Our annual tradition has returned. Before the season begins, we always identify the greatest names across the conference. Some are unique. Some are humorous or ironic, for various reasons. Some just sound great or are fun to say. The best ones are all of the above.
Here’s your 2014 Big 12 All-Name Team.
Team MVP: Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma: He’s truly the perfect All-Name team candidate. First off, he’s good enough to win the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, so there’s no doubting his on-field resume. His name is unique, fun to say and hear and it fits perfectly with what he does on the field.
Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State: Never underestimate the motivation of a receiver with cannibalistic tendencies.
Baylor Black, LB, Baylor: I wanted to believe this was a typo. I truly did. But I contacted Baylor and can confirm that yes, Baylor is the given first name of a linebacker who plays for Baylor. I cannot emphasize enough that he is a 100 percent real person. Oh, what I would give to see Art Briles’ face/reaction the first time he was made aware of Baylor Black’s existence.
Justus Canfield, WR, TCU: Somebody get this guy back returning punts.
Matt Center, DS, Texas: Good luck finding a more appropriately named player on this list.
Daxx Garman, QB, Oklahoma State: No relation to NBC’s Parenthood star Dax Shepard.
Shock Linwood, RB, Baylor: You get a few points deducted if your name isn’t on your birth certificate, but Shock’s real name, Rashodrick, is almost as good.
Anthony Lazard, LB, Iowa State: Sometimes, your mugshot alone is good enough to land you on the All-Name team.
Kolby Listenbee, WR, TCU: One of America’s finest future entomologists.
Marcus Mallet, LB, TCU: In the Eric Striker line of perfectly named players.
Storm McPherson, QB, West Virginia: He was born in Louisiana while a hurricane beat the Gulf Coast, and was given an outstanding first name. My eyes are already rolling at the horrible, horrible ensuing puns if he gets future playing time and earns a few headlines.
Charmeachealle Moore, LB, Kansas State: His father, Charmeachealle Sr., played for Baylor, and junior goes by Mike. I will probably never call him Mike.
Chuka Ndulue, DL, Oklahoma: Watching Bob Stoops pause before deliberately saying his name during introductions at last week’s media days lands this Dallas native on the list. For record’s sake, it’s "CHOO-kuh en-DOO-loo-ay." He’s also one of the most interesting guys you’ll ever meet.
Noble Nwachukwu, DL, West Virginia: High-character guy. Sometimes you can just tell.
Michiah Quick, WR, Oklahoma: He’s only on this list because he plays a skill position. He would get no points for irony if he was an offensive lineman.
Hiro Sasaki, DE, Iowa State: Iowa State tells me his first name is actually pronounced "hero." Pro tip for Paul Rhoads: Stuck in a tight game in the fourth quarter this season? Put him in.
Rushel Shell, RB, West Virginia: Nothing like the tale of a young man’s collegiate journey from Pitt to West Virginia. Don’t forget to rewind the VHS.
Fish Smithson, DB, Kansas: His real name is Anthony, but he goes by Fish, a name his grandmother gave him as an infant in Baltimore. "He’s such a pain in the butt if you don’t call him Fish," coach Charlie Weis told reporters at signing day this year. The story behind the name is a family secret, and Smithson told the Lawrence Journal-World he only found it out a few years ago. I know I love a little intrigue.
Poet Thomas, OL, Texas Tech: His given name is Pathedro, which would absolutely not have cost him his spot on this list.
Nigel Tribune, DB, Iowa State: As a man who came up in this business through newspapers, I offer an emphatic salute, even if this particular newspaper may be British.
Stone Underwood, OL, West Virginia: No relation to former Dateline NBC anchor Stone Phillips.
Dayton Valentine, TE, Kansas State: Can’t help but fall in love with this guy.
Armond Weh-Weh, RB, Texas Tech: I don’t know which name–first or last–I love more.
Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State: A touching tribute to his coach, but I’m assuming he’ll go back to his original surname after he graduates. Right?