Ranking the Big 12: Secondaries

Ranking the Big 12: Secondaries

Eddie Middlebrook – FOXSportsSouthwest.com

In a conference where the spread offense is supreme, a secondary is vital to counter it. This year, the conference is loaded with teams that return multiple starters and big impact players like the Huskers’ Prince Amukamara and the Horns’ Blake Gideon.

1) Texas: The Longhorns return four starters from a passing defense that ranked 19th in the nation last year. The secondary is led by Safety Blake Gideon (6 INTs) and Cornerback Aaron Williams (3 INTs). Corners Curtis Brown and Chykie Brown also return from the stellar defense.

2) Nebraska: Prince Amukamara returns after being selected first team All-Big 12 in 2009. The Huskers have five seniors in the two-deep secondary and Nickelback Eric Hagg playing a hybrid LB/CB position. Nebraska’s pass defense ranked first in the Big 12 a year ago and will compete with Texas for top honors this year.

3) Kansas State: For a pass defense that ranked seventh in the conference last season, it is a little surprise for the Wildcats to be ranked so high in 2010, but having four returning starters helps. Safety Tysyn Hartman is a big (6’3, 206) reason why the Cats will be successful after collecting five interceptions last season.

4) Colorado: The Buffaloes were quietly the fourth best pass defense in the conference last season and return both starting corners Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown after both earned honorable mention all-conference. Strong Safety Anthony Perkins also returns and will help provide leadership to freshman Nickelback Parker Orms.

5) Oklahoma: Free Safety Quinton Carter leads a secondary that was ranked 20th in the nation in pass defense in 2009, but will be looking to replace both corners. Carter could be an all-conference selection by season’s end and Strong Safety Sam Proctor looks to improve on last season when he started 10 games and recorded 44 tackles.

6) Texas Tech: The Red Raiders return three starters from a year ago including both safeties: Free Safety Cody Davis and Strong Safety Franklin Mitchem. Senior corner LaRon Moore will look to shut down opponents’ best receiver in 2010.

7) Missouri: The good news is that the Tigers return three starters from 2009. The bad news is that last season’s pass defense was 11th in the conference and 104th in the nation. All four projected starters are seniors and Defensive Coordinator Dave Steckel will expect these four men to improve their defense.

8) Texas A&M: The Aggies are similar to the Tigers with their pass defense being dead last in the conference last year. Strong Safety Trent Hunter is a little undersized at his position (5’10, 187) but there is no question that he is the leader in the secondary.

9) Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are looking to replace both of their corners (and all of their linebackers) and a safety. The glue that is holding the secondary together is Safety Markelle Martin who could be all-conference at season’s end. Head Coach Mike Gundy has yet to make a decision on backup Safety Victor Johnson who faces possession of a controlled substance after being arrested on June 11.

10) Baylor: The Bears have to replace All-Big 12 safety Jordan Lake, and former corner Tim Atchison will try to fill the void. Three of the projected starters are seniors and sophomore corner Chance Casey, a returning starter, is the other one.

11) Iowa State: The Cyclones are led by Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Safety David Sims after he collected five interceptions last season. Cornerback Leonard Johnson also returns after starting his first two seasons in Ames.

12) Kansas: The Jayhawks have three seniors projected as starters and are led by third-year starter Chris Harris at corner. All four projected two-deep corners are juniors and seniors that should provide experience that was ninth in pass defense and total defense.