Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
David Ubben recently profiled his top ten Big 12 football players of all time, and as most fans expected it was largely a Texas/Oklahoma lovefest (big money athletic departments do, after all, get the big money recruits). I was hopeful that at least one Wildcat would land on the list, but alas K-State was completely overlooked for the list. Which begs the question – what Wildcat in the Big 12 era is the most deserving to be listed among the top ten players in conference history? Here are my candidates:
Sproles is among the most accomplished Wildcats in the NFL to-date. After serving as LaDainian Tomlinson’s backup and return man for several years in San Diego, he moved to New Orleans and became one of the most explosive weapons in the league while serving the most dangerous offense in the NFL. Sproles was an absolute star in the 2003 Big 12 Championship game, running all over an undefeated Oklahoma team which including a 60-yard reception en route to a 35-7 victory. During his time in Manhattan, Sproles accumulated just under 5,000 yards rushing. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry and punched in 45 touchdowns during his time on campus.
In a list of three stellar quarterbacks, Freeman collected the fewest accolades. However, it’s dangerous to believe this is a reflection on his abilities. Freeman came of age during the Ron Prince era when coaching was lacking, and, let’s be honest, Bill Snyder left a pretty barren cabinet in the mid-2000s. However, before he was a starting NFL quarterback for Tampa Bay, Freeman carried the team on his back at times during three seasons before leaving early for the draft. He accumulated a 125 passer rating (136 his junior year) and threw for 34 touchdowns while rushing for another 20 over 35 games. He was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft.
Brown has a couple issues working against him, the first of which is he didn’t start his college career as a Wildcat, transferring from Miami to K-State and only serving two years on the team. However, he was once of the most ferocious defenders to ever fill K-State’s linebacker position (who else – Ben Leber? Mark Simoneau?). As a conference defensive player of the year, he enjoyed two incredible seasons on campus. As a junior Brown registered 95 tackles, two sacks and one interception. He followed that performance up with a senior year performance of 91 tackles, two interceptions, six tackles for loss and one sack.
Bishop provided fans with a tremendous amount of exciting talent without the decision-making abilities to succeed at the next level. The Blinn Junior College transfer came to Manhattan after Bill Snyder was the only coach to offer him the opportunity to play quarterback (everyone else wanted him at defensive back). He started all 25 games during his two years in Manhattan while compiling a 22-3 record. He finished fourth all-time on the team in passing with 4,401 yards and ranked second all-time behind Lynn Dickey with 5,715 total yards of offense. He finished second in Heisman voting to Texas’s Ricky Williams.
If you’re reading this blog, I’m going out on a limb and guessing you’re a fan of K-State football. Or you at least have an inkling of what happened in NCAA football this year. Which means you know the magical run he had. And if you think anyone has been more valuable to their Big 12 team save maybe Vince Young or RGIII, you’re insane. The briefest of synopses: third in Heisman voting, led team to Big 12 Championship and berth in the Cotton and Fiesta Bowls, 4,573 yards throwing, 2,455 yards rushing over his career while accounting for 85 touchdowns for K-State.
Terence Newman, Daniel Thomas, any Lockett to ever suit up
So, EMAW fanatics, whose your pick for greatest Wildcat in the Big 12? And were they robbed a spot in the list of top 10 best Big 12 players?