Big 12 Defensive Player Rankings

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Senior wide receiver Curry Sexton attempts to evade Oklahoma centerback Zack Sanchez in the thrid quarter of the No. 14-ranked Wildcats' 31-30 upset of the No. 11-ranked Sooners on Oct. 18, 2014 at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. (File Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

1. Emmanuel Ogbah, Defensive End, Oklahoma State (2)

Even though Ogbah only had two tackles in Oklahoma State’s game against Central Michigan, his two tackles were meaningful in the Cowboy’s 24-13 victory. His 1.5 sacks in the game made Central Michigan think twice about throwing the football, and he was without question the game changer on his team.

2. Karl Joseph, Safety, West Virginia (7)

How does one guy move from seventh to second in one week? Well Joseph’s performance against Georgia Southern explains why. His three interceptions and eight tackles helped West Virginia cruise to a 44-0 victory in week one. The senior safety received Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week and will continue to make an impact for the Mountaineers in the coming games.

3. Dale Pierson, Defensive End, Iowa State (NR)

Unnoticed at Iowa State, Pierson’s dominating performance gave Iowa State a 31-7 victory over Northern Iowa. The senior defensive end sacked the quarterback three times and produced five tackles. Pierson also added an interception that was returned for 24 yards. Keep an eye on this guy, he could be a sleeper in the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year race.

4. Andrew Billings, Defensive Tackle, Baylor (3)

When Billings got to the ball carrier against SMU, he put them behind the line of scrimmage. His three total tackles and two tackles for loss helped Baylor dominate the Mustangs 56-21 in Dallas. With senior defensive end (and last week’s number one) Shawn Oakman continuing to serve his suspension, Billings will need to continue his strong performances if Baylor has any chance of making to College Football Playoff.

5. Nick Kwiatkoski, Linebacker, West Virginia (9)

Kwiatkoski’s seven tackles were able to help the Mountaineers move past Georgia Southern in week one. Helping the Mountaineers with this shutout, it will not be any surprise if his strong defensive performance will lead to a couple more victories.

6. J.J. Gaines, Cornerback, Texas Tech (NR)

Gaines’ performance was one that brought a lot of excitement. His one interception and seven tackles helped Texas Tech hold on 59-45 over Sam Houston State. Even though Texas Tech is not a high profile team, Gaines is putting himself on the radar.

7. Grant Campbell, Linebacker, Baylor (NR)

In the Bear’s loss of Oakman, Campbell stepped up in a tremendous spotlight. He produced eight total tackles and three assisted for 11 total tackles along with one sack. With no timetable of Oakman’s return, Baylor could potentially have a new star defensive player.

8. Marquel Bryant, Defensive End, Kansas State (NR)

Bryant highlighted the Wildcat’s shutout victory over South Dakota with a five tackle and one sack performance. With All Big 12 defensive member Dante Barnett out with injuries, K-State will rely heavily on Bryant for continuous highlight performances.

9. Eric Striker, Linebacker, Oklahoma (4)

Striker is known as one of the most consistent defensive players in all of college football. However, consistency usually does not come with four assisted tackles on five total tackles. Even though the Sooners crushed Akron on both sides of the ball, Oklahoma is going to need him to produce on his own if they want to win another Big 12 title.

10. Zack Sanchez, Cornerback, Oklahoma (5)

This performance was almost as bad as KU’s game-ending fumble in week one. Three assisted tackles and one pass defended is not the performance of an All Big 12 defensive back. Sanchez will have more opportunities; hopefully they are not as disappointing as this one.

Grant Cohen is a freshman in mass communications.

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