1. Oklahoma State:: Not only should the Cowboys field the best secondary in the Big 12, it could be the best in America. Kevin Peterson is a lock-down corner, Ramon Richardson is a premiere up-and-comer, and Jordan Sterns is one of the best safeties Stillwater has seen for some time. And Tre Flowers, the fourth returning starter, is a big, dangerous safety in his own right.
2. West Virginia:: Like Oklahoma State, West Virginia returns all four starters in the secondary, and while the star power isn’t quite is great as OSU’s, this is still a salty defensive backfield. Daryl Worley, who was recently reinstated by Dana Holgorsen after a suspension stemming from an assault charge, is one of the conference’s best corners, which is saying something. Karl Joseph has been one of the Big 12’s elite safeties for ages, and Dravon Henry looks to be the next star at this position in Morgantown. Terrell Chestnut is to the WVU secondary what Tre Flowers is to OSU’s—the unsung hero.
3. Kansas State:: Bill Snyder may well have the best starting corners in the Big 12 in Danzel McDaniel and Morgan Burns. The latter has the speed to stick with any receiver in the conference, and McDaniel hits harder than any SAFETY in the Big 12. Returning starter Dante Barnett is a veteran who tackles with the best of ‘em.
4. Baylor:: The Bears rate No. 4 in this category, but it’s hard to believe such a quality group isn’t higher. Corner Xavien Howard and safety Orion Stewart are legitimate stars, while Terrell Burt and Travon Blanchard are very solid returning starters. With the hosses Baylor has on the defensive line, the Baylor defense could be very tough indeed.
5. Oklahoma:: In cornerback Zack Sanchez, the Sooners have not only the premiere playmaker among Big 12 defenders, but probably the one with the greatest national notoriety. Sophomore safety Steven Parker wasn’t even a full-time starter in 2014, but is nevertheless a star in his own right.
6. Texas:: The Longhorns check in among the conference’s bottom half, but are still good enough to be the best in one or two Power 5 conferences. Duke Thomas is a terrific all-around corner, and a bona fide All American candidate, and former walk-on Dylan Haines is as good as any safety in the Big 12.
7. Iowa State:: Sometimes terrific talent hides in the weeds of the conference’s also-rans. JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald, DBs drafted into the NFL out of Kansas are Exhibits A and B. Iowa State may have similar talents in cornerback Nigel Tribune and safety Kamari Cotton-Moya.
8. TCU:: It could be a slightly down year for the Frogs’ secondary, but in cornerback Ranthony Texada and safety Derrick Kindred, the building blocks are there for a solid group.
9. Texas Tech:: On paper the Red Raiders check in near the bottom; when the season’s through, don’t be surprised if they’re near the top. Young talent abounds at corner with the likes of Justis Nelson, Nigel Bethel, D.J. Polite-Bray and Tevin Madison. If the safeties put it together Tech will be tough to throw on.
10. Kansas:: The Jayhawks lost all sorts of talent from the secondary and don’t have much in the way of replacements, although Fish Smithson is a whale of a player.