The top 25 players in the Big 12: No. 8

We're counting down to the beginning of the season with the top 25 players in the Big 12. The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing players from the bottom of the list all the way to No. 1.

Here's more on my criteria.

Let's move on with the list:

No. 8: James Sims, RB, Kansas

2012 numbers: Carried the ball 217 times for 1,013 yards and nine touchdowns. Also caught 14 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown.

Most recent ranking: Sims was No. 21 in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Sims: Anyone who watched Kansas last season confronted the uncomfortable truth: The Jayhawks had little hope of moving the ball through the air with any kind of consistency. If anyone could see that, imagine what defensive coordinators across the Big 12 knew.

Well, for one, they knew James Sims would be getting the ball a lot. Despite knowing that and Sims having no support in the passing game to soften up opposing front sevens (and eights and nines), Sims remained productive and topped 1,000 yards, even after being suspended for the first three games of the season. He established himself as one of the Big 12's best backs, and at times last season, looked superior to the league's leading rusher Joseph Randle. After 91 yards in his first action of 2012, Sims ripped off six consecutive games with at least 100 yards, including five with at least 115 yards. No Big 12 back equaled a streak like that last season, and Sims became the first Jayhawk since 1974 to log 100 yards in five consecutive games. He seriously considered leaving early for the NFL, but elected to return to Lawrence for his senior season. The Jayhawks' chances of stopping a 21-game losing streak in Big 12 play are much, much better for it.

The rest of the list: