The Big 12 is drastically improving before our eyes and producing quality players on both sides of the ball. What was once considered a battle between Texas and Oklahoma for the conference title has now provided us with a little more parity.
More teams are competing at the highest level and talented players are emerging at an alarming rate.
The season will soon begin and guys will fight to make a name for themselves, help their team win and bring home individual awards. One of the things star players shoot for is to be mentioned as a first-team All-Big 12 player. It shows that you were one of the top players at your position for an entire season.
Here is how things stack up for Bleacher Report's Big 12 preseason all-conference teams.
Casey Pachall, TCU
Pachall showed that he was one of the best quarterbacks in the country when he threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2011. Last season, the TCU quarterback got himself in trouble off the field and missed the majority of the season.
If Pachall can turn things around and get back to his old self, there aren't many that will be able to compete with him throwing the football. Pachall has great athleticism and has always been able to complete a high percentage of his passes. He should have no problem competing for individual awards as long as he can keep his head on straight.
Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State
Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
Forget first-team All-Big 12, Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk believes he will win the Heisman Trophy. After the season he had last year, it's hard to argue with him. Seastrunk rushed for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider he only touched the ball 131 times.
Seastrunk has a great combination of size and speed and should become more of a household name this year. He'll need to take things to another level in order to win the Heisman, but being selected to first-team shouldn't be an issue for the Baylor Bear.
Johnathan Gray, Texas
Gray saw an increased workload as the season progressed, and it looks like he could be the front-runner for the starting job in a loaded backfield. The freshman runner rushed for 701 yards and scored three touchdowns, while also proving to be a factor in the receiving department, hauling in 11 passes for 151 yards.
The Texas runner led the Longhorns in rushing yards last season and was only getting his feet wet. With his skill set and a year now under his belt, Gray should have no problem showing the world why he was such a highly recruited player.
James Sims, Kansas
Damien Williams, Oklahoma
Eric Ward, Texas Tech
It's safe to say that Eric Ward is the best wide receiver in the Big 12. He has caught more than 80 passes in the last two seasons and set a new career high last year with 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had five games of at least 100 receiving yards and recorded three games with at least two touchdown receptions.
Ward was a third-team All-Big 12 selection last year, but that's bound to change as he is arguably the most popular name at the position entering the new season.
Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
Josh Stewart has only been with the team for two seasons and already ranks 10th all-time in school history with 1,501 receiving yards. Last season, Stewart really made a name for himself, catching 102 passes for 1,210 yards and seven touchdowns. He was honored as a first-team All-Big 12 selection.
Stewart will continue to thrive playing in the pass-happy Oklahoma State offense. As the No. 1 option, those numbers won't change much and another record breaking season isn't out of reach for the young man.
Tevin Reese, Baylor
Mike Davis, Texas
Blake Jackson, Oklahoma State
Blake Jackson caught 30 passes last year for 598 yards and three touchdowns. Those are solid numbers for a tight end, but imagine what they could've been if he didn't drop so many passes. An issue that haunted Jackson last season, he made a promise to his team to improve in that area.
Jackson was productive last season as it is, but will take things to the next level if he can do a better job of holding onto the ball. He sees plenty of targets and has plenty of opportunities in an offensive friendly system. This should be a big year for Jackson.
Ernst Brun, Jr., Iowa State
Cornelius Lucas, Kansas State
Lucas thrived in his first true season as a starter, protecting Collin Klein's blindside at left tackle. Earning first-team All-Big 12 honors and helping the team rush for nearly 200 yards a game, Lucas has earned his stripes in one short season.
The Kansas State lineman stands in at 6'8", 330 pounds, and was a big reason the Wildcats only allowed 14 sacks last season.
Cyril Richardson, Baylor
Baylor has a few holes to fill on the offensive line, but things could've been much worse if Cyril Richardson decided to leave early for the NFL draft. Richardson was one of the best interior linemen in the country last season and will be the rock up front for the Bears this year.
Richardson is reliable in both run and pass protection and could find himself selected in the first-round of the 2014 draft if he continues to perform at a high level.
Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
Gabe Ikard is a two-time All-Big 12 selection and this may be the year he finally wins the Rimington Trophy as the best center in college football. There are few centers you will find that are better in pass protection than Ikard. He has great footwork and has started a majority of the games for the Sooners over the last two seasons.
As long as Ikard can remain healthy, he should have no problem being named one of the best linemen in the Big 12 for the third straight season.
Trey Hopkins, Texas
Trey Hopkins has been that versatile player for Texas over the years and has been productive. He has played left guard, right tackle and then switched back to left guard last season. He has been a solid player even with all of the position changes over the years.
Hopkins was a second-team All-Big 12 selection last season and has started the last 29 games for the Longhorns.
Daryl Williams, Oklahoma
Daryl Williams was one of the many Sooners that was bitten by the injury bug, as he missed time due to a sprained MCL. Back and ready to go this season, Williams will prove to be one of the best tackles in the country. Williams has great athleticism and plays the game with an aggression that allows for him to finish blocks.
Williams will be extremely valuable to a unit that just couldn't stay healthy at all last year.
Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech
Quinton Spain, West Virginia
B.J. Finney, Kansas State
Bronson Irwin, Oklahoma
Tayo Fabuluie, TCU
Devonte Fields, TCU
Missing the first two games of the season will hurt the young man's production, but we are talking about a freshman who finished last season with 10 sacks and 53 tackles. Devonte Fields isn't your typical sophomore and will quickly make up for lost time. His pass-rush skills are some of the best you will find and his ability to fly to the football is impressive.
Fields will be fine as far as first-team is concerned.
Calvin Barnett, Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State defense is often laughed at, but don't blame any of the struggles on defensive tackle Calvin Barnett. A second-team All-Big 12 selection last season, Barnett was also named to the 2013 Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list.
Barnett finished his first season at the big boy level with 30 tackles and nine tackles for loss. Those numbers will improve with a second season in Oklahoma State.
Kerry Hyder, Texas Tech
Kerry Hyder was one of the reasons why Texas Tech's defense was so great last year. He did a little bit of everything for the unit, as he finished with 56 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. Hyder is a versatile defensive lineman who can do a little bit of everything for the Red Raiders.
Last season, his efforts were good enough to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors.
Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
It may be a little risky to put Jackson Jeffcoat on here considering he is made out of glass, but this kid has all of the tools to be a difference maker. His lateral quickness and ability to get into the backfield in a hurry are just some of the reasons he is being scouted heavily by the NFL. If he didn't miss half of last year, he would've probably skipped town and entered last year's draft.
Jeffcoat has everything you look for at defensive end from a skill set standpoint. He is due for a breakout season as long as he can remain healthy.
Cedric Reed, Texas
Davion Pierson, TCU
Dartwan Bush, Texas Tech
Will Clarke, West Virginia
Isaiah Bruce, West Virginia
Isaiah Bruce played his redshirt freshman season like one of the best linebackers in college football. He made plays all over the field and finished the year second on the team with 90 tackles, while adding two interceptions and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Bruce has terrific athleticism and playmaking ability. He is also taking on more of a leadership role this season.
Bryce Hager, Baylor
It is no secret that Baylor needs help on defense. If only the coaching staff can get others to play like linebacker Bryce Hager. The son of former Texas great, Britt Hager, Bryce led the Big 12 last season with a ridiculous 124 tackles. It was good for second-team All-Big 12 honors and a few turning heads entering this season.
Hager is one of the few bright spots on Baylor's defense.
Jordan Hicks, Texas
There are no excuses for a Texas defense to finish fifth in the conference. But it certainly didn't help not having Jordan Hicks on the field for a majority of the season. Missing most of the season with a hip injury, Hicks only played in three games all year. The good news is that he is healthy and ready to add some toughness up front.
Hicks is a tackling machine and playmaker that will help the Longhorns out greatly.
Caleb Lavey, Oklahoma State
Ben Heeney, Kansas
Will Smith, Texas Tech
Quandre Diggs, Texas
Quandre Diggs is the definition of a playmaker in the secondary, as he finished last year with four interceptions and 53 tackles. He now has eight career interceptions in just two seasons and 24 starts. Due to his ball hawking skills, there were talks about him possibly replacing Kenny Vaccaro in the secondary, but those conversations didn't last long.
Quarterbacks will think twice about throwing this guy's way.
Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State
Ty Zimmerman is no stranger to these lists, as he has been mentioned as one of the best safeties in the Big 12 since his freshman year. He has 10 career interceptions, including five last season and is the most experienced defender on the team with 36 starts. However, as the only returning defensive starter for the Wildcats, Zimmerman might have more difficulty on the defensive side of the ball this season.
There are plenty of questions surrounding the Wildcats, but at least they have a reliable playmaker at safety.
Karl Joseph, West Virginia
Karl Joseph was another West Virginia freshman that caught the eye of many last season. He led the Mountaineers with 102 tackles, while adding two interceptions, three forced fumbles and six pass deflections.
Joseph has remarkable instincts that allow him to get in on the action every play. If he can follow up his sophomore season with another solid year, a first-team All-Big 12 selection isn't out of reach.
Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
Aaron Colvin has lined up at several different spots for Oklahoma, but seems more comfortable at cornerback. He made the transition last season and ended up intercepting four passes and adding 51 tackles, while also breaking up 11 passes. Colvin is a physical corner at the line of scrimmage and has terrific ball skills.
Oklahoma lost a lot of depth in the secondary, so Colvin will need to step up more than ever. Expect him to do just that.
Jason Verrett, TCU
Ahmad Dixon, Baylor
Sam Carter, TCU
Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
K Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
Michael Hunnicutt has a strong leg that allowed him to make 81 percent of his kicks last season. He also produced eight touchbacks on 30 kickoffs. Hunnicutt is one of the most reliable kickers there is in the Big 12.
P Ethan Perry, TCU
Ethan Perry got everybody's attention last season when he punted the ball 63 times for TCU. He averaged 44.51 yards per attempt, which was 15th best in college football. Perry was an honorable mention All-Big 12, but that will change if he can keep up that type of production.
PR/KR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Tyler Lockett was not only a receiver that hauled in 44 passes for 692 yards and four touchdowns, but he was also great on special teams. Lockett averaged 32.76 yards an attempt on 21 kickoffs, which included two touchdowns. His ability to flip the field position will be huge for Kansas State this season.
K Jaden Oberkrom, TCU
P Kirby Van Der Kamp, Iowa State
PR/KR Levi Norwood, Baylor