Ranking the Big 12's best players: No. 18

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. 18: Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State

2011 numbers: Carried the ball 208 times for 1,216 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also caught 43 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns.

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

Making the case for Randle: Nobody would or should really be surprised by Randle's success in his first year as a starter. He showed big promise as a freshman backing up Kendall Hunter, and made good on that potential in 2011, seizing the role of featured back from fellow RB Jeremy Smith.

Randle's extremely valuable in the passing game, too, a place he made his mark in 2010 before emerging as the Big 12's No. 2 rusher in 2011.

The Cowboys' wide-open passing offense forced defenses to account for Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, which perhaps inflated Randle's numbers a bit and kept him just outside my top 15. He'll be tested further in 2012 with the pass-catch duo gone. If he can duplicate those kinds of numbers with an unproven quarterback and a young group of receivers, he could have a case as a top 5-7 player in the league. For now, he's one of its best running backs with two more years that could be very, very special in Stillwater.

The rest of the list: