The defensive lines in the Big 12 do not inspire awe this
season, and with scant few exceptions, neither do the linebackers. There are a
few very good units in the conference, and a few quality linebackers sprinkled
about here and there, but in general, offensive coordinators will not need the
Grecian Formula 16 because of what Big 12 defenses are fielding in the front
1. Baylor: Probable
starters are Eddie Lackey and Bryce Hager. Actually, make that
certain starters because Lackey and Hager may be the top two linebackers
in the Big 12. Iowa State had a pair of superb ones in A. J. Klein and Jake Knott, but Lackey and Hager may well be better. Lackey is a physical specimen
who can make all the plays, while Hager is a tackling machine, just like his
dad Britt who starred at Odessa Permian, the University of Texas and with the
2. Oklahoma State: Probable
starters are Shaun Lewis, Caleb Lavey and Ryan Simmons. Lewis is a speedy playmaker who will contend strongly for All Big 12
honors. Lavey, who may have been better as a
sophomore than a junior, is nevertheless a smart, tough linebacker who only
helps his team.
3. Texas: Probable
starters are Peter Jinkens, Steve Edmond and Jordan Hicks. Edmond and Hicks are returning starters. Edmond is a big, physical
linebacker who sometimes looks like a star. But he is just inconsistent enough
that Dalton Santos will challenge him strongly for the starting position in the
middle. Hicks started the first three games of 2012 before being felled by a
4. Kansas: Probable
starters are Courtney Arnick, Ben Heeney
and Jake Love. Heeney is a returning starter and is
one of the very best linebackers in the Big 12. If he played for Texas or
Oklahoma, people would be talking him up as an All America candidate. Jake Love
was a very effective backup last season, and he'll get the chance to work
fulltime in 2013.
5. TCU: Probable
starters are Joel Hasley and Marcus Mallet. Hasley is a returning starter and a darned good one. He may
not be quite first team All Big 12 material, but
second team status looks to be in his future.
6. Texas Tech: Probable
starters are Micah Awe, Terrance Bullitt, Sam Eguavoen and Pete Robertson.
Returning starters are Bullitt and Eguavoen. Bullitt has spent more time in the
training room nursing injuries than he has on the field making tackles. Not his
fault at all, but Bullitt's history of injury does not inspire confidence.
Eguavoen is still learning the game of football, but the light bulb appeared to
come on for him in the spring. Awe and Robertson also looked excellent in the
spring, but neither have proved it on the field as
linebackers against Big 12 competition.
7. West Virginia: Probable
starters are Isaiah Bruce, Nick Kwiatkoski, Wes Tonkery and Dozie Ezemma. The lone returning starter is Bruce, and he is one
of the conference's best. Ezemma
is a converted defensive end, and Tonkery, although
tough and hard-nosed, is still a bit raw.
8. Oklahoma: Probable
starters are Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon. Nelson is a returning starter and
is solid. Shannon showed flashes as a sub in 2012.
9. Iowa State: Probable
starters are Jared Brackens, Jeremiah George and Jevohn
Miller. George is a returning starter and looks like he could develop into an
excellent player. Still, this is hardly the glory group that A. J. Klein and Jake
Knott in their prime made famous.
10. Kansas State: Probable
starters are Blake Slaughter, Tre Walker and Jonathan Truman. Walker started most of the season last year before going down with an
injury against Texas Tech. His productivity as a starter was not exceptional,
however. None of KSU's other linebackers really register, and that is bad news
for a team whose defensive line looks porous as all get out.