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. 5: Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State WR
Wallace was a Biletnikoff Award finalist last year and should be one again this fall. Granted, we aren’t sure who is going to be throwing him the ball just yet, but odds are on Wallace to still get his and put up big numbers. He was a First-Team All-Big 12 selection last fall and led the nation with 63 receptions of 10 yards or longer and tied for second in the FBS with 25 receptions of 20 yards or longer. But he was not just the big-play receiver, he also led the Power 5 conferences with 66 first-down grabs, making him the clutch player as well. Ovearll, Wallace ranked second nationally with 1,491 total receiving yards and was third nationally with 114.7 receiving yards per game. Now you might be wondering how he’s not higher on this list? Well once again, this is not about stats, it’s about who we think is the best player. More to come below…
No. 4: JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State DE
We named Bailey our Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and if he lives up to that hype he will finish in the Top 5 as well. Bailey finished the 2018 season third in sacks in the Big 12 Conference behind seniors Charles Omenihu (Texas) and Ben Banogu (TCU), along with junior Jordan Brailford (Oklahoma State), who left for the NFL. Also, his 4.5 sacks in conference play are the most of anyone returning in the conference. All those ahead of him were seniors, or juniors who left early for the NFL (WVU’s David Long and Brailford). Now Bailey gets another season under the most creative defensive coordinator in the conference? Sign me up and the numbers should continue to be impressive.
No. 3: Sam Ehlinger, Texas QB
For the first time since Colt McCoy, the Texas Longhorns have a legitimate star at quarterback. Granted, we did not name Ehlinger are Preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, that went to Jalen Hurts, but we think Ehlinger is the better quarterback and player. However, Hurts has Lincoln Riley. But for Ehlinger, he’s a dual-threat QB who is tough and will run between the tackles. He improved drastically as a passer last season completing 65% of his passes for 3,292 yards and 25 touchdowns to just five interceptions, along with 16 rushing touchdowns. He actually became the first player in UT history to pass for at least 25 touchdowns and rush for at least 15 in a season. He’s setting records and now with another year of progress in the weight room, in the film room and as a passer, Ehlinger will be the reason Texas might reach the lofty expectations.
No. 2: CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma WR
Lamb was a Second-Team All-Big 12 selection in 2018, but that’s largely because he had to share the spotlight with so many talented players at the position in Norman. But he still caught 65 passes for 1,158 yards and a team-best 11 touchdowns. With his partner in crime, Marquise Brown, getting injured in the Big 12 title game, Lamb went on to have two of his better games of the season, despite the fact that their was more attention on him. He recorded game highs of eight receptions and 109 yards while catching a touchdown pass against No. 1 Alabama in CFP Semifinal and set a career high with 167 receiving yards on six catches and scored a TD in Big 12 Championship win against No. 9 Texas. Now, he’s the leader of this unit and will garner most of the attention. He appears to be more than up to the task of handling it.
No. 1 Jalen Reagor, TCU WR
This might shock some of you, but it shouldn’t. If Reagor was at Oklahoma under Lincoln Riley, or even Texas, he would be a national household name. But he’s at TCU, which is a great program, but does not get blue blood attention. Also, he played with about 42 quarterbacks last season. Despite this, he had team-best 72 receptions and 1,061 yards receiving both ranked second for a season in TCU history. He was the reason TCU made a bowl game, including an incredible performance against Oklahoma State in the season finale, becoming the first wide receiver in TCU and Big 12 history to top 100 yards rushing (121) and 90 receiving (91). Plus, Reagor was always the focus of opposing defenses, but that didn’t stop him from producing, as he led the Big 12 in percentage of his team’s receptions at 30.1. Reagor is the most-talented player in the Big 12 Conference and will be exciting to watch this season. We just hope he can get into a rhythm with one quarterback.
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