Ranking the Top 25 Big 12 players: No. 9

The official list of the Big 12's top 25 players is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we're revealing the list day by day here on the blog. Here's a refresher on my exact criteria.

We're in the top 10 now, so it might get a big heated.

Got beef? Let's squash it.

No. 9: Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M

2010 numbers: Rushed 200 times for 1,133 yards and 12 touchdowns. Also caught 34 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown. Completed his only pass attempt for a 14-yard touchdown. Also returned 17 kicks for an average of 24.82 yards.

Most recent ranking: Gray was unranked in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Gray: Gray's late-season tear helped Texas A&M rip off six consecutive wins to earn a share of the Big 12 South title and a Cotton Bowl berth after a 3-3 start. After the 3-3 start, Gray had just 195 yards rushing. In the next seven consecutive games, he topped 100 yards, helping the Aggies earn wins against Nebraska and Oklahoma and topping 100 yards against a tough LSU defense in the Cotton Bowl.

Gray enters the 2011 season as the easy choice for the Big 12's top running back. He's the only returner from the league's top 11 rushers after finishing seventh in the category in 2010.

This year, he gets his running mate in the backfield, Christine Michael, back after Michael's broken leg last season heaped nearly the entire load on Gray's back.

Fortunately for the Aggies, Gray did more than handle it. He thrived in his new role.

The rest of the list: