The Big 12 Conference appears, as usual, to be loaded at a number of positions. Based on our pre-season poll, tight end doesn't look like it is one of those positions. Only six tight ends in the league received votes and two of them got points as write-in candidates. One of the top three tight ends in the league isn't even expected to play next season. Thin? Yeah, you could say that.
Leading the way in the voting is Texas tight end David Thomas. Thomas was voted as the league's best tight end on five of the ten ballots returned and was second on four others. He had 25 catches for 430 yards and three touchdowns a season ago and could be a candidate for all-American honors.
Coming in behind Thomas was Colorado's Joe Klopfenstein the only other tight end to be named on every ballot. Though no publisher picked Klopfenstein as the league's best, nine of the ten put him either second or third. He led Colorado in catches and touchdowns last season and was second in receiving yards.
At number three we really begin to see the overall weakness of the league. Matt Herian of Nebraska was voted as the best tight end in the league prior to last season. He's third because he is expected to miss the entire 2005 season. He has nearly 1,100 receiving yards, but is expected to have none this year. And yet he is still third. In fact, he got as many first place votes (five) as did Thomas.
Missouri sophomore Martin Rucker finished fourth, totalling 15 points. Interestingly, though, Rucker's numbers as a redshirt freshman were very near those posted by Thomas, who was voted first. Rucker had 19 catches for 263 yards and four touchdowns.
Kansas State's Rashaad Norwood finished fifth with a total of two points. He was a write-in and voted ahead of Rucker on one ballot. That's all it took to break the top five at a position which may be as thin as any in the league this season, especially when you consider Herian probably won't set foot on the field.
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.David Thomas—44 points
2.Joe Klopfenstein—36 points
3.Matt Herian—35 points
4.Martin Rucker—15 points
5.Rashaad Norwood—2 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. We will also rank the top ten offensive linemen in the league.