South stars dominate Big 12 football conference list

Friday, December 3rd 2004, 8:35 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ Yes, that really is The Associated Press' All-Big 12 team, not just the all-South squad.

It's understandable if anyone is thrown off by the list considering all six South schools are represented _ even Baylor! _ and five of the six unanimous picks came from Oklahoma and Texas.

Then again, it shouldn't be much of a surprise. Five of the six South teams were ranked at some point this season, while no team from the North even finished with a winning record in conference play.

The Sooners dominated the squad by snagging nine slots for the second straight year. Offensive player of the year Jason White was a unanimous pick at quarterback, as was offensive newcomer of the year Adrian Peterson at running back.

Defensive lineman Dan Cody was another Oklahoma player listed on all 20 ballots by sportswriters who regularly cover the league for newspapers throughout the league's seven states.

Next up for the No. 2 Sooners is the Big 12 championship game Saturday against Colorado. The Buffaloes had just one first-teamer, kicker Mason Crosby.

The No. 6 Texas Longhorns placed three players on the first team and two were unanimous picks. Linebacker Derrick Johnson, a unanimous pick for defensive player of the year, was joined by running back Cedric Benson. Offensive lineman Jonathan Scott was chosen, too.

Texas A&M, which was shut out on the first team last year, also had three honorees: offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner, defensive lineman Mike Montgomery and safety Jaxson Appel.

Offensive lineman Sam Mayes and tight end Billy Bajema were picked from Oklahoma State. Receiver Jarrett Hicks made it from Texas Tech and punter Daniel Sepulveda was the first Baylor player chosen since 2000.

All told, that's 19 first-teamers from the South, leaving eight from the North. (There's an odd number of overall slots because of a tie at linebacker.)

The imbalance is most distinct on offense, where the only North representatives were specialists: Colorado's Crosby and all-purpose designee Darren Sproles of Kansas State, honored for his kick returning as well as his running and receiving out of the backfield.

Things were closer to even on defense, with Nebraska's Barrett Ruud a unanimous choice at linebacker.

Missouri and Kansas each had two honorees, with lineman C.J. Mosley and linebacker James Kinney making it from the Tigers and linebacker Nick Reid and defensive back Charles Gordon representing the Jayhawks. Iowa State defensive back Ellis Hobbs III rounds out the North's picks.

There was one interesting aspect of the talent dispersal: All 12 schools had a first-teamer, something that never happened in the previous eight AP All-Big 12 teams.

Also noteworthy:

_ Six first-teamers made it back from last season. And four play for Oklahoma: White, Cody, offensive lineman Jammal Brown and receiver Mark Clayton. Brown gets extra kudos for making it a third straight year.

_ The other two returning honorees are Johnson and Sproles, who was picked at running back last year. He was a second-team pick at running back this year.

_ The rest of the Oklahoma first-teamers are offensive lineman Vince Carter, defensive lineman Jonathan Jackson, linebacker Lance Mitchell and defensive back Brodney Pool.

_ Peterson is the first freshman to make first team since another Sooner, defensive lineman Tommie Harris, did it in 2001.

_ To really appreciate Oklahoma's honorees, consider were they come from: two in the backfield (QB, RB), a receiver and two linemen on offense, plus two defensive linemen, a linebacker and a defensive back.

_ This is the third time one school has had nine first-teamers, the most ever on the AP All-Big 12 team. The Sooners did it last year and Kansas State did it in 1998.

_ The 19-8 divisional split is the biggest ever, topping the 18-8 tilt last season. It was 16-10 and 15-11 the two previous years.

_ Sepulveda is Baylor's third first-teamer, joining punter Ty Atteberry in 1996 and defensive back Gary Baxter in 2000.

_ Class breakdown on the first team: 17 seniors, five juniors, three sophomores (Hicks, Crosby, Sepulveda) and one freshman.

_ Texas led the second team with five honorees, followed Texas Tech (four). A&M and Baylor each had three. Nebraska was the only school without a second-teamer.

_ Colorado defensive back Jordon Dizon, the defensive newcomer of the year, made honorable mention.

_ The Sooners had two second-teamers and nine honorable mentions, although Antonio Perkins and Mark Bradley received votes at two positions. Counting the nine first-teamers, that's a total of 18 Oklahoma players who received votes.

_ With 11 honorable mentions, Texas ended up with the most vote-getters, 19. Texas Tech had 16.

_ With both first-team RBs unanimous picks, the second-team choices weren't spread very far. Sproles and Vernand Morency of Oklahoma State got the most, leaving honorable-mention status for Tech's Taurean Henderson, Colorado's Bobby Purify and Nebraska's Cory Ross.

_ There was a similar logjam at quarterback, especially with Reggie McNeal dominating the second-team votes. Still, Sonny Cumbie of Tech and Texas' Vince Young earned honorable mention.

_ There were 15 first-teamers who played high school football in Texas, four from Oklahoma and two each from Kansas and California. No other state produced multiple players.

_ Non-league states Illinois and Ohio produced as many first-teamers (one each) as Missouri and Nebraska, while Colorado and Iowa were shut out.

_ The linebackers are the most diverse, geographically speaking. They hail from Texas, Illinois, California, Kansas and Nebraska.