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Friday, February 10, 2012
Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 22

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Our countdown of the Big 12's top-25 players continues today. The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we're revealing a new member of the list every day.

Here's a quick rundown on my criteria for this list.

No. 22: Ronnell Lewis, LB/DE, Oklahoma

2011 numbers: Made 60 tackles and 13 tackles for loss. Added 5.5 sacks and broke up four passes. Forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.

Most recent ranking: Lewis was unranked in our preseason list of the top 25 players.

Making the case for Lewis: The Hammer finally dropped in 2011, emerging as one of the league's best defenders, though a late injury and some slowed production ended his bid for the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year award. Lewis worked primarily at defensive end for the Sooners, and along with teammate Frank Alexander, who did win the award, formed the most fearsome pass-rush duo in the entire Big 12.

Lewis suffered a knee injury in a loss to Baylor and missed the final two games with academic issues, but his physical tools will make him a solid option for any NFL team in the late first round or second round of April's draft. Not bad for a guy who began his career as an eight-man football star in tiny Dewar, Oklahoma. He finished the season seventh in the Big 12 in tackles for loss and tied for eighth in sacks.

The rest of the list: