Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 9

Our official list of the Big 12's top 25 players entering the 2012 season marches on. Here's more on my criteria for who makes it, who doesn't and who lands where.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day leading up to the season.

Next up on the list:

No. 9: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas

2011 numbers: Made 71 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Also broke up three passes.

Most recent ranking: Jeffcoat was unranked in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Jeffcoat: Jeffcoat showed up to Texas with the sky-high expectations that come with being the nation's No. 1 recruit. So far, he's lived up to much of the hype. He's already established himself as one of the league's best defenders, but his junior year might be the one when he makes the leap to superstar and top 10 NFL draft pick.

A promising freshman season was hurt by a bum ankle, but he was healthy most of last season despite missing a start with an injury and missing the spring after having surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle. If he's healthy all year, he'll blow up on Texas' loaded defensive line next to Big 12 preseason Defensive Player of the Year Alex Okafor and tackles Ashton Dorsey, Brandon Moore, Desmond Jackson, Malcom Brown and Chris Whaley.

Jeffcoat is 6-foot-5, and 245 pounds, but somehow looks like he plays both bigger and faster than you'd expect from his size. It's uncanny. He's the league's most disruptive defensive end, with a great shot to win All-American honors by the end of the season. And don't be surprised if he takes home the hardware for the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

His ceiling isn't in sight, and now it's up to him to reach it. He'll have every advantage to make it happen.

The rest of the list: