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. 17 — one of the most versatile and dangerous players in Big 12 history:
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Jeremy Maclin would easily be one of four Big 12 Conference football players who could form a 4 x 100 sprint team.
One of the fastest players in league history, he was a program-changer when he signed with Missouri and Gary Pinkel out of St. Louis — after he redshirted in 2006, that is.
Maclin burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2007 when he set the NCAA freshman record for single-season all-purpose yards with 2,776 in 2007.
Then he surpassed that total with 2,833 in 2008.
That’s two of the top 11 single-season totals in NCAA history. Both years, he led the FBS.
In all, Maclin only played two seasons in Columbia, but both years he went over 1,000 yards both receiving and on kickoff returns — the only player in FBS history to surpass 1,000 yards on kickoff returns and either 1,000 rushing yards or 1,000 receiving yards twice.
He was voted consensus All-American at the all-purpose position in 2007, and then made AP All-American in 2008 at both receiver and all-purpose.
Maclin’s 5,609 career all-purpose yards is an NCAA record for two seasons, and he finished his career with 33 touchdowns.
Maclin was a first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles (19th overall) and played eight seasons in the NFL, including short stints with the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens.
He ended his NFL career with 514 receptions for 6,835 yards and 49 touchdowns. Consistent productivity was his hallmark (he surpassed 700 yards in each of his first six seasons), but Maclin did produce two 1,000-yard seasons (2014 in Philadelphia, 2015 in Kansas City).
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