The Big 12's 100-tackle defenders in 2012

We're breaking down the Big 12's benchmark performers next season, and we're on the defensive side of the ball now.

For defenders, 100 tackles is the dividing line of a productive season, even though plenty of other big talents don't hit the triple digits.

As for the ones who will in 2012?

College football had 86 players top 100 tackles in 2011. Only eight from the Big 12 reached that benchmark. Here's who will do it next year:

1. Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State: Knott's the most physical defender on Iowa State's defense, and he's already got two 100-tackle seasons under his belt. He'll add a third this year alongside his teammate, A.J. Klein, who's brought the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year hardware to Ames in 2011.

2. A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State: Klein will do the same thing Knott will in 2012: earn his third consecutive 100-tackle season. Iowa State's defensive line leaves a bit to be desired, but the Cyclones backer duo brings a punch, even if they're not behind the line of scrimmage too often. Klein's the better athlete between the two, but these two will go head to head again for the Big 12 tackles title.

3. Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State: Brown's speed and sure tackling will pay off again in his second year as the cornerstone of the K-State defense. The Wildcats need him to shut down open spaces, and nobody in the Big 12 closes them faster than Brown.

4. Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas: The Longhorns are losing 215 tackles at linebacker without Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho. The time is now for Hicks. Texas' defense will be salty, but Hicks, a former five-star recruit from Ohio, may be a household name very, very soon.

5. Mike Hicks, S, Baylor: Baylor won't have two safeties with 100 tackles this year, but they'll still have one, and Hicks will be that guy for the Bears. The defense will be better in Year 2 under Phil Bennett, but not all that much better. Big plays will happen against Baylor, but Hicks can keep them from being backbreaking plays.

6. Alex Elkins, LB, Oklahoma State: Elkins' story is incredible, and he'll finish it with 100 stops as a senior. Not bad for a guy who responded to an open tryout at junior college. Now, he'll be a lynchpin of a much-improved defense in Stillwater.

Do you see anybody else hitting triple digits?