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June 25, 2009

Ranking the Big 12: Special teams threats

The Big 12 Conference may have lost return threats like Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, but the cupboard is far from bare. The league returns several top kick and punt return threats, led by Oklahoma State's Perrish Cox and Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray. Here is our complete breakdown of the Big 12's top return specialists.

Other Big 12 Rankings: QB l RB l WR l TE l OL l DT l DE l LB l CB l S

1. Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State, 6-0, 195, Sr.
Oklahoma State's Perrish Cox will go into the 2009 season as the active leader in college football with four kickoff returns for touchdowns, which is already an OSU and Big 12 Conference record. Cox also holds an Oklahoma State record with 2,155 kickoff return yards over the last three seasons. In 2008, Cox had an amazing average of 29.8 yards per return on 30 attempts. Cox also used to return punts for the Cowboys, but he had no punt returns in 2008. As a freshman and a sophomore, Cox averaged 12.1 yards on 41 punt returns.
2. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma, 6-1, 205, Sr.
Oklahoma is already one of the fastest teams in all of college football, and no player is faster for the Sooners than the dynamic DeMarco Murray, who recorded a team best 4.42 second 40-yard dash. Murray also had a team best 774 kickoff return yards in 2008, which is good for second all-time in OU history. Murray's contributions in the return game helped him set an Oklahoma school record for all-purpose yardage at 2,171. His season best output on special teams came against Oklahoma State, when he had 196 kickoff return yards.
3. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State, 6-2, 215, Jr.
Oklahoma State arguably as the nation's best kickoff and punt return specialist combination in Dez Bryant and Cox. Bryant has turned himself into one of the best punt return men in the country, as he ran back two punts for scores to finish 2008 with a 17.9 yard average on 17 punt returns. Opposing teams may be better off punting the ball out of bounds vs. putting it in the hands of the dangerous Bryant.
4. Brandon Banks, Kansas State, 5-7, 150, Sr.
Kansas State's Brandon Banks is almost a similar version of former Texas A&M star Dante Hall. The 5-foot-7, 150 pound Banks is KSU's most explosive player on both offense and special teams, and he definitely showed Nebraska fans that by running back a 98 yard kickoff return for a score against the Huskers last November. Banks averaged 28 yards per kickoff return, which was good enough for 15th in the nation.
5. Jordan Shipley, Texas, 6-0, 190, Sr.
Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley does just about it all for the Longhorns. Shipley always was the guy making plays for Texas when they needed them the most. Against Oklahoma, Shipley ran back a kickoff for a 96 yard touchdown, which is the only time a kick has been ran back for a score in Red River Shootout history. Shipley also had a 42 yard punt return for a touchdown against Texas Tech. On the season, Shipley posted six punt returns for 64 yards and a score and 11 kickoff returns for 312 yards and a score.

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