Big 12: Stephen Ruempolhamer

Spring superlatives: Iowa State

March, 9, 2012
Time to continue our series breaking down each team's best and worst positions entering the 2012 season. Iowa State is up next.

More spring superlatives: Strongest position: Linebacker

This one is clear. Iowa State topped our position rankings at linebacker, and for good reason. Or, perhaps more accurately, two good reasons.

Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year A.J. Klein and teammate Jake Knott make up the best 1-2 punch at linebacker of any team in the country, and sophomore C.J. Morgan should fill out the unit heading into the spring. Knott was banged up all over throughout the 2011 season, but he and Klein were still the most productive duo of any linebackers in the Big 12.

They combined for 231 tackles and finished second and fourth in the Big 12 in tackles. Even scarier for the rest of the Big 12? They'll both be back and be third-year starters in 2012. Look out, especially if Knott stays healthy during the season.

Weakest position: Defensive line

If you want to know why Iowa State had such trouble stopping opposing offenses last year, point to this unit. Additionally, its most productive members are gone after last season.

Patrick Neal and Jacob Lattimer combined for 6.5 sacks, and are gone. As is tackle Stephen Ruempolhamer, who added five tackles for loss and 2.5 more sacks.

End Roosevelt Maggitt returns, as does tackle Jake McDonough, but Iowa State has big holes in a trouble spot for the defense.

The Big 12's Official 2011 All-Name team

August, 11, 2011
We talk about it constantly and haphazardly throw players on it, but here's your official 2011 All-Name team, courtesy of yours truly.

Any player on a current roster, regardless of role on the team, is eligible.

The only requirement: Your name must be awesome, for any number of reasons.


QB: Steele Jantz, Iowa State
RB: Mister Jones, Texas A&M
RB: Brandon Bourbon, Kansas
FB: Joel Ossom, Oklahoma
WR: Uzoma Nwachukwu, Texas A&M
WR: Jaz Reynolds, Oklahoma
TE: Trent Ratterree, Oklahoma
OL: Trevor Marrongelli, Kansas
OL: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
OL: Austin Wuebbels, Missouri
OL: Spencer Drango, Baylor
OL: Manese Foketi, Kansas State


DL: Stephen Ruempolhamer, Iowa State
DL: Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, Baylor
DL: Pearlie Graves, Texas Tech
DL: James Castleman, Oklahoma State
LB: Toben Opurum, Kansas
LB: Tom Wort, Oklahoma
LB: Cqulin Hubert, Texas Tech
DB: Quandre Diggs, Texas
DB: Terrance Bullitt, Texas Tech
DB: Happiness Osunde, Texas Tech (formerly Junior Osunde)
DB: Sawyer Vest, Texas Tech


K: Bobby Stonebraker, Oklahoma State
P: Michael Reichenstein, Oklahoma State

Any snubs? Who's the MVP?
We've tackled every other spot, and now we'll wrap up out Big 12 position rankings with the defensive lines across the Big 12.

Here are the rest of the position rankings.
Now that we've finished ranking the complete units, we'll start ranking the top 10 at each position very soon leading into the 2011 season.

This is a decent position for the Big 12 this season, and the top half of the league should feel pretty good about their group. There aren't many studs in this group, but there are a whole lot of solid players.

Brad Madison
AP Photo/Pat SullivanMissouri has one of the Big 12's best pass rushers in Brad Madison.
1. Missouri -- Missouri has the Big 12's best returning pass rusher and a Defensive Player of the Year contender in Brad Madison, but its depth is what lands it on top of the list. Jacquies Smith is solid at the opposite defensive end spot, and Michael Sam and Kony Ealy provide great depth at DE. Dominique Hamilton's absence last season hurt after breaking his ankle against Oklahoma, but he's back, alongside Terrell Resonno. Sheldon Richardson, who may be transferring from junior college, is a wildcard that could be anywhere between a complete game changer, irrelevant or absent.

2. Oklahoma -- Oklahoma's defensive tackles are somewhat suspect, but the defensive end combo of Ronnell Lewis (provided he is eligible come fall camp) and Frank Alexander is on par with the best in the Big 12. Both were preseason All-Big 12 selections, but Jamarkus McFarland needs to make good on his potential. Stacy McGee and Casey Walker should both get time at the other tackle spot.

3. Texas -- Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is loaded with potential as the nation's former No. 1 recruit. He had a big impact early last season before being slowed by an ankle injury. Alex Okafor moved outside from defensive tackle just before spring and had five sacks in the spring game. Inside, Kheeston Randall is an All-Big 12 favorite, but Ashton Dorsey had a strong spring and could help out with Reggie Wilson opposite Randall.

4. Texas A&M -- The Aggies have one of the best linemen in the league in Tony Jerod-Eddie, but Jonathan Mathis, Eddie Brown Jr. and Ben Bass have a lot to prove around him after the loss of Lucas Patterson, who was outstanding in 2010.

5. Texas Tech -- Sam Fehoko has moved to defensive end from middle linebacker, and should provide some good speed to the front line. Scott Smith looked on his way to an All-Big 12 campaign last season, but was suspended for the remainder of the season by coach Tommy Tuberville and has yet to be officially reinstated. For now, Dartwan Bush and Aundrey Barr will help out at defensive end, outside of Donald Langley, Kerry Hyder and Pearlie Graves. The Red Raiders did snatch a big pickup from departed UNC signee Delvon Simmons, a defensive tackle that could have an impact immediately.

6. Oklahoma State -- Defensive line is the biggest weak spot for the Cowboys, who have a decent set of ends in Jamie Blatnick and former heralded recruit Richetti Jones, but an even bigger question mark at defensive tackle where Christian Littlehead and Nigel Nicholas enter fall camp as starters.

7. Kansas -- Top rusher turned defensive end Toben Opurum came on strong late last season and should be one of the most exciting Jayhawks to watch in 2011, but the rest of the line leaves a bit to be desired. Keba Agostino has the other starting spot at defensive end ahead of Pat Lewandowski, who had a great spring. Patrick Dorsey and John Williams enter fall camp as starters at defensive tackles.

8. Kansas State -- K-State recruited this position hard in its 2011 class. For now, defensive end Brandon Harold will try to bounce back from a disappointing 2010 after a promising 2009. Lance Dunbar and Taylor Martinez think this group is ranked too high, but Meshak Williams could start opposite Harold, while Ray Kibble and Raphael Guidry should be the tackles inside.

9. Baylor -- Tevin Elliott was limited this spring because of offseason shoulder surgery, and Terrance Lloyd exited spring practice as the starter, but I'd expect Elliott to regain the spot by the time the season arrives. Phil Taylor, a first-round pick, is a big loss, but Gary Mason Jr. will try to fill his spot next to Nicolas Jean-Baptiste.

10. Iowa State -- Having a pair of linebackers combine for 241 tackles is a good and bad thing. They've got outstanding linebackers, but the defensive line was the Big 12's worst last season for a unit that ranked 10th in rush defense and had just 11 sacks. That was the fewest sacks in the Big 12 and more than just three teams in all of college football. The good news is all four starters return, but for now, this is where the Cyclones start. Stephen Ruempolhamer has some promise, but Cleyon Laing, Jake McDonough and ends Patrick Neal and Roosevelt Maggitt have a lot to prove. Jacob Lattimer ran into offseason trouble, but re-appeared atop the depth chart released by the Cyclones on Wednesday.

Iowa State players cook up a special lunch

June, 15, 2011
If you're one of my more faithful readers, you've heard of the new video board being installed at the north end of Iowa State's Jack Trice Stadium.

Well, somebody's got to actually build it, and the Cyclones paid tribute to those guys on Tuesday.

Iowa State players cooked up hot dogs and pasta salad for lunch to feed the staff helping build the board and give a boost to Iowa State's facilities.

"This was an idea that myself and head football coach Paul Rhoads conceived of," assistant director of operations Markus Alleyne said in a release. "We know that these guys are working hard to get the new board up on time for the start of the season and we're all appreciative, so we decided to grab a couple of our guys, and one of the best chefs on the team, Ethan Tuftee, to cook lunch for the workers."

Tuftee manned the grill, while senior defensive lineman Stephen Ruempolhamer and junior offensive lineman Drew Davis helped set up the table for pasta salad and condiments.

"This crew is working hard and I don't think they get quite the appreciation they deserve," Tuftee said. "It's just our way of saying thank you."

Here's video of the cookout.

Lunch links: How to save the Longhorns

September, 27, 2010
My mailbag tells me untelevised 30-point blowouts deserve equal coverage compared to nationally televised games that I attend and produce college football's biggest upset of the weekend. I'll get right on it, guys.