Big 12: 20th Anniversary Salute

This is the 20th anniversary season of football in the Big 12 Conference and it is worth celebrating. The 10th Anniversary heading into the 2006 season was marked by an Anniversary All-Conference team, but in my opinion there have been too many schools now and too many outstanding players to only honor 24 players or even 48 players by naming a second team.

I have decided to honor each of the participating schools in the first 20 years of the conference with five honorees. These are the best five from the 14 schools that have at one time or another been a part of the first 20 seasons of football in the Big 12. I've added a thought or an opinion as to why they make the grade.

We start with the initial 12 schools in the league.

Baylor University (1996-current)
Robert Griffin, III, QB - Griffin started the run of standout quarterbacks at Baylor and his signing with the Bears greatly upgraded their recruiting prowess.
Bryce Petty, QB - Followed in the line of standout quarterbacks and guided the Bears to back-to-back Big 12 Championships.
Lache Seastrunk, RB - A major weapon on the Baylor offense that transferred back to play in Waco, Texas after starting out at Oregon.
Bryce Hager, LB - Only earned All-Big 12 honors once but deserved more as he was a ringleader and a turnover hound for the Bears defense on two title teams.
Ahmad Dixon, Saf. - Another player that by staying home and going to Baylor improved the Bears recruiting pedigree while also playing a physical safety in the 4-2-5 defense.

University of Colorado (1996-2010)
Koy Detmer, QB - Earned All-Big 12 honors in 1997 and had a strong career at CU.
Andre Gurode, OG - Cornerstone of a monster offensive line that helped lead the Buffs to a win over Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game in 2001.
Daniel Graham, TE - Major offensive weapon as both a blocker and a receiver in the Buffs best years in the Big 12.
Nate Solder, OT - One of the better offensive tackles in league history and a two-time All Big 12 honoree.
Ryan Olson, DT - Olson will go down as perhaps the last really good player at Colorado during their long tenure in the league going back to the days of the Big Six.

Iowa State University (1996-current)
Troy Davis, RB - One of the best in Iowa State history as he rushed for nearly 2,200 yards his junior season and led the Cyclones to a bowl win.
Ennis Haywood, RB - Another of the standout Cyclone tailbacks, Haywood was a two-time All-Big 12 selection.
Kelechi Osemele, OT - A huge offensive tackle that became one of the best in the Big 12 and has gone on to a strong NFL career.
A.J. Klein, LB - Recent defensive hero that helped Cyclones to back-to-back bowl games and earned back-to-back All-Big 12 honors.
Jake Knott, LB - Teamed with Klein to give Cyclones standout linebacking duo and went on to make it in the NFL. Also, a tremendous special teams player.

University of Kansas (1996-current)
Todd Reesing, QB - Never earned all-conference honors but quarterbacked KU to a BCS bowl game.
Aquib Talib, CB - The leader on defense during the very successful Mark Magino years that included an Orange Bowl.
James Holt, LB - A very physical linebacker that could drop to the line of scrimmage and was a really good pass rusher and another weapon for the Mangino-led Jayhawks.
Ben Heeney, LB - Played on some really bad KU teams but earned the respect as one of the best linebackers in the Big 12.
Charles Gordon, Saf. - Gordon was an all-conference performer and very physical player in the secondary for the KU teams in 2004 and 2003.

Kansas State University (1996-current)
Michael Bishop, QB - Junior college transfer that came in and transformed Bill Snyder's Wildcats into an explosive offensive team.
Terrence Newman, CB/Ret. - One of the best cornerbacks in Big 12 history and a dangerous kick returner that went on to a successful NFL career.
Darren Sproles, RB/Ret - One of the smallest, shortest runners in the Big 12 and he was also a dangerous return specialist.
Jordy Nelson, WR - Walk-on that became the face of the program and went on to star at Green Bay.
Tyler Lockett, WR/Ret. - Continued his family legacy by breaking his dad's receiving records and earning two-time All-Big 12 honors.

University of Missouri (1996-2011)
Chase Daniel, QB - Tremendous leader and explosive offensive operator that led Missouri to the top 10 in the rankings.
Jeremy Maclin, WR/Ret - One of the more versatile offensive weapons in Big 12 history.
Sean Weatherspoon, LB - A two-time All-Big 12 honoree that was one of the best tacklers in the conference during his tenure.
Aldon Smith, DE - A demonstrative pass rusher that went on to duplicate his abilities at the highest level in the NFL.
T.J. Moe, RB/IR - Another versatile player in the Missouri offense, Moe was never first-team All-Big 12 but was a two-time second team honoree that should have been first-team.

University of Nebraska (1996-2010)
Aaron Taylor, OG - A two-time All-Big 12 first-teamer and one of the better linemen in league annals.
Eric Crouch, QB - Crouch led Nebraska to a Big 12 title and won the Heisman Trophy.
Scott Frost, QB - Now the offensive coordinator at Oregon, Frost was the quarterback of the Huskers last national championship in 1997.
Dominic Raiola, OC - One of the more physical centers in the Big 12 that has gone on to a long and successful NFL career.
Ndamukong Suh, DT - Maybe the best defensive tackle to play college or NFL football in the century to this point.

University of Oklahoma (1996-current)
Roy Williams, LB/Saf. - The first true hybrid defender in the league was a two-time All-American for the Sooners.
Jason White, QB - Tuttle, Okla. native won the Heisman Trophy and was a courageous performer overcoming knee injuries.
Adrian Peterson, RB - The unquestionable most productive running back during the first 20 years of the league.
Gerald McCoy, DT - Standout defensive tackle that was a two-time All Big 12 pick and a first-round NFL Draft pick of Tampa Bay.
Sam Bradford, QB - Another Heisman Trophy winning quarterback that overcame injuries to be successful.

Oklahoma State University (1996-current)
R.W. McQuarters, CB/WR/Ret - McQuarters was a shut down corner who became a vertical weapon on offense and was also one of the Big 12's earliest return stars.
Rashaun Woods, WR - Dominated as a wide receiver and set a national record with seven touchdown receptions in one game against SMU.
Brandon Weeden, QB - Strong-armed quarterback bounced back from baseball and led the Cowboys to 11- and 12-win seasons.
Justin Blackmon, WR - Two-time Biletnikoff Award winner and first-round NFL Draft choice of Jacksonville.
Russell Okung, OT - Started as a true freshman and went on to be one of the best offensive linemen in Oklahoma State history.

University of Texas (1996-current)
Vince Young, QB - Led Texas to the 2005 National Championship and was a Heisman runner-up. Young is arguably the best quarterback at the college level in conference history.
Ricky Williams, RB - A tough bull style runner that won the Heisman Trophy and had a tremendous career.
Malcolm Brown, DT - A two-time All-Big 12 selection, Brown was the force for Texas for three years on defense.
Justin Blaylock, OT - A two-time All-Big 12 pick on the offensive line that was a huge reason for Texas success in the mid-2000 decade including the National Championship season.
Colt McCoy, QB - A strong leader that was able to get Texas into a game for the national championship but an injury knocked him out in the first quarter.

Texas A&M University (1996-2011)
Dat Ngyen, LB - One of the best defensive players in the early years of the Big 12 that went on to start for the Dallas Cowboys.
Von Miller, LB - A pass rusher deluxe that earned two-time All-America honors and has gone on to NFL stardom with the Denver Broncos.
Seth McKinney, OT - Call him the start of the modern day tradition of outstanding offensive linemen at Texas A&M.
Melvin Bullitt, Saf. - A two-time All-Big 12 honoree, he was good against the run and the pass and was also a good blitzer.
Jeff Fuller, WR - Fuller was a tall and speedy vertical threat that helped open up the run game for the Aggies on offense.

Texas Tech University (1996-current)
Kliff Kingsbury, QB - He is now the Red Raiders head coach but he was the start of the Mike Leach spread and air raid quarterbacks.
Wes Welker, IR/Ret - A late scholarship player that was overlooked by so many, Welker was the perfect target to go into the Leach offense.
Michael Crabtree, WR - A two-time Biletnikoff Award winner and dominant receiver.
Le'Raven Clark, OT - Has a chance to be a three-time All-Big 12 performer. He is one of the best Tech linemen ever.
Jace Amaro, TE - He is a beast of a receiver that dominated one season at Tech.

The newest schools to join the league...

Texas Christian University (2012-current)
Trevone Boykin, QB - The offensive player of the year in the 2014 season.
Jason Verrett, CB - A two-time All-Big 12 selection at corner and high NFL Draft pick.
Chucky Hunter, DE - A two-time sack leader and two-time All-Big 12 honoree for the Frogs.
Paul Dawson, LB - All-Big 12 and one of the best playmakers on defense for the Frogs.
Sam Carter, Saf. - Another standout safety in the safety dominated 4-2-5 that Gary Patterson employs.

West Virginia University (2012-current)
Geno Smith, QB - Total offensive dynamo that carried West Virginia to an Orange Bowl.
Tavon Austin, IR - Electric receiver and return specialist.
Joe Madsen, OC - Continued the long tradition of good centers in Morgantown.
Kevin White, WR - All-American and first-round draft choice.
Kevin Joseph, Saf. - Has a chance to repeat this year as All-Big 12.

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