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August 14, 2007

Preseason Breakdown: Big 12

RIVALS.COM BIG 12 PREVIEW:
Overview | Preseason All-BIG 12 First Team | Preseason All-BIG 12 Second Team

HOW THEY WILL FINISH

Best offensive player: Texas QB Colt McCoy
McCoy made the Longhorns forget about Vince Young in a hurry. He rose out of obscurity to have one of the best freshman seasons in NCAA history. He tied a freshman record with 29 touchdown passes and led the Big 12 in passing efficiency. Now that he's more comfortable in the offense - and as a leader - look for the sophomore to improve even further.

Best defensive player: Kansas CB Aqib Talib
Kansas ranked last in the country in pass defense, but don't blame that on Talib. Although teams avoided this Thorpe Award candidate, he led the Big 12 in both pass break-ups (22) and interceptions (six). With a more veteran secondary around him in 2007, Talib should flourish again.

Best player you don't know yet: Kansas State DE Rob Jackson
Jackson is overshadowed by Ian Campbell on his defense, but Jackson could finish the season as Kansas State's best defender. After his transfer from junior college, Jackson has steadily improved and was very effective at end of last season.

Impact newcomer: Nebraska QB Sam Keller
Keller was on the road to stardom at Arizona State before an ugly quarterback controversy ushered him out of town. Now he picks up his career in Lincoln. The last time we saw Keller he threw 20 touchdown passes in his first seven games of the 2005 season.

Sleeper recruit: Kansas WR Dezmon Briscoe
Kansas may have gotten a steal in three-star Dezmon Briscoe of Cedar Hill, Texas. He has been impressive early on in practice and could gain playing time as a true freshman even though the Jayhawks have more veteran options at receiver.

THE BIG 12'S BEST ...

Quarterbacks: Oklahoma State

Running backs: Oklahoma

Wide receivers: Texas

Tight ends: Missouri

Offensive line: Texas A&M

Defensive line: Texas

Linebackers: Nebraska

Defensive backs: Oklahoma

Kickers/punters: Oklahoma State

Special teams: Oklahoma State

Assistant coach on the rise: Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Larry Fedora
Few teams had a better turnaround that Oklahoma State last year. The Cowboys scored 15 more points per game in 2006 than the previous season. OSU also cut its turnover margin by 20. Fedora's offenses are based on balance. At Oklahoma State in '06, the Cowboys rushed for 200 yards per game and passed for 200 yards per game. In his last year at Florida in 2004, the Gators had the SEC's leading rusher and SEC's leading passer.

Assistant coach on the hot seat: Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson
Hot seat is not the right way to put it, more like pressure cooker. When Wilson leaves Norman it will probably be the same way his predecessors Mark Mangino, Mike Leach and Chuck Long left for a head coaching job. In the second year since the Rhett Bomar dismissal, the Sooners still have to scramble to find a quarterback. This year, Wilson doesn't have Adrian Peterson to help carry the load.

Best position battle: Oklahoma quarterbacks
Oklahoma goes into a second consecutive season with questions at quarterback. Junior Joey Halzle, redshirt freshman Sam Bradford and true freshman Keith Nichol are all vying for the job. Bob Stoops says he will remain tight-lipped on the starter until the opener.

Boom or bust player: Oklahoma State quarterback Bobby Reid
Reid started with a bang last season, throwing 17 touchdowns in the first six games. However, Reid cooled as the year progressed. He has a chance to lead one of the nation's best offenses, but he must cut down on mistakes - especially on the road. Reid completed fewer than 40 percent of his passes in road losses to Texas and Texas Tech.

BEST BY POSITION
Quarterback

1. Colt McCoy, Texas

2. Chase Daniel, Missouri

3. Stephen McGee, Texas A&M

4. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech

5. Sam Keller, Nebraska

Receiver

1. Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State

2. Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma

3. Limas Sweed, Texas

4. Will Franklin, Missouri

5. Maurice Purify, Nebraska

Tight End

1. Martin Rucker, Missouri

2. Chase Coffman, Missouri

3. Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M

4. Jermichael Finley, Texas

5. Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State

Linebacker

1. Bo Ruud, Nebraska

2. Ian Campbell, Kansas State

3. Chris Collins, Oklahoma State

4. Jordon Dizon, Colorado

5. Alvin Bowen, Iowa State

Kicker

1. Garrett Hartley, Oklahoma

2. Jeff Wolfert, Missouri

3. Jason Ricks, Oklahoma State

4. Alex Trlica, Texas Tech

5. Scott Webb, Kansas

Running back

1. Mike Goodson, Texas A&M

2. Jamaal Charles, Texas

3. Dantrell Savage, Oklahoma State

4. Allen Patrick, Oklahoma

5. Jorvorskie Lane, Texas A&M

Offensive line

1. Cody Wallace, Texas A&M

2. George Robinson, Oklahoma

3. Tony Hills, Texas

4. Yemi Babalola, Texas A&M

5. Matt Slauson, Nebraska

Defensive line

1. Derek Lokey, Texas

2. Frank Okam, Texas

3. Chris Harrington, Texas A&M

4. James McClinton, Kansas

5. Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma

Defensive back

1. Aqib Talib, Kansas

2. Reggie Smith, Oklahoma

3. Zack Bowman, Nebraska

4. Marcus Walker, Oklahoma

5. Terrence Wheatley, Colorado

Punter

1. Matt Fodge, Oklahoma State

2. Justin Brantly, Texas A&M

3. Matt DiLallo, Colorado

4. Tim Reyer, Kansas State

5. Mike Brandtner, Iowa State

RIVALS.COM BIG 12 PREVIEW:
Overview | Preseason All-BIG 12 First Team | Preseason All-BIG 12 Second Team

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.



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