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. But players from all 14 Big 12 members were considered.
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. 24:
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Tavon Austin might be the most elusive player in Big 12 history.
His exploits in Morgantown included a two-year stretch when he caught 101 passes for 1,186 yards and 8 TDs in 2011, and then made 114 catches for 1,289 yards and 12 TDs in 2012.
Austin only played in the Big 12 only one season, 2012, but his performance against Oklahoma, in a 50-49 home loss to the Sooners, was mesmerizing: 344 yards rushing, 82 yards receiving and another 146 yards on returns — that’s 572 all-purpose yards, shattering the previous mark by nearly 200 yards.
In his only season in Big 12 play, Austin was named Big 12 special teams player of the year, won the Paul Hornung Award as college football’s most versatile player, and became a two-time first-team All-American.
He still owns the Big 12’s single-season record for all-purpose yards with 2,910 — an otherworldly 223.8 per game.
In a seven-year NFL career, defenses and injuries have caught up to Austin, although he still has 213 career catches for 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns, plus another 1,340 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing, and 1,492 yards and three touchdowns on kick returns.
- No. 23
- No. 25 (tie): Robert Griffin III, Patrick Mahomes & Jason White