Texas will be loaded on defense in 2010. OK, so that's not a surprise to anybody who follows the Longhorns on a regular basis.
But it was a bit surprising to see the Longhorns' defense featured so prominently on the All-Big 12 Preseason Team released by conference media members Thursday.Texas boasted six overall selections, but five of them -- senior defensive end Sam Acho, junior linebacker Keenan Robinson, senior cornerback Curtis Brown, junior cornerback Aaron Williams and junior safety Blake Gideon -- came on the defensive side of the ball. Offensive tackle Kyle Hix was the lone non-defensive Longhorn honored.
A few thoughts on the selections:
*I've always believed that to be a top-notch defense, you need playmakers at each level. Not necessarily at every position, but one standout on the defensive line, one at linebacker, one at cornerback and one at safety. Look back at the great defenses through the Big 12, and even the ones that weren't necessarily loaded with talent were able to spread their talent through those spots.
While the Longhorns will likely have more than four difference-makers on defense, the players are spread out so that Texas has key players at each level of the defense. They've got a defensive lineman (Acho), a linebacker (Robinson), a cornerback (both Williams and Brown) and a safety (Gideon) considered among the best in the league. And that should make for an exciting group.
* Need any more reason to get fired up for the Red River Shootout? How about a matchup featuring the Longhorns' five preseason All-Big 12 defensive players players and the three Sooners named to the offensive team. Senior running back DeMarco Murray, junior wide receiver Ryan Broyles and junior offensive guard Stephen Good were the Sooner honorees. Broyles was also honored as the punt returner, while three other Sooners were named to the defensive squad. The Sooners' seven selections were the most by any Big 12 team, followed by Texas (6), Nebraska (4) and Texas A&M (4).
* Twenty-nine players were selected to the team, thanks to ties at offensive line, linebacker and defensive back, which created three extra spots. Out of those 29, 16 will be seniors in 2010. Eleven players are entering their junior seasons. Only two -- Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith and Kansas offensive tackle Tanner Hawkinson -- will be sophomores. There were no freshmen selected to the team.
*Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson might have been selected the preseason Offensive Player of the Year, but he might also face the toughest road to claim a spot on the postseason list. Quarterbacks are typically recognized more for their winning than their stat lines, and each of the last seven postseason first-team All-Big 12 quarterbacks has come from a division-winning squad (Jason White (twice), Vince Young, Zac Taylor, Chase Daniel, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy). The last quarterback to grab first-team mention without captaining a division winner was Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury in 2002. The last three first-team winners, McCoy, Bradford and Daniel, combined for a 22-2 mark in conference play in their award-winning seasons.
Overall, out of the 15 first-team postseason QBs (there was a tie in 1999), only three did not achieve at least a tie for their division crown, with two of those selections (Koy Detmer and Corby Jones) coming in the league's first two years. So only one of the last 13 first-team QBs selected at the end of the year hasn't grabbed at least a share of his division crown.
* Texas A&M had a player selected for two of the three major preseason awards. Senior quarterback Jerrod Johnson was tapped as the preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while senior linebacker Von Miller was named the Defensive Player of the Year. Miller shared his award with Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick. The third award, for Newcomer of the Year, went to Colorado wideout Toney Clemons, a transfer from Michigan.
All-Big 12 Preseason Team (as selected by Big 12 media)
Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M
Defensive Co-Players of the Year: Jared Crick, Nebraska and Von Miller, Texas A&M
Newcomer of the Year: Toney Clemons, Colorado
OffenseWR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
TE Mike McNeill, Nebraska
OL Nate Solder, Colorado
OL Ryan Miller, Colorado
C Tim Barnes, Missouri
OL Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas
OL Stephen Good, Oklahoma
OL Kyle Hix, Texas
WR Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M
QB Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M
RB Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
PK Alex Henery, Nebraska
KR Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M
DefenseDL Aldon Smith, Missouri
DL Jared Crick, Nebraska
DL Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma
DL Sam Acho, Texas
LB Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
LB Keenan Robinson, Texas
LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
LB Brian Duncan, Texas Tech
DB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
DB Quinton Carter, Oklahoma
DB Aaron Williams, Texas
DB Curtis Brown, Texas
DB Blake Gideon, Texas
P Derek Epperson, Baylor
PR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma