Best offensive player:
Texas QB Colt McCoy
McCoy made the Longhorns forget about Vince Young in a hurry. He rose out of obscurity to have one of the best freshman seasons in NCAA history. He tied a freshman record with 29 touchdown passes and led the Big 12 in passing efficiency. Now that he's more comfortable in the offense - and as a leader - look for the sophomore to improve even further.
Best defensive player:
Kansas CB Aqib Talib
Kansas ranked last in the country in pass defense, but don't blame that on Talib. Although teams avoided this Thorpe Award candidate, he led the Big 12 in both pass break-ups (22) and interceptions (six). With a more veteran secondary around him in 2007, Talib should flourish again.
Best player you don't know yet:
Kansas State DE Rob Jackson
Jackson is overshadowed by Ian Campbell on his defense, but Jackson could finish the season as Kansas State's best defender. After his transfer from junior college, Jackson has steadily improved and was very effective at end of last season.
Nebraska QB Sam Keller
Keller was on the road to stardom at Arizona State before an ugly quarterback controversy ushered him out of town. Now he picks up his career in Lincoln. The last time we saw Keller he threw 20 touchdown passes in his first seven games of the 2005 season.
Kansas WR Dezmon Briscoe
Kansas may have gotten a steal in three-star Dezmon Briscoe of Cedar Hill, Texas. He has been impressive early on in practice and could gain playing time as a true freshman even though the Jayhawks have more veteran options at receiver.
THE BIG 12'S BEST ...
Quarterbacks: Oklahoma State
Running backs: Oklahoma
Wide receivers: Texas
Tight ends: Missouri
Offensive line: Texas A&M
Defensive line: Texas
Defensive backs: Oklahoma
Kickers/punters: Oklahoma State
Special teams: Oklahoma State
Assistant coach on the rise:
Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Larry Fedora
Few teams had a better turnaround that Oklahoma State last year. The Cowboys scored 15 more points per game in 2006 than the previous season. OSU also cut its turnover margin by 20. Fedora's offenses are based on balance. At Oklahoma State in '06, the Cowboys rushed for 200 yards per game and passed for 200 yards per game. In his last year at Florida in 2004, the Gators had the SEC's leading rusher and SEC's leading passer.
Assistant coach on the hot seat:
Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson
Hot seat is not the right way to put it, more like pressure cooker. When Wilson leaves Norman it will probably be the same way his predecessors Mark Mangino, Mike Leach and Chuck Long left ? for a head coaching job. In the second year since the Rhett Bomar dismissal, the Sooners still have to scramble to find a quarterback. This year, Wilson doesn't have Adrian Peterson to help carry the load.
Best position battle:
Oklahoma goes into a second consecutive season with questions at quarterback. Junior Joey Halzle, redshirt freshman Sam Bradford and true freshman Keith Nichol are all vying for the job. Bob Stoops says he will remain tight-lipped on the starter until the opener.
Boom or bust player:
Oklahoma State quarterback Bobby Reid
Reid started with a bang last season, throwing 17 touchdowns in the first six games. However, Reid cooled as the year progressed. He has a chance to lead one of the nation's best offenses, but he must cut down on mistakes - especially on the road. Reid completed fewer than 40 percent of his passes in road losses to Texas and Texas Tech.