Today is Day 22 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. 4: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
2009 numbers: Had the most sacks (17) in the nation. Made 48 tackles, including 21.5 for loss. Also broke up five passes and forced four fumbles, the most in the Big 12.
Most recent ranking: Miller was unranked in the past offseason's ranking of the conference's top 40 players.
Making the case for Miller: The conference's resident sack master, Miller has no peer when it comes to the pass rush. He notched five more sacks than the next-best returning defender in the conference, and playing a new position that fits his strengths perfectly should set him up for another big year of hounding the conference's quarterbacks. His services are especially useful in a pass-happy Big 12 South. He's one of just four players on the All-Big 12 first team to return in 2010. Only 1.5 of his 17 sacks came in the final four games of the season, and he was held to just one tackle and no sacks against Oklahoma, which is somewhat troublesome, but there's no doubt he's one of the league's elite defensive stars.
The rest of the list:
No. 5: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
No. 6: Nate Solder, LT, Colorado
No. 7: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
No. 8: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
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