- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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The preseason All-America lists are out. The all-conference votes are in. All in all, they're fairly predictable. Isn't it about time we give a little love to the guys who don't get their fair share of the spotlight?
Inspired by our brethren in the Pac-12, your three Big 12 bloggers compared notes and came up with our take on a Big 12 "All-Underrated" team.
None of these guys were first- or second-team All-Big 12 selections last season and none of them made the cut for the preseason all-conference squad earlier this month. But they've earned our attention and could help shape the season ahead.
QB Sam B. Richardson, Iowa State: Quietly produced 3,090 yards of total offense (including 421 rushing) and 21 TDs in 11 starts. He is becoming a trusted leader. Coach Paul Rhoads believes he can be a top-three QB in this conference.
RB Rushel Shell, West Virginia: He never gets mentioned in the conversation about the conference's best running backs, and that should change this fall. Shell is a physical, elusive threat whose best games are still to come.
RB Wendell Smallwood, West Virginia: Yes, another West Virginia running back. It seems like only folks in Morgantown recognize how good this pairing can be. Smallwood proved his versatility with his 1,048 yards of total offense last season.
WR Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech: The 5-foot-7 senior is electric in the open field -- both as a receiver and a returner -- and surpassed 100 all-purpose yards in eight games last season.
WR David Glidden, Oklahoma State: Arguably Oklahoma State's most consistent receiving threat last season, Glidden led the Pokes in catches thanks to his sharp route running and quick feet. He is sneaky good in the slot.
WR Jay Lee, Baylor: Baylor players say his breakout is coming, but Lee was still pretty dangerous last season: 41 catches, 633 yards and six receiving TDs plus a passing TD. He has great size and sub-4.5 40 speed.
OL Zachary Crabtree, Oklahoma State: He overcame injury and inexperience to earn nine starts at right tackle as a redshirt freshman. He'll only get better.
OL Nila Kasitati, Oklahoma: The least experienced starter on OU's 2014 line has a chance to establish himself as one of the Big 12's best guard.
OL Jared Kaster, Texas Tech: He anchors a talented Tech offensive line and brings consistency with 25 consecutive starts.
OL Daniel Burton, Iowa State: Impressed by his stout play at right guard, Burton shows the willingness to catch passes and his flowing mullet (which, sadly, is now gone).
OL Kent Perkins, Texas: The Horns' strongest lineman can be a difference-maker at tackle or guard and should contend for all-conference honors.
DL Beau Blackshear, Baylor: Oft-overlooked cog of Baylor's fearsome line, Blackshear has 38 games of playing experience (21 starts) and fought his way to 9.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks last season.
DL Ben Goodman, Kansas: The best leader on this Kansas team is a nice flex talent who's back in his natural defensive end role and should excel under the new coaching staff.
LB Elijah Lee, Kansas State: He was an exciting pass-rushing specialist as a true freshman. He is ready to take the next step as an every-down outside linebacker.
LB Seth Jacobs, Oklahoma State: The Cactus Bowl defensive MVP racked up 92 tackles and a pair of INTs in his first year as a starter, prompting OSU coaches to honor him with a team award for "most contribution with the least recognition." That's what we're looking for here.
LB Taylor Young, Baylor: His size has made him underrated throughout his football career, but the 5-foot-10 linebacker proved he's got a lot of pop with 92 stops as a redshirt freshman.
DB Ranthony Texada, TCU: Must raise his game as TCU's No. 1 corner, but fared well as a redshirt freshman starter who had the thankless job of replacing Jason Verrett.
DB Daryl Worley, West Virginia: He's shown big potential since his freshman year, but injuries and a two-game suspension limited Worley in 2014. When he's on the field, he's one of the Big 12's best.
DB K.J. Dillon, West Virginia: The Mountaineers will have one of the nation's best secondaries because of guys like Dillon, who brings crucial versatility as the "Spur" safety/linebacker who can cover, stop the run and blitz.
DB Kamari Cotton-Moya, Iowa State: The Big 12's freshman defensive player of the year led ISU with 77 tackles from the free safety spot. He's going to be a good one.
2dBrandon Chatmon and Jake Trotter