Counting Down the Big 12's Top Players

One-by-one, we count down the Big 12's top players. At No. 28 is the colorfully described Kenny Vaccaro, a hard-hitting defensive back for the Texas Longhorns.

28) Kenny Vaccaro, junior DB, Texas

When talking about Vaccaro, the most interesting conversation might be which defensive coordinator had the best description of his abilities.

Was it former Texas defensive coordinator and current Florida coach Will Muschamp? When pressed about what made Vaccaro a talented player, Muschamp said simply: "He has thump."

Or was it current Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who compared Vaccaro to "a bag of rattlesnakes"?

Either way, you have two coordinators renowned for their knowledge of defense, praising Vaccaro's abilities through colorful language. Vaccaro is a tremendous hitter, one of the hardest on the Longhorn team, the type of player who throws his hips and explodes through the ballcarrier. But that's not his only talent: Texas coach Mack Brown has indicated that Vaccaro also has the hips and athleticism to play cornerback if need be.

It's the combination of those traits, his athleticism and coverage ability and his ability to strike and intimidate, that makes Vaccaro an intriguing prospect, one who could draw the attention of professional scouts.

Vaccaro, whose weight is now up in the 215-pound range, started six games a year ago, two at strong safety and two at the nickel, making 56 tackles — 42 of which were solo — including four stops in the backfield. He also intercepted a pass, broke up eight more, blocked a kick and forced a fumble. His hitting ability earned him the Hard Hat Award for the team's hardest hitter against Rice, and he won the UT's Joseph W. Moore Tenacity Award for Defense at the end of the year.

That makes him a perfect fit for Diaz's notoriously aggressive schemes, giving him serious blow-up potential for this season.

2010 Stats: 56 tackles, four tackles for loss, one interception, eight passes broken up, one blocked kick, one forced fumble

No. 29: Oklahoma DE/LB Ronnell Lewis

No. 30: Texas A&M RB Christine Michael

No. 31: Kansas OL Jeremiah Hatch

No. 32: Texas Tech OL Lonnie Edwards

No. 33: Missouri DE Jacquies Smith

No. 34: Oklahoma WR Kenny Stills

No. 35: Texas WR Mike Davis

No. 36: Texas DE Jackson Jeffcoat

No. 37: Kansas State DB David Garrett

No. 38: Oklahoma OL Gabe Ikard

No. 39: Texas Tech RB Eric Stephens

No. 40: Baylor OL Philip Blake

No. 41: Missouri LB Zaviar Gooden

No. 42: Texas DL Alex Okafor

No. 43: Texas A&M DL Tony Jerod-Eddie

No. 44: Kansas RB James Sims

No. 45: Texas Tech S Cody Davis

No. 46: Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson

No. 47: Kansas State S Ty Zimmerman

No. 48: Baylor DE/LB Tevin Elliot

No. 49: Kansas State DE Brandon Harold

No. 50: Kansas DE Toben Opurum

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