In today’s roundtable we take a look back at our Big 12 all-time player rankings series, in which we named the Big 12’s best at each position over the past couple of weeks.
Jake Trotter, Max Olson and Brandon Chatmon debate the biggest omission, toughest position to choose and top overall player.
Which player was the biggest omission?
Chatmon: It was extremely tough for me to agree to leave Texas' Earl Thomas off the list of defensive backs. True enough, he spent only two seasons on the 40 acres, but his 2009 season was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I remember thinking I’d never seen a defensive back dominate games as Thomas did as a sophomore en route to 77 tackles, 16 pass breakups and eight interceptions. It was amazing.
Trotter: Iowa State running back Troy Davis, Baylor WR Corey Coleman, Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew. If any of those three had made the top five, I would have been just fine.
Olson: You know what? The defensive all-time top 5 lists seemed a lot easier to put together than the offensive ones. We argued a little on the order for some, but I don't think we had an egregious omissions on D -- we just had too many choices at defensive back. We did consider Kansas State's Mark Simoneau for one of our linebacker spots. He had a solid case. But overall I feel good about our defense and special teams lists.
Which Big 12 all-time position ranking was the toughest to choose?
Chatmon: Defensive back, easily. As much as I loved Thomas, it’s hard to say Roy Williams, Terence Newman, Derrick Strait, Michael Huff or Aqib Talib didn’t deserve it. And outside of Thomas, just think of the names that didn’t make it: Texas' Quentin Jammer, Kansas State's Chris Canty, Nebraska's Ralph Brown and TCU’s Jason Verrett just to name a few. The Big 12 has featured some exceptional defensive backs, which made it extremely difficult.
Trotter: I’m with Brandon -- defensive back was a bit of a struggle. But weirdly enough, so was returner. Tavon Austin didn’t make the cut, largely because he played only one season in the conference (what a season it was). Jakeem Grant was a stud. Then again, honestly, I felt pretty good about the top five we came up with at every position. You could definitely argue different orders for those top fives. But you would be hard-pressed to argue against the top fives we produced.
Olson: Defensive back, for sure. We would have had a much easier time if we'd just agreed to name our top five cornerbacks and our top five safeties. The five DBs we did pick were the right choices, and I was even more impressed by Williams and Newman when I went back and reviewed their résumé. But trimming a list of more than 20 exceptional DBs down to five is a really tough task.
Who is the Big 12's No. 1 overall player of all time?
Chatmon: I strongly considered Ndamukong Suh and Williams here, but Vince Young is simply too good to ignore. The former Texas star ticks all the boxes as a national champion, elite quarterback and clutch playmaker in clutch moments. If I were building a college football squad of former Big 12 players, I’d start with VY.
Trotter: It’s Vince. He put together the greatest individual season in Big 12 history, played the best individual game (the Rose Bowl) in Big 12 history and won a national championship, which nobody else has done since 2000. Suh and Williams were fabulous defensive players. Nobody tops Vince.
Olson: I got to cover Suh's career at Nebraska and witness his dominance on a weekly basis. Few guys can control a game as he did in that 2009 season, and he might have deserved the Heisman for that season. But, yes, Vince Young is still the king of any all-time All-Big 12 team.