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Texas Football: 3 Longhorns Make All-Big 12 Teams

Jeff PoirierCorrespondent IDecember 5, 2012

Texas Football: 3 Longhorns Make All-Big 12 Teams

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    The Big 12 announced its all-conference teams and awards on Wednesday, and there weren't too many surprises.

    Kansas State's Collin Klein took home Offensive Player of the Year honors, while Wildcat LB Arthur Brown was named Defensive Player of the Year. To hit the trifecta, KSU skipper Bill Snyder was the easy pick for Coach of the Year in his 21st season.

    Texas, despite a disappointing 8-4 finish that landed the Horns third in the Big 12, found three of its players on the all-conference teams.

    Okay, so maybe eight wins and third place is only disappointing by Texas' standards, but you have to bet that the Longhorn faithful aren't happy about Kansas State dominating the postseason awards list.

    Defensive lineman Alex Okafor and safety Kenny Vaccaro were named to the All-Big 12 first team defense, while OL Trey Hopkins graces the second-team offense. Five other Longhorns were tabbed as honorable mentions.

    Read on for more information about these players and their selection to the All-Big 12 teams. 

1st Team: DL Alex Okafor

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    Alex Okafor was named to his second consecutive All-Big 12 first team after putting together an impressive senior season.

    The 6'4", 265-pound defensive end racked up 44 tackles, including eight sacks, despite missing the last two games of the year with an ankle injury. He also has a forced fumble in 2012.

    Okafor went down in the first quarter of the Longhorns' matchup with TCU, a game that Texas ended up losing, 20-13.

    Needless to say, if the all-conference first-team selection were available to torment the Horned Frogs all night, it could have been a very different outcome.

    The timetable for Okafor's return is uncertain, though the Horns hold out hope that he will be able to take the field for the Alamo Bowl against No. 13 Oregon State.

    Given how much Beaver QB Sean Mannion has struggled under pressure from the pass rush this season, Texas' chances seem far better if Okafor can play in his final game donning the burnt orange.

1st Team: DB Kenny Vaccaro

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    The Texas defense is an embattled unit that has weathered injury and criticism all season, but the play of free safety Kenny Vaccaro has never been questioned.

    The senior from Brownwood, Texas has been an anchor in the Longhorns' secondary in 2012, compiling 88 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three passes defensed.

    In the season finale against Kansas State, Vaccaro had a career-high 12 tackles, all of which were solo stops.

    Vaccaro possesses elite coverage skills and exceptional ball skills, as evidenced by his productive interception and pass break-ups numbers.

    But what has been most impressive about Vaccaro's final year of NCAA eligibility is his progress off the field.

    After battling legal issues in 2009 and again this past spring, it looks like Vaccaro has his head screwed on straight and is trending up in the NFL draft discussion.

2nd Team: OL Trey Hopkins

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    Junior offensive lineman Trey Hopkins was named to the All-Big 12 second team, in part for his success protecting the pocket and in part for his versatility.

    The 6'4", 301-pound left guard has started the past 28 games for Texas, though he subbed in at right tackle for 13 of those starts.

    Hopkins has locked down a Texas O-line that is tied for No. 3 in the country, allowing just four tackles for loss per game.

    The Longhorns' stingy front line has also protected its quarterback well, as opposing defenders only manage 1.17 sacks per game (No. 20 in the nation). 

    The conference selection committee must have been impressed by Hopkins' ability to play inside and out, as well as his ability to move from left to right seamlessly.

    Look for Hopkins to play a major role in the Alamo Bowl against Oregon State, as the Beavs' defense is the best that Texas has faced in 2012.

    UPDATE: According to a tweet by Mark Rosner of the Austin American-Statesman, Trey Hopkins will miss the Alamo Bowl due to stress fracture in right leg.

Texas Honorable Mentions

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    Below is a list of Texas' five all-conference honorable mentions.

     

    Johnathan Gray - Offensive Freshman of the Year

    Alex King - P

    D.J. Monroe - PR/KR

    Jaxon Shipley - WR

    Mike Davis - WR

     

    For a complete list of the All-Big 12 teams, follow this link

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