OU DT Gerald McCoy checks in as Big 12's No. 7 player

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

McCoy No. 7

Gerald McCoy is the steadying influence who serves as the linchpin of the Oklahoma defense during both his years as a starter.

McCoy had a chance to make millions in the NFL draft, but opted to return to school for a shot at a national championship. He'll be the key player on Brent Venables' unit that returns nine starters and has a chance to develop into one of the best in school history.

If the Sooners challenge for their unprecedented fourth-straight Big 12 title, McCoy's work in the middle of the defense will be vitally important in getting them there.

Player: Gerald McCoy
Team: Oklahoma
Position: Defensive tackle
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 295 pounds; Jr.; Oklahoma City (Southeast)

Why he was picked: McCoy was the most productive lineman on Oklahoma's defense last season, leading the Sooners' interior linemen with 30 tackles. He ranked second on the team with 6.5 sacks, including a career-high two sacks against Texas. He was a first-team All-American selection by the Sporting News and a second-team All-American picked by the Associated Press. McCoy has been known for his knack of playing at his best in the biggest games. That was typified by his play in pass coverage in the BCS championship game, leading to his first career interception. Produced 16 unassisted tackles, including 11 for losses.

What 2009 will hold: McCoy already has talked about trying to help the Sooners develop into one of the best defenses in Big 12 history. With his production as the stimulus, the Sooners could get there. And if he progresses like he did last season, he could develop into a legitimate national honors candidate. Again, his value won't necessarily be reflected in raw statistics because he will likely face double-team blocking in almost every game.

The countdown:

8. Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter
9. Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis
10. Kansas QB Todd Reesing
11. Oklahoma RB-KR DeMarco Murray
12. Oklahoma State T Russell Okung
13. Texas DE-LB Sergio Kindle
14. Oklahoma T Trent Williams
15. Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
16. Baylor LB Joe Pawelek
17. Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
18. Texas WR-KR Jordan Shipley
19. Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
20. Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr.
21. Texas Tech DT Colby Whitlock
22. Kansas WR-KR Dezmon Briscoe
23. Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal
24. Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
25. Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
26. Kansas QB-WR Kerry Meier
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State LB Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR-KR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB-KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Chris Hall
38. Texas Tech DE-DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp