Big 12: Tommie Harris

Big 12 all-BCS-era team

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
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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.
Our list of the top 10 Big 12 players ever generated as much response from you all as anything we've ever done. I really appreciate all of it. Many of you agreed with the list. Plenty of you didn't. That's pretty natural. It was an absolutely brutal list to put together. Tons of talented guys have a case to be on it, and might be on your list. I wouldn't necessarily disagree. Still, I only had room for 10. Here's an extensive list of all the guys who I also think have a strong case for inclusion. They're the players who just missed my all-time top 10. In no particular order, here they are:

Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska: In 2001, won the Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien Trophy, Camp Award and was the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Year. Finished his career with 4,481 passing yards and 3,434 rushing yards and accounted for 84 touchdowns.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: Won the Biletnikoff Award in 2010 and 2011, and was the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Year in 2011. Finished his three-year career with 252 catches, 3,564 receiving yards and 41 total touchdowns.

Grant Wistrom, DL, Nebraska: Won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1996 and 1997. Won the Lombardi Award in 1997 and helped Nebraska go 49-2 during his career. Finished with 58.5 tackles for loss and 26.5 sacks.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: The first-ever two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. He was a unanimous All-American in both seasons and finished his career with 231 catches for 3,127 yards and 41 touchdowns.

Troy Davis, RB, Iowa State: Finished second in the Heisman voting in 1996 and fifth in 1995. Topped 2,000 yards rushing in both seasons and scored 37 touchdowns. He was the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Year in 1996.

Darren Sproles, RB, Kansas State: Rushed for 1,986 yards in K-State's Big 12 title season in 2003. Finished his four-year career with just under 5,000 rushing yards. Scored 44 touchdowns in his final three seasons and was fifth in Heisman voting in 2003. Also returned a punt for a touchdown in 2003 and averaged more than 27 yards on kick returns.

Dat Nguyen, LB, Texas A&M: Won All-Big 12 first-team honors three times, and was the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 1998, leading the Wrecking Crew to Texas A&M's only Big 12 title. Won the Bednarik Award and Lombardi Award that season. Made 51 consecutive starts and finished his career with 517 tackles, the only player in A&M history to lead the Aggies in tackles for four seasons.

Cedric Benson, RB, Texas: Won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back in 2004 and was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection. His 5,540 career rushing yards are second all-time at Texas to only Ricky Williams.

Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri: Led Missouri to two Big 12 Championship games and helped the Tigers reach BCS No. 1 in 2007. Finished his career as the school's all-time leader in total offense. Threw for 12,515 yards and 101 touchdowns in three years as a starter. Finished fourth in Heisman voting in 2007.

Tommie Harris, DT, Oklahoma: One of the greatest freshmen in Big 12 history. Won the Lombardi Award in 2003 and earned All-Big 12 and All-American first team honors in 2002 and 2003.

Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas: Made the All-Big 12 first team three times and finished his career with 458 tackles, 69 tackles for loss, 11 forced fumbles (nine in 2004) and nine interceptions. Won the Butkus Award and Nagurski Trophy in 2004.

Michael Bishop, QB, Kansas State: Became a starter at K-State after a junior college national title. Finished second in the 1998 Heisman voting to Ricky Williams and helped K-State to an undefeated regular season. Was 22-3 as a starter and accounted for 5,715 yards of total offense and 59 total touchdowns.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper has two Big 12 players -- Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson and Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro -- potentially going in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.

Fellow expert Todd McShay has the same two as Kiper and also is optimistic about the chances of West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Tavon Austin.

So let’s split the difference and label the potential Big 12 first-round picks as an optimistic three, with Johnson being the only absolute first-round lock.

Those three would represent the fewest Big 12 players taken in the first round of the NFL draft since 2008. Even if four went, the Big 12 still would have the fewest since 2008.

That year, only Kansas -- yep, the Jayhawks -- managed a first-rounder, Aqib Talib to Tampa Bay with the 20th pick. In the four drafts that followed, the Big 12 has always put at least five players into the first round, including the first four overall picks in 2010.

How well this year’s group of first-round picks will fare might not be known for years. What is known, though, is how well Big 12 players have done when they are selected in the first round. With that in mind, here is a ranking -- from worst to best -- of the Big 12’s best first-round draft classes over the past 10 years.

2008: It’s all about quantity, and a little bit of quality. In 2008, the Big 12 only produced one first-round pick, Talib. He has not produced dramatic returns in the NFL. In the past two years, he has only started nine games. He was somewhat productive for Tampa Bay in the previous three seasons, starting 41 games and playing in 53. But, again, he was the only Big 12 player taken in the first round in 2008.

2006: Vince Young is working out at Texas’ pro day at the end of March. Enough said. Davin Joseph and Michael Huff have been solid producers. But when the No. 3 overall pick is out of the league and having to work out at his alma mater's pro day, it means it was a bad year for the Big 12 in the first round of the NFL draft.

2004: Tommie Harris and Marcus Tubbs, the two defensive tackles taken in the first round, were productive for a few years, with Harris selected to Pro Bowls in 2005, '06 and ’07 before he was beset by injuries. Tubbs lasted four seasons in the NFL. Roy Williams had 5,715 receiving yards but never lived up to the hype he generated coming out of Texas. Rashaun Woods played only two years and had seven career catches.

2005: The lack of numbers might be what hurts this group the most. Cedric Benson, Jammal Brown, Derrick Johnson, Mark Clayton and Fabian Washington all proved they could play at the NFL level. Benson has had three 1,000-yard-plus seasons. Johnson is one of the top linebackers in the game. Brown remains a solid option on the offensive line. Clayton played seven NFL seasons; Washington played six. But there were only five guys selected and that isn't enough to push 2005 to the top of the list.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
Andy Clayton King/Getty ImagesThe Big 12's 2007 draft class wasn't huge, but did feature 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson.
2009: Every Big 12 player selected in the first round in 2009 has produced and appears to be poised to continue to do so. Only Jason Smith didn’t have a start last year. But the offensive lineman still played in all 16 games for the New York Jets. Michael Crabtree, Brian Orakpo, Josh Freeman, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Pettigrew and Ziggy Hood are all starters for their respective teams.

2007: It wasn’t the biggest group, but it did include Adrian Peterson, so there could be some quibbling that maybe 2007 should be higher in the rankings. Throw in Aaron Ross and Michael Griffin and the debate could get even more heated. Adam Carriker was also taken this year. He started his career strong but suffered an injury and only played in two games last season.

2003: Kevin Williams has been the standout of this group. The defensive tackle has started every game but four in his 10-year career. Terence Newman has been effective as a defensive back, first in Dallas and last season in Cincinnati. Tyler Brayton played at least 15 games on the defensive line in a nine-year career. Ty Warren played eight solid seasons for New England but tailed off last season with Denver. Andre Woolfolk lasted four seasons, mostly as a reserve.

2011: Von Miller, who was the highest pick among Big 12 players this year, has proved to be the top player so far. Aldon Smith is not far behind. Add in Prince Amukamara, Phillip Taylor, who when healthy is a starter at defensive tackle, a somewhat productive Blaine Gabbert and Nate Solder as well as reliable backups Danny Watkins and Jimmy Smith and this proved to be a successful year for Big 12 first-round selections.

2012: Three quarterbacks, and all were not only starters as rookies but also made huge differences for their respective squads. Clearly, Robert Griffin III made the most dramatic impact, but Ryan Tannehill, with the Dolphins, and Brandon Weeden, with Cleveland, were both solid. Kendall Wright and Justin Blackmon each had 64 catches, for Tennessee and Jacksonville, respectively. Blackmon was targeted more (133 to 104) and had 200 more receiving yards.

2010: This list maybe doesn’t have the star power and is not littered with offensive playmakers, but six of the nine players picked were selected for the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl: Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Ndamukong Suh, Earl Thomas, Russell Okung and Jermaine Gresham. And the other three players -- Dez Bryant, Sam Bradford and Sean Weatherspoon -- were vital pieces for their respective teams.

Lunch links: About that Big 12 schedule ...

February, 13, 2012
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Oh, Paul McCartney. Yup.

Feldman: Former Sooners impacting Africa

May, 17, 2011
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A group of former Oklahoma players founded the group, "Pros for Africa" and colleague Bruce Feldman profiled the group, which provides water, food, medicine, schools and other humanitarian needs to the war torn continent, specifically Northern Uganda.

The non-profit organization is based in Oklahoma City, and was founded by Roy Williams, Adrian Peterson, Tommie Harris and Mark Clayton.

You'll need ESPN Insider to read the full story, but the group recently took a larger contingent of pro players to Africa, which included another former Sooner, Gerald McCoy, who just finished his rookie season with Tampa Bay.

Says Williams:
"It is so sad," he said. "There are kids everywhere. When you driving along the road to go to Gulu (Uganda), you see kids sharing watering holes with livestock. People always ask, 'Why do you have to go to Africa?' Well, until you see what it's really like over there, you don't realize how huge the need is. If you see how bad they are living, you'll think our homeless here in the States are living in luxury. They can put their hand out and people may give them money. They can go to a Salvation Army and someone will give them food. They can go to a shelter and have a roof over the heads. In Africa, it's so sad. Those are ever-lasting memories.

"I was just looking at some of the pictures we have with the kids. In spite of all the hardships that they go through, they still smile. We complain about a car cutting us off or traffic, where we honk our horns, but come on now. We worry about petty stuff. They have huge problems over there and they don't even complain about anything."

The group raised over $100,000 in 2010, and recently joined up with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which fitted over 2,000 hearing aids for the nation, where hearing loss due to what would likely be a routine ear infection elsewhere is common.
"I tell people all of the time when I speak to kids: It's not about how much money you have in the bank or what kind car you drive. Life is about the kind of impact you have on other people's lives while you're here. I ask them, 'What kind of legacy are you going to leave when you're dead and gone?' I want my legacy to live on through these young kids and women that we're helping so they can bless somebody else."

Good stuff from the former Sooner star most known for his "Superman" play in the Red River Rivalry. Check it out.

For more information on how you can help, check out the Pros for Africa website.

The Big 12 and NFL draft history

April, 27, 2011
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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.

A look at the All-Time All-Big 12 team

November, 24, 2010
11/24/10
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You might have heard something about this, but 2010 is the last season of the Big 12 as we know it. To commemorate the league's run as a 12-team conference, a panel of 20 media members compiled their all-time Big 12 team. Here's who made it, and you can see the full votes here.

All-time Top Offensive Player: Vince Young, QB, Texas

All-time Top Defensive Player: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

All-time Coach: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

OFFENSE:

QB: Vince Young, Texas

RB: Ricky Williams, Texas and Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma

WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech and Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State

TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri

OL: Dominic Raiola, Nebraska; Jammal Brown, Oklahoma; Aaron Taylor, Nebraska; Justin Blalock, Texas; Russell Okung, Oklahoma State

DEFENSE

DL: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska; Tommie Harris, Oklahoma; Grant Wistrom, Nebraska; Brian Orakpo, Texas

LB: Derrick Johnson, Texas; Dat Nguyen, Texas A&M; Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma; Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma

DB: Roy Williams, Oklahoma; Terence Newman, Kansas State; Derrick Strait, Oklahoma; Michael Huff, Texas

SPECIAL TEAMS

All-purpose: Darren Sproles, Kansas State

K: Mason Crosby, Colorado

P: Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor

Here's how it breaks down by team:

1. Oklahoma: 7
2. Texas: 6
3. Nebraska: 4
4. Kansas State: 2
4. Oklahoma State: 2
6. Baylor: 1
6. Colorado: 1
6.Missouri: 1
6. Texas A&M: 1
6. Texas Tech: 1
11. Iowa State: 0
11. Kansas: 0

Who got snubbed? Who doesn't belong?

Pipeline potential among Big 12 teams

May, 13, 2010
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Only two Big 12 teams made the bracket for our NFL pipeline project this week, Oklahoma State and Nebraska. But ESPN Insider Chris Sprow took a closer look at the data, breaking down the production by decade.

Though the Sooners didn't make the overall bracket, if we had limited it to NFL production in the 2000s, Oklahoma would have been No. 5. They can thank safety Roy Williams, running back Adrian Peterson and defensive lineman Tommie Harris. Those three combined have been to 11 of Oklahoma's 14 total Pro Bowls this decade.

Mel Kiper also forecasted who will rise to the top in the coming decade. The Sooners topped his list after placing three players in the top four of this year's NFL Draft and sending another first rounder into the league in tight end Jermaine Gresham.

"We have to call them the clubhouse leader for this current decade, because remember, they have three of the top four picks of the first draft of the decade in Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy and Trent Williams," Kiper wrote. "There's got to be a few Pro Bowls in that group."

Nebraska's strong defensive presence on the field and sideline put the Huskers on Kiper's four-team list of "sleepers."

"Ndamukong Suh could rack up multiple Pro Bowls, and Bo and Carl Pelini could keep churning out defensive talent year after year," Kiper wrote.

My all-Big 12 all-decade team

January, 22, 2010
1/22/10
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With all of the looking back we've done this week, I couldn't leave without picking my own All-Big 12 all-decade team.

It was a tough choice at several positions, but here's my all-decade team.

Please feel free to provide any changes you would make, and explain why you would make them.

Believe me, it's a hard choice. I spent more than an hour trying to choose between Darren Sproles and Cedric Benson and Jermaine Gresham and Chase Coffman.

OFFENSE

QB: Vince Young, Texas

RB: Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma

RB: Cedric Benson, Texas

WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech

WR: Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State

TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri

T: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State

T: Jammal Brown, Oklahoma

G: Duke Robinson, Oklahoma

G: Derrick Dockery, Texas

C: Andre Gurode, Colorado

DEFENSE

DE: Brian Orakpo, Texas

DT: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

DT: Tommie Harris, Oklahoma

DE: Dan Cody, Oklahoma

LB: Derrick Johnson, Texas

LB: Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma

LB: Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma

CB: Terence Newman, Kansas State

CB: Derrick Strait, Oklahoma

S: Roy Williams, Oklahoma

S: Michael Huff, Texas

K: Mason Crosby, Colorado

P: Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor

Ret: Wes Welker, Texas Tech

Oklahoma's all-decade team

January, 20, 2010
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Oklahoma was the dominant program of the last decade in the Big 12, leading the conference with six titles, seven conference title-game appearances and four BCS title-game appearances.

All of those accomplishments are a testament to Bob Stoops, one of two conference coaches to direct his team throughout the decade.

Setting the Sooners’ all-decade team was difficult. The choice at wide receiver next to Mark Clayton was extremely difficult. Malcolm Kelly, Juaquin Iglesias or Ryan Broyles all would have been good choices. I went with Broyles because of his proficiency despite constant double-team defenses this season when he produced 89 receptions.

And at quarterback, I went with Sam Bradford over Jason White in a tough positional choice between two Heisman Trophy winners.

Here’s my choice for Oklahoma’s all-decade team.

OFFENSE

QB: Sam Bradford

RB: Adrian Peterson

RB: Quentin Griffin

WR: Mark Clayton

WR: Ryan Broyles

TE: Jermaine Gresham

OL: Jammal Brown

OL: Trent Williams

OL: Davin Joseph

OL: Phil Loadholt

C: Vince Carter

DEFENSE

DL: Dan Cody

DL: Tommie Harris

DL: Gerald McCoy

DL: Jeremy Beal

LB: Teddy Lehman

LB: Rocky Calmus

LB: Curtis Lofton

DB: Derrick Strait

DB: Roy Williams

DB: Andre Woolfolk

DB: Brandon Everage

K: Garrett Hartley

P: Jeff Ferguson

Ret: Ryan Broyles

Offensive player of the decade: QB Sam Bradford. He became the first quarterback in Big 12 history to lead his team to back-to-back titles, capping his sophomore season by throwing for 50 touchdowns and earning the Heisman Trophy. His final season in college didn’t go as expected, but he still leaves school as a player who will be immortalized with a statue at Owen Field in the not-too-distant future.

Defensive player of the decade: S Roy Williams. He was such a natural that Bob Stoops created a position “the Roy” especially for his talents. He set the standard as a physical run-stuffing safety and sealed his legacy with the hit on Chris Simms that sealed the 2001 victory over Texas.

Coach of the decade: Bob Stoops. The only coach of the decade for the Sooners had more unprecedented early success than any coach in Big 12 history, winning the national championship in his second season and claiming a record six conference championships. They aren’t calling him “Big Game Bob” as much as before, but Stoops still ranks among the most pivotal figures in Big 12 history.

Most memorable moment of the decade: On a misty night at Pro Player Stadium, the Sooners’ defense turned in a masterful performance to claim the 2001 Orange Bowl and bring home the 2000 national championship. Josh Heupel managed to direct the offense despite a sore elbow and the Oklahoma defense would have pitched a shutout in a 13-2 triumph over Florida State except for a special-teams safety in the final minute of play.

Big 12 well represented on ESPN RISE's All-Decade team

December, 28, 2009
12/28/09
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The gang over at ESPN RISE came up with a unique project where they ranked the top recruits coming out of high school over the last decade.

The Big 12 was liberally represented on all three teams, including offensive and defensive squads. Former Oklahoma standout Adrian Peterson was picked as ESPN RISE's Player of the Decade.

Here's a look at Big 12 players who were selected for the first three teams. The team is dominated by selections from Texas and Oklahoma -- the two programs that have dominated the conference during the past decade.

FIRST TEAM




  • RB Cedric Benson (2000) Lee (Midland, Texas)/Texas
  • RB Adrian Peterson (2003) Palestine (Palestine, Texas)/Oklahoma
  • K Jimmy Stevens (2006) Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City, Okla.)/Oklahoma
  • QB/DB Vince Young (2001) Madison (Houston, Texas)/Texas
  • DL Tommie Harris (2000) Ellison (Killeen, Texas)/Oklahoma
  • DL Gerald McCoy (2005) Southeast (Oklahoma City, Okla.)/Oklahoma
  • DL Ndamukong Suh (2004) Grant (Portland, Ore.)/Nebraska


SECOND TEAM
  • OL Tray Allen (2006) South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie, Texas)/Texas
  • QB/RB Chase Daniel (2004) Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas)/Missouri
  • QB/RB Garrett Gilbert (2008) Lake Travis (Austin, Texas)/Texas
  • LB Sergio Kindle (2005) Woodrow Wilson (Dallas, Texas)/Texas
  • DB Reggie Smith (2004) Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.)/Oklahoma
THIRD TEAM
  • TE Jermaine Gresham (2005) Ardmore (Ardmore, Okla.)/Oklahoma
  • OL Baker Steinkuhler (2007) Southwest (Lincoln, Neb.)/Nebraska

Big 12 lunch links: Title game might not be lock in Arlington

December, 21, 2009
12/21/09
12:30
PM ET
We're still a week away from the Big 12's first bowl game.

But there's still plenty of news from across the conference to keep you occupied during your lunch hour.

Here are some lunch links for today.

Suh, McCoy among Lombardi Award finalists

November, 11, 2009
11/11/09
6:55
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Two Big 12 defensive linemen are among the four finalists for the Lombardi Award, which will be presented by the Rotary Club of Houston.

Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy are among four finalists who will attend a banquet in Houston where the winner will be announced on Dec. 9. Other finalists include TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes and Alabama defensive tackle Terrence Cody.

The Big 12 has featured four winners in its history as a conference since 1996. Previous winners include Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen in 1998, Nebraska defensive end Grant Wistrom in 1997, Oklahoma defensive tackle Tommie Harris in 2003 and Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo last season.

In the history of the award, more honorees have come from Big 12 schools than any other conference. Many of those winners came from schools in the old Big Eight and Southwest conferences.

It would appear that Suh is the early favorite for the award. But he will need a strong finish to stave off the others. Cody would appear to be Suh's biggest challenger, and the Alabama player should get much exposure as the Crimson Tide battle to claim the Southeastern Conference championship.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 7

Crouch overcomes struggling effort for Heisman-defining moment vs. Oklahoma

Date: Oct. 27, 2001
Place: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
Score: Nebraska 20, Oklahoma 10

To all Nebraska fans, it's become a larger-than-life memory known simply as "Black 41 Flash Reverse Pass" -- one of the most unforgettable plays in school history.

But Crouch's heroic touchdown reception that helped beat Oklahoma in 2001 was more than just a great play.

It pushed the Cornhuskers into the No. 1 position in the BCS poll after the victory.

It also helped boost Crouch into the lead for the Heisman Trophy, an honor he claimed later in the season. His dramatic catch came in one of Crouch's worst statistical games ever.

The victory turned out to be the biggest in Frank Solich's coaching tenure with the Cornhuskers.

The Sooners carried a 20-game winning streak to the game and hadn't lost since Bob Stoops' first season when they brought their No. 1 team in the BCS poll into Memorial Stadium.

Oklahoma had built that streak on its defense and appeared ready to continue that during the game.

The game turned early when Oklahoma quarterback Jason White sustained a knee injury that would sideline him for the rest of the season -- save for a couple of plays later in the game.

Backup Nate Hybl then entered the game and engineered the game's first scoring drive. His 4-yard strike to tight end Trent Smith gave the Sooners an early 7-0 lead.

Nebraska matched that less than five minutes later on a 2-yard touchdown run by Dahrran Diedrick. Both teams traded field goals -- a 27-yarder by Nebraska's Josh Brown and a 20-yarder by Oklahoma's Tim Duncan with 15 seconds left in the half -- for a 10-10 halftime deadlock.

The Cornhuskers went ahead early in the third quarter after Erwin Swiney picked off Hybl on a pass that bounced off the facemask of receiver Antwone Savage. Thunder Collins scooted 39 yards on an end-around to the Oklahoma 25 on the next play, setting up a 26-yard field goal by Brown.

Hybl injured his left shoulder on the next Oklahoma possession when he was slammed to the turf by Nebraska linebacker Chris Kelsay, but returned after missing two plays. Amazingly, White returned to action for those plays despite his earlier injury.

After recovering from his injury, Hybl rallied the Sooners in the fourth quarter. But the drive stalled at the Nebraska 36. Stoops then decided against a long field goal in favor of a pooch punt that pinned the Cornhuskers at their own 5. Similar strategy had boosted Oklahoma to a victory over Texas earlier that season.

Crouch gained 19 yards to get the Cornhuskers out of the shadow of their end zone. But Oklahoma appeared to have gotten a defensive stop after Tommie Harris and Cory Heinecke produced a seven-yard loss on third down. Officials ruled Heinecke had grabbed Crouch's face mask on the play, giving the Cornhuskers a first down at the Nebraska 37.

On the next play, the Cornhuskers struck. Crouch handed the ball to Collins, who then pitched it to freshman Mike Stuntz, a backup quarterback on what appeared to be a reverse.

Stuntz instead fired a perfect spiral to a wide-open Crouch, who caught the ball at the Oklahoma 38 and easily jetted past Oklahoma 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive tackle Kory Klein and defensive back Derrick Strait to the end zone. The play covered 63 yards.

Interestingly, Oklahoma had tried almost the exact play earlier in the game. The Sooners' play failed when Hybl fell down.

It wasn't the longest play for Crouch, who earlier in the season had run 95 yards for a touchdown against Missouri. It wasn't even his first touchdown reception.

But it was the kind of play that resonated with Heisman voters and helped him become the first Nebraska quarterback to win the award.

They said it, part I: "This was one of those games where you want some excitement, so we thought we'd come out and try it. It worked," Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch on his game-clinching touchdown reception.

They said it, part II: "In the end, losing is a strange feeling in our locker room (as far as) what to feel. We haven't experienced this in quite a while," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on the end of his team's 20-game winning streak.

They said it, part III: "No matter what happened, I knew we were going to get the job done. It wasn't finesse. It wasn't gaining 500 or 600 yards, but we got it done when we needed to," Crouch on Nebraska's big-play effort against the Sooners.

They said it, part IV: "I won't lie. I was a little bit nervous. I was just thrilled to death,'' Nebraska wide receiver Mike Stuntz, on his game-clinching TD pass to Crouch.

Factoids: The loss was the first time that Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops ever lost against a top-10 opponent, snapping a winning streak of eight games ... The Sooners came into the game as the nation's No. 1 ranked team in the BCS standings and Nebraska was No. 2 ... The Nebraska upset ended a 20-game winning streak for the Sooners that dated to their 1999 Independence Bowl loss to Mississippi. It was the nation's longest winning streak at the time of the game ... Crouch rushed for 21 yards on 13 carries and completed 10-of-18 passes for 102 yards. His rushing total was a career low in a game where he started at quarterback ... On the three possessions before Crouch's game-clinching TD reception, the Cornhuskers had produced three, eight and nine yards ... Hybl completed 17-of-36 passes for 184 yards and an interception ... The victory extended Nebraska's home winning streak to 20 games, a streak that would eventually stretch to 26 games before the Cornhuskers lost in 2002 to Texas ...

The upshot: Nebraska and Oklahoma switched spots in the BCS poll the following week, with Nebraska at No. 1 and Oklahoma at No. 2.

The potential for a rematch in the Big 12 title game never materialized as both teams lost the final game of the regular season to cost them a chance at their respective division titles. The Cornhuskers were blown out in a 62-36 loss at Colorado that snapped their 11-game winning streak to the start the season. And Oklahoma dropped a 16-13 home loss to Oklahoma State.

Even with the loss, Nebraska still qualified to play for the national championship in the Rose Bowl. But mistakes cost them three quick touchdowns as Miami cruised to an easy 37-14 victory. The two losses at the end of the season dropped the Cornhuskers (11-2) to No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll. The Cornhuskers haven't finished the season ranked as highly since then.

Despite the late struggles, Crouch still claimed the Heisman Trophy, winning the award by 62 points over Florida quarterback Rex Grossman. His touchdown reception against Oklahoma no doubt helped catapult him to the honor, becoming the first Big 12 quarterback to win the honor.

Stuntz never threw another touchdown pass for the Cornhuskers. He ended his career in 2005 as a defensive back.  

Oklahoma finished the season with a gritty 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, limiting the Razorbacks to six first downs and 50 net yards as the Sooners wrapped up an 11-2 season. The Sooners ended the season ranked sixth in the final AP poll.

The countdown: 

8. Sproles and Roberson stun top-ranked OU, leading KSU to its first Big 12 title.
9. Emotional A&M victory brings closure after Bonfire tragedy.
10. Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then backs it up.
11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms" in Colorado's first Big 12 title.
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks NCAA career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.


The Big 12: Home of Pro Bowl defensive tackles

June, 16, 2009
6/16/09
2:45
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com'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)

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