Top Emerging Players: No. 2 Chris Littlehead

We continue our list of the Top 10 Emerging Players for 2011. To be eligible for this list, a player has to be a returning player that has never had any regular playing duty on the team, be a newcomer, or redshirt player that has yet to break into the lineup. The criteria is also need on the team, whether as a starter or in a critical spot on the depth chart.

Well, as you may know by now the departure of freshman defensive tackle Ashaad Mabry makes the competition at defensive tackle a little more thin. But that doesn't have a huge impact on Christian Littlehead as defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Bill Young personally picked Littlehead out to be a factor here, and pick up some of the reps, even start, inside at the one technique.

Littlehead was a dominant player in high school but this isn't Tahlequah.

The question floating around since early last season among Cowboy fans and interested observers is how good is Littlehead? Before getting into that I will tell you that when he arrived on campus the scale was almost touching 370 pounds. It is now hovering between 315 and 320, so he has lost close to 50 pounds.

Do you know how hard it is to go into the Cowboys delicious training table area and eat salad while your teammates enjoy steak, ribs, chicken, shrimp, a vast array of delicious carb loaded side dishes, and even dessert? Littlehead does and he stuck to the plan. He has my admiration and respect already.

In drills last season he would show flashes of good stuff. He would get loose on some pretty good offensive linemen in pass pro or get off a block in inside drill and make the play. It became more consistent in the spring as he was in better shape and moved much quicker. He has shown he is good at holding his gap and with that solid 315 pounds is deserving of a double team from the offense.

Now he has to do it against Big 12 caliber offensive linemen, but Littlehead has that look on his face that he can mess you up and he knows it.

You hate to put a lot of pressure on a player that has never played a single play of Division I football, but Littlehead really needs to earn a starting position and needs to develop into a 35- to 50-play per game defensive tackle. If he comes close to that then he will have earned his emerging status at number two on the list.

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