Today is Day 18 of our countdown of the Big 12's 25 best players entering the 2010 season. The full results are locked in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player per day until we reach the top of the list.
We're inside the top 10 now, and I kind of expect discussion on this to get pretty heated. I feel pretty good about where I've slotted guys, but we'll see if we need to do a mega-mailbag at the end of all this so I can defend my order. You'll notice the list is intentionally weighted somewhat toward positions that have a greater amount of impact on a large percentage of the field.
Remember, this isn't a list of the top-25 NFL prospects in the league. It's heavily weighted toward players' actual accomplishments in their college careers, as well as their likely impact on their teams in the 2010 season.
No. 8: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
2009 numbers: Ran for 705 yards and eight touchdowns on 171 carries. Also caught 41 passes for 522 yards and four touchdowns.
Most recent ranking: Murray was ranked No. 11 in the past offseason's ranking of the conference's top 40 players.
Making the case for Murray: Murray's topped 700 yards in each of his three seasons, topping 1,000 yards once while splitting carries with several backs throughout his career. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops thinks Murray's in for a big year, and I expect him to reach a career high this season if he can stay healthy with nearly 2,500 career rushing yards and 35 touchdowns behind him. To do that, he needs the offensive line to improve. While it struggled in 2009, so did his production, and he saw dips in every rushing category with a similar amount of carries. His combination of size and speed make him perhaps the toughest player in the conference to tackle in the open field, and he's among the best at both making defenders miss and breaking tackles. Murray is one of Oklahoma's best weapons, and if the offensive line struggles again, look for Murray to get plenty of receptions in the flats like he did last season. He proved he's a reliable receiver there, and common sense suggests he'll only improve.
The rest of the list:
No. 9: Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
No. 10: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
No. 11: Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma
No. 12: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
No. 13: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
No. 14: Alexander Robinson, RB, Iowa State
No. 15: Sam Acho, DE, Texas
No. 16: Roy Helu, Jr., RB, Nebraska
No. 17: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
No. 18: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
No. 19: Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
No. 20: Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M
No. 21: Tim Barnes, C, Missouri
No. 22: Brian Duncan, LB, Texas Tech
No. 23: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
No. 24: Tanner Hawkinson, OT, Kansas
No. 25: Blake Gideon, S, Texas