Big 12 Football: 10 Best Players from BCS Era

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2014

Big 12 Football: 10 Best Players from BCS Era

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    PAUL SAKUMA/Associated Press

    We are—thankfully—at the end of the BCS era and entering the dawn of the College Football Playoff. 

    So as we do when any era draws its curtains, it's time to reflect on what the Big 12 produced during the time of the BCS. 

    Some of the Big 12's best players ever made their mark during the era. There was of course Vince Young, who capped off his great career in Austin with a thrilling win over USC in the national championship. 

    There was Adrian Peterson, who is almost undoubtedly the best running back to ever play at Oklahoma. 

    The list goes on, and it's almost a shame that some guys are left off. But for now, let's take a look at the top 10 players of the BCS era from the Big 12. 

10. Brian Orakpo

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    From 2005-08, Brian Orakpo lit up was the biggest force to be reckoned with in the Big 12. When it was all said and done for him, Orakpo had gathered up Nagurski, Lombardi and Hendricks awards, as well as a Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honor. 

    He saw action in all 13 games of the 2005 season when Texas won both the Big 12 Championship and the National Championship and finished his career with 132 tackles and 22 sacks. 

     

9. Chase Coffman

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Without a doubt, Chase Coffman is the best tight end in Big 12 history, meaning he was also the best in the BCS era. 

    Coffman dominated for the Tigers early and often, starting off his career as a Freshman All-American and ending it as the winner of the John Mackey Award for the nation's best tight end. 

    He was also instrumental during the Tigers' best run in the Big 12. They went 22-6 in his final two seasons.

    Coffman's final stat line included 247 receptions, 2,659 yards receiving and 30 touchdowns. 

8. Darren Sproles

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Known as "Little Tank" at Kansas State, Darren Sproles tore it up for the Wildcats from 2001-04. 

    In 2003, Sproles finished 5th in the final Heisman Trophy voting. That year he rushed for 1,986 yards, 16 touchdowns and lead K-State to its first Big 12 title. 

    Despite only spending three seasons as a starter under Bill Snyder, Sproles finished his career with 4,979 yards rushing, 609 yards receiving and 47 total touchdowns. 

7. Ndamukong Suh

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    DAVE WEAVER/Associated Press

    Perhaps the most dominating defensive player in Big 12 history—and certainly during the BCSNebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh was, at one point, the most feared man in college football. 

    In 2009 (Suh's last season at Nebraska), he finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting. Many believed he was still the best player in college football despite the fact that Mark Ingram won the award. 

    Suh finished his career as a Cornhusker with 215 tackles and 24 sacks. He even had four interceptions, two of which he took back for touchdowns.

6. Michael Crabtree

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    There's no question about it—Michael Crabtree is the best receiver to not only go to Texas Tech, but to play in the Big 12 in the BCS era. 

    He was the centerpiece during the Red Raiders' run at a Big 12 title in 2008, when Texas Tech finished 11-2. 

    He also still owns Big 12 single season records for receptions (134) and receiving yards (1,962), both of which he set as a redshirt freshman. 

    Crabtree is also the first player in NCAA history to win two Biletnikoff Awards, honoring the nation's top receiver. 

5. Collin Klein

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Had it not been for one off night in Waco in 2012, Collin Klein would have likely won the Heisman Trophy and K-State would have likely played for a national title. 

    Instead, a Big 12 title—the Wildcats second—and a third place finish in the Heisman voting is what Klein ended up delivering to Manhattan that season. 

    One of the best dual-threat quarterbacks college football has ever seen, Klein finished up his stint with the Wildcats with 4,724 passing yards, 2,485 rushing yards and 87 total touchdowns, despite being the bona fide starter for just two seasons.

     

4. Ricky Williams

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    ERIC GAY/Associated Press

    The winner of the 1998 Heisman Trophy, Ricky Williams was one of the best running backs to ever see the gridiron Saturdays. 

    In his last two years at Texas, Williams ran for 3,917 yards and 52 touchdowns. Those numbers are as gaudy as they come. 

    Williams won the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. Twice. He also won the Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards in 1998. He left Texas as the NCAA leader in career rushing yards, but that mark has since been surpassed by Ron Dayne. 

     

3. Adrian Peterson

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    TY RUSSELL/Associated Press

    Adrian Peterson was about 400 points in the Heisman voting away from being the first ever freshman to win the award in 2004. Instead, he finished second behind Matt Leinart after racking up 1,925 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. 

    In three seasons, Peterson was the best back in the Big 12, regardless of the fact that an injury shortened his junior year in 2006. 

    Peterson left Norman, Oklahoma as the Sooners third-leading rusher in school history and finished with 4,041 career yards and 42 total touchdowns. 

2. Colt McCoy

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    From 2006-2010, Colt McCoy epitomized what it meant to be a winning quarterback at Texas in the Big 12. 

    In 2008, he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting. In 2009, third. 

    He led Texas to a Big 12 title in 2009-10 and a berth into the BCS National Championship. Had he not been hurt against Alabama in that title game, many feel the Longhorns would've won it all that season. 

    McCoy never completed fewer than 65 percent of his passes, and the two-time consensus All-American wrapped up his career with 13,253 passing yards and 132 total touchdowns. 

1. Vince Young

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    DAVID J. PHILLIP/Associated Press

    Who can forget Vince Young's fourth down run to the end zone against USC that sealed up the national title in 2006? 

    Well, that was just the exclamation point to what was perhaps the best season by a quarterback in Big 12 history. Young finished second in the Heisman voting that year after throwing for 3,036 yards, rushing for 1,050 and racking up 38 total touchdowns. 

    Young still holds the Big 12 record for averaging 6.8 yards per carry, making him perhaps the best dual-threat quarterback in the conference's history. 

    He's the Big 12's best player in BCS era.

    He led Texas to two Rose Bowl wins—one of them a national title—as well as a Big 12 title. He was also the MVP of both those Rose Bowls.