Big 12: 2012 All-Underrated Team

All-Big 12 Underrated Team: Defense

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
4:00
PM ET
Every year, we crown an All-Big 12 team here at ESPN.com, but we also like to give some recognization to guys who don't get enough credit for just how good they really are. These are their stories.

Here's our All-Underrated Offense from Wednesday.

DL: Jake McDonough, Iowa State

McDonough quietly put together a season that was definitely an All-Big 12 first-team type of year. His numbers aren't eye-popping (31 tackles, 5.5 TFL, two sacks), but you can't often grade nose guards on their statistics. The 280-pounder was a force in the middle of the line for the Cyclones.

DL: Kerry Hyder, Texas Tech

Hyder was a big piece of Texas Tech's defensive resurgence under Art Kaufman this year. The defensive tackle bulled his way to 13.5 tackles for loss, the same number as Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Meshak Williams. Tech needed help rushing the passer and slowing the run. Hyder did both.

DL: Adam Davis, Kansas State

Meshak Williams and Arthur Brown get all the press on K-State's defense, but Davis was a huge force, too. He had two sacks in the win over Miami, 1.5 sacks in the win over West Virginia and finished sixth in the league with 11.5 tackles for loss. He was fourth in the league with six sacks.

DL: Toben Opurum, Kansas

Opurum's got a well-chronicled road to his current spot on the D-line, leading KU in rushing in 2009 before switching postitions under Turner Gill. KU's defense was better this year, and so was Opurum. It's tough to put up big numbers when KU was getting beaten, but he made six tackles for loss and forced two fumbles.

LB: Bryce Hager, Baylor

Yes, when your offense is on the field, you get more opportunities to make tackles, but ask K-State what it thinks of Hager. He was a cruise missile against the Cats and seemed to be in Collin Klein's face all night. He led the league with 115 tackles and added eight tackles for loss and three sacks. He also forced two fumbles and had six games with double-digit tackles.

LB: Ben Heeney, Kansas

Heeney's another playmaker all over the field for a defense that struggled at times. He's a speedy, versatile playmaker for the Jayhawks, who made 112 tackles and 12 tackles for loss.

LB: Jarell Childs, Kansas State

Childs' biggest play of the season was the scoop and score against Oklahoma, but he was solid for the Wildcats all year, and filled in admirably after Tre Walker's knee injury forced him into more playing time. He recovered two fumbles and finished with 64 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.

DB: Karl Joseph, West Virginia

Joseph broke out as a true freshman and was basically the lone bright spot on a deservedly maligned West Virginia defense this season. He forced three fumbles, intercepted two passes, made seven tackles for loss and racked up 95 tackles. There's a big career ahead of him.

DB: Bradley McDougald, Kansas

McDougald was the Jayhawks' best defender this season and one of the big reasons for KU's big improvement on that side of the ball. He picked off three passes, forced two fumbles, had four tackles for loss and made 92 stops at safety.

DB: Durrell Givens, Iowa State

Givens was a turnover machine this season. He forced four fumbles, picked off three passes and made 77 tackles. His money stat, though? He recovered a nation-high six fumbles for the Cyclones. That's just ridiculous and is good enough on its own to land him on this list.

DB: Cody Davis, Texas Tech

The Red Raiders' leader doesn't get the press of the league's elite safeties like Kenny Vaccaro, Tony Jefferson or even Ty Zimmerman, but he's solid, even if he doesn't have the physical skills of Vaccaro or Jefferson. He's still one of the league's brightest players. That shows up in his decision making and on-field discipline that kept Tech from giving up the bushels of big plays it did a year ago.

All-Big 12 Underrated Team: Offense

December, 26, 2012
12/26/12
4:00
PM ET
Every year, we crown an All-Big 12 team here at ESPN.com, but we also like to give some recognization to guys who don't get enough credit for just how good they really are. These are their stories.

QB: Nick Florence, Baylor

When was the last time the nation's leader in total offense struggled to even sniff a nod on an All-Big 12 team? The Big 12 quarterback pool is deep this year, but Florence deserves plenty of recognition for a huge season, even if it featured a few too many interceptions. He led the league in passing yards, too.

RB: Damien Williams, Oklahoma

Williams' home-run hitting was much needed for the Sooners, whose season may have looked very different without some huge runs from Williams in wins over UTEP and TCU. Not to mention his 95-yard highlight against Texas, which didn't necessarily change the outcome but provided an unforgettable moment.

RB: James Sims, Kansas

Sims just might be the best back in the Big 12 and didn't even receive a first-team nod from the league's coaches. KU has zero help or support by way of a passing game for Sims. Everybody in the stadium knows he's getting the ball, and yet, he remained productive this season, his best yet.

FB: Braden Wilson, Kansas State

Wilson's a quiet member of one of the league's best rushing attacks. How has Kansas State had Collin Klein and John Hubert each over 895 yards rushing in each of the past two seasons? Ask Bill Snyder to talk about Wilson some time. He'll stop about 45 minutes later.

WR: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State

Stewart doesn't get the same respect as elite receivers in the Big 12 like Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey or Terrance Williams, but he's really not all that far off. OSU throws it around to a lot of different receivers, but Stewart racked up 96 receptions this season. Only two other receivers in the league had more.

WR: Eric Ward, Texas Tech

Ward doesn't get the respect from media, fans or even defenses as other guys on his team, but he's been the most consistent receiver for the past two years for Ward. He led the Red Raiders in receiving last year and did it again this year with 974 yards and 11 scores. Look for him to hit 1,000 yards in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

WR: Tevin Reese, Baylor

Reese is one of the league's most dangerous deep threats, and that alone puts him on this list. He's got eight touchdown catches this season, and averaged 50.8 yards on those eight scores. Ridiculous.

OL: Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas

Hawkinson's calling card is his consistency. Not many guys have played four seasons without missing a game, but Hawkinson racked up 48 starts in four bowl-less seasons for the Jayhawks. He's been consistently one of the league's better linemen. There are more talented guys, but he's been solid and doesn't get the recognition because of KU's struggles.

OL: Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

My lasting memory of Johnson was an impactful one: He completely erased Devonte Fields from the season-ending, Big 12 title share-clinching win in Fort Worth over TCU. Fields, arguably the league's best pass rusher, made just two tackles and none for loss. Johnson has one of the most unbelievable stories in the league, transforming from junior college quarterback into Big 12 offensive tackle (with stops at tight end and defensive end along the way), but he's been solid for the Sooners this season.

OL: Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech

Clark had a big impact on the Red Raiders' line in his first year as a freshman starter after redshirting in 2011. He was as good as any freshman lineman in the league, and his profile's going to rise quickly next season and beyond. He's got NFL written all over him.

OL: Mason Walters, Texas

Walters might actually be the best offensive player on Texas' entire team. Guys like Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray might have more potential or get more pub, but he's been unbelievably solid since earning a starting spot as a freshman. He's started 37 consecutive games for the Longhorns.

OL: Ivory Wade, Baylor

Wade has a decent case as the Big 12's best center, but got surpassed this season by guys like B.J. Finney at Kansas State and Joe Madsen in West Virginia. Regardless, all Wade did was have a really solid season alongside stud Cyril Richardson blocking for the nation's No. 1 offense.

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