Big 12: Quinn Sharp

Big 12 all-BCS-era team

January, 13, 2014
1/13/14
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After 16 years, the BCS era is finally over. Next season, college football will have a playoff instead.

With the BCS done, we've come up with our Big 12 all-BCS era team (1998-2013) below:

Offense

[+] EnlargeVince Young
Scott Clarke/Getty ImagesWith Vince Young at the helm, Texas won a national title and Rose Bowl.
QB: Vince Young, Texas (2003-05) -- Young led Texas to its first national title in 35 years with an unforgettable performance in the Rose Bowl against USC. The Heisman runner-up also became the first QB in college football history to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in the same season.

RB: Ricky Williams, Texas (1998) -- Williams was part of the BCS era for only one season, but what a season it was. He rushed for 2,327 yards and won the Heisman Trophy going away. Only Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne has more career rushing yards than Williams (6,279).

RB: Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma (2004-06) -- Despite battling injuries throughout his career, Peterson still was a beast in college. After rushing for 1,925 yards while leading the Sooners to the national title game, he finished second in the ’04 Heisman voting, even though there was still a stigma then in voting for a freshman.

WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech (2007-08) -- Crabtree became the first two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver. In '08, he and QB Graham Harrell led the Red Raiders to an upset of Texas and a No. 2 ranking in the polls.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (2009-11) -- Blackmon became the second and only other two-time winner of the Biletnikoff. In his final two seasons, he finished with 233 receptions, 3,304 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns, and he helped propel the Cowboys to their first Big 12 title in '11.

TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri (2005-08) -- Coffman had a monster statistical college career for a tight end with 247 catches for 2,659 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns. He won the ’08 Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end. Missouri won 37 games during the four years Coffman was in the lineup.

OT: Jammal Brown, Oklahoma (2001-04) -- Brown was a unanimous All-American and a three-time All-Big 12 selection. He became the fifth Sooner to win the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top interior lineman.

OT: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State (2007-09) -- In Okung’s final two seasons, Oklahoma State led the Big 12 in rushing yards. The Cowboys were also third in the country in ’07 in fewest sacks allowed with Okung at left tackle. He was a unanimous All-American and Outland finalist in ’09 and became the sixth overall pick in the ’10 NFL draft.

OG: Cyril Richardson, Baylor (2010-13) -- Richardson became Baylor’s seventh all-time unanimous All-American. The Outland finalist was also a key piece on the nation’s highest-scoring offense this season.

OG: Justin Blalock, Texas (2003-06) -- Though a guard in the NFL, Blalock actually started 50 games for Texas, most coming at right tackle. He was a three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection and a consensus All-American in 2006.

C: Dominic Raiola, Nebraska (1998-2000) -- Raiola was the inaugural winner of the Rimington Award, named after former Nebraska center Dave Rimington, which recognizes the best center in college football. He was an Outland finalist and a consensus All-American.

APB: Darren Sproles, Kansas State (2001-04) -- One of the most prolific all-purpose performers in college football history, Sproles finished his career with 6,812 all-purpose yards. Among his 39 consecutive starts, his most memorable performance came in the ’03 Big 12 championship, when he had 235 yards rushing and 88 receiving, as K-State upset top-ranked Oklahoma 35-7.

Defense

DE: Brian Orakpo, Texas (2005-08) -- Orakpo captured the ’08 Nagurski Award as the most outstanding defensive player in the country, and the Lombardi Award, given to the best college lineman or linebacker. He also was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American while piling up 11 sacks his senior year.

DE: Von Miller, Texas A&M (2007-10) -- Out of a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role, Miller led the nation with 17 sacks in ’09. He was a two-time All-American and won the Butkus Award in ’10 as the nation’s top linebacker.

DT: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska (2005-09) -- There was no more dominant defensive player in college football during the BCS era. Suh finished fourth in the Heisman voting in ’09 and won several national awards, including the Outland, Lombardi, Nagurski (most outstanding defensive player)and Bednarik (defensive player of the year). He was also a unanimous All-American and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

DT: Tommie Harris, Oklahoma (2001-03) -- Harris was a force from the beginning as a freshman on the OU defensive line. He won the Lombardi his junior year, and he was a two-time consensus All-American, garnering unanimous honors in ’03.

LB: Derrick Johnson, Texas (2001-04) -- Johnson was a menacing linebacker for the Longhorns, earning consensus All-American honors in ’03 and unanimous honors in ’04. He was also a three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection, and won the Butkus (best linebacker) and Nagurski awards as a senior. Johnson finished his career with 458 tackles.

LB: Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma (1998-2001) -- Calmus played a major role in OU’s resurgence under Bob Stoops. He won the Butkus in ’01 and was a finalist for the Nagurski and Bednarik. A three-time All-Big 12 pick, Calmus led the Sooners in tackles in all three of those seasons.

LB: Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma (2000-03) -- Lehman too won the Butkus, beating out Johnson for the award in ’03. He also was Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, captured the Bednarik, was a unanimous All-American and played in two national championship games.

[+] EnlargeTavon Austin
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesWest Virginia receiver and returner Tavon Austin had a huge 2012 season.
CB: Terence Newman, Kansas State (1999-2002) -- Newman was a solid player for Bill Snyder his first three seasons, then broke out as a senior. Newman was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, a unanimous All-American and the Thorpe winner, given to college football’s top defensive back.

CB: Derrick Strait, Oklahoma (2000-03) -- A four-year starter, Strait finished with a school-record 52 career pass breakups. He also won the Thorpe, and was a unanimous All-American.

S: Roy Williams, Oklahoma (1999-2001) -- Nicknamed “Superman,” Williams was the Big 12’s most dominating defensive player until Suh came along. He won the Thorpe and Nagurski in ’01, and was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American the same season. He also famously skied over the Texas offensive line to force the game-clinching interception to earn his moniker.

S: Michael Huff, Texas (2002-05) -- Huff became the first Longhorn to win the Thorpe, and was the leader of the ’05 national championship defense. He was also a unanimous All-American that season.

Special teams

K: Mason Crosby, Colorado (2003-06) -- Crosby was three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection, and twice was a consensus All-American even though he never won the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top kicker. He was also the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year as a junior, and converted 66 field goals in his career.

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State (2009-12) -- Sharp became the first three-time All-American in Oklahoma State history, and he earned All-American honors both as a punter and a kicker. He was twice named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year. In his career, he made 50 of 59 field goals, averaged 45.9 yards per punt and missed only one extra point.

KR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia (2012) -- Austin was in the Big 12 only one season, but he was unstoppable that one season. On top of being one of the most dangerous kick returners in the country, Austin had 1,289 yards receiving and 643 rushing, and finished second in the country in all-purpose yards.

PR: Ryan Broyles Oklahoma (2008-11) -- On top of being a prolific punt returner, Broyles was one of the most efficient receivers in college football history. He finished his career with an FBS-record 349 receptions, and was a two-time consensus All-American before a knee injury cut his senior season short.

Opening camp: Oklahoma State Cowboys

August, 2, 2013
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This is going to be a fascinating season in Stillwater, and the work (at least as a team, with coaches watching) begins today.

Let's have a closer look:

Schedule: Oklahoma State opens fall camp today after players reported on Thursday. They'll be working toward an afternoon opener on Aug. 31 in Houston at Reliant Stadium against Mississippi State.

Setting the scene: OSU won the Big 12 title back in 2011 and had a top-10 team preparing for a big-time opener back in 2009, but the hype around the Cowboys will be a lot different during this camp. They were an afterthought behind OU and Texas entering 2009 and were picked third in the league behind OU and Texas A&M in 2011. With a solid opponent waiting at the end of camp, the focus and urgency is always there during camp.

All eyes on: The coordinators. Mike Gundy brought in Mike Yurcich from the Division II ranks to run what's essentailly Dana Holgorsen's system. Linebackers coach Glenn Spencer was promoted to defensive coordinator after Gundy let Bill Young go at the end of a disappointing 2012 season defensively. Yurcich says he wants to go even faster than Holgorsen and 2012 coordinator Todd Monken, now the head coach at Southern Miss. Spencer balks at the suggestion that his defense will simply be more aggressive, but it'll be interesting to see what OSU preps in the next month ahead of that game against Mississippi State.

Key battle: Whatever you do, do not underestimate the impact of the guys whose feet touch the ball just a few times a game. Look no further than the 2011 upset loss to Iowa State for evidence of that. Quinn Sharp is gone, and now OSU is left to find a new punter, place kicker and kickoff specialist. Making matters tougher is Sharp was the best in the Big 12 at all three. Kip Smith is trying to win the punting and kicking jobs, but Michael Reichenstein (punter) and Bobby Stonebraker (kicker) will be competing as well. They've been Sharp's backups, and newcomer Ben Grogan joins the team for fall camp, too.

On the mend: Justin Gilbert's psyche. The cornerback looked like a rising star in his first year as a starter in 2011, but took big steps backward last season and got called out for his play by his head coach. He's as physically gifted as any corner in the league, even though his cover skills still leave a bit to be desired. The race for the Big 12's top cornerback by season's end will be interesting, but Gundy has expressed encouragement lately for Gilbert's progress since last year's rough go-around. He's got some good corners around him. Kevin Peterson is likely to win the starting job for the No. 2 corner, but Ashton Lampkin and Kansas transfer Tyler Patmon should provide some quality depth there.

Outlook: Oklahoma State brings back 14 starters from last season and for the first time in school history, has been picked to win the Big 12. "It's a tribute to a lot of players that have come before these guys that have worked hard," Gundy said. Expect OSU to be somewhere around No. 15 in the AP poll to start the season, but beginning the year with a target on their back is a brand new feeling for the Pokes.

Quotable: Gundy, on his approach of meddling "very little" in his coordinators' business. "I have a lot of confidence in the coaches on our staff and the decisions they make, and at the end of the day, they're the ones that have to instill it in the players in meetings and get it across to them on the practice field. They have to get them to perform on Saturday."
2012 record: 8-5
2012 Big 12 record: 5-4
Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners: QB Clint Chelf, WR Josh Stewart, CB Justin Gilbert, LB Shaun Lewis, LB Caleb Lavey, WR Blake Jackson, DT Calvin Barnett, S Daytawion Lowe, DE Tyler Johnson

Key losses: RB Joseph Randle, LB Alex Elkins, K/P/KOS Quinn Sharp, CB Brodrick Brown, DE Nigel Nicholas, WR Isaiah Anderson

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Passing: Clint Chelf* (1,588 yards)
Rushing: Joseph Randle (1,417 yards)
Receiving: Josh Stewart* (1,210 yards)
Tackles: Alex Elkins, Daytawion Lowe* (75)
Sacks: Tyler Johnson* (4)
Interceptions: Lyndell Johnson*, Daytawion Lowe*, Shamiel Gary* (2)

Spring answers

1. The defense's intentions are clear. Bill Young is out. Glenn Spencer is in, and he's all about playing aggressive. Tight coverage and blitzes are the name of the game, and we'll see if it pays off in a Big 12 lacking in quarterback experience. Last season, OSU's parade of turnovers came to an end, but Spencer seems intent on bringing it back. Nobody's stopping Big 12 offenses, but forcing turnover and holding teams to three in the red zone are how you succeed on defense in this league.

2. The offensive line is set ... for now. Center Evan Epstein and guard Lane Taylor are gone, but the Pokes are going with youth at left tackle in sophomore Devin Davis, moving last year's left tackle, Parker Graham, to left guard. Meanwhile, junior Jake Jenkins is sliding up to take Epstein's spot at center. That's how it ended in the spring, but OL coach Joe Wickline is kind of unpredictable, so those guys better continue to bring it in fall camp.

3. Athletic director Mike Holder is still running the show. Gundy and Holder had a disagreement on scheduling that nearly ended with Gundy packing his bags to succeed Derek Dooley in Knoxville. But Gundy's displeasure with Holder helping schedule Mississippi State this year and Florida State next year -- both on neutral fields -- hasn't changed much. OSU just announced a future home-and-home with Boise State. Who knows what Boise will look like then, but the intent is clear: Holder wants attention-grabbing, money-making games to start the season, not home games against patsies to help OSU run up an easy 3-0 mark before conference play begins.

Fall questions

1. Seriously, what's the deal at quarterback? Chelf is the safe bet at quarterback, but Gundy reneged on a statement midway through spring that he would hold onto his starting spot in Week 1 ahead of J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt. Now, Gundy says the starter for Game 1 hasn't been decided, and quarterbacks are off limits to the media with no updates being given until after the season opener. We'll see if Gundy sticks to it, and if Chelf hangs onto the starting job he earned with strong play to close 2012.

2. Is Oklahoma State a new Big 12 power? The Pokes broke through and won a title in 2011, but one title doesn't mean anything in the big picture. OSU is in position to win another and just may be the league favorite to start the season. They are in my book for sure. Two Big 12 titles in three seasons? That's serious, and the Pokes have a chance to do some special things this season.

3. Is Mike Yurcich the next super coordinator at OSU? Mike Gundy's been a head coach less than a decade, but his coaching tree is already way underrated. He's churning out head coaches year after year, highlighted by guys like Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia, Larry Fedora at North Carolina and Tim Beckman at Illinois. Todd Monken just left for Southern Miss, and if Yurcich, who stepped into the new role from a Division II school, keeps the pace for this offense, I'm betting he may attract interest before too long, too. Watching how he handles Year 1 will be interesting. Monken came from being an NFL position coach and made parlaying that into a head coaching job look easy.
More than 250 players were drafted over the weekend, but not everyone who plans on playing in the NFL made it happen.

Minicamps aren't far away, but players can sign with teams as soon as the draft ends. Many did over the weekend. Here's a look at the Big 12's notable signings.
A few thoughts:
  • Collin Klein is the obvious headliner on this list, and I'm torn on him. On the one hand, there's nothing like playing quarterback, and that's the position he wants to play and loves to play. On the other, he hasn't looked like an NFL passer at any point in his career, and he did his future career a disservice by not letting scouts get a look at him at receiver or tight end. He's a big body and an athletic, tough guy. If he wants to play quarterback and only quarterback, then fine. That's up to him. If he really is open to doing something else at the next level, he should have done more work at other positions. I don't see him making an NFL roster as a quarterback.
  • Safeties Tony Jefferson and Cody Davis should definitely make their respective rosters, however, and I'll be intrigued to see what Jefferson looks like and says once he's in camp. He sounded pretty salty on Twitter over the weekend. "I can't even attempt to express how I feel right now. Y'all really don't know how hurt/confused I am!" he tweeted. "Y'all don't even understand the fire inside of me man." Him going undrafted was definitely the most shocking Big 12 development of the draft for me, but he'll have a whole lot of motivation and a lot to prove.
  • I have to think Jake Knott would have gotten drafted if not for his shoulder surgery and being limited in workouts for NFL teams. He makes his name on his smarts, instincts and toughness because he lacks speed and a ton of agility, but being banged up and not testing well certainly didn't bode well for him in the immediate future. Mildly surprised that somebody didn't start drooling over his game tape and take a shot on him in the sixth or seventh round.
  • First guy in this group to get paid big soon? My money is on Quinn Sharp, the do-everything special teamer.
  • Very surprised to see Darrin Moore and Meshak Williams go unsigned so far. Moore is physically gifted, but lacked production and didn't make a team fall in love with him. Williams, though? I get that he's not exactly ideal size, but for his effort and production, how does some team not at least bring him into minicamp? That's just insane.
  • Watching the Big 12 quarterbacks is always interesting. Doege didn't have great arm strength, but had solid accuracy. Crist had the big arm, but his decision-making and accuracy were lacking. We'll see if either of those guys can make a splash with a fresh start in a new spot.
  • One final thought: If I have to hear the phrase "chip on their shoulder" another time in the next week, I'm going to lose it. For the record, if you really did have one, I'm fairly certain that's something that would require surgery.
You're seeing pro days start to come and go across the Big 12, and the NFL combine wrapped up late last month. With all of that, there's plenty of shake-up in the position rankings from NFL draft guru Mel Kiper . Here are the Big 12 guys who cracked his top five at each position.

Quarterback
  • Geno Smith moved into the No. 1 spot for quarterbacks, ahead of USC's Matt Barkley. We'll see if that changes with a good pro day from Barkley, but Smith definitely has a shot to crack the top 10, especially after Buffalo cut Ryan Fitzpatrick loose on Tuesday and looks as if it's in the market for a quarterback with the No. 8 pick.
Receiver
  • Tavon Austin secured the No. 1 spot with his huge day at the combine, sliding ahead of Cordarrelle Patterson. It's not quite a consensus if you look at other mock drafts, but Kiper's buying what Austin is selling.
Offensive tackles
  • Oklahoma's Lane Johnson is rocketing up draft boards now that scouts have had a chance to see what he can do athletically. He's No. 3 on Kiper's list of tackles, despite not being an All-Big 12 first-teamer a year ago.
Safeties
  • Texas' Kenny Vaccaro is widely considered the most complete safety in this draft, and he held strong with a good combine performance. He's still at Kiper's No. 1 spot.
Punters
  • Oklahoma State's Quinn Sharp's recent rough pro day wasn't factored in, but he's still No. 4 on Kiper's list.

Randle, Brown make waves at pro days

March, 13, 2013
3/13/13
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Joseph Randle couldn't have been happy with his 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, posting a disappointing 4.63 time that raised a few eyebrows about the two-time 1,000-yard rusher for Oklahoma State.

He changed a bit of that as the main attraction at the Cowboys' pro day Tuesday, posting a much-improved time of 4.51 seconds that puts him right back in mix for running backs in terms of speed. Only five backs at the combine were faster. A thumb injury kept Randle from bench-pressing in front of scouts from 25 NFL teams in attendance in Stillwater, but he did a great job erasing the biggest question mark that surfaced at the combine.

Randle's clearly faster than a 4.63 guy, so his new time seems like a more accurate reflection of what we saw on the field the past three seasons.

Kansas State also held its pro day Tuesday, but it was closed to media and no official results were released. Linebacker Arthur Brown was the main attraction, reportedly recording 21 reps on the 225-pound bench press clocking somewhere in the 4.5-4.6 range on his 40-time, validating his status as one of the draft's top linebackers. He sat out workouts at the combine because of a shoulder injury.

Back at Oklahoma State, offensive lineman Lane Taylor definitely drew some attention Tuesday after posting 31 reps on the 225-pound bench press. Despite being a two-time All-Big 12 talent, Taylor didn't earn an invite to the combine, but his performance on the bench would have been good for seventh among all prospects at the event in Indianapolis last month.

The Pokes weren't short on surprises, too. Hubert Anyiam, the team's leading receiver in 2010, showed up to work out after not catching on with a team in the NFL last season while also battling an ankle injury, but All-Everything special-teamer Quinn Sharp (and the lone specialist I've ever named to my top-25 players list) shanked a pair of kickoffs and missed three consecutive kicks from 45 yards.

Last season, Sharp was 7-of-10 from beyond 40 yards and 19-of-19 from inside 40 yards. He obviously wasn't happy with the performance, but especially for a kicker, his outrageous numbers from the past two seasons will mean a whole lot more than one rough day. I don't know about Sharp's chances to get drafted, but I'd be shocked if he didn't get a real chance in somebody's camp next fall.
The NFL scouting combine is the biggest annual showcase of future football stars before the NFL draft, where players who have entered the draft get measured, run through drills and show scouts and coaches what they can do without any pads on.

This year, a record 333 players have been invited, and the Big 12 landed 30 invitations.

Draft stock can swing wildly during the week, with the main event -- the 40 time -- often serving as the catalyst for that stock. Call it silly, and in some ways it is, but it's the reality of the process. Here's who's headed to Indianapolis from the Big 12:
Pretty good set of players there. You can see them when the combine kicks off Feb. 20.

Offseason to-do list: Oklahoma State

January, 30, 2013
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Every year, there's lots of turnover and change for every college program. What do the Big 12 teams need to do before next fall? Let's continue our look with the Cowboys up in Stilly.

1. Sort out the "mess" at quarterback. Let me be clear when I say this: Oklahoma State has a good problem at quarterback. It has three guys who I really think could win a Big 12 title in Stillwater next season, but you've got to make it clear that one is your guy. That's what this spring is about. Clint Chelf will take the tag of starter into his last spring practice as a Poke, but sophomores J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt will be right there challenging him. Again, this is a good problem to have, and these guys will all make each other better. I don't expect Walsh's short-yardage package to go anywhere regardless of who wins the job, but I still buy Lunt as the future of the position for Oklahoma State, as long as he stays healthy. The game will slow down for him in his second season, and the mistakes will lessen as a result.

2. Adjust to a new face leading the defense, and mature. The Pokes' defense wasn't awful this past season, but they're going to be loaded with talent in 2013. Can that become production? The defense brings back eight starters, headlined by CB Justin Gilbert, LB Shaun Lewis and DT Calvin Barnett. The secondary loses only Brodrick Brown, but Kevin Peterson is a promising player who can help that secondary bounce back from a disappointing 2012. Linebacker Alex Elkins is gone, but new coordinator Glenn Spencer slides into the role after coaching linebackers under Bill Young, who didn't have his contract renewed at the end of the season. Can Oklahoma State get back to forcing turnovers in bunches like it did under Young, but slow opposing offenses better than ever before?

3. Fill a gigantic hole in special teams. Quinn Sharp has done everything for Oklahoma State's special teams for the past two seasons and has been one of the Big 12's best kickers, punters and kickoff specialists all at once throughout that period. He emerged as a punter, but did a fantastic job in all of his roles after replacing Dan Bailey as kicker. Oklahoma State's had the luxury of not worrying about special teams with Sharp there, and it's hoping to have that continue. We'll see what happens this offseason when the Pokes try to replace Sharp. Oklahoma State actually has three kickers returning (Bobby Stonebraker, Matt Green, Cody Phillips) and one punter, Michael Reichenstein.

More offseason to-do lists:

Lunch links: Big 12 AD meetings updates

January, 28, 2013
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Let's keep it this warm forever.
Here's a bit of what you missed over the weekend:

If you thought this was the year the Big 12's 10 athletic directors could meet and not discuss expansion, you were dead wrong.

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby has made it clear that the Big 12 isn't necessarily looking to expand, but could other conferences force the Big 12's hand? The league's athletic directors will discuss expansion at this week in a tone that I'd expect to simply be one of exploration. Bowlsby confirmed to multiple media sources last week that the discussion would take place this week. I wouldn't expect much to come of these talks, but a more pressing matter is a scheduling alliance and/or television partnerships with three different leagues, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

"It's purely exploratory," Bowlsby told the paper. He also added that he'd had conversations with three leagues, including the ACC, about a partnership. Nothing was imminent, he said.

I would be surprised if the Big 12 didn't have a clear direction in that regard after this week, but it may still have to wait for the fog over the college football landscape to clear a bit (playoff anyone? ACC buyouts on the way to the Big Ten?) to know what the future holds for the Big 12 in regards to expansion.

Big 12 players in the Senior Bowl

The main event at the Senior Bowl is the week of practice. Most often, scouts skip town before the game itself. Still, Saturday was a fun exhibition and the last time a lot of players across the Big 12 will wear their alma mater's helmet. How did they do?

Oklahoma State kicker Quinn Sharp was the only Big 12 player to score, hitting a 42-yard field goal and an extra point in the South's 21-16 win over the North.

Oklahoma's Landry Jones struggled mightily, completing just 3 of 9 passes for 16 yards and was sacked twice for losses of 22 yards. Texas receiver Marquise Goodwin caught five passes for 44 yards, second-most among all players on Saturday. He also returned a pair of punts for 30 yards. Kansas State's Chris Harper caught a 12-yard pass.

Not much action defensively for the Big 12 players in attendance. Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson and the Cowboys' Sharp were the only Big 12 players to record tackles.

Like we said before, this game is an exhibition, and scouts got their most meaningful notes during the earlier week of practice. The game is not completely irrelevant, but a rough outing isn't enough to make a huge dent in any player's stock, and a huge game (which no Big 12 player had anyway), isn't going to be enough to move a player up too far.
Time to kick off our official list of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a look at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

Here goes nothin' ...

No. 25: Quinn Sharp, K/P/KOS, Oklahoma State

2012 numbers: Made 28 of 34 field goals and 72 of 72 extra points. Kicked off 102 times for 71 touchbacks. Averaged 46.3 yards on 44 punts.

Most recent ranking: Sharp was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players. He was, however, listed on a group of players who "just missed" the list.

Making the case for Sharp: If you've followed this list for long, you know how momentous Sharp's inclusion truly is. Since the birth of these lists, I've refused to include special-teams players on the basis that they're simply not on the field for enough plays to warrant inclusion. Great players, yes. The league's best players? No. Nebraska's Alex Henery was the only guy who nearly made it, but Sharp has officially convinced me, and he's making history. He's a kickoff specialist, punter and kicker, and he's probably the best player in the Big 12 at all three. You could make a case for a few others at punter, but there's no contest for kickoff man and place-kicker. He made 28 of 34 field goals this season, and only K-State's Anthony Cantele made a higher percentage. Still, he made nine fewer kicks this season than Sharp. Sharp also kicked off 102 times, but 71 of those went for touchbacks. His 28 made field goals were three more than any kicker in college football, and his 71 touchbacks were also three more than any player in the country. No other Big 12 kicker had more than 39, though. His 46.3 yards per punt led the league and was fourth nationally, and his 74-yard punt was the second longest of any punter in the league. He was also third nationally in net punting yardage, so you know his big leg wasn't too big for his coverage team to help make a difference.

The All-Big 12 Bowl Team

January, 10, 2013
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The Big 12 had nine teams in bowl games this season, and here is the best of the best in the Big 12's postseason. Let's get to it.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsDavid Ash's big plays fueled Texas' comeback against Oregon State.
QB: David Ash, Texas: He edges out Clint Chelf because of his game-changing plays in the Longhorns' win against Oregon State. Ash had the best play of the entire bowl season with a crazy escape and acrobatic touchdown pass to Johnathan Gray, and he hit Marquise Goodwin on a 36-yard bomb to put the Longhorns ahead in the final minutes. He finished 21-of-33 with 241 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 22 yards and a score.

RB: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor: Seastrunk helped Baylor rout UCLA with 138 yards and a score on 16 carries in the Bears' Holiday Bowl win.

RB: Glasco Martin IV, Baylor: How many rushers did the Big 12 have this bowl season who had at least 95 yards? Two, and both played for Baylor. Martin scored three touchdowns in the Holiday Bowl and carried the ball 21 times for 98 yards. Heck of a night for the Bears backs.

WR: Darrin Moore, Texas Tech: Moore was the most consistent receiver in the bowl season with 11 catches for 84 yards, keeping the chains moving for the Red Raiders in their Meineke Car Care Bowl win against Minnesota.

WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia: Despite playing in a snowstorm, Bailey had the best performance of any Big 12 receiver. He caught eight balls for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It wasn't enough to get the Pinstripe Bowl win, but no other Mountaineer scored a touchdown.

WR: Marquise Goodwin, Texas: The track star's touches were limited, but he had a huge impact. His 36-yard grab with 2:24 to play proved to be the game winner, and he finished with four catches for 68 yards. He also had one carry -- which he turned into a 64-yard touchdown, looking as fast as any player in college football while streaking to the end zone.

TE: Ernst Brun Jr., Iowa State: Brun caught four passes for 102 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown, to get the first-quarter party started for the Cyclones, which scored 17 points in the quarter. The rest of the game was forgettable, but Brun had one of the longest plays of Iowa State's season.

OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor: The Bears' left guard was a big reason why Baylor had so much success running the ball. Baylor racked up 306 yards on the ground against UCLA.

OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State: Purdue's Kawann Short is a stud and arguably the team's best player, but Taylor helped Oklahoma State rack up 58 points and helped hold the Boilermakers defensive tackle to just one tackle and one sack. Short had minimal impact throughout the game.

OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders ran the ball well -- on the few occasions they did -- and Seth Doege had plenty of time. Waddle was a big reason why for both.

OL: Lane Johnson, Oklahoma: Texas A&M wrecking ball Damontre Moore declared for the NFL draft before the Cotton Bowl, but credit Johnson at tackle, who helped hold him to five tackles, one tackle for loss and zero sacks, despite Landry Jones throwing 48 passes.

OL: Ivory Wade, Baylor: Those 306 yards rushing for the Bears didn't come easy. Most of them came on the interior, and Wade was a solid presence in the middle of the line.

DEFENSE

DL: Chris McAllister, Baylor: He was one of a handful of guys to hold UCLA's Johnathan Franklin to 34 yards on 14 carries, had five tackles, including two sacks, and batted down a pass to help keep UCLA's passing game grounded.

DL: Alex Okafor, Texas: Okafor is my defensive MVP of the Big 12 bowl season. He gave Oregon State's offensive line nightmares and helped the Longhorns stage a late comeback with 4.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and eight stops. He also forced a fumble.

DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State: The Wildcats had a rough night against Oregon, but Williams played pretty well with nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

DL: Terrance Lloyd, Baylor: Lloyd was part of the Baylor gang who helped UCLA have its worst running game of the season. He had four tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack. No zone read for you.

LB: Terence Garvin, West Virginia: Garvin was everywhere for the West Virginia defense, which largely struggled in a blowout loss to Syracuse. He forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, broke up a pass, had two sacks, made three tackles for loss and had 15 tackles.

LB: Tyler Johnson, Oklahoma State: Johnson blew up what Purdue likes to refer to as its "passing game." He made six tackles, had two sacks and forced two fumbles, including a huge hit on Purdue quarterback Robert Marve.

LB: Eddie Lackey, Baylor: Lackey was another part of Baylor's defense that put together one of its best games of the season. He made 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and five tackles.

DB: Jason Verrett, TCU: Most of Michigan State's night was frustrating in the passing game before some late success, and Verrett was a big reason for those struggles. He broke up two passes, made a tackle for loss and had 12 tackles.

DB: D.J. Johnson, Texas Tech: Johnson made 14 tackles and is on this team for one of the biggest plays of Texas Tech's season. The defense hadn't forced a turnover since Oct. 20, but Johnson picked off a Gophers pass in the final minute with Minnesota driving and the game tied. He returned it 39 yards, helping to set up the winning field goal as time expired.

DB: Jeremy Reeves, Iowa State: Reeves returned a Cody Green interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of the Liberty Bowl loss. He had six tackles with a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

DB: Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State: No second-half comebacks for Purdue. Lowe opened the half with a 37-yard fumble return for a score and made seven tackles with half a tackle for loss.

SPECIALISTS

KR: Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech: This one is pretty simple. Grant returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score, giving Texas Tech a 7-3 lead early in the first quarter of its Meineke Car Care Bowl win.

PR: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State: Purdue faked a punt to keep its opening drive alive but punted on its next set of downs. The always-shifty Stewart delivered a 64-yard punt return, giving Oklahoma State the ball on the Purdue 19-yard line. The Cowboys scored for a 7-0 lead to kick off the Heart of Dallas Bowl rout.

K: Jaden Oberkrom, TCU: He edges out Texas Tech's Ryan Bustin, who kicked a 28-yard winner, for making all three of his attempts, including a crazy 53-yarder for a 16-14 lead with 2:42 to play. He also made kicks of 47 and 31 yards.

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State: He narrowly edges out Oklahoma's Tress Way (five punts, three inside 20, long of 58 yards, average 49.4 yards) for this award after pinning Purdue inside its 20-yard line on two of his three punts. He boomed a 65-yarder and averaged nearly 53 yards on his three punts. He was more valuable for Oklahoma State because field position mattered to Purdue. It didn't to Texas A&M.
You saw Tony Jefferson and Kenny Stills' reportedly made their NFL draft decisions over the weekend, but colleague Mel Kiper dropped his latest top five juniors Insider and seniors at each position Insider. You need Insider to see the full lists, but I'll give you a taste in this post.

Here's who cracked the list from the Big 12, with still a whole bunch of guys around the league with draft decisions to make.

Quarterbacks
Running backs


Fullbacks
Wide receivers
Offensive guards

Centers



Offensive tackles
Defensive ends
Outside linebackers
Safeties
  • Texas' Kenny Vaccaro is the No. 1 senior.
  • Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson is the No. 2 junior.
Punters

Interesting to see how those rankings change as the Senior Bowl happens, players enter the draft or decide to stay in school and the NFL scouting combine and pro days take place.
The Senior Bowl, hosted each year in Mobile, Ala., is the biggest postseason showcase for upperclassmen to be noticed by NFL scouts in advance of the pre-draft combine.

Six players from the Big 12 have been invited and accepted so far, with later additions still possible. The bowl made some headlines earlier this offseason when a report surfaced that Kansas State's Collin Klein wouldn't be invited, but here's who's going to Mobile from the Big 12.
That's a pretty solid group. As the name suggests, only seniors are eligible. Okafor is coming off a strong bowl showing, and Harper, Brown and Jones all have big games still ahead to get some buzz going before building their draft stock.
The season has come and gone, and brought with it an All-Big 12 team. But where do these guys come from? How easy is it for a no-name recruit to earn all-conference first-team honors?

We looked at the All-Big 12 offense on Monday. Then we moved on to the defense on Tuesday. Let's take a look at some of the league's top specialists today. I didn't limit this list to just first-teamers.

You'll need ESPN Insider Insider to see each player's recruiting page from back in the day, but I excerpted a bit of what the scouts had to say about each player coming out of high school.

Quinn Sharp, K/P/KOS, Oklahoma State
  • Sharp was not ranked or scouted when he came out of Arlington, Texas in the 2008 class. He did put 75 percent of his kicks into the end zone for touchbacks, made a 52-yard field goal and was 13-of-14 on field goals as a senior in 2007.
Anthony Cantele, K, Kansas State
  • Cantele went to Missouri State to play soccer after high school. Then ended up at Kansas State and became one of the Big 12's best kickers. (Snyder, y'all. Seriously.) He was 10-of-12 on kicks as a senior in Wichita, Kan. and was 20-of-23 for his career.
Kirby Van Der Kamp, P, Iowa State
  • Van Der Kamp was the nation's No. 27 kicker in the 2010 class. The West Des Moines, Iowa native was graded at a 74 by scouts. He was also a goalie on the soccer team. Scouts take: Van Der Kamp plays wide receiver at a top-level high school, but he is blossoming as a punter. The 6-foot-3 athlete has solid leg speed and hands. On punts of 50-plus yards, he can hit 4.9 second on his hang time. His lefty spin on the ball should make it difficult for Big 12 returners. The FBS level talent had multiple solid showings at Kohl's events and he should get better in college when he is able to focus specifically on punting.
Tyler Lockett, KR, Kansas State
  • Lockett was the nation's No. 170 receiver and drew interest from Kansas and Houston, as well as TCU. The Tulsa, Okla. native was graded at 74 by scouts. Scouts take: Lockett is a savvy, versatile slot receiver that could also play running back in the spread offensive as a utility player. He is undersized, but stocky and looks to have a sturdy build. He is very crafty and makes plays. Isn't always flashy, but has a knack for getting open and is very good against zone coverage. Comes off the ball quickly and gets into coverage. Accelerates nicely, runs low and is an effective player in all three phase. Locates soft spots in zone coverage, knows where to settle and can be counted on the make the catch across the middle or in a crowd. He is a sneaky deep threat.
Tavon Austin, PR/KR, West Virginia
  • Austin was the nation's No. 41 running back, and the Baltimore native was given a grade of 78 by scouts. He was also the No. 75 player in his region. Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Penn State also recruited him. Scouts take: Austin is a smallish but dynamic prospect who has the skills to be a good change-of-pace or scatback runner at the next level. He lacks great size, but he runs harder and bigger than his measurables suggest. He's dangerous on the perimeter and in space, but also very good between the tackles as a zone runner. Can pick and stab his way through traffic and decisively hit small cutback creases without losing much in transition. Shows good body control, vision and balance. Excels at changing gears and eluding defenders with sudden bursts and sharp cuts.
Tramaine Thompson, PR, Kansas State
  • Thompson was the nation's No. 137 athlete in the 2009 class. The Jenks, Okla. native was graded at 74 by scouts and drew interest from Arkansas, Colorado and Oklahoma State. Scouts take: Thompson is a quick-footed slot receiver prospect who excels at creating mismatches in space and could be a nice weapon in an open spread offense. Has very marginal height and overall size which is a concern when projecting for the next level. Does utilize his smaller frame and great foot-quickness when matched up versus less agile linebackers and safeties in space. Can stretch a defense with his good vertical speed and is also very difficult to mirror tightly as a route runner with his sharpness and quickness out of his breaks.

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