MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — During the next five days, we’ll be counting down the top 25 players heading into the Big 12 football season. It’s a list constructed on subjectivity, ripe for debate and sure to inspire some squawking. After all, that’s why we have a comment section.

What criteria went into the rankings? NFL potential factored somewhat, though not as much as career achievement and a player’s value within each team’s system. So let’s get on with the countdown, beginning with today’s revelation of Nos. 25 through 21:

25. TEVIN REESE, senior, receiver, Baylor
He made 51 catches at a clip of 17.2 yards per catch in 2011 (playing in the shadow of first-round pick Kendall Wright) and grabbed 53 receptions at 18.1 per in 2012 (playing alongside third-round pick Terrance Williams). Is this the year the senior becomes the go-to guy in Baylor’s “Bear Raid”? Eight of his catches went for 40 yards or longer last season, and Bryce Petty has the arm to hit Reese going deep. At only 5-foot-10 he’s sometimes hard to spot, so just watch the safety—Reese will be the guy streaking behind him.

24. KARL JOSEPH, sophomore, safety, West Virginia
The inclusion of any player from the WVU defense might seem like grounds for invalidating this list, but the impact Joseph made as a freshman was too great to overlook. Among his team-leading 104 tackles were 7.5 stops behind the line and several thumps that bolstered his rep as one of the league’s fiercest hitters. Joseph also grabbed two interceptions and recovered a game-saving goal line fumble at Iowa State. Not to overlook his tendency to be caught out-of-position, but on last year’s defense that was simply his way of blending in.

23. CASEY PACHALL, senior, quarterback, TCU
The media thought enough of Pachall’s recovery from his 2012 skirmish with substance abuse to make him the All-Big 12 preseason quarterback. As of this posting, however, he hadn’t even earned the starting nod over Trevone Boykin. A strong-armed 6-foot-5 pocket passer, Pachall owns a 15-2 record as a starter, and as of Week 4 last season he led the nation in passing efficiency. All that led up to his arrest on DWI charges and a season-ending suspension.

“I had that moment of clarity that I was screwing everything up and it was my fault, and I realized all the people I had let down,” Pachall said at the outset of fall camp.

Expect a moment of clarity from Gary Patterson sometime soon when he names Pachall the starter. If his off-the-field demons are truly tempered, Pachall could be one of the top five players in the league. For now, we’ll withhold judgment.

22. QUINTON SPAIN, junior, left tackle, West Virginia
Whoever wins the WVU quarterbacking job can thank this 6-foot-5, 335-pound beast for protecting his blindside. Spain’s got plenty of athleticism for pass protection, but he’s admittedly “a little excited” about the running game brewing with imports Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith and new offensive line coach Ron Crook. “Hey, they brought the power in for a reason,” said Spain.

21. CORNELIUS LUCAS, senior, left tackle, Kansas State
After a redshirt year and two underwhelming seasons as a backup, the 6-foot-9 Lucas finally made football a priority in 2012 and voila! became an All-Big 12 selection. Projected as a second-day NFL draft pick next spring, he’s the best of a K-State line that returns all five starters. He could wind up as the best lineman in the conference, though he’ll need to prove his focus and productivity remain intact for a second straight season.

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Comments

  • ed

    You all realize this list was made by WV fans. Right?
    I'm not sure why most folks think this team is signicantly better than last year. My hope is that have more the tank mid-to-late season than they did last year. I don't think last years crumble was leadership, but fatigue resulting from a serious lack of depth. As in how many true and redshirt freshman played significant minutes.

  • john

    I think these two are good players with the potential to be excellent. Hopefully Spain has his footwork in order remember against Texas Tech the announcers made a point of showing Spain's Footwork and saying if it was going to be a pass or a run based on the placement of his feet.
    Joseph, is going to be a special player. The defense was terrible last year but it wasn't because of him.

  • JC

    There is a great youtube video called "crazy 8" that is a must see for any Karl Joseph fan. Man, can that guy hit!

  • JimJim

    Slow new day, nothing is said in this article.

    • hailey

      glad you found time to comment, it is much more interesting story now... get over yourself

  • Hop'sHip

    Let's see. Two Mountaineers so far and Sims should be a lock. So that gives the Mountaineers 3 out of top 25 players in the conference. The average for a conference with 10 teams is 2.5. WE'RE ABOVE AVERAGE! WOOHOO!

  • wvajoker

    Good going gouk. Now he won't come out from behind Mama's skirt.
    The Mounties always do better as underdogs, and this year they are underdogs so look out Big 12. You will be surprised this year, I think, but win or lose .....Goooo!!! 'EERS!!!!!!!

  • ducks in a row

    Ford will lead WVU to many exciting wins this year.

  • John c

    Karl Joseph is an absolute beast !! He was a freakin TRUE FRESHMAN..!!!!! He will be one of the best all time defensive backs. We have ever had. And he is one if the hardest hitters I have ever seen!!!

  • THE MEB

    I refuse to get my hopes up on the mounties like I did last year, especially after they started 5-0. Until the defense show me something I am not looking forward to them having a good season until or unless it happens. I am with the pundits this year, they're predicting they'll win about half their games.

  • William

    Karl Joseph as #24 top player is a joke. He was terrible last year. How many TD's did he give up? (He set a school record for most yards given up) I guess this just means that WVU is in for a long season, if this guy made THE TOP 25!

    • WVWho

      Forget your meds tough guy? It's a comment board not a contest in unrination.

    • Barry

      William, I believe you have a right to post your opinion, but come on man. Karl Joseph was a freshman last year and did some great things. Bashing him makes no sense to me.

    • hailey

      william still = troll

    • jfk

      uneducated post at best

    • Shawn

      I've got a great idea. Let's let William catch a pass over the middle and let Joseph put a smack on him. He'll be breathing out of his belly button for 6 months. Give me a break dude...you know nothing about sports.

      • Barry

        Shawn,

        Love your work.

      • Maxxajay

        I love it young man keep it up @Shawn ... Good work

    • Micha

      William,

      You are a D-Bag.

  • Maxxajay

    I am to glad read where some or any from WVU is picked to have a good year, why I say that is because all the boys on the the Big 12 Weekly show, and all the boys on ESPN is picking WVU to do nothing in the Big 12( I disagree ) they are treating the Mountaineers like, as the old saying ( A redhead step child) Makes me sick ... I say it again WVU will be 9--3 ...They are under the Radar from all the TV boys. And some on this site....More to come...

    • Pat

      Agree with the under the radar part. I'm thinking 9 and 3 is the worse they can do. We get Texas at home.

    • bva24

      The defense will still be terrible. A year older doesn't always = a year better. For proof see Miller, Pat.

      The offense will probably score points, but the line will probably be suspect. Brace yourselves for a long season.

      If this team gets bowl eligible it will be a miracle.

  • Mountaineer fanatic

    I can hardly wait for the season to begin but I also hope to hear who are the players on our team. When will we know who the QB is? Our cable company just picked up Fox Sports 1 so I am going to be able to see more games even though I live in Florida. LETS GOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS

  • unclec

    Under the watchful eye of espn WV does not have any talent. Not much hope. I love this type of press. Think they will play as a TEAM, and have a great year.

    • John weaver

      You got it right, ESPN will,only focus on a few teams, hype the USC quarterback as a heisman candidate, hype the acc, and ignore 90 percent of college football teams. Game day on ESPN is a great way to get a lot of yard work done before football.

      • Habib Haddad

        This is precisely why you have Fox Sports 1 and you can find it on the old Speed Channel.

      • cutty77

        ESPN is like 60 minutes now. Look at all the New People they have on TV. They Know nothing,but they love to start some kind of Bull-Sh** about somebody,or some program. Just look how they covered Geno at the Draft,and don't forget ESPN is the Main people that Ruined The Big East,for there Junior Conference The ACC or as i Like to Call Them.THE ATLANTIC CHOKE CONFERENCE.

      • Bobby M

        Hey Friend! Your way off on this one! ESPN has the biggest LOVE affair of all with SEC! College football season on ESPN is really SEC football season! The love affair is so graphic it should be rated XXX!

        • WV07

          Bobby your comments are uneducated. The SEC and CBS have the love affair.I've watched your comments the last few days and its obvious you are sports expert in your own head.

        • Micha

          100% agree Bobby M. I used to love NCAA football with a passion. I am so soured by the converage ESPN gives the SEC it makes me sick. They over inflate the rankings to start the year all the time and they are always the greatest ever...no matter who they play or how they play. When six or seventeams start in the top 12 they will always be int hte hunt becasue they won't have to move up and rarely move down. The other eight temas in their conference are pathetic so they have weaker schedules for the most part. Just sickening!!

  • Robert Sizemore

    Wow any preseason list that has a Mountie on it is surprising so I'll gladly take it.