He's capable of doing things nobody else in the Big 12 can do, and there's no arguing with how he played last November when the games counted most. He should have a big year ahead, and he's an easy selection for this award.
Devonte Fields is the obvious pick here, but upon closer inspection, Fields' 2012 season isn't as impressive as the raw numbers look. He was largely neutralized in games against Kansas State and Oklahoma and eight of his 18.5 tackles for loss came in nonconference play. Just 5.5 of his 10 sacks came in Big 12 play. In league play, he was one of the league's best defenders, but he wasn't way out in front of everyone else. Meanwhile, Verrett had three more pass breakups (16) in league play than anyone else in the Big 12, and the lack of true lockdown corners across the league makes him so valuable in Big 12 play. I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but I cast my vote for Verrett.
Newcomer of the Year: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
I get the Sims selection, but there's more opportunity in the passing game at West Virginia, and I expect White, a juco transfer, to be a big beneficiary. He had a strong spring and proved his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands since arriving on campus. Those are the kinds of guys that Dana Holgorsen's offense looks to highlight and I'd look for him to be emphasized early on in Morgantown.
Tough call going with Hubert ahead of James Sims, who missed three games and still rushed for 1,000 yards in an offense with no real threat in the passing game. That production is hard to argue with, but Hubert bested Sims' yards per carry last year and I don't see Sims doing a lot of things Hubert can't. Both are great backs and both are deserving of a spot on the preseason team.
Stud. Injuries have prevented him from realizing some of his potential, but at his best, he has no real competition at tight end the Big 12. Ernst Brun Jr. and Jordan Najvar are good players, but they're not in Amaro's league.
I always prefer to put two defensive ends and two tackles on this list, but some years, the lack of talent at tackle and the depth at the end spots just won't allow it. Glad we could get back to that. Hyder is sort of a hybrid, but he's 281 pounds. Barnett is solid and Jeffcoat and Fields are as talented as any defensive end in the country.
I'm excited to see what Lewis can do in Oklahoma State's new defense under Glenn Spencer. I'd expect him to be allowed to blitz a bit more this year, and a healthy Jordan Hicks is as talented as any linebacker in the Big 12. Nelson's probably not a common pick here, but he was limited by Oklahoma's schemes last season and I doubt that happens again. I love what I've seen from him when he's had opportunities thus far in his career.
Similar to the defensive line, I don't like when the positions get out of balance, but Verrett, Colvin and Diggs are more impactful than any of the safeties across the league. Zimmerman's a stud and I felt bad leaving off Karl Joseph. Anyone who wants to put him on the team ahead of Diggs has a case, but it's definitely close.