Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 7

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.

We're now in the top 10, so these picks might get a little ugly. Got beef? Let's squash it. Send your complaints here.

Next up on the list:

No. 7: Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State

2011 numbers: Made 115 tackles (73 solo) and intercepted two passes. Made four tackles for loss, forced three fumbles and broke up two passes.

Most recent ranking: Knott was ranked No. 12 in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Knott: Last year, Knott was banged up and not as productive as he could have been. This year, he's healthier than he's ever been and leapfrogs his teammate, A.J. Klein on the list based on total career accomplishments. Remember, the preseason accounts for the entire career. The postseason is just for the previous year.

Knott was playing through a painful shoulder injury and still finished third in the Big 12 in tackles. Back in 2010, he earned honorable mention as the league's defensive player of the year, and don't be surprised if he gets enough votes to make it interesting this year. Even with the injuries, the 6-foot-3, 253-pounder made one of the biggest plays of last season. He tipped the Brandon Weeden pass in double overtime that Ter'Ran Benton grabbed for the interception to set up the game-winning touchdown from Jeff Woody.

He popped his shoulder back into place twice against Baylor last year, and still had one of his most productive games of the season. All this came after he underwent surgery on a broken arm in the spring, but he was back on the practice field supporting teammates 24 hours after the injury happened.

Knott is, without question, the toughest player in this league.

The rest of the list: