Big 12 News

Former Cyclone, Horned Frog Make List of ‘Program-Changing Players’

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Oklahoma

The Athletic’s Andy Staples put together a list of the Top 10 ‘program-changing players’ of the last 30 years, with TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson and Iowa State’s David Montgomery making the cut.

The piece, part of Staples’ ‘Dear Andy’ mailbag, was an answer to a question from a reader. Staples’ list started as a Top 5 list, but after talking with his Athletic colleagues and editors, the listed expanded to 10 players.

Tomlinson would have made the list either way, as the former TCU running back came in at No. 4, behind USC running back Reggie Bush, Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, and Utah quarterback Alex Smith.


Tomlinson, who played at TCU before it joined the Big 12, gained 4,132 yards and 42 touchdowns during his time in Fort Worth. Tomlinson helped re-establish attention on the program after it left the Southwest Conference and failed to make the cut for the Big 12. One could say that Tomlinson’s play helped fuel the Horned Frogs’ long road back to the Power 5 and the Big 12.

Montgomery, meanwhile, made the list at No. 10, and Staples admitted that he’s projecting a bit in determining the running back’s value to the program, since it’s so soon after Montgomery left for the NFL. But, as Staples wrote, Montgomery’s 2,362 rushing yards in 2017 and 2018 helped build the legitimacy that Campbell has built his program around and certainly helped the young head coach build a foundation that led the Cyclones to the 2020 Big 12 Championship game.  

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard. Send him a tweet with your question to be included in this week’s Big 12 Basketball Mailbag, which appears each Friday during the conference season.

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