The time has finally arrived for the third part of the Big 12 Conference preview: the Chat WVU Preseason All-Big 12 team.
If you did see our rankings and awards, then you know that last month the Big 12 released its official rankings and preseason team, as voted on by the media.
I won't post that entire team, but the link is there if you want to take a look. Instead, I'll give you my preseason squad, as well as a few honorable mentions and explanations as to who I chose.
Note: I will be doing it a little differently than the official team, as I will replace one returner slot, with an all-purpose offensive position.
Chat WVU Preseason All-Big 12 Team
QB: Geno Smith, West Virginia
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
RB: Malcolm Brown, Texas
AP: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
WR: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
TE: Jordan Najvar, Baylor
OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech
OL: Joe Madsen, West Virginia
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
DL: Stansly Maponga, TCU
DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB: Quandre Diggs, Texas
CB: Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State
S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
K: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
RET: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
The Big 12 is absolutely stacked at the quarterback position. Smith was voted preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year by me and the rest of the media, which makes him the obvious choice for the conference first team spot. However, Landry Jones could just as easily have the honor as the top signal caller (and offensive player) in the conference.
Also, Kansas State's Collin Klein deserves some recognition, but I'll go into more on him a bit later. Texas Tech QB Seth Doege is another athlete who hasn't received much preseason hype but is a guy who is poised to have an excellent year. Also, keep an eye on Oklahoma State's freshman thrower, Wes Lunt who could thrive in the air raid offense. Finally, don't forget about TCU's Casey Pachall who is entering his second year as a starter.
RB: Joseph Randle, OSU | Malcolm Brown, UT
Joseph Randle is the undisputed top running back in the conference for 2012. Behind him, it's a bit of a toss up. I went with Malcolm Brown who put up some very nice numbers in 2011 despite some injury issues. The question with him is how many carries he'll earn alongside Joe Bergeron and freshman Johnathan Gray. By the end of the year, OU's Dominique Whaley, TCU's Waymon James, or even Kansas State's John Hubert could match his production.
AP: Tavon Austin, WVU
I added this all-purpose slot for a few reasons. The first is the fact that most offenses in the Big 12 run some type of a spread attack, so when it comes down to it, two receiver slots on the squad is too little. Also, in today's game there are just too many dynamic players like Austin who do so much more than just catch passes. Austin's abilities as a returner and receiver speak for themselves, but I'll go ahead and mention the fact that he led the nation in all-purpose yardage last year.
My honorable mention for this slot is dual-threat quarterback, Collin Klein of Kansas State. He wasn't the most prolific passer, but he set an NCAA record for rushing touchdowns for a quarterback last year with 27, which is just amazing.
WR: Stedman Bailey, WVU | Kenny Stills, OU
While Austin was leading the country in all-purpose yardage, he wasn't even leading his team in receiving yardage. That distinction goes to Bailey, who broke WVU records for receiving yards (1,279) and touchdowns (12). If I hadn't created the all-purpose slot, Austin would be the second receiver, as he went for 1,186 yards and 8 TDs, while becoming WVU's first-ever player with 100 receptions. The two are the only receivers in the Big 12 to record more than 1,000 yards last year.
Stills, meanwhile, had 849 yards playing second fiddle to Ryan Broyles in 2011. The big question is how well he'll handle being the main target, not only for Landry Jones, but for opposing defenses as well.
Honorable mentions go to TCU's Josh Boyce and Baylor's Terrance Williams.
TE: Jordan Najvar, Baylor
There aren't many extremely productive tight ends in the Big 12. Najvar is the obvious choice as the top tight end and he figures to have his production increase in 2012 to compensate for all of the losses the Bears will have to deal with. He could end up becoming a security blanket for quarterback Nick Florence.
OL: LaAdrian Waddle, TTU | Joe Madsen, WVU | Cyril Richardson, Baylor | Lane Taylor, OSU | Gabe Ikard, OU
The Big 12 has no shortage of talented offensive linemen. Quite a few honorable mentions here: TCU's Blaize Foltz, Ben Habern of Oklahoma. Also, Texas has Mason Walters and a few other talented linemen who could emerge as some of the best in the conference by season's end.
DL: Stansly Maponga, TCU | Jackson Jeffcoat, UT | Alex Okafor, UT | Meshak Williams, KSU
The Big 12 has some serious talking points on the defensive line. Texas can boast one of the most talented defensive line tandems in all of college football, and TCU's Stansly Maponga is no slouch either. Jeffcoat, Okafor, and Maponga will be wreaking havoc on offensive lines, tight ends, running backs, and quarterbacks all year long—they are all no-doubters on this list.
The fourth spot, I gave to KSU's Meshak Williams. The junior college transfer recorded just 28 tackles last season, but ten of them were for a loss and seven of those were sacks.
A keen eye will notice that all four honorees are defensive ends, simply because the Big 12 lacks an elite defensive tackle. The only real notable omission from this list is Oklahoma DT Jamarkus McFarland, who was named to the official preseason squad.
LB: Arthur Brown, KSU | A.J. Klein, ISU | Jake Knott, ISU
Just as Jeffcoat and Okafor are one of the nation's top DE tandems, Klein and Knott of Iowa State are one of the best LB duos in the country. The Cyclone tackling twins were both defensive workhorses last year, combining for a ridiculous 231 tackles, three interceptions and four forced fumbles.
However, KSU's Arthur Brown is the single most talented linebacker in the conference and one of the best in the nation. After two disappointing seasons at Miami, the former five-star prospect from Wichita, Kan. headed back home to K-State, where he accounted for 101 tackles, 9.5 of which were for a loss.
These three are really the clear-cut top three in the conference as it stands right now. However, TCU's Kenny Cain and Jordan Hicks of Texas could emerge as top backers by season's end.
CB: Quandre Diggs, UT | Brodrick Brown, OSU
Diggs and Brown could just as easily be replaced by their two teammates, Carrington Byndom of UT and Justin Gilbert of OSU. The two duos are two of the best tandems in the nation.
I chose Diggs over Byndom because of his elite speed and playmaking ability, which allowed him to lead the Horns with four interceptions last year. Brown and Gilbert had nearly identical numbers with five INTs each, but I chose the senior Brown, because at this point in his career, he's a bit more polished and balanced overall than Gilbert.
However, the talent at corner does not end with these four. Kansas State has a very talented corner in Nigel Malone and Oklahoma has one too in Demontre Hurst. All six of these guys have all-conference talent.
Safety was a much easier decision. I chose Vaccaro as my preseason defensive player of the year. He's poised to have a huge season now that he's the main man at safety after the departure of four-year starter Blake Gideon.
Tony Jefferson, meanwhile is on the same level as Vaccaro. Both of them are elite safeties and there is little debate as to whether or not they're the best in the conference.
WVU boasts a strong safety of its own in Terrence Garvin, who will be moved to a hybrid safety/linebacker spot in the Mountaineers new 3-4 defensive scheme. He's good, but there is no evidence to suggest that he's on the same level as Jefferson and Vaccaro.
To save time/space, I went ahead and combined the kicker and punter position because Oklahoma State's Quinn Sharp is one of the biggest no-doubters on this entire team.
Recruiting sites don't really reward five-star distinctions to kickers, but Sharp should have received one (he was a three-star). Sharp finished No. 3 in the nation in punting average last year and No. 5 in scoring.
He was only No. 7 in field goals, but I'll pardon him since his offense averaged 48.7 points per game and didn't have much trouble finding the endzone.
RET: Tyler Lockett, KSU
Simliar to the wide receiver position, Tavon Austin may be in this spot if I hadn't made an all-purpose position. Lockett may not have the numbers or reputation of Austin, but he has no shortage of talent and speed.
As Lockett's role expands, so will those numbers. He is poised to have a breakout season in the return game.Back to the West Virginia Mountaineers Newsfeed