
T.J. Moe, WR, Missouri: So, maybe Moe got out of hand once, but he's good for an honest answer and a catchy one-liner to put in a story pretty often.
Blake Gideon, S, Texas: Like Whittaker, Gideon's been through a lot, too. Almost every year, it seems he's willing to sit and answer questions about one of the most painful football moments of his life. It's not fun to talk about, but it endears him to fans and provides a compelling story. Gideon was also great for insight into Texas' changing defense (and offense) this season.
Steven Johnson, LB, Kansas: Johnson, a former walk-on turned Big 12 tackles leader, plays with an intensity and answers questions with a smile on his face that comes from being a guy who feels blessed to be where he is.
Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State: Knott gave some memorable interviews this season helping put into context two of the most emotionally rewarding wins in his career: Iowa and Oklahoma State. He's also good to tell fans what it's like to be the toughest guy in the Big 12.
James Franklin, QB, Missouri: Franklin doesn't have much in common with his predecessors, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert, outside of starting his career with an eight-win season and looking like a player with tons of potential, much of which was realized in 2012. Along the way, he offered up lots of disarming honesty (perhaps too much at times) and a look back on his roots to help fans better understand who he is and what he's about.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein gets the award for maybe the most impressive thing I've ever heard in an interview. He's probably not the only one who can, but I've never heard anyone rip off Bill Snyder's 16 Goals for Success in about 10 seconds without so much as a pause. He's also great for a look inside the life of a QB who takes a beating every week and gets up hungry for more. The Big 12's version of the Honey Badger will be fun to watch and talk to in 2012.