2010 Media Preseason All-Big 12 Team

As usual, the media voted for the players with which they're most familiar, are enthusiastically pushed by their coaches or SID, or possess a friendly stat line that may or may not reveal their true game impact. Historically, groupthink is rife here and statistics tend to be used for support rather than illumination.

Still, that's usually enough to get it mostly right.

The nature of the voting also assures you of quirks like fourteen starters on defense; including five edge rushers and three cornerbacks. Tough to score on a defense with three extra men and eight edge players.

Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M

Co-Defensive Players of the Year: Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska; and Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

Newcomer of the Year: Toney Clemons, WR, Colorado

Jerrod Johnson is a safe choice as Offensive MVP given that he's a two year starter, the league has no elite RBs, and his QB competition is not trusted (Landry Jones), too inexperienced (Garrett Gilbert), lacks hype (Blaine Gabbert), or is returning from injury on a losing team (RGIII). Johnson's statistics look great on the page with 3600+ total yards last year, including a 28-6 TD/INT ratio, and 8 rushing TDs, but that hides game-to-game inconsistency and a middle-of-the-road 7.3 yards per attempt. He's benefitting from volume of opportunity. The absence of an A&M defense also assures him of extended play against bad opponents (see Ricky Williams 1998), so his stat sheet will be full. I'm picking nits, obviously.

If you believe that Jared Crick will match last year's output in the absence of Suh, I suppose this is defensible. Nebraska certainly plays a schedule that's friendly to compiling defensive statistics. Von Miller is an excellent player used in a way that assures him of maximum statistics - it's debatable as to whether his real game impact is greater than that of the other elite edge players in the league who are asked to play more honestly. I'm curious to see if the 3-4 broadens his game and how teams scheme for him given an A&M interior DL that won't demand a double team.

Last year's preseason Newcomer of the Year was Penn State transfer DT Phil Taylor from Baylor. Based completely on Art Briles preseason hype and an imposing presence. He spent more time at IHOP than in opponent backfields. This year the hype machine is centered on another Big 10 transfer - this time from Michigan - CU's Toney Clemons. The word out of Boulder is that he's the best player on the Buffaloes roster, which is damning with faint praise.

Isn't Garrett Gilbert a newcomer? Or do three quarters in a bowl game disqualify him?

Offense
QB: Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M
RB: DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
RB: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State

No Ricky Williams, Adrian Peterson, Cedric Benson, or Ahman Green to be found.

DeMarco is the best receiving RB in the league, an above average runner who has lost a gear, and somewhat brittle. He'll compile statistics as a function of the role of the RB in the Oklahoma offense. He has lost some weight to regain a lost step, but I think he's here primarily because he's a familiar name. The next tackle he breaks will be the first I've seen in a year.

Daniel Thomas benefitted immensely last year from a feeble schedule and made much of his hay running the Wildcat. He's a big, strong guy with some shiftiness and he strides right through arm tackles. Snyder is one of the original innovators using the QB as a runner in the spread, and he should find ways to use Thomas there and as a traditional HB. Thomas seems assured of 250+ carries and another 1,200 yard rushing effort.

Truth be told, if you substituted Christine Michael, Alexander Robinson, Kendall Hunter, Baron Batch, or even Roy Helu here, you'd get similar or better production than these guys.

WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
WR: Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M

No argument. Broyles is the class of the league and I project Fuller to have 75 catches with 10+ TDs this year.

TE: Mike McNeill, Nebraska

No problem. Don't be surprised if Barrett Matthews throws down a 40 catch, 500 yard, 7 TD year though.

OL: Ryan Miller, Colorado
OL: Nate Solder, Colorado
OL: Tim Barnes, Missouri
OL: Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas
OL: Stephen Good, Oklahoma
OL: Kyle Hix, Texas

Six OL here because of a tie in voting. Realize that to most of the media, OL play is a swirl of color and movement and they don't have much of an idea what's happening beyond a player getting beaten for a sack on replay. They basically take people's words for it. And that's dangerous.

Barnes is the clear choice at center.

Stephen Good has shown me nothing that suggests he deserves to be here, certainly not any more than Nebraska's Keith Williams, Tech's Lonnie Edwards, or Michael Huey from Texas. Correct me if I'm wrong, but was he not benched for a game or two last year?

Hix is fine. And Hawkinson makes sense if you project his growth at the position after being throw into the fire as a freshman.

According to this voting, CU should have the Big 12's most elite OL in 2010 despite a 2009 offense that averaged 314 yards per game and allowed 44 sacks. But Miller and Solder are returning starters! And they're big! Solder does have a big upside, but I've yet to see it on the field with any consistency.

Amusingly, most media people simply vote their preseason team again for the postseason team on OL, so it all become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Which explains how, in years past, benched players actually made it onto the postseason team.

PK: Alex Henery, Nebraska

Henery is a good kicker, but Missouri's Grant Ressel went 26 of 27 last year, including 7 of 8 from between 40-49. His only miss happened in the monsoon against Nebraska. Ressel set a NCAA record for FG %. So, really? Do we just hate Grant Ressel? Do we need him to go 27 of 27?

KR: Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M

Somewhere DJ Monroe is laughing. He averaged 33.6 per kick return and brought back two for TDs. Teams were avoiding kicking to him by Game 4. Cyrus Gray averaged 23.8 per kick return on 27 opportunities. Apparently, the media values number of returns over impact, sort of like valuing a QB for pass attempts over yardage. Awesome job, fellas.

DEFENSE

DL: Aldon Smith, Missouri
DL: Jared Crick, Nebraska
DL: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma
DL: Sam Acho, Texas

Alrighty, we're starting three DEs. Kheeston Randall or Adrian Taylor from Oklahoma would have been an appropriate DT if you're a stickler for things like positions, but it's hard to argue with the overall quality of these four. Spare me the "but Acho will play DT on passing downs" take.

LB: Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
LB: Von Miller, Texas A&M
LB: Keenan Robinson, Texas
LB: Brian Duncan, Texas Tech

Some more positional fail if you're a stickler, but I'm not. Miller and Duncan are 3-4 OLB edge rushers while Robinson and Lewis are traditional 4-3 OLBs. There isn't an ILB or MLB to be found and we now have 3 DEs and 2 3-4 OLBs on this D. In any event, they've identified four good players, and the spirit of All-Big 12 teams should be to highlight the best, I suppose. Though I'm not entirely sure whether Keenan Robinson is better than Emmanuel Acho.

DB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
DB: Aaron Williams, Texas
DB: Quinton Carter, Oklahoma
DB: Blake Gideon, Texas
DB: Curtis Brown, Texas

Yeah, Blake Gideon isn't a 1st Team All Big 12 guy, as it's not clear he's the best safety on his own team, but he has started for two years and last year he had six interceptions playing center field, so the media pencils him in dutifully. Dejon Gomes, Markelle Martin, and the Sims kid from Iowa State are all legitimate possibilities instead.

I must praise the media for identifying the best three cornerbacks in the league, though. I might have just added another.

P: Derek Epperson, Baylor
PR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

Sure.

***

Only three players were unanimous selections: Jared Crick, Travis Lewis, and Jeremy Beal. Somewhere Prince Amakamura, Aaron Williams, and Ryan Broyles are shaking their heads. Seriously - what games could you possibly be watching?

Here's the team breakdowns, courtesy of David Ubben:

1. Oklahoma - 7

2. Texas - 6

3. Nebraska - 4

3. Texas A&M - 4

5. Missouri - 2

5. Colorado - 2

7. Baylor - 1

7. Kansas - 1

7. Kansas State - 1

7. Texas Tech - 1

11. Oklahoma State - 0

11. Iowa State - 0

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