West Virginia's Shelton Gibson was one of two receivers in the entire country who averaged at least 24 yards per catch in 2015. He had 887 yards and nine touchdowns on just 37 catches. It wasn't enough to earn preseason all-conference honors for 2016.
“They’re going to have to stop me,” Gibson said in August 2016. “It’s really hard to stop me because I can get past the safety. I don’t care how deep you are. I’m going to get past you if I want to."
They didn't stop him. Gibson's yards-per-catch average dropped slightly (22.1) but he still the Big 12 and was only one of four FBS receivers who averaged at least 22 yards. That earned him all-conference honors and a selection in April's NFL Draft.
Shelton Gibson did not get enough attention last summer. What Big 12 players are not getting enough attention this summer?
Jalen McCleskey – WR, Oklahoma State
Like I said earlier this summer, Jalen McCleskey is living a big, fat lie.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior's size and modest yards-per-catch average (11.1 in 2016) suggest he's a possession receiver that serves as Mason Rudolph's bail-out option when James Washington is blanketed in coverage. Washington ranks first among returning Big 12 receivers in deep receiving yards (passes that travel more than 20 yards downfield). McCleskey is third.
During a four-game stretch last year, he averaged 19.5 yards per catch and recorded catches of 36, 47 and 52 yards. He and Washington form the best deep-threat duo in college football.
Taylor Young – DE, Baylor
Taylor Young is one of very few known commodities on a Baylor defense that ranked in the nation's bottom half in almost every statistical category last year.
He and end K.J. Smith — an All-Big 12 preseason pick by the media — combined for 21 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in 2016. Called their best defensive player "by far" by defensive coordinator Phil Snow, Young has true sideline-to-sideline skills.
Winston Dimel – FB, Kansas State
Good fullbacks get less credit than good punters.
Despite the Big 12's high-flying, air-raid offense reputation, the league has some darn good fullbacks, with Kansas State's Winston Dimel being the best.
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound son of Wildcats' offensive coordinator Dana Dimel is one of the few fullbacks in the country who are good runners — not just a big, powerful runner. He has 18 rushing touchdowns the last two years, along with two receiving scores.
“If he wasn’t a good football player or if he wasn’t a good runner, we wouldn’t do it,” Dana Dimel said. “If he got in there and he didn’t have success and he wasn’t effective, we sure as heck wouldn’t do it.
Daniel Wise – DT, Kansas
Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong — coming off a season with 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks — is getting inundated with love as the Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Teammate Daniel Wise, meanwhile, flies under the radar.
One of the better pass-rushing interior linemen in the Big 12, if not the country, Wise had nine tackles for loss and three sacks a year ago. He ranked second among Big 12 interior linemen with 29 total pressures, while adding 23 run stops, according to Pro Football Focus.
Kyzir White – S, West Virginia
Kyzir White watched Karl Joseph and Daryl Worley in 2015 when West Virginia was recruiting the JUCO star. Last year, it was Rasul Douglas. All three players are now in the NFL. White will be there next year.
White — the brother of former West Virginia receiver Kevin White and current receiver Ka'Raun White — is a do-it-all safety who will benefit from the return of Dravon Askew-Henry after he missed all of last year with injury.
"I don't think I'm the biggest talkative leader, but I like to lead by example," White said. "[Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson] told me before, he just wants me to talk more. That's just something that I have to get used to. I just like leading by example."