Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The top 25 players in the Big 12: No. 19
By David Ubben
We're counting down to the beginning of the season with the top 25 players in the Big 12. The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing players from the bottom of the list all the way to No. 1.
Here's more on my criteria.
Let's move on with the list:
No. 19: Jalen Saunders, WR/PR, Oklahoma
2012 numbers: Caught 62 passes for 829 yards and three touchdowns. Returned five punts for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Most recent ranking: Saunders was unranked in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.
Making the case for Saunders: Nobody quite knew what to expect from the Fresno State transfer last season. Judging by the reaction when news broke that he'd been declared eligible, though, you knew the Sooners coaching staff had high hopes. Saunders showed why in the final nine games of the season, featuring a huge breakout game against Notre Dame with 15 catches for 181 yards.
Once eligible, Saunders had four games with at least 100 yards and five games with at least seven catches. Saunders was a 1,000-yard receiver in 2011 at Fresno State, but proved his skill set would make him a more than capable option on a major conference team. He'll be Oklahoma's best returning receiver and if you extend his per game average out for the games he missed, he would be the Big 12's third-leading receiver, behind only Texas Tech's Eric Ward and Oklahoma State's Josh Stewart.
The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder has a frame more reminiscent of a cornerback, but he's shifty and already one of the Big 12's toughest covers. His best work comes from the slot, and with Kenny Stills gone, look out for a huge year from Saunders that clears the 1,000-yard mark early in November.
The rest of the list:
- No. 20: Quandre Diggs, CB/PR, Texas
- No. 21: Tyler Lockett, WR/KR, Kansas State
- No. 22: Justin Gilbert, CB/KR, Oklahoma State
- No. 23: Le'Raven Clark, OG, Texas Tech
- No. 24: Shaun Lewis, LB, Oklahoma State
- No. 25: Damien Williams, RB, Oklahoma