Phil Steele released his preseason thoughts on the league's best players. Several Longhorns are featured and I wanted to share where my views differ from his own with respect to Texas and the Big 12.
RB - Malcolm Brown
OL - Mason Walters
OL - Trey Hopkins
OL - Josh Cochran
WR - Jaxon Shipley
RB - Johnathan Gray
WR - Mike Davis
Steele doesn't really have a good grasp of our running back situation. Bergeron is more explosive than Brown (though Brown has great vision and sweet feet) and Steele doesn't put Joey B anywhere on his lists. That's a pretty major oversight, particularly given Gray's optimistic projection on the 4th team. Not your best effort, Phil.
Similarly, Mason Walters is an example of Steele's habit of consulting recruiting rankings and theorizing that talent eventually wins out. Sometimes that works, but it's football evaluation by inference in lieu of actually studying our games. Switch Hopkins and Walters.
I was pleased to see Josh Cochran mentioned and Mike Davis is defensible.
DL - Jackson Jeffcoat
DL - Alex Okafor
S - Kenny Vaccaro
DL - Ashton Dorsey
LB - Jordan Hicks
DB - Carrington Byndom
DB - Quandre Diggs
LB - Steve Edmond
Steele has a much better grasp of the Longhorn defense. Okafor, Jeffcoat, and Vaccaro are all easy 1st Team selections. Longhorn DT, like RB, has a number of potential contributors, and Ashton Dorsey makes as much sense as anyone. This is one of the weaker DT years I've seen in the Big 12.
The league has solid cornerback talent, so it's no slight for Byndom or Diggs to find themselves off of the 1st Team, though I think a good case can be made for Byndom. Jordan Hicks is solidly amongst the best six LBs in the league and Steve Edmond gets a mention based on his enormous potential.
As for the other Big 12 picks, some quibbles:
- I'll take WVU's Geno Smith over Landry Jones at 1st team QB
- Look for Baylor's Ivory Wade to become the best center in the conference after his move there in the Spring
- KU's Tanner Hawkinson is better than 4th Team, but all KU players suffer from a program downgrade
- Tom Wort is a good player that gets too much deference from Sooner fans and media
- The talent level at DT, TE is weak
- RB, S, DE, OL are just OK
- QB, WR, CB, LB is good
- The lack of defensive names for Baylor, Tech, and Kansas tells you something about their 2012 ceiling
- Iowa State picked the wrong league to have great LBs and poor DBs
- Baylor's overall offensive infrastructure is very good. If Nick Florence is solid, they'll score plenty of points
- UT, OU, OSU are several rungs above the rest of the league defensively