Top Big 12 players: Nos. 21-25

Aaron Green accounted for eight touchdowns in TCU's final five games last season. Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of year again. After careful consideration, we’ve ranked the top 25 players in the Big 12.

There were about 10 other players who could have made the list, but these are the 25 we feel deserved inclusion.

We begin the list with Nos. 21-25:

21. Kevin Peterson, CB, Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State’s lockdown cornerback has been a fixture in the Cowboys' defensive backfield since his true freshman season. When he matched up one-on-one against West Virginia All-American wideout Kevin White last season, Peterson showed what he’s capable of, holding White to a season-low three catches for 27 yards. Peterson will have way more help at cornerback this season, too, with the addition of Indiana transfer Michael Hunter and the healthy return of Ashton Lampkin. With Ramon Richards also back, Peterson will headline a cornerback contingent that should be the deepest in the Big 12.

22. Nick Kwiatkoski, LB, West Virginia: Kwiatkoski isn’t flashy, but he’s one of the surest tacklers in the league. The preseason All-Big 12 selection had 71 solo tackles last season, the most of any returning Big 12 defender. Dana Holgorsen has said that this West Virginia unit could be the best defense he has ever been associated with. Kwiatkoski manning the middle is a big reason why.

23. Aaron Green, RB, TCU: Green showed what he could do late last season when he took over the running back position. Replacing an injured B.J. Catalon in the starting lineup for TCU’s final five games, Green rushed for 544 yards and six touchdowns to finish with a sparkling average of 7.2 yards per carry. Now the undisputed starter, the former Nebraska transfer could be poised for a monster season in TCU’s high-powered attack.

24. Joey Hunt, C, TCU: Hunt is the glue of the TCU offensive line, which spearheaded the way for the nation’s second-highest-scoring offense last season. Gary Patterson has said that the preseason All-Big 12 pick and three-year starter is one of the smartest players he ever has coached. Hunt’s remarkably quick and strong hands make a huge difference, too.

25. Cody Whitehair, OT, Kansas State: There isn’t a more experienced offensive lineman in the league than Whitehair, who has notched 38 career starts since his freshman season. He started out his career at guard before seemingly sliding over to left tackle last season. With center B.J. Finney gone, Whitehair has taken over as the unequivocal leader of an offensive line that will be the strength of a retooling K-State offense.