How I voted: All-Big 12 team

Kansas State Wildcats defensive end Ryan Mueller

Scott Sewell/Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

There’s plenty of turnover in the Big 12 this year with stars like Jace Amaro, Jason Verrett, Jackson Jeffcoat, Justin Gilbert and Lache Seastrunk taking their talents to the next level. 

The preseason All-Big 12 team will be released later this week, but deadlines for the media ballots were due last Friday. Here’s a sneak peek at how I voted. 

You can see my All-Big 12 preseason poll and awards here

Remember: I don’t view this as a projection. Some do. The ballot doesn’t say it’s either. 

I view this as the best and most proven players at each position, analogous to something of a lifetime achievement award for this point in each player’s career. Let’s get to it. 

DEFENSE

DL: Chucky Hunter, TCU

DL: Ryan Mueller, Kansas State

DL: Cedric Reed, Texas

DL: Malcom Brown, Texas

 

Considering how last season went, I just can’t sign off on voting Devonte Fields onto the team. My guess is he’ll be here in the postseason, but last year was a disaster, and even when he won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2012, only 4.5 of his 18.5 tackles for loss came in the second half of the season. 

Additionally, though the Big 12 asks for four defensive linemen, I’m a major proponent of filling those slots with two defensive tackles and two defensive ends. Brown and Hunter are outstanding, and slam dunks at the tackle spot. Keep an eye on Andrew Billings and Jordan Phillips for the postseason team. 

Reed and Mueller edge out Fields at defensive end, as well as Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper. He and Baylor’s Shawn Oakman will probably be in the mix at season’s end. 

LB: Ben Heeney, Kansas

LB: Eric Striker, Oklahoma

LB: Steve Edmond, Texas

Heeney and Striker are obvious selections here, but the third linebacker spot is a little tricky. I narrowly went with Edmond over Bryce Hager. They have very different skill sets, but they’re both excellent. I also considered Dom Alexander and Jonathan Truman. 

DB: Sam Carter, TCU

DB: Karl Joseph, West Virginia

DB: Quandre Diggs, Texas

DB: Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma

Carter and Joseph are obvious selections at safety for me. Joseph is one of the nation’s hardest hitters and has improved since a strong freshman season. Carter’s a big hitter too, but is a little better in pass coverage with seven breakups last year. 

Diggs is solid, even if he’s underachieved a bit based on the potential he showed as a freshman way back in 2011. Sanchez was overshadowed by the strength at corner in the Big 12 last year, but the mass exodus there should help him have a bit of a breakout season in 2014. 

OFFENSE

QB: Bryce Petty, Baylor

No contest. 

RB: Johnathan Gray, Texas

RB: Shock Linwood, Baylor

I’m torn on the running back spot. Gray’s injury is a question mark, but he’s still the league’s most talented runner. There’s tons of depth, but not a lot of elite talent outside of Gray. Malcolm Brown, Desmond Roland and Aaron Wimberly all have a case for the second spot behind Gray, and new faces Rushel Shell and Keith Ford may crash the party for the postseason team. 

WR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

WR: Antwan Goodley, Baylor

Never considered a different receiver than these two for these spots. Nobody else has a legitimate case by my criteria. 

TE: E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State

Bibbs has a lot to prove, but he had a strong 2013 and has the highest ceiling of any TE in the league. ISU sounds like it’s going to get him the ball, too.  

OL: Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech

OL: Spencer Drango, Baylor

C: B.J. Finney, Kansas State

OL: Daryl Williams, Oklahoma

OL: Quinton Spain, West Virginia

You saw how badly Baylor missed Drango last year when he got hurt and Clark has been so, so consistent for the Red Raiders the past two years. Finney earned my center vote just barely ahead of Iowa State’s Tom Farniok and Texas’ Dom Espinosa. 

SPECIALISTS

P: Nick O’Toole, West Virginia

Spencer Roth has a higher average yards per kick, but O’Toole has a higher percentage of 50-yard punts and punts inside the 20. Also, Boomstache

KR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

B.J. Catalon will get votes here and he returned a kick for a TD last year, but Lockett had a higher average in Big 12 play last season and has a greater body of work for his career. 

PK: Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma

No contest. 

PR: Levi Norwood, Baylor

Sure-handedness is about as valuable as any playmaking ability, but Norwood provides plenty of both. 

Anybody snubbed? Anybody who doesn’t belong?