Dallas Colleges: 2012 postseason top 25 players

Who was the Big 12's best player in 2012?

February, 25, 2013
2/25/13
1:45
PM CT
It's been a fun month or so counting down to today, but the day is finally here. It's time to crown the Big 12's No. 1 player.

I haven't heard too many big complaints, but here's my mailbag if you've got beef with the list. If necessary, we'll do an all-Top 25 players mailbag where I'll address your grievances.

Without further ado, let's get to it. Who was the Big 12's best player in 2012?

No. 1: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State

2012 numbers: Completed 197-of-304 passes (64.8 percent) for 2,646 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Rushed 207 times for 925 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Most recent ranking: Klein was ranked No. 4 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Klein: Two things separated Collin Klein's stellar 2011 season and his Heisman finalist finish in 2012: his growth as a passer and ability to will his team to wins. Kansas State asked less from him in the running game this year (he had 110 fewer carries this season), but he showcased his more refined arm early in the season and beat defenses with both his arms and legs all year on the way to a Big 12 title and a third-place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting. He completed seven percent more of his passes this season and averaged nearly two more yards per attempt than he did in 2011.

He's not flashy -- don't look for any spin moves or breakaway speed from the 6-foot-5, 226-pound dual-threat passer. He's not the best passer in the Big 12. He wins, though, and in the most important part of the field -- the red zone. He was the Big 12's best player and for each of the past two years he would not be denied around the goal line. He might be the most difficult player in the league to prepare for, and if you're backed into third and short or inside the five-yard line, Klein showcased why he was the most frustrating player to defend in the entire league.

Certainly, some players across the league have more raw talent than Klein, but nobody was better in 2012, and Klein's trophy case and win total can attest to why he was definitely the Big 12's best player in 2012.

The rest of the list:

 

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 3

February, 22, 2013
2/22/13
10:00
AM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

We're in the top 10 now, so it's about to get heated, I'm sure. If you've got complaints, I've got a mailbag. Let's hear it.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 3: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor

2012 numbers: Caught 97 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Most recent ranking: Williams was ranked No. 23 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Williams: It's really just this simple: Hundreds of receivers played college football this season. Absolutely zero had more receiving yards than Williams. He grew up fast with Kendall Wright gone to the NFL and helped Nick Florence finish second nationally in total offense by constantly stretching the field and being the nation's pre-eminent deep threat all season long. He caught 32 balls longer than 20 yards, which was eight more than Stedman Bailey, the nation's No. 2 in the stat. He had 22 catches longer than 30 yards, six more than No. 2 Bailey. He topped USC's Marqise Lee by three with 14 catches longer than 40 yards. Nobody seemed to be able to stop him over the top all season long and the 6-foot-2, 205-pound pass-catcher made it clear that he's worth spending a first-round pick on with a season-long exhibition that was better than any receiver in the Big 12, and in the country. He earned my vote for the Biletnikoff Award and earns my vote for the Big 12's best pure receiver.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 6

February, 19, 2013
2/19/13
11:00
AM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

We're in the top 10 now, so it's about to get heated, I'm sure. If you've got complaints, I've got a mailbag. Let's hear it.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 6: Devonte Fields, DE, TCU

2012 numbers: Made 53 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Also had an interception, forced three fumbles and broke up four passes.

Most recent ranking: Fields was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Fields: You always hear about blessings in disguise, but sometimes it's hard to believe it's not just people spinning a bad situation. Fields may never have made this big of a splash if starter Ross Forrest hadn't suffered a shoulder injury in fall camp that sidelined him for the year. He moved to role of coach, and with the weight of heightened responsibility upon him, the freshman from Arlington, Texas, answered in a big way. He broke out with 8.5 tackles for loss in his first four games and despite being a true freshman who showed up on campus in the summer, he won the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year honors from the media. His 10 sacks were third most in the Big 12, but his 18.5 tackles for loss led the league, two more than any other player. Without time to truly understand the defense or build his body through an offseason program, he made a huge impact and set the stage for what could be a special career. He'll build on his 240-pound frame throughout his career and he'll perfect his raw technique, too. Keep an eye on him over the next couple years before he leaves to become a top-five pick in the NFL draft.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 9

February, 13, 2013
2/13/13
9:47
AM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

We're in the top 10 now, so it's about to get heated, I'm sure. If you've got complaints, I've got a mailbag. Let's hear it.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 9: Gabe Ikard, OL, Oklahoma

2012 numbers: Helped Oklahoma rank 12th nationally in total offense.

Most recent ranking: Ikard was No. 15 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Ikard: The Sooners' best lineman is also the Big 12's best offensive lineman. He showcased a lot of versatility and toughness this season. He is a three-year starter for the Sooners but earned All-Big 12 first-team honors in each of the past two seasons. Look for a third in 2013. He began his career as a solid left guard back in 2010, but when Ben Habern suffered an injury in 2011, he moved to center and quickly became one of the league's best at that position, too. He moved back once Habern got healthy, but once Habern retired before the season, Ikard slid back to center and the 6-foot-3, 288-pounder had his best season in the middle of the Sooners' line.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 11

February, 11, 2013
2/11/13
4:00
PM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 11: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

2012 numbers: Made 61 tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss. Had 12.5 sacks and forced four fumbles. Blocked a kick and broke up a pass.

Most recent ranking: Okafor was No. 14 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Okafor: If you asked Mike Riley or anyone associated with Oregon State, they might make an impassioned plea for Okafor to be No. 1 on this list. He finished the season in a flurry, making 4.5 sacks in a big Alamo Bowl win over the Beavers, but his big finish pushed him to second in the Big 12 in tackles for loss and gave him the Big 12 title in sacks, two more than any other player in the league. He established himself as one of the Big 12, and perhaps the nation's best, pass rushers. His career was filled with a lot of transition among positions, but he found a home at defensive end, and capped his career with a bang on the way to what could be very promising NFL career.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 12

February, 8, 2013
2/08/13
1:18
PM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 12: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

2012 numbers: Intercepted six passes. Broke up 16 passes. Made 63 tackles and five tackles for loss.

Most recent ranking: Verrett was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Verrett: Verrett's 2011 season began with a nightmare against Robert Griffin III and Baylor. But once he helped TCU join the Big 12, Verrett broke out in a big way, breaking up seven more passes than any player in the conference. His six interceptions led the Big 12 this year and would have done so last year, too. He was the league's best shutdown corner and made tons of plays on balls headed his way. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder locked up some of the best receivers, which is even more impressive considering the quality of the position in this league. Coach Gary Patterson is known for his ability to field defenses, and despite personnel losses all over the field, Verrett was a constant for a Frogs defense that badly needed him all season long. Without Verrett, TCU's debut Big 12 season may have looked markedly different.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 13

February, 7, 2013
2/07/13
1:00
PM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 13: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

2012 numbers: Made 96 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, intercepted two passes, broke up five passes and forced two fumbles.

Most recent ranking: Vaccaro was ranked No. 8 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Vaccaro: Vaccaro made his name early in his career as one of the Big 12's biggest hitters, but he was the league's best safety this past season and kept on pounding ball carriers, too. The 6-foot-1, 218-pounder made an immediate impression on defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Texas' defense was a bit underwhelming this past season, but Vaccaro was solid. The team captain ranked ninth in the Big 12 in tackles and had double-digit stops in two of Texas' final three games. One of his biggest strengths is his versatility, too. He'll probably spend more time as a traditional safety in the NFL, but he was a big playmaker near the line of scrimmage and in run support for the Longhorns. He moved around a lot, but one thing was certain: Wherever he was, offenses made sure to find him and keep an eye on where he was headed.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 14

February, 6, 2013
2/06/13
1:45
PM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 14: Trey Millard, FB/RB/TE, Oklahoma

2012 numbers: Caught 30 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns. Rushed 33 times for 198 yards.

Most recent ranking: Millard was ranked No. 20 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Millard: He's a chief candidate for a player whose numbers don't tell anything close to the full story. Millard does a little bit of everything for Oklahoma and certainly has a case as the Sooners' best overall player. He's an outstanding blocker, which is probably where his future lies in the NFL, but the 6-foot-2, 256-pounder was a key piece of the Belldozer package, even though he didn't get the formation named after him. Millard can catch passes out of the backfield, grab some tough yardage that no other Sooner back could get and had a penchant for breaking free in some big spots. Just ask Texas, which saw Millard have his biggest game and produce Oklahoma's biggest highlight of the season when he hurdled one defender and stiff-armed another in mid-air. He's faster than a lot of people realize and has great speed for his size, but what puts him this high on this list is how he can be so outstanding in so many different roles. Oklahoma coaches are wowed by it, too, and the Sooners' resident "Slash" certainly deserves any accolades he collects.

How many guys in the league have everyone who follows the program screaming to get him more touches?

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 16

February, 4, 2013
2/04/13
1:30
PM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 16: Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State

2012 numbers: Carried the ball 274 times for 1,417 yards and 14 touchdowns. Caught 28 passes for 224 yards. Completed 2 of 2 passes for 37 yards.

Most recent ranking: Randle was ranked No. 6 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Randle: Randle had a huge year and helped stabilize Oklahoma State's offense while three different quarterbacks started about a third of the season apiece. He led the Big 12 in rushing by more than 300 yards, though he was passed up a bit by other players in the league on this postseason list. It's not so much a knock on Randle, though his yards per carry average dropped more than half a yard from last season. He topped 100 yards in eight games this season, and had the best game of his career in a breakout, early season game against Texas that ended in a painful loss.

Randle's leaving Oklahoma State early, and is definitely ready for the NFL, capping his career in Stillwater with a strong junior season. A well-deserved spot on the list for Randle, the Big 12's best running back this season.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 18

January, 31, 2013
1/31/13
1:15
PM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 18: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

2012 numbers: Completed 367 of 555 passes (66.1 percent) for 4,272 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Most recent ranking: Jones was ranked No. 2 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Jones: Jones is one of the league's biggest names, but never quite reached the potential he showed during his breakthrough sophomore season. Jones threw for a whole bunch of yards, but comparing the value between positions is always difficult. He's definitely one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but he also racked up his yardage on more passing attempts than any quarterback in the Big 12.

Jones was just seventh in the Big 12 in passer rating, behind guys like David Ash and Seth Doege at Texas and Texas Tech, respectively. He grew into his leadership role and carried the Sooners to another 10-win season, but when the Sooners faced elite defenses, Jones looked very average. K-State slowed him down significantly. He was held without a touchdown pass against Notre Dame in a 17-point loss and produced just one touchdown in a blowout loss to Texas A&M, though he did have his highest completion percentage of the season in that game.

Jones had to deal with an almost entirely new receiving corps and played well this season to grab yet another spot on our postseason list of the Big 12's best players.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 19

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
10:00
AM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 19: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor

2012 numbers: Carried the ball 131 times for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns. Caught nine passes for 107 yards and a touchdown.

Most recent ranking: Seastrunk was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Seastrunk: I felt a little silly continuing to champion Seastrunk's cause in midseason, wondering aloud why the superstar recruit couldn't seem to get many touches throughout the first half of the season, even as Baylor stumbled to a 0-4 record in the Big 12 and 3-4 overall. Jarred Salubi and Glasco Martin had been OK, but far from excellent. Looking back, I still don't quite understand how the Bears could have kept Seastrunk off the field after seeing what he was capable of doing late in the season. Seastrunk topped 135 yards in each of the Bears' final four games and rushed for 831 yards in the final six games of the season. Most impressive? He received fewer than 20 carries in all five of those games, but it was a far cry from early in the season, when he received seven carries or fewer in the first seven games of the year.

He made headlines in December when he announced his plans to win the Heisman next season, but it's not entirely out of the question. Seastrunk's irrelevance over the first seven games of the year is the only reason he's this low on the list. Once he became the Bears' starting running back, you could certainly argue he had a case as the Big 12's best player over the final six games of the year. What does he have in store for 2013? I can't wait to find out.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 22

January, 25, 2013
1/25/13
12:45
PM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 22: Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma

2012 numbers: Made 61 tackles (50 solo). Intercepted four passes and broke up 11 more. Had 2.5 tackles for loss, including two sacks.

Most recent ranking: Colvin was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Colvin: There were plenty of times this season when you saw Oklahoma play, and Colvin popped out as the best player on the field. He's moved around positions throughout his career in the secondary, but emerged as one of the league's best cornerbacks this season, despite what looked like a loaded group in the preseason. Oklahoma's secondary took its lumps in 2011, but was really, really solid this season under new coordinator Mike Stoops. The big plays weren't nearly as frequent, and Colvin's play was a big reason for that. He's a physical 6-foot, 181 pounds and gives Oklahoma's defense a big boost with his decision to return to Norman in 2013. He picked off passes in wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma State, where defensive stops were at a premium, and helped Oklahoma win shootouts in both. Those weren't the strongest defensive performances you'll ever see, but there's something to be said for making big plays when they're needed. Colvin will make plenty next year as one of the defense's leaders.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 23

January, 24, 2013
1/24/13
9:11
AM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 122s top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 23: Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State

2012 numbers: Caught 101 passes for 1,210 yards and 7 touchdowns, and carried the ball eight times for 120 yards and a touchdown. Returned two punts for 73 total yards. Completed 1-of-2 passes for 15 yards.

Most recent ranking: Stewart was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Stewart: I've already crowned Stewart the Big 12's most improved player last season, blowing up with a huge year after playing a bit part in Oklahoma State's Big 12 champion offensive juggernaut in 2011. He was a shifty slot guy that showed some promise as a true freshman, but I never would have thought he was a 1,200-yard receiver as just a sophomore. It's unfortunate that, playing in a league with guys like Terrance Williams, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, his efforts get overlooked a bit, but he's a huge talent and helped balance out the uneasiness at quarterback in Stillwater. Three different quarterbacks ultimately split time pretty evenly last season because of injuries, but Stewart stayed solid no matter who was behind center. Four of his five 100-yard games this season came in conference play, and in Big 12 play, he was held below 76 yards receiving just once. That kind of consistency was needed, and the sky is the limit for Stewart in 2013. He'll return as the Big 12's leading returning receiver.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 24

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
10:00
AM CT
We're continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a look at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

Let's keep this train rolling.

No. 24: Nick Florence, QB, Baylor

2012 numbers: Completed 286 of 464 (61.6 percent) passes for 4,309 yards, 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Ran 139 times for 568 yards and 10 touchdowns. Also punted twice for an average of 46.5 yards.

Most recent ranking: Florence was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Florence: It feels a little wrong to have the Big 12's leading passer this low on the list, a guy who averaged over 9.0 yards a pass attempt this season. He had tons of help in the form of the Big 12's best two deep threats, Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese, but Baylor needed someone to fill the shoes of Robert Griffin III. Florence was outstanding. He struggled at times early in the conference season, but he was a big part of Baylor's late-season surge and four-game winning streak to close the season. His questionable decision-making at times kept him from finishing higher on this list, but it's clear that Art Briles did it again: He found, developed and started a fantastic quarterback to make his high-flying offense run. Florence finished second nationally in total offense, at over 375 yards a game. Only Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M averaged more, but last year RG III averaged only nine more per game. This season, Florence even broke Griffin's school record for passing yards, topping RG III by 16 yards with a strong performance in the Bears' bowl win over UCLA.

The rest of the list:

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 25

January, 22, 2013
1/22/13
4:20
PM CT
Time to kick off our official list of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a look at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

Here goes nothin' ...

No. 25: Quinn Sharp, K/P/KOS, Oklahoma State

2012 numbers: Made 28 of 34 field goals and 72 of 72 extra points. Kicked off 102 times for 71 touchbacks. Averaged 46.3 yards on 44 punts.

Most recent ranking: Sharp was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players. He was, however, listed on a group of players who "just missed" the list.

Making the case for Sharp: If you've followed this list for long, you know how momentous Sharp's inclusion truly is. Since the birth of these lists, I've refused to include special-teams players on the basis that they're simply not on the field for enough plays to warrant inclusion. Great players, yes. The league's best players? No. Nebraska's Alex Henery was the only guy who nearly made it, but Sharp has officially convinced me, and he's making history. He's a kickoff specialist, punter and kicker, and he's probably the best player in the Big 12 at all three. You could make a case for a few others at punter, but there's no contest for kickoff man and place-kicker. He made 28 of 34 field goals this season, and only K-State's Anthony Cantele made a higher percentage. Still, he made nine fewer kicks this season than Sharp. Sharp also kicked off 102 times, but 71 of those went for touchbacks. His 28 made field goals were three more than any kicker in college football, and his 71 touchbacks were also three more than any player in the country. No other Big 12 kicker had more than 39, though. His 46.3 yards per punt led the league and was fourth nationally, and his 74-yard punt was the second longest of any punter in the league. He was also third nationally in net punting yardage, so you know his big leg wasn't too big for his coverage team to help make a difference.

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