Big 12: Justin Brantley
|Julie Scheidegger-US PRESSWIRE|
|Missouri Tigers returner Jeremy Maclin is the Big 12's top special teamer.|
Want an idea how important some coaches consider this facet of the game? Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is seriously considering using Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree as a kick returner because of his big-play abilities.
Iowa State coach Gene Chizik already has stocked his special teams with starters after the Cyclones were repeatedly burned in that facet last season.
It should make key producers on special teams even more valuable. Here's my choice of the 10 best special teams players in the conference.
1. Missouri KR/PR Jeremy Maclin: Produced more all-purpose yards than any freshman in history last season and could be poised for an even bigger season as a sophomore.
2. Oklahoma KR DeMarco Murray: Led the conference in kickoff returns and could be emerging as the Sooners' top rushing threat.
3. Missouri K Jeff Wolfert: Former scholarship diver who has never missed a kick in Big 12 conference play.
4. Kansas State PR Deon Murphy: Led the conference in punt returns last season and should be ticketed for more use as a receiver in 2008.
5. Texas Tech CB L.A. Reed: Devastating special teams player earned himself a defensive starting position after starting his career at wide receiver because of his head-hunting propensity in covering kicks.
6. Texas A&M P Justin Brantley: Conference's leading returning punter boomed kicks for an average of 44.2 yards per kick last season.
7. Kansas State K Brooks Rossman: Best long-range kicker in the league after hitting career-long 52-yarder against Colorado.
8. Texas K Ryan Bailey: Reliable kicker who earned back-to-back Big 12 special teams player of the week honors last season.
9. Texas KR-PR Quan Cosby: Veteran player who is adept at returning kickoffs and punts.
10. Texas Tech P Jonathan LeCour: Seldom used because of the Red Raiders' explosive offensive attack, but still averaged 43.2 yard per kick in conference games to lead all returning players.
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
11:00 AM ET Nevada Louisiana-Lafayette 2:20 PM ET Utah State UTEP 3:30 PM ET 22 Utah Colorado State 5:45 PM ET Western Michigan Air Force 9:15 PM ET South Alabama Bowling Green
6:00 PM ET Marshall Northern Illinois 9:30 PM ET Navy San Diego State
12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Western Kentucky 8:00 PM ET Fresno State Rice
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State