As the Rivals.com Big 12 Network continues its look at the top players in the league, we turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball. Any good defense starts with strength up the middle. Therefore, we start with the Big 12's best defensive tackles.
On top of the ballot is no surprise. Texas' Rodrique Wright could be the first Big 12 player taken in next April's NFL draft. He is a two-time all-conference player and is an early favorite for all-American honors. Wright was named on all ten ballots and came within a point of being a unanimous No. 1. A single ballot voted Wright second.
At number two is a familiar face. Oklahoma's Dusty Dvoracek was suspended for the entire 2004 season. The Sooners get back a player who had 16 tackles for a loss and seven sacks in 2003. He should become an immediate force on the OU interior.
The first player from the North division makes his appearance at number three. Iowa State's Nick Leaders burst on the scene to claim a starting spot in the second game of his true freshman season in 2003. Leaders finished that year with 75 tackles and improved to 96 a season ago, a ridiculous number for an interior defensive lineman.
Alongside Wright in Austin is Larry Dibbles, who lands fourth on our list. Dibbles was a second-team all-Big 12 pick by the league's media and coaches a season ago. He had 49 tackles and nine quarterback hurries on the season. Dibbles garnered the only first place vote not cast for Wright in our poll.
Our voting showed a big dropoff from the top four to number five. Nebraska's Le Kevin Smith claims the spot with eight points. Smith is entering his third season as a starter for the Huskers and had 43 tackles, including 11.5 for a loss, last season. He was named on five ballots, but was no higher than third on any of them.
We accepted nominations from all Big 12 schools for our listing of the top five players at each position. Ten schools returned their ballots to vote for our final selections. Five points were awarded for a first place vote and one for a fifth place vote. Below are the results from our quarterback poll.
The Final Vote
1.Rod Wright—49 points
2.Dusty Dvoracek—38 points
3.Nick Leaders—23 points
4.Larry Dibbles—22 points
5.LeKevin Smith—8 points
Over the next two weeks, the Rivals.com Big 12 Network will rank the top five players at running back, wide receiver, tight end, defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback and safety.