The college football season is almost here and it is time to begin ranking the Top 25 players in the Big 12 Conference. A reminder for all fans: This is not a “returning” Top 25 list. It is who we think will be the Top 25 players in the Big 12 this upcoming season. It’s a razor-thin margin between 25 and 15 and there is plenty to debate. This list was put together by Pete Mundo and Derek Duke. So let’s get right to it.
No. 10: Jalen Hurts, OU QB
Hurts was named the Preseason 2019 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year by the HCS staff. We get it, he’s not the highest-ranked offensive player on this list, but that’s because we suspect his stats under Lincoln Riley will be impossible to overlook. However, remember this is a list of the Top 25 players based on the individual’s talent, not based on what stats we expect them to pile up. Even though he lost the starting job at Alabama, let’s not forget Hurts went 26-2 as the starter in 2016 and 2017. And even after he lost the job last season, Alabama doesn’t make the College Football Playoff if Hurts doesn’t come in in relief of the SEC Championship game and help lead the Crimson Tide comeback against Georgia. He owns the Alabama quarterback career record with 23 rushing touchdowns and his 7,602 total yards and 48 touchdowns both rank third in program history. Now he gets to play under Lincoln Riley? Watch out.
No. 9: Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State RB
Hubbard is probably a name mostly known inside Big 12 circles right now. By mid-season, I suspect that will be much different. After taking over for Justice Hill following his injury, Hubbard averaged 106.3 rushing yards per contest and 5.4 yards per carry, including over 100 yards in three of the four games and five touchdowns. This also came against three Top 25 times in Oklahoma, West Virginia and Missouri, with the other, TCU, one of the best defenses in the Big 12. He showed dual-threat ability with 13 catches as well. Now with Hill gone, there’s no doubt whose backfield it is. Hubbard should be the top running back in the Big 12 this fall.
No. 8: Ray Lima, Iowa State DL
Lima burst onto the scene in the 2017 season for Matt Campbell’s defense and kept that momentum going becoming a First-Team All-Big 12 selection last season. His stats may not have been the sexiest, tallying 34 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss, but he was one of the best run-stoppers in the Big 12 Conference. This season, that should continue and he will end the season as one of the best run stoppers in the country.
No. 7: Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma C
Humphrey was the new kid on the block last season, but the Sooners could not have asked for more from the true freshman, who earned various Freshman All-American honors by multiple media outlets. He was also a second-team All-Big 12 selection by media and an honorable mention choice by league’s coaches. Humphrey is the only returning offensive lineman for the Sooners since the rest of the crew left for the NFL. Humphrey noted last week how he’s ready for the leadership role facing him this season and Lincoln Riley had high praise, telling The Oklahoman, He has extreme talent. He’s a pretty rare talent for the position with combined competitiveness, toughness and a really good mind for the game. There are not many qualities for a center that he doesn’t have.”
No. 6: Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma LB
Murray is a stud. He started all 14 games and led team with 155 total tackles, which was the most by a Sooner since 2007. He ranked second in Big 12 and 13th in nation by averaging 11.1 tackles per game, including 15 against Alabama and don’t forget his absurd 28 tackles vs. Army, which were most in FBS since at least 2000 and were second most in school history. If Murray reaches his potential this fall, this could end up being his last season in Norman, if not, the Sooners find themselves with arguably the best linebacker in the conference for the next two seasons. Of course, the question is can they put all the pieces together on that side of the ball and make it work? Your move, Alex Grinch.
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