- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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Earlier today, I released my Big 12 all-BCS era team. Here were the toughest players leaving off the team:
1. PR: Wes Welker, Texas Tech (2000-03) – I originally had Welker on my team as the punt returner. But then I had nowhere to put Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles, who only set an FBS record with 349 receptions and probably would have won the Biletnikoff Award in 2011 had he not been injured. While not at Welker’s level as a returner, Broyles was still prolific returning punts, so I wound up sticking him there to get him on the team. In hindsight, I should have just cheated and created three WR slots, as there was a decent drop-off after Justin Blackmon, Michael Crabtree and Broyles. That would’ve cleared space to keep Welker on the team.
2. LB: Dat Nguyen, Texas A&M (1998) – Nguyen was a tremendous player, but he was hurt by the fact he only played one year in the BCS era. Still, Nguyen was very deserving based on that one season. He was a unanimous All-American, and won the Bednarik (defensive player of the year) and Lombardi (best lineman or linebacker) awards.
3. PR: Antonio Perkins, Oklahoma (2001-04) – I had actually had Welker ranked slightly ahead of Perkins as a returner, so it wouldn’t have mattered if I had created three WR spots. Still, Perkins was a consensus All-American returner and set a record for punt return touchdowns in a game with three, and for that, he was in the conversation.
4. OG: Davin Joseph, Oklahoma (2002-05) – One area in which the Big 12 lacked quality options was at offensive guard. Texas’ Justin Blalock made the team as a guard, even though he was largely a tackle in college. Joseph, however, was a quality player for the Sooners, making 40 career starts while blocking for Adrian Peterson.
5. S: Earl Thomas, Texas (2008-09) – Thomas was the top safety left off the team. He was only at Texas for two seasons, but was a consensus All-American while leading Texas’ defense when it made the national championship game after the 2009 season. He was second in college football in 2009 with eight interceptions before leaving early for the NFL Draft.