Each summer, college football preview magazines appear on grocery store shelves and each year, I find myself less enthused. That’s not disappointment at the arrival of amateur pigskin, it’s because so much of the information therein those publications appears daily on the Internet. As the New Orleans Times-Picayune lessens printing to three days per week, is there a point where Phil Steele, Athlon and Lindy’s find themselves wondering whether the price of paper is worth it? Let’s hope not because a legion of males forced into trips to acquire produce and frozen pizza need a place of respite that the magazine aisle provides. And at worst, their all-conference selections offer plenty of June fodder to assuage the notion that late August is still two months away.
Here are Athlon’s Big 12 first, second and third team choices with my own thoughts sprinkled in:
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia: As handily as Landry Jones struggled in 2011 without Ryan Broyles, I think this is still his seat. Smith may annihilate Big 12 defenses but he’s given far too much credit for the 70-point Orange Bowl. It seems pundits forget Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib outplayed him last October.
RB Malcolm Brown, Texas: He’s going to share lots of carries with Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray. If Brown is better than both, the numbers still might not show that.
RB Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
WR Stedman Bailey, West Virginia: Baylor’s Terrance Williams deserves one of these two Mountaineer wideout spots. Again, Orange Bowl fever.
WR Kenny Stills, Oklahoma: Notable in that with all of the Trey Metoyer headlines emanating out of Norman, perhaps Stills finishes 2012 behind his own teammate for conference honors.
C Ben Habern, Oklahoma
OL Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
OL Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech: If the all-Big 12 name team makes an appearance on Rant Sports in the future, Red Raiders lineman LaAdrian Waddle is the reason why.
DL Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL Stansly Maponga, TCU: Gary Patterson hasn’t lost his entire unit this offseason. A lot of them, but not all.
DL Alex Okafor, Texas
LB Arthur Brown, Kansas State: The brother of notorious recruit and quiet contributor Bryce Brown found a home, close to home, in Bill Snyder’s annually underrated defense.
LB Jordan Hicks, Texas
LB A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State: I tried to think of a flurry of adjectives for my favorite Big 12 defensive back but every time I see him on TV, it’s just “brick shithouse.”
CB Quandre Diggs, Texas: Diggs’ fellow Longhorns corner Carrington Byndom probably earns this place in my purview considering he drew the tougher assignments in 2011 and will do the same in 2012.
S Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
K Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State: Just don’t ask him about Ames.
P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
PR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
QB Collin Klein, Kansas State: The Wildcats won tight (nine decided by a touchdown or less) games in 2011 because it took advantage of breaks and Klein’s poise. The latter accomplishing the former two years in a row is a lot to ask when Kansas State was outgained by over 100 yards per contest in conference play.
RB Eric Stephens, Texas Tech: Prior to dislocating his left knee, Stephens was on pace for a career season and his recovery might determine whether a Red Raider runner carries on the legacy of Byron Hanspard or if Tommy Tuberville is looking for another job next winter.
RB Dominique Whaley, Oklahoma: Similar to Stephens, a season-ending injury probably kept Whaley off the first team.
WR Josh Boyce, TCU
WR Darrin Moore, Texas Tech
WR Terrance Williams, Baylor: Art Briles has proven himself an offensive savant. Should Williams get any help from quarterback Nick Florence, he might follow the departed Kendall Wright in the NFL Draft’s opening rounds.
C Joe Madsen, West Virginia
OL Tyler Evans, Oklahoma
OL Blaize Foltz, TCU: Name-team candidate.
OL Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas: Will be required by Charlie Weis to kiss his Super Bowl rings on a daily basis. This breeds character and winning, not Tom Brady, you dolt.
OL Mason Walters, Texas
DL David King, Oklahoma
DL Toben Opurum, Kansas
DL R.J. Washington, Oklahoma: This feels like a reputation choice. A former all-world recruit, Washington hasn’t lived up to that steep ceiling in Norman yet.
DL Meshak Williams, Kansas State
LB Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State
LB Corey Nelson, Oklahoma
LB Tom Wort, Oklahoma: If there’s one thing Bob Stoops has always crafted with pride, it’s mean, nasty linebackers that produce. Wort and Nelson both like laying a hat. Staying healthy in the process keeps a postseason trip to Miami available.
CB Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma
CB Nigel Malone, Kansas State
S Ahmad Dixon, Baylor
S Terence Garvin, West Virginia
K Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
P Kirby Van Der Camp, Iowa State
KR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
PR Quandre Diggs, Texas
By the third team, coaches who select all-conference players are either relying on their SID’s or throwing darts at a recruiting wall. Or they’re choosing the kid that decimated their team on Saturday and maybe sat out the remainder of the season. That’s not to say earning third-team Big 12 honors is a slight, these are still prospects, but you’re starting to give away participating ribbons at this point.
QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma
RB Waymon James, TCU
RB Trey Millard, Oklahoma
WR Tracy Moore, Oklahoma State
WR Tevin Reese, Baylor
WR Jaxon Shipley, Texas
C Ivory Wade, Baylor
OL Jeff Braun, West Virginia
OL Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
OL Nick Puetz, Kansas State
OL Duane Zlatnik, Kansas
DL Will Clarke, West Virginia
DL Ashton Dorsey, Texas
DL Vai Lutui, Kansas State
DL Nigel Nicholas, Oklahoma State
LB Kenny Cain, TCU
LB Steve Edmond, Texas
LB Alex Elkins, Oklahoma State
CB Carrington Byndom, Texas
CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
S Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State
S Bradley McDougald, Kansas
K Aaron Jones, Baylor
P Tress Way, Oklahoma
KR Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
PR Brandon Carter, TCU