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Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 10

By David Ubben

We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

We're officially in the top 10 now, so it's about to get heated, I'm sure. If you've got complaints, I've got a Mailbag. Let's hear it.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 10: A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State

2012 numbers: Made 117 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Intercepted one pass and returned it 87 yards for a touchdown. Broke up two passes and had one sack.

Most recent ranking: Klein was No. 10 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Klein: Consistency is Klein's calling card, and you see that in his preseason and postseason rankings. He didn't move. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder is a physical talent who might seem out of place for his size in this league, but he's got underrated skills in the open field and is certainly a sure tackler. He's helped Iowa State field a solid, consistent defense for the past few years and finished third in the Big 12 in tackles. Some weakness on the defensive line limits how many tackles he can make in the backfield, but when ball carriers get within his reach, they don't often leave it. Klein earned his status as one of the Big 12's best linebackers the past three seasons, and leaves Ames with a co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011. Late in the season, he had to fill in for his partner in crime, Jake Knott, after Knott's season ended prematurely with shoulder surgery. That necessitated a position change, and though that affected Klein's productivity a bit, it didn't affect his skill. He'll be fun to watch at the next level.

The rest of the list: