Big 12’s top 10 players of 2013

Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty

Matt Kartozian/Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The season’s over, but there’s still plenty to talk about after what we saw from August to January in the Big 12. Earlier this month, we counted down the 10 best games of the season, and now it’s time to rank the top 10 players. 

The Big 12 champs are predictably well represented, and seven offensive players made the list, compared to just three defenders. 

1. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor: The Bears’ quarterback finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting and won the Big 12’s Offensive Player of the Year crown. He deserved it. His pace slowed a bit late in the season, but he left his peers at QB in the Big 12 far, far behind. Only Heisman winner and national champion Jameis Winston had a better QB rating, and Petty threw 32 touchdowns to just three picks and rushed for 14 touchdowns. That’s good for any QB, but especially good for a first-year starter.  

2. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: Jeffcoat was a constant presence in opposing backfields all season, but especially in conference play. He had 12 sacks in nine games. No other Big 12 defender had more than 9.5. The former No. 1 recruit capped a solid, albeit injury-plaged, career at Texas with Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. 

3. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech: Defensive coaches around the Big 12 loved how Amaro played the game and hated gameplanning for him. The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder was the best tight end in college football and his 106 catches were 23 more than anyone in the Big 12. Nobody was more reliable on third downs. Amaro caught 35 passes on third down this season. No one in the Big 12 had more than 23. Amaro finished the year with 1,352 yards and seven scores. 

4. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: Verrett’s team has struggled the past two seasons, but he’s quietly done fantastic work on his side of the field. No Big 12 corner was a better cover man, and even though offenses quit testing Verrett nearly as much after last season’s masterpiece (6 INTs, 16 PBUs in 2012), he still managed to lead the league again with 16 passes defended (2 INTs, 14 PBUs) in 2013.

5. Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor: No offensive lineman in the Big 12 is more of a mauler than Richardson, who earned unanimous All-American honors this season and was the first player to ever win Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year in consecutive seasons. He was a hugely underrated piece of an offense that was third nationally in yards per play, at 7.48 yards. 

6. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor: Nobody in the Big 12 was more dangerous with the ball in their hands. Seastrunk and Amaro both elected to leave early for the NFL, and both made good decisions. Seastrunk’s year was marred by a hamstring injury that kept him out of two-plus games, but he still led the conference with 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 158 carries, eighth-most in the league. He averaged 7.45 yards a carry. 

7. Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State: Lockett grew up a whole lot this season, and he may challenge Petty for Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2014. Lockett was the Big 12’s best receiver this year. Could K-State have knocked off Baylor if Lockett hadn’t been injured? He led the Big 12 in receiving yards per game (105.2 yards). In his final four games of 2013, he caught seven touchdown passes and logged 560 receiving yards, including a 278-yard day against Oklahoma. 

8. Gabe Ikard, C, Oklahoma: Ikard isn’t the most physically impressive offensive lineman, but he was one of the Big 12’s best this season. Injuries forced him to shuffle between left guard and center early in his career, but he was dominant at center for all 13 games for the Sooners in 2013.

9. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: Gilbert is a physical freak who really grew as a cover man during his four seasons in Stillwater. He wanted to come back after a disappointing 2012 campaign, and it’s clear he made the right decision. He injected his name back into the discussion as a first-rounder after picking off seven passes in 2013. Only one player in college football (Anthony Harris, Virginia) had more. 

10. Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia: There’s not a more versatile player in the Big 12. Only Lockett had more all-purpose yards in the Big 12 than Sims this year. He played some receiver in high school and it shows. Like Verrett, Sims’ team struggled in 2013, but he shined in his one season after transferring from Houston. He finished the year with 1,095 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns despite a poor passing game and added 401 yards and three scores on 45 receptions. The 6-foot, 213-pounder took advantage of the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule and should have a great NFL career ahead. 

Honorable mention: Ryan Mueller, Tevin Reese, Ahmad Dixon, Caleb Lavey, James Sims, Antwan Goodley