July 25, 2001
Media covering Big 12 Conference media days have chosen Nebraska to win the league's North Division and defending league winner/national champ Oklahoma as the 2001 South Division champ in preseason balloting.
The group, which convened to listen to leadoff coach, OU's Bob Stoops, the 2000 consensus National College Football Coach of the Year, Thursday at Union Station, also selected its sixth annual pre-2001 all-conference football squad.
Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Rocky Calmus of Oklahoma received near-unanimous voting after earning consensus All-America honors for the 2000 national champions. He had 125 total stops and 17 tackles for losses (-61 yards) while helping the Sooners down a trio of Top 10 opponents-Kansas State, Nebraska and Florida State.
The 2001 anticipated Offensive Player of the Year comes as no surprise either in the person of NU quarterback Eric Crouch. A repeat pick after earning pre-2000 Offensive Player of the Year laurels from the news media, Crouch lived up to expectations with 971 rushing yards on 169 carries with 20 TDs (tops in the Big 12) for the 10-2 Huskers. The '00 finalist for both the Davey O'Brien Award and FOOTBALL NEWS Offensive Player of the Year has been a solid passer as well with 207-for-417 career statistics for 2,971 yards, 22 TDs.
Media covering the conference also named Texas freshman running back Cedric Benson of Midland (Texas) Lee High School as the preseason Newcomer of the Year. The 6-0, 200-pound true freshman was a three-time All-State selection in Texas Class 5A and rushed for 2,871 yards and 43 touchdowns as a senior in '00.
In the projected league divisional races, the group chose defending Big 12 North winner (11-3 in '00) Kansas State behind Nebraska in the North Division, and they were followed by Colorado, Insight.com Bowl champ Iowa State, and Kansas. After the Sooners in the South, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Baylor followed. Those predictions mirror the actual finish in the South in 2000 as OU, UT, A&M, and Texas Tech all advanced to bowl berths.
Among the pre-2001 All-Big 12 standouts, All-America choices Calmus and Crouch were joined by a cavalcade of sound returnees from the 2000 campaign.
Capable down defensive linemen Ty Warren of Texas A&M, Nate Dwyer of Kansas and Chris Kelsay of Nebraska have been joined by outside linebackers/defensive ends Ben Leber of Kansas State and Cory Redding of Texas on the dream team.
The All-Big 12 defensive backfield features Texas preseason All-America Quentin Jammer alongside Oklahoma's Roy Williams, Texas Tech's Kevin Curtis, Colorado's Michael Lewis, and Nebraska's Keyuo Craver (tie for fourth position). That quintet combined for 12 passes interceptions and 500-plus tackles for their respective teams in 2000.
On offense, last fall's Big 12 rushing leader-Iowa State's Ennis Haywood with 1,237 net yards on 229 carries for a 5.4 average and eight touchdowns-joins Kansas State's Josh Scobey (718 yards, 16 rushing TDs) among the elite selections. Wide receivers Roy Williams (not related to the OU defensive back with the same name) of UT and Aaron Lockett of KSU combined to make 76 receptions for 1,393 yards in 2000. All-America tight end Tracey Wistrom of Nebraska has been rated as one of the top blockers-receivers nationally.
2001 Big 12 Conference Projected Division Finishes
(Voted on by Media Covering 2001 Media Days)
2. Kansas State
4. Iowa State
3. Texas A&M
4. Texas Tech
5. Oklahoma State
2001 Media Preseason All-Big 12 Teams
WR Aaron Lockett, Kansas State, 5-7, 165, Sr., Tulsa, Okla.
TE Tracey Wistrom, Nebraska, 6-5, 230, Sr., Webb City, Mo.
OL Toniu Fonoti, Nebraska, 6-4, 335, Jr., Hauulu, Hawai'i
OL Frank Romero, Oklahoma, 6-4, 275, Sr., Moore, Okla.
C Seth McKinney, Texas A&M, 6-3, 295, Sr., Austin, Texas
OL Mike Williams, Texas, 6-6, 340, Sr., The Colony, Texas
OL Antwan Kirk-Hughes, Texas, 6-3, 315, Sr., Waxahachie, Texas
WR Roy Williams, Texas, 6-5, 210, So., Odessa, Texas
QB Eric Crouch, Nebraska, 6-1, 205, Sr., Omaha, Neb.
RB Ennis Haywood, Iowa State, 5-11, 207, Sr., Dallas, Texas
RB Josh Scobey, Kansas State, 6-0, 210, Sr., Oklahoma City, Okla.
PK Tim Duncan, Oklahoma, 6-2, 200, Sr., Clinton, Okla.
DL/OLB Ben Leber, Kansas State, 6-4, 250, Sr., Vermillion, S.D.
DL Ty Warren, Texas A&M, 6-4, 300, Jr., Bryan, Texas
DL Nate Dwyer, Kansas, 6-3, 305, Sr., Stillwater, Minn.
DL Chris Kelsay, Nebraska, 6-5, 280, Jr., Auburn, Neb.
DL/OLB Cory Redding, Texas, 6-5, 260, Jr., Houston, Texas
LB Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma, 6-3, 235, Sr., Jenks, Okla.
LB Jashon Sykes, Colorado, 6-3, 240, Sr., Los Angeles, Calif.
DB Roy Williams, Oklahoma, 6-0, 221, Jr., Union City, Calif.
DB Quentin Jammer, Texas, 6-1, 200, Sr., Angleton, Texas
DB Kevin Curtis, Texas Tech, 6-3, 210, Sr., Lubbock, Texas
DB Keyuo Craver, Nebraska, 5-10, 190, Sr., Harleton, Texas
DB (tie) Michael Lewis, Colorado, 6-2, 205, Sr., Richmond, Texas
P Jeff Ferguson, Oklahoma, 5-10, 190, Sr., Tulsa, Okla.
Offensive Player of the Year - Eric Crouch, Nebraska
Defensive Player of the Year - Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma
Newcomer of the Year - RB Cedric Benson, Texas