- Jake Trotter, College Football
- 0 Shares
Over the next two weeks, we'll be evaluating who the 10 best players are on every Big 12 roster this spring.
Again, these lists won't include junior college or freshman signees who have yet to arrive on campus. We're only looking at players currently with their teams this spring. These rankings are sure to change, but here's our best assessment for the moment. We continue with the two-time defending Big 12 champs from Baylor:
1. OT Spencer Drango: Drango, who will be a four-year starter at left tackle, is one of the premier blindside protectors in college football. A first-team AP All-American last season and two-time first-team All-Big 12 performer, Drango has been a key part of Baylor offenses that have ranked first, first and fourth nationally in scoring the past three seasons.
2. DE Shawn Oakman: A man of many memes, the 6-foot-9, 280-pound Oakman intimidates with his size and his play. He was second in the Big 12 last season with 11 sacks, and in just two years with the Bears he has posted 32 tackles for loss.
3. DT Andrew Billings: Billings doesn't put up the numbers that Oakman does because of where he plays. But there were few more dominating defensive linemen in the country last season than Billings, who was a first-team All-Big 12 pick. Despite facing constant double teams, Billings still finished with 11.5 tackles for loss in 2014.
4. WR Corey Coleman: Coleman is next in line of Baylor's recent run of big-time wideouts. As a sophomore last season, he took over as quarterback Bryce Petty's favorite target to finish third in the Big 12 with 1,119 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. With Kevin White and Tyler Lockett both gone, Coleman figures to be the league's premier pass-catcher in 2015.
5. RB Shock Linwood: In his first season as Baylor's featured runner, Linwood quietly placed second in the league with 1,252 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Linwood, who also earned first-team All-Big 12 honors, might not possess the power of Oklahoma's Samaje Perine or the breakaway ability of TCU's Aaron Green. But his balanced skill set is an ideal fit between the tackles out of the Baylor offensive machine.
6. WR KD Cannon: Cannon is the other reason why Baylor might have the best one-two punch at receiver in the country. Despite being a secondary option alongside Coleman and Antwan Goodley last season, Cannon finished with 58 receptions and more than 1,000 yards receiving as a true freshman. Though much of that production came during the non-conference when Goodley and Coleman were hurt, Cannon still put up 124 receiving yards in the win against TCU, then 197 and two touchdowns in the Cotton Bowl. There might not be a more dangerous deep threat in the Big 12 this season.
7. LB Taylor Young: Young excelled in 2014 after stepping into the starting lineup following an early-season ankle injury to Aiavion Edwards. As a redshirt freshman, Young finished second on the team behind Bryce Hager with 91 tackles and was the AP's Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year. With Hager gone, Young has taken over as Baylor's primary linebacker.
8. DT Beau Blackshear: Billings and Oakman get all the headlines -- and for good reason -- but Blackshear has been a solid player in his own right. He has started at tackle the last two seasons for the Bears, and recorded 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last year.
9. DE Jamal Palmer: That's right, another Baylor defensive lineman makes this list. Palmer missed most of last year with a torn ACL, but he was having a banner season until the injury. Two years ago he was honorable-mention All-Big 12, and with defenses likely to be keyed on Oakman and Billings, Palmer should have plenty of chances at the quarterback in 2015.
10. FS Orion Stewart: The Bears are hoping Stewart can become the anchor of the secondary the way former All-American Ahmad Dixon did two years ago. Stewart has the talent to, but he just needs to add the consistency.
We continue the top-10 player spring update with the two-time defending Big 12 champs from Baylor.