Dallas Colleges: Durrell Givens

Postseason position ranking: Safeties

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
8:42
AM CT
We'll continue looking at the Big 12's best at positions across the Big 12 today with the guys who serve as the last line of defense: the safeties. It's a pretty strong position across the Big 12, just like pass-rushers. In this league, it has to be. Let's get to it:

Here's what you've missed so far: 1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas: Vaccaro is quick, explosive, versatile and has a great feel for the game. That's a fantastic combination for a safety and he patrols near the line of scrimmage for the Longhorns, but has great cover skills, too. The top three safeties in the league are really tight, but for my money, Vaccaro is the top of the list.

2. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma: Jefferson was the biggest piece of Oklahoma's defense this past season, and finished second in the league with 119 tackles. The Sooners' new scheme fed ball carriers his way, but Jefferson was there to make plays all year long. He moved to a more traditional safety spot after spending much of his first two years at nickel back. He's good in coverage, though his straight-line speed isn't eye-popping, and part of that is being a very instinctive player, just like Vaccaro.

3. Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State: Zimmerman's got a nose for the ball that's as solid as anybody on the list, and had a great year despite missing the last few games of the regular season with a broken bone in his leg. He picked off passes in four consecutive Big 12 games and finished with 50 tackles.

4. Cody Davis, Texas Tech: Davis has tons of experience and had a great year for a very improved Texas Tech defense. He picked off three passes, broke up seven passes and made 101 tackles as part of a secondary that limited offenses through most of the season.

5. Sam Carter, TCU: Carter made a splash in his first year in the Big 12 for the league's best defense. He broke up 10 passes, picked off four more and made 63 tackles. He also forced a fumble and had three sacks.

6. Ahmad Dixon, Baylor: Dixon's got a ton of talent and probably has the most NFL potential of any Baylor defender. He had a solid year, and could put together a big year in 2013. Baylor's defense still struggled for much of the year, but Dixon helped spur a late-season charge alongside linebackers Bryce Hager and Eddie Lackey. Dixon made 102 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss, and intercepted two passes.

7. Javon Harris, Oklahoma: Harris tied for the Big 12 lead with six interceptions, though half of them came in games against FCS Florida A&M and 1-11 Kansas. He excelled this past season in Mike Stoops' defense, morphing the Sooners' biggest weakness -- defending the long ball -- into one of its strengths for most of the season.

8. Durrell Givens, Iowa State: There were more talented guys on Iowa State's defense, but there's something to be said for being a turnover machine in a breakout season like the one Givens had in 2012. He produced nine turnovers (three INTs, six fumble recoveries) and forced four more fumbles while making 80 tackles.

9. Bradley McDougald, Kansas: Kansas' defense was pretty ugly, but McDougald was a bright spot with 93 tackles, three interceptions and four tackles for loss with a pair of forced fumbles.

10. Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State's secondary was a bit disappointing, but Lowe had a decent season with 75 tackles, three tackles for loss, a pair of interceptions and a fumble returned for a touchdown.

All-Big 12 Underrated Team: Defense

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
4:00
PM CT
Every year, we crown an All-Big 12 team here at ESPN.com, but we also like to give some recognization to guys who don't get enough credit for just how good they really are. These are their stories.

DL: Jake McDonough, Iowa State

McDonough quietly put together a season that was definitely an All-Big 12 first-team type of year. His numbers aren't eye-popping (31 tackles, 5.5 TFL, two sacks), but you can't often grade nose guards on their statistics. The 280-pounder was a force in the middle of the line for the Cyclones.

DL: Kerry Hyder, Texas Tech

Hyder was a big piece of Texas Tech's defensive resurgence under Art Kaufman this year. The defensive tackle bulled his way to 13.5 tackles for loss, the same number as Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Meshak Williams. Tech needed help rushing the passer and slowing the run. Hyder did both.

DL: Adam Davis, Kansas State

Meshak Williams and Arthur Brown get all the press on K-State's defense, but Davis was a huge force, too. He had two sacks in the win over Miami, 1.5 sacks in the win over West Virginia and finished sixth in the league with 11.5 tackles for loss. He was fourth in the league with six sacks.

DL: Toben Opurum, Kansas

Opurum's got a well-chronicled road to his current spot on the D-line, leading KU in rushing in 2009 before switching postitions under Turner Gill. KU's defense was better this year, and so was Opurum. It's tough to put up big numbers when KU was getting beaten, but he made six tackles for loss and forced two fumbles.

LB: Bryce Hager, Baylor

Yes, when your offense is on the field, you get more opportunities to make tackles, but ask K-State what it thinks of Hager. He was a cruise missile against the Cats and seemed to be in Collin Klein's face all night. He led the league with 115 tackles and added eight tackles for loss and three sacks. He also forced two fumbles and had six games with double-digit tackles.

LB: Ben Heeney, Kansas

Heeney's another playmaker all over the field for a defense that struggled at times. He's a speedy, versatile playmaker for the Jayhawks, who made 112 tackles and 12 tackles for loss.

LB: Jarell Childs, Kansas State

Childs' biggest play of the season was the scoop and score against Oklahoma, but he was solid for the Wildcats all year, and filled in admirably after Tre Walker's knee injury forced him into more playing time. He recovered two fumbles and finished with 64 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.

DB: Karl Joseph, West Virginia

Joseph broke out as a true freshman and was basically the lone bright spot on a deservedly maligned West Virginia defense this season. He forced three fumbles, intercepted two passes, made seven tackles for loss and racked up 95 tackles. There's a big career ahead of him.

DB: Bradley McDougald, Kansas

McDougald was the Jayhawks' best defender this season and one of the big reasons for KU's big improvement on that side of the ball. He picked off three passes, forced two fumbles, had four tackles for loss and made 92 stops at safety.

DB: Durrell Givens, Iowa State

Givens was a turnover machine this season. He forced four fumbles, picked off three passes and made 77 tackles. His money stat, though? He recovered a nation-high six fumbles for the Cyclones. That's just ridiculous and is good enough on its own to land him on this list.

DB: Cody Davis, Texas Tech

The Red Raiders' leader doesn't get the press of the league's elite safeties like Kenny Vaccaro, Tony Jefferson or even Ty Zimmerman, but he's solid, even if he doesn't have the physical skills of Vaccaro or Jefferson. He's still one of the league's brightest players. That shows up in his decision making and on-field discipline that kept Tech from giving up the bushels of big plays it did a year ago.

Who had the Big 12's best defense?

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
12:00
PM CT
This wasn't much of a debate in the preseason. Texas looked loaded. The Longhorns reeled in 61 percent of the fan vote as the Big 12's best defense.

SportsNation

Who had the Big 12's best defense in 2012?

  •  
    30%
  •  
    37%
  •  
    14%
  •  
    15%
  •  
    4%

Discuss (Total votes: 5,713)

They finished fifth in the Big 12 and ranked dead last in rushing defense after four consecutive seasons atop the Big 12 total defense ranking. They won't be in this poll. Neither will Texas Tech, who undid a solid start by giving up an average of 39 points a game in Big 12 play. So, who had the Big 12's best defense? Vote in our poll.

TCU

TCU joined the Big 12 and its defense was ready, despite tons of personnel losses and lots of youth all over the field. Credit Gary Patterson for proving his prowess as a defensive mastermind. Cornerback Jason Verrett was one of the Big 12's best, and the media crowned DE Devonte Fields the league's Defensive Player of the Year. The Frogs led the league in total defense and forced 32 turnovers, tied with K-State for the Big 12 lead.

KANSAS STATE

K-State made its money with those 32 turnovers, finishing third in the league in total defense. Also, the Wildcats led the league by a full two points in scoring defense in the full season, and led the league by more than three points a game in scoring defense in conference play. Arthur Brown is an All-American and the coaches' Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. K-State was third in the league in yards per play.

OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma forced just 15 turnovers, second-fewest in the Big 12, but still finished fourth in the league in total defense and behind only K-State and TCU in total defense in league play. In conference play, Oklahoma gave up fewer than 27 points a game, second in the Big 12. That's not easy to do, especially without turnovers. OU didn't have the defensive standouts up front they've had on other teams, but CB Aaron Colvin and S Tony Jefferson are two of the Big 12's best, boosted by the arrival of new DC Mike Stoops.

OKLAHOMA STATE

OSU only ranked sixth in the league in total defense, but was second in the league in yards per play, and only gave up 30 points a game in Big 12 play to rank fifth, despite forcing just 17 turnovers, third-fewest in the Big 12. The defense didn't make the big plays it did a year ago, but this unit might have still been better than last year's D.

IOWA STATE

The Cyclones lost Jake Knott late in the season, but gave up just 27 points a game in league play, good for third. Iowa State was just seventh in total defense, but teammate A.J. Klein led the team with 98 stops. Jeremiah George stepped in and helped in Knott's absense, but safety Durrell Givens was a breakout star for the Cyclones, forcing four fumbles and picking off three passes.

ESPN.com's 2012 All-Big 12 team

December, 10, 2012
12/10/12
11:00
AM CT
Congrats to all these guys for turning in fantastic seasons. Naturally, there will be some snubs and some things that need to be explained. Check the blog later today for more thoughts.

Without further ado, here's the All-Big 12 team from ESPN.com.

OFFENSE

QB: Collin Klein, Kansas State
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
RB: James Sims, Kansas
FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma
WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
WR: Terrance Williams, Baylor
WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
TE: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
C: Joe Madsen, West Virginia
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech

DEFENSE

DL: Devonte Fields, TCU
DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State
DL: Calvin Barnett, Oklahoma State
DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB: Jason Verrett, TCU
CB: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
S: Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

SPECIALISTS:

PK: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
PR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Honorable mention: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia; Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma; Anthony Cantele, K, Kansas State; Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas; Justin Brown, PR, Oklahoma; Tanner Hawkinson, OL, Kansas; Jake McDonough, DL, Iowa State; Lane Johnson, OL, Oklahoma; John Hubert, RB, Kansas State; Travis Tannahill, TE, Kansas State; Durrell Givens, S, Iowa State; Cody Davis, S, Texas Tech

SPONSORED HEADLINES