Big 12 Football

Big 12 Football: Power Ranking the 10 Best Players of 2013

Luke BrietzkeContributor IIIJanuary 16, 2014

Big 12 Football: Power Ranking the 10 Best Players of 2013

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    A year of turnover in the Big 12 led to breakout seasons from various players across the conference.

    No player took to the stage like Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

    Petty proved to be the exception, though. A conference often dominated by talented quarterbacks instead became one highlighted by defense.

    Usually skill-position players dominate the headlines in the Big 12.

    To that end, 2013 was indeed a strange season.

    Numerous defensive players were worthy of consideration for the season’s final power rankings of the top players. Ultimately, three made the cut.

    Let’s take a look at the top 10 Big 12 players from 2013.

10. RB James Sims, Kansas

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    David Purdy/Getty Images

    Choosing between the two Sims proved tough, but ultimately Kansas’ James Sims got the nod over West Virginia’s Charles Sims.

    The Jayhawks tailback might have been the most underappreciated player in the Big 12.

    Sims served as a workhorse out of necessity, running for 1,110 yards to finish just 67 yards behind conference leader Lache Seastrunk.

    However, Kansas’ 3-9 overall record meant Sims produced largely in anonymity as one of the team’s few bright spots.

9. DE Ryan Mueller, Kansas State

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    If you’re not familiar with Mueller, start learning about him.

    The first-team All-Big 12 performer finished second in the conference with 11.5 sacks and 18.5 TFLs.

    Mueller, a junior, is scheduled to return for his senior season.

    Kansas State’s standout defensive lineman also forced four fumbles, tying for fourth in the league. His 62 tackles ranked fourth among Big 12 defensive linemen.

8. C Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

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    R. Yeatts/Getty Images

    Of the talent Oklahoma loses this year, perhaps none will be more difficult to replace than Ikard.

    The Sooners center helped lead them to ranking second in the league in rushing despite an erratic passing attack.

    Coaches named Ikard a first-team All-Big 12 performer for a second consecutive season, finishing second in Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year voting.

7. WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Anyone foolish enough to question Lockett’s place on this list needs only to watch the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl performance from Lockett.

    After doing so, you might wonder how Lockett only ranks at No. 7.

    It’s a reasonable question.

    Kansas State spent a chunk of the season trying to figure out its quarterback situation. Yet Lockett hauled in 81 catches—11 for touchdowns—while also registering 1,262 receiving yards.

    Lockett also led the conference in yards per game with 105.2. He finished third in the league in yards per kickoff return to earn Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year.

6. CB Jason Verrett, TCU

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    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    Big 12 coaches ignored the fact that Verrett recorded just two interceptions in 2013.

    That’s because they all spent at least one week watching film on the TCU defense and noticed the same thing: Verrett routinely took away half the field from offenses.

    Verrett’s considerable reputation led to teams throwing away from him. He still led the Big 12 with 16 passes defended and 14 pass breakups.

    TCU took a big step back with a 4-8 campaign this season, but Verrett did his part to help the defense finish second in total defense.

5. G Cyril Richardson, Baylor

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Offenses don’t explode for 52.4 points per game with 618.8 yards per game without dominant line play.

    Baylor was no different.

    Richardson led the way for a tremendous offensive line. Coaches recognized his efforts, naming him Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year.

    Behind Richardson and his linemates, Baylor led the nation in scoring offense and ranked atop the Big 12 with 259.7 rushing yards per game.

4. DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    An inconsistent Texas offense led to more weight on its defensive counterpart.

    Jeffcoat responded by applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks. As one of the Big 12 Co-Defensive Players of the Year, the senior from Plano led the conference with 13 sacks and 19 TFLs.

    Some defensive linemen focus so much on blowing up plays in opponents’ backfields that they record the majority of their tackles behind the line. Not the case with Jeffcoat, who led all Big 12 defensive linemen with 79 tackles.

    Jeffcoat helped a Texas defense that looked lost through the first three games morph into a serviceable unit that nearly helped the Longhorns to a Big 12 championship.

3. RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The leading Big 12 rusher finished with 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns despite missing nearly three full games.

    Seastrunk fell short of his goal to win the Heisman Trophy, but he helped the Bears post the best Big 12 rushing numbers.

    Furthermore, Seastrunk was the only Big 12 tailback to average 100 yards per game.

    Coaches named Seastrunk first-team All-Big 12.

    A blend of speed and athleticism made Seastrunk the most explosive, dynamic scoring threat in the Big 12. Next year, the would-be senior will be breaking opponents’ ankles in the NFL.

2. TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Everyone in position to catch passes must have been thrilled with the news of Texas Tech hiring coach Kliff Kingsbury.

    Amaro made the most of the opportunity.

    The Red Raiders tight end helped break in true freshmen quarterbacks Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield by becoming perhaps the most reliable option in the nation.

    Amaro led the conference with 106 receptions and 1,352 receiving yards. He also hauled in seven touchdowns on his way to being unanimously voted first-team all-conference.

1. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Petty ran away as the top offensive player in the Big 12 in 2013. He threw for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns while getting intercepted just three times, leading Baylor to an 11-2 record and a conference championship along the way.

    No other Big 12 quarterback threw for more than 2,800 yards. Petty also led the league in passing touchdowns by a wide margin—Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb finished second in the conference with 20.

    Though Petty made a name for himself as a passer, he showed off the skill to burn teams with his legs as well, rushing for 14 more touchdowns.

    Petty served as the engine that drove a dynamic, high-octane attack, leading the Bears to their first-ever Big 12 championship.

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