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Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Tough road ahead for TCU's Fields to repeat

By David Ubben

I asked you earlier this week to weigh in on your pick for the Big 12's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Considering the postseason player of the year was just a freshman in 2012 and obviously returns for 2012, I figured the voting would be simple for the fans.

Apparently not.

TCU's Devonte Fields earned just 18 percent of the vote, finishing third in our poll. He hasn't had a fantastic offseason, but still, I'm surprised to see a pair of upperclassmen eclipse Fields in the voting.

Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat took home the title with 30 percent of the vote, just ahead of fellow senior Ty Zimmerman, a safety from Kansas State. Zimmerman earned 26 percent of the vote.

Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin checked in at fourth with 17 percent of the vote, well ahead of TCU cornerback Jason Verrett, who earned just nine percent of the vote.

Even though Fields finished a lot lower in the vote than he probably should have, I'd say the fans mostly got it right. I'm taking Jeffcoat as the single best defender in the Big 12 this year, and might have beat out Fields for the postseason honor if he'd stayed healthy. I hate to see what's becoming an annual injury for Jeffcoat, who's so loaded with potential. He's produced a lot when he's on the field, even though he still has to develop his technique and not rely quite so much on his freakish athleticism. I'm betting he does a good deal of that this offseason, especially since I'm sure he heard similar feedback from NFL teams.

A big year for Jeffcoat could mean a top-10 selection in next May's NFL draft. Zimmerman's a solid, instinctive player who Kansas State needs to play well this season, but I don't necessarily see him as a guy who'll end the season as the Big 12's best safety. He's solid. He's well above average, but it's hard for me to envision him winning the league's Defensive Player of the Year award in the pre- or postseason.

I'm surprised to see Verrett get as little of the vote as he did, especially considering he outplayed Colvin last season. We can only use five players in our polls, so don't be surprised if guys like Karl Joseph or Calvin Barnett get votes next month. Still, for me, when the ballots arrive, I'm with the fans on this one: Jeffcoat gets my vote.