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

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. 12: Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State

2011 numbers: Made 114 tackles (73 solo) and four tackles for loss. Intercepted two passes. Also forced three fumbles and broke up two passes.

Most recent ranking: Knott was ranked No. 10 in our preseason list of the top 25 players.

Making the case for Knott: The Cyclones linebacker showed big promise as a freshman in 2009, and since taking over the starting job as a sophomore, has been one of the Big 12's most productive players. That didn't change this year, when he was the Big 12's No. 4 tackler. Since becoming the starter in 2010, he's made 244 tackles.

It wasn't widely reported, but Knott played all year with a painful, banged-up shoulder that popped out of place several times, including twice in a loss to Baylor. Knott, however, didn't miss a game and the 6-foot-2, 243-pounder had double-digit tackle totals in six games this year.

It's been touched on in this blog, but Knott just may be the toughest player in the entire league. Expect a big season in 2012 as Knott takes the field as a senior with legitimate defensive player of the year aspirations.

The rest of the list: