Big 12: Kevin Williams

The Big 12 and NFL draft history

April, 27, 2011
For just the second time ever, the first round of the NFL draft will be the only part of the draft's first day, set for primetime on Thursday night.

This year, the Big 12 could have as many as five first-round picks, and five players from the league are in New York for the draft.

So, let's take a look back. Since the first NFL draft of the Big 12 era, who has the most first-rounders?

Texas: 16
Oklahoma: 12
Oklahoma State: 6
Missouri: 4
Kansas State: 3
Texas A&M: 2
  • 2003: DT Ty Warren, 13th overall, New England Patriots
  • 2003: DB Sammy Davis, 30th overall, San Diego Chargers
Texas Tech: 1
Kansas: 1
  • 2008: CB Aqib Talib, 20th overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baylor: 1
Iowa State: none since 1973 (George Amundson)

A few thoughts and observations:
  • I doubt many would be surprised that this list is also a reasonably accurate reflection of overall success since the Big 12's inception in 1996. Obviously, Texas and Oklahoma have dominated. Since 2000, Texas has the nation's fourth-most first-rounders. Oklahoma is No. 6. Their success has paralleled that, along with recruiting rankings.
  • In that same breath, it's impossible to look at this list and not once again be impressed with what Mike Leach did. He obviously has the reputation as an overachiever, but looking big picture, he was able to do it with one first-round pick. Nobody beat Texas and Oklahoma more and Leach helped put together what is still the Big 12's longest bowl streak.
  • Texas' consistency sticks out, too. Since just 2001, Texas has had two first-rounders in six different seasons. If you've got two first-rounders on your team, you're probably going to be pretty good. The Longhorns, if you haven't noticed, have been. Those two first-rounders in six seasons are more or as many as half the league has in the history of the Big 12. What else you should note? Texas is unlikely to have a first rounder this year, and after Aaron Williams is drafted, Sam Acho probably will be the next to go, which won't be until the third or fourth round.
  • Oklahoma State and Missouri's rise over the past three seasons has paid off in the NFL draft. Missouri had three first-rounders in the last two seasons and figures to add two more this year after having just one in the 12-year history of the league before 2009. That's quite a streak, and even more proof of what Gary Pinkel has built at Missouri. One more piece of evidence? Despite losing those two first-rounders, Missouri should be back in the preseason polls next year after losing two of its top players. That's definitely something new in Columbia. The Cowboys figure to add more soon with Justin Blackmon at least. As long as Pinkel and Gundy are at the helm for their respective programs, expect them to continue to rise.
  • Don't be surprised by Texas A&M's swoon following R.C. Slocum's departure. From 1990-1998, the Aggies won nine games every season but one. From 1990-96, the Aggies had eight first-round picks. Since 1998? Two seasons with at least nine wins and just two first-round picks.
  • More evidence you can't underestimate the importance of having first-round picks? None for Baylor in the history of the Big 12 before Art Briles. In just three years, Briles may have three if the Bears add two more this year with Phil Taylor and Danny Watkins. Taylor and Watkins both came from unlikely sources. Taylor was a Penn State transfer and Watkins a juco transfer that formerly worked as a fireman in Canada.

Five Big 12 alumni named to NFL All-Decade team

February, 2, 2010
The Big 12 was solidly represented with five players on the NFL's All-Decade team that was announced over the weekend.

Among the players who attended what are now Big 12 schools include Texas A&M punter Shane Lechler and kick return specialist Dante Hall, Oklahoma State tackle Kevin Williams, Texas Tech linebacker Zach Thomas and Nebraska guard Will Shields.

Those five players are a nice number and are tied for third among all conferences. But they pale behind some of the more dominant national programs and conferences. Five players from the University of Miami made the team, including running back Edgerrin James, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Ray Lewis, safety Ed Reed and punt return Devin Hester.

Here's the count of players by conference, including the Division I-AA and II conferences listed. The groupings are how the teams are affiliated in conferences today, meaning that Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College are considered to be in the Atlantic Coast Conference rather than the Big East.

There are actually 52 players who were selected for 53 positions. Hall was picked as both a kickoff and punt return specialist on the team, accounting for two places.
  • Atlantic Coast 11
  • Southeastern 7
  • Big 12 5
  • Big Ten 5
  • Mountain West 4
  • Pacific-10 4
  • Mid-American 3
  • Big East 3
  • Western Athletic 2
  • Sun Belt 1
  • Conference USA 1
  • Calif Collegiate 1
  • Southern 1
  • SWAC 1
  • Colonial 1
  • Mid-America IAA 1
  • Missouri Valley 1

And here's a list of players grouped by their respective colleges.
It's a strong showing for the Big 12 and particularly for Texas A&M, which has little to cheer about over the last decade in terms of consistent success. Both Hall and Lechler are links to the Aggies two-time South Division championship team in 1997 and 1998.

12 former Big 12 players make NFL Pro Bowl rosters

January, 27, 2010
Announcements made this week to tweak the rosters because of injuries and Super Bowl replacements have resulted in 12 former Big 12 players from nine different schools making rosters for the NFL's Pro Bowl Sunday night at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

Here's a team-by-team look at Big 12 schools and their alumni who were selected for the game. Some will see action and others will miss the game because of injuries.










Oklahoma State's all-decade team

January, 21, 2010
Oklahoma State has emerged as a consistent power under Les Miles and Mike Gundy with bowl trips in seven of the last eight seasons.

The Cowboys have done it with a star-studded array of top players who have dotted their rosters over the last few years, most notably at wide receiver and running back. I was left with a tough choice between Adarius Bowman or Dez Bryant as the second wide receiver behind Rashaun Woods. And at running back, I went over and over as I tried to decide between Kendall Hunter, Keith Toston or Vernand Morency to go along with Tatum Bell.

After some careful deliberation, here are my choices for the Cowboys' top players of the last decade.


QB: Zac Robinson

RB: Kendall Hunter

RB: Tatum Bell

WR: Rashaun Woods

WR: Dez Bryant

TE: Brandon Pettigrew

OL: Russell Okung

OL: Corey Hilliard

OL: Sam Mayes

OL: Charlie Johnson

C: David Washington


DL: Kevin Williams

DL: LaWaylon Brown

DL: Juqua Thomas

DL: Greg Richmond

LB: Terrence Robinson

LB: Dwayne Levels

LB: Patrick Lavine

DB: Perrish Cox

DB: Vernon Grant

DB: Elbert Craig

DB: Darrent Williams

K: Luke Phillips

P: Matt Fodge

Ret: Perrish Cox

Offensive player of the decade: WR Rashaun Woods. His emergence in the early part of the decade foreshadowed the Big 12’s development into the most pass-happy conference in the nation. Despite facing constant double-coverage, he produced 293 catches and was the first receiver in Big 12 history to reach 4,000 career receiving yards.

Defensive player of the decade: DT Kevin Williams. Excelled as a mainstay in the Cowboys’ defensive front, making 42 starts in his career. He helped transform the Cowboys’ defense into a tough run-stuffing unit, making 160 tackles and 18.5 sacks over his career.

Coach of the decade: Mike Gundy. His coaching career is no longer dominated by sound bites of eruptions at press conferences. Gundy has directed the Cowboys to four straight bowl trips and back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time in 21 seasons.

Moment of the decade: Josh Fields directs 2001 comeback victory at Oklahoma. Fields came off the bench to rifle a 14-yard touchdown pass to Rashaun Woods with 1:36 left, and the Cowboys held on for a 16-13 victory. The Oklahoma State defense notched three interceptions and seven sacks of Nate Hybl and gave Bob Stoops his first home loss.

The Big 12: Home of Pro Bowl defensive tackles

June, 16, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

There was an interesting item the other day in Mike Sando's fine NFC West blog about the preponderance of Pro Bowl defensive tackles that the Big 12 has produced.

Sando's research indicates there are currently six players from Big 12 schools who have earned Pro Bowl honors at defensive tackle: Oklahoma's Tommie Harris (Chicago), Oklahoma State's Kevin Williams (Minnesota) and Jamal Williams (San Diego), Texas A&M's Pat Williams (Minnesota) and Texas' Shaun Rogers (Cleveland) and Casey Hampton (Pittsburgh).

No other conference has more than four Pro Bowl defensive tackles at the present time.

That esteemed Big 12 group better get ready for a couple of new members. Because if Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy are nearly as good as I suspect they will be at the next level, it wouldn't surprise me if either of them make a Pro Bowl roster or two in the future with continued health and development.

Looking at the Pro Bowl list showed me several players who were dominant in college in Harris, Rogers and Hampton. Kevin Williams was a strong player at Oklahoma State who really didn't come on until his senior season. And Jamal Williams and Pat Williams have really blossomed once they made the NFL. Pat Williams, in fact, didn't play in the Big 12 and has blossomed in his mid-30s while playing in the NFL.  

Sando's list made me think about who I think have been the best 10 defensive tackles in Big 12 history. These rankings are subjective and based solely on their performances in college football.

(Read full post)

Updated Big 12 draft numbers after the weekend

April, 28, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

I got a lot of good feedback from readers who said they were intrigued by my system that ranked different Big 12 programs on the quantity and quality of their draft picks.

My system was relatively simple. I extrapolated my own formula, giving seven points for a first-round draft pick, six points for a second-round draft pick, five points for a third-round draft pick, four points for a fourth-round pick, three points for a fifth-round pick, two points for a sixth-round pick and one point for a seventh-round pick.

Here's how the 2009 draft played out for Big 12 teams:

1. Missouri: 30
2. Texas Tech: 22
3. Oklahoma: 18
4. Texas: 17
5. Texas A&M: 8
6. Baylor: 7
6. Oklahoma State: 7
6. Kansas State: 7
9. Nebraska: 6
10. Colorado: 1
11. Kansas: 0
11. Iowa State: 0

And here's an update including all of the NFL drafts since the Big 12 began play in the 1996 season. The scoring actually begins with the NFL's 1997 draft. The number in parenthesis is where the school ranked before this year's draft:

1. Texas: 232 (2)
2. Nebraska: 231 (1)
3. Oklahoma: 222 (3)
4. Texas A&M: 166 (4)
5. Kansas State: 140 (T5)
6. Colorado: 134 (T5)
7. Oklahoma State: 79 (7)
8. Missouri: 77 (9)
9. Texas Tech: 74 (8)
10. Kansas: 45 (10)
11. Iowa State: 42 (11)
12. Baylor: 29 (12)

And here's another little piece of draft trivia that came to me last night while I was looking at draft lists in the middle of watching the Denver-New Orleans debacle on television: Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State each had first-round selections in the 2009 draft, but no other players selected in the draft. These included Baylor T Jason Smith (second pick, St. Louis), Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew (20th pick, Detroit) and Kansas State QB Josh Freeman (17th pick, Tampa Bay).

That's only happened two previous times in Big 12 history. It occurred for Missouri in 2001 with DE Justin Smith (fourth pick, Cincinnati) and with Oklahoma State in 2003 with DE Kevin Williams (ninth pick, Minnesota).

And it happened with an asterisk for Texas in 2002, when first-round selections T Mike Williams (fourth pick, Buffalo) and CB Quentin Jammer (fifth pick, San Diego) were the only selections for the Longhorns in that draft.

The best NFL players for each Big 12 team

April, 22, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

I got a lot of good feedback last week after I detailed a post that listed the top NFL player from each Big 12 school in the modern era.

ESPN Stats & Information went back through every draft of the modern era -- since the NFL-AFL merger -- to determine the players who accomplished the most during their NFL careers.

The rankings were based on the following criteria: Hall of Fame induction, MVP awards, All-Pro first-team selections, All-Pro second-team selections, Pro Bowls, offensive and defensive player of the year and rookie of the year awards and membership on a Super Bowl-winning or -losing team. A player scores on the ranking system when he earns at least one of those honors.

Specifically, this was the criteria that was used:


Players received points based on the following criteria, coming up with rankings for the 13,808 NFL players who have played since 1967:

Super Bowl loss (1 point)
Offensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Defensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Pro Bowl (2 points)
Super Bowl win (3 points)
AP All-Pro second team (3 points)
AP All-Pro first team (4 points)
AP Defensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Offensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Most Valuable Player (8 points)
Hall of Famer (15 points)

After popular demand, here's how the formula calculated the five most valuable NFL players produced from each Big 12 school. I'm curious what some of your thoughts about these players and others might be.

Remember, this includes only players who were drafted. So free agents like Wes Welker were not included.


Mike Singletary 81
Mike Nelms 22
Vann McElroy 10
Gary Green 8
Thomas Everett 8


Dick Anderson 30
Cliff Branch 29
Mark Haynes 23
Chad Brown 15
Charles Johnson 14
Alfred Williams 12


Matt Blair 18
Keith Sims 9
Marcus Robertson 5
Otto Stowe 4
Karl Nelson 3


John Riggins 25
Dana Stubblefield 24
Nolan Cromwell 21
Leroy Irvin 15
Larry Brown 14


Larry Brown 34
Martin Gramatica 8
Barrett Brooks 3
Clarence Scott 2
Henry Childs 2
Terence Newman 2


Roger Wehrli 44
Kellen Winslow 40
Eric Wright 23
Russ Washington 16
Mel Gray 12


Will Shields 44
Roger Craig 30
Neil Smith 28
Irving Fryar 17
John Dutton 13


Lee Roy Selmon 46
Keith Jackson 28
Billy Sims 14
Roy Williams 14
Adrian Peterson 13
Greg Pruitt 13


Barry Sanders 93
Thurman Thomas 60
Kevin Williams 24
Leslie O'Neal 16
Dexter Manley 13


Earl Campbell 65
Doug English 21
Steve McMichael 21
Bill Bradley 17
John Elliott 16


Shane Lechler 31
Lester Hayes 29
Richmond Webb 28
Ray Childress 26
Sam Adams 13


Zach Thomas 40
Curtis Jordan 4
Dylan Gandy 3
Maury Buford 3
Ted Watts 3
Timmy Smith 3

Source: ESPN Stats & Analysis Team

Big 12 has eight Pro Bowl representatives

December, 17, 2008

Posted by's Tim Griffin

The Big 12 held up with a good, but not great, showing Tuesday when the Pro Bowl rosters were announced by the NFL.

A check of the rosters of both the AFC and NFC indicated that eight former Big 12 players were selected. That total ranks the conference third among the other conferences.

Here's how the conferences rank in Pro Bowl players.

  • Atlantic Coast: 19
  • Southeastern: 14
  • Big 12: 8
  • Big Ten: 7
  • FCS teams: 7
  • Conference USA: 6
  • Pac-10: 6
  • Big East: 4
  • Mid-American: 3
  • Mountain West: 3
  • Sun Belt: 2
  • WAC: 2
  • Independents: 2
  • Comm. college: 1

Here's a breakdown of how Big 12 schools were represented

And the Big 12 teams hardly ranked among some of the nation's powerhouse programs. Here's a look at how the schools with multiple selections broke down

  • Miami: 6
  • Florida State: 5
  • Tennessee: 3
  • Alabama: 2
  • Auburn: 2
  • California: 2
  • Central Florida: 2
  • Kent State: 2
  • LSU: 2
  • Michigan: 2
  • Mississippi: 2
  • North Carolina State: 2
  • Notre Dame: 2
  • Ohio State: 2
  • Pittsburgh: 2
  • Texas: 2
  • Texas A&M: 2
  • Utah: 2
  • Virginia: 2