As the Big 12 Conference ramps up its 25th football season, it’s a good time to look back through the league’s illustrious history and identify the best football players ever to suit up.
It was a daunting task to rank players from 14 schools over 24 seasons. Some schools, of course, didn’t participate in all 24 years.
Rather than select an all-time All-Big 12 team — we’ll endeavor to pull that off after the 25th season has concluded — publishers from SI affiliates who currently cover the Big 12 were asked to vote on their top 25 players.
Players were judged on both their college careers and their professional football exploits. National awards, championships and individual achievement were all considered.
In all, nearly 50 players received votes. Only 10 players were unanimous selections.
With that, the countdown continues with No. 10 — our second Oklahoma defensive player:
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Roy Williams grew up in California dreaming of being a Dallas Cowboy. All he knew of Oklahoma was what he learned from the movie “Twister.”
He signed with John Blake but redshirted the 1998 season. Williams told SI Sooners that he and others in that freshman class considered leaving OU after Blake was fired, but decided to give Bob Stoops a chance — and they’re glad they did.
Williams became an All-Big 12 safety in 1999, and in 2000, as he helped lead the Sooners to their first Big 12 championship — and seventh national championship — Williams’ career took off.
“I wanted to be the best safety that (Mike Stoops) ever coached,” Williams told SI Sooners.
He was national defensive player of the year in 2001, won the Jim Thorpe Award as college football’s best defensive back, and finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Williams finished his college career with 287 total tackles, including 34 tackles for loss — and OU defensive back record.
Williams was drafted 8th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in 2002 and played nine seasons in the NFL — seven with the Cowboys, two with the Cincinnati Bengals. He made the Pro Bowl five times, earned first-team All-Pro accolades in 2003.
“I appreciated the moments that I had,” Williams said. “I mean, it was a quick nine years, but it was a blessing, dude.”
- No. 11: Kyler Murray
- No. 12: Grant Wistrom
- No. 13: Von Miller
- No. 14 (tie): Justin Blackmon, Tommie Harris
- No. 16: Terence Newman
- No. 17: Jeremy Maclin
- No. 18-21 (tie): Sam Bradford, Ryan Broyles, CeeDee Lamb, DeMarco Murray
- No. 22-23 (tie): Rashaun Woods, Earl Thomas
- No. 24: Tavon Austin
- No. 25 (tie): Robert Griffin III, Patrick Mahomes & Jason White
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