Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 20

Our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players continues. The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we're revealing a new member of the list every day.

Here's a quick rundown on my criteria for this list.

No. 20: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

2011 numbers: Made 71 tackles (46 solo) and 6.5 tackles for loss. Had two sacks and broke up eight passes.

Most recent ranking: Vaccaro was unranked in our preseason list of the top 25 players.

Making the case for Vaccaro: Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz unleashed one of the best quotes of 2011 when he set out to describe Vaccaro's playing style, saying he was "like a pack of rattlesnakes." That's about right. Vaccaro's quick and hits hard, but he's also one of the most versatile players in the Big 12, which landed him on this list.

He can play safety, but he's most effective at the difficult nickelback spot near the line of scrimmage. You need to be speedy and physical to excel at that spot, but Vaccaro is very much both. He was the Longhorns' third-leading tackler, and the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder possesses the ideal size for the position.

He's a big talent with a big chance to earn some hardware as a senior in 2012 after turning down the NFL to return to Austin as a senior.

The rest of the list: