Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 6

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 every day.

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

We're officially in the top 10 now. That means it could be a little heated from here on. Got beef? Send it to my mailbag, and we'll have a later post logging and answering your complaints.

No. 6: Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma

2011 numbers: Made 54 tackles (35 solo), 19 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. Broke up eight passes and had an interception. Also forced three fumbles.

Most recent ranking: Alexander was unranked in our preseason list of the top 25 players. He was, however, No. 7 on our midseason top 25 players list.

Making the case for Alexander: There's no need for much explanation here. Alexander earned a well-deserved Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honor after leading the Big 12 in tackles for loss. That was no accident, and he could have had plenty more. He was the most disruptive single player for passing games across the Big 12, and in the run game, too.

The 6-foot-4, 255-pound defensive end had always been one of the most physically gifted players in the Big 12, but he turned it into big-time production this season. Alexander suffered a painful shoulder injury against Iowa State that limited him the rest of the season and turned him into a nonfactor against Oklahoma State. His void was enormous. Oklahoma got no pressure on Brandon Weeden and the defense was shredded. When he was active and healthy, though? Big 12 quarterbacks needed to keep their heads on a swivel. His 8.5 sacks were tied for second in the Big 12.

The Sooners will need to replace him next year, which won't be easy, but he turned in a memorable season in a year Oklahoma would like to forget.

The rest of the list: