Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
Rounding out the selections on defense.
You can find my methodology and my offensive selections here. On that article, you'll also find links to the AP and Coach's All Big 12 teams.
Let's get to it.
1ST TEAM DEFENSE
DL Devonte Fields, TCU
DL Chucky Hunter, TCU
DL Kerry Hyder, Texas Tech
DL Meshak Williams, KSU
Fields is the quickest DL in the league, a pass rushing force, and held up better against the run than one would imagine for a 230 pound freshman. Squatty Chucky Hunter had few statistics, little acclaim, and even less recognition, but if you watched TCU play, he was the best two gap DT against the run in the entire conference. TCU's undersized nickel hinged on Chucky Hunter's ability to clog the middle. Many TCU fans don't even understand his importance.
Meshak Williams was a very solid DE for KSU all season long and he has the stats to bear it out.
Tech's Kerry Hyder is probably the most debatable inclusion for the simple fact that although he led the Big 12 in tackles for an interior DL and a racked up 13.5 tackles for loss overall, only one (1) of those tfl happened against a Top 25 team. Hyder consistently dominated bad or average players, but when he faced peers, his performance tended to level off to adequate. He made the 1st team mostly because I wanted a 2nd DT.
Longhorn DT Ashton Dorsey likely would have made this team had he not been hamstrung by injuries down the stretch of conference play.
LB AJ Klein, Iowa State
LB Arthur Brown, KSU
LB Kenny Cain, TCU
The LB voting from the media and coaches drives me insane. Every year, they use total tackles as their guideline - irrespective of context - and every year I want to pull out my hair. Starting at MLB on a terrible run defense is a great way to inflate your statistics. See Bryce Hager. Or Steve Edmond. Here's a quick tip on either: if I see the DC pull you from two different games because you're getting owned, you're probably not on my all-conference team.
And I love ISU's Jake Knott, but he missed too many games with a season-ending injury.
Klein and Brown were the two best pure LBs in the league by a fairly wide margin. I think I'll get no debate there. Kenny Cain rounds out the pack for his versatility and ability to operate in space.
DB Jason Verrett, TCU
DB Tony Jefferson, OU
DB Durrell Givens, Iowa State
DB Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
No DB emerges from the Big 12 unscathed, so if your litmus test for All-Conference means never getting beat, you should follow the Big 10. Spare me the "well, I saw him give up a touchdown once" replies. The Big 12 has a dozen good to great WRs and the passing game rules favor them.
In my opinion, Jason Verrett stood alone among Big 12 cornerbacks, so he's my only 1st team selection at the position. ISU's Durrell Givens is criminally underrated and the big safety led the league in forced turnovers (forced fumbles + interceptions).
Tony Jefferson did everything for OU.
Vaccaro was given the impossible task of playing WLB, slot corner, and safety simultaneously and despite the absurdity of that tasking, he delivered a lot of big hits, ranked among the conference elite in total tackles and forced turnovers, and was a versatile coverage guy.
2ND TEAM DEFENSE
DL Alex Okafor, Texas
DL Vai Lutui, KSU
DL Calvin Barnett, OSU
DL Adam Davis, KSU
I think we're good here. Longhorn Alex Okafor made a lot of 1st team ballots, but his injuries put him on my second team.
LB Isaiah Bruce, West Virginia
LB Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State
LB Eddie Lackey, Baylor
Oof. Yeesh. Injuries and underperformance mean the drop off to this group is pretty severe. That's what losing Jordan Hicks, Jake Knott, and OU's LB woes will do for ya.
OSU's Shaun Lewis is an adept blitzer and coverage guy who operated well against the spread. I'm good with him.
WVU redshirt freshman Bruce may be indicative of the degree to which I'm reaching for players, but he actually was one of the few bright spots on a relatively awful WVU defense. If you want to switch him out with KU's Ben Heeney or OSU's Alex Elkins, have at it.
Eddie Lackey. Yep, a Baylor defender made my all-conference team. Lackey had a fantastic late season push for the Bears and his 4 interceptions (two of them pick 6s) led all Big 12 LBs and were instrumental in their late season run. Whatever his faults, dude made some plays out there.
DB Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State
DB Cody Davis, Texas Tech
DB Nigel Malone, Kansas State
DB Aaron Colvin, OU
Zimmerman missed some important games and that cost him 1st team honors. If you want to put him up there, you'll get no argument from me. He had a great season and was the most reliable member of the KSU secondary.
Nigel Malone is a gambler and gave up some balls, but he's a ball hawk. He's probably me weakest inclusion on this ballot.
OU's Aaron Colvin is the 2nd best cornerback in the league. Stedman Bailey dominance humped him on national television for three hours, but whatcha gonna do?
Tech's Cody Davis is a very good tackler, putting on a clinic against West Virginia, supporting the run with enthusiasm, and operating well against the short spread passing game, but he was a bit limited in coverage.
If I were doing a 3rd team, it would be comprised of Sooners, Horned Frogs, and Wildcats.
Texas had a secondary that was as talented as any in the league, but schematic buffoonery and bad development forced them into massive underachievement.
If TCU will stay off of the hash pipe, next year's defense will be stout.
Happy to hear your thoughts...