Time to kick off our official list of the Big 12's top 25 players entering the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list.
The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day leading up to the season.
Here goes nothin' ...
No. 25: Justin Gilbert, CB/KR, Oklahoma State
2011 numbers: Made 59 tackles (48 solo), intercepted five passes, broke up 10 passes and made a tackle for loss. Also returned 26 kicks for 703 yards (avg. 27.04 yards) and two touchdowns.
Most recent ranking: Gilbert was unranked in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.
Making the case for Gilbert: Gilbert is the most dangerous kick return man in the league and a very, very good cornerback, but his cover skills are slightly inflated by his high interception total that featured picks of high-profile QBs like Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, top-10 NFL draft picks Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill as well as Landry Jones.
Still, Gilbert is blazing fast and as his cover skills improve, he could be due for a major breakout season in 2012. The competition at cornerback is really tough, but don't be surprised if Gilbert makes a case as arguably the Big 12's best by the end of the season.
For now, though, he has a lot to prove when it comes to cover skills. His athleticism is almost unmatched around the league, and that means he'll get plenty of attention from NFL scouts. Still, NFL potential isn't accounted for in this list. Gilbert will be fun to watch, and be ready for him to break open a game or two this year with a timely kick return.