Big 12 Prospects: 10/14

We’ve already covered five teams in the Big 12 Conference and their top pro prospects, including Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Here’s a look at the best prospects on the other seven teams, led by a couple of running backs that could be early round choices in the 2011 NFL Draft.

KANSAS STATE

(2nd-Round) #8 RB Daniel Thomas (right), 6-1 ½, 228 pounds, 4.63 seconds, Senior.

Thomas became one of the most dynamic offensive forces in the Big 12 Conference last year. His road to Manhattan had plenty of twists and turns, as he began his college career at Northwest Mississippi Junior College where he was supposed to play safety. Instead, he stayed at his high school position as an option quarterback. Within two years, he was a JUCO All-America and he landed with K-State where Bill Snyder moved him to running back. Although it’s been tough running the last few weeks against Central Florida and Nebraska, Thomas has in 17 games run for over 1,900 yards and 17 TDs.

OKLAHOMA STATE

(3rd-Round) #24 RB Kendall Hunter, 5-8, 200 pounds, 4.48 seconds, Senior.

Right now, Hunter is on his way to a season with more than 1,600 rushing yards as he’s averaging 6.4 yards per carry over five games, including a huge game to open the season against Washington State, with 257 yards on 21 carries and four touchdowns. Over his four seasons with the Cowboys, Hunter has 3,333 yards on 547 carries with 30 rushing TDs. The Tyler, Texas product struggled last year with a foot injury that limited him to just 382 rushing yards. But he’s come back strong this year for OK-State.

BAYLOR

(4th-Round) #98 DT Phil Taylor, 6-3½, 340 pounds, 5.26 seconds, Redshirt-Senior.

Taylor played 19 games at Penn State in ’06-’07 before transferring to Baylor and sitting out the 2008 season. Last season he started nine games at DT finishing with 25 total tackles, two blocked kicks and one interception. Throughout the year he battled a turf toe injury and was not in good shape. So far this season He’s had 12 total tackles, with three tackles for loss, including two tackles against KU while playing nose tackle. He’s a strong one, benching 455 pounds and 655 pounds in the squat. But he needs to get in better shape and he’s raw.

COLORADO

(1st-Round) #78 OT Nate Solder, 6-8, 315 pounds, 4.89 seconds, Redshirt-Senior.

Soldier arrived in Boulder as a tight end but in spring practice ’08 he moved to tackle, adding 30 pounds in the process. Since then he’s been a fixture at tackle for the Buffaloes. Over his career he’s played in 45 games with 29 starts over the last three seasons.

(2nd-Round) #3 CB Jimmy Smith, 6-2, 205 pounds, 4.49 seconds, Redshirt-Senior.

Over the last two seasons, Smith at right cornerback and has been very productive. Last year, he earned second-team All-Big 12 Conference honors as he had 70 tackles, 10 pass breakups, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and three tackles for loss. Over his career, he’s played in 40 games and racked up three interceptions with one TD, recovered two fumbles with a TD and taken part in over 115 total tackles.

IOWA STATE

(4th-Round) #72 G Kelechi Osemele, 6-4½, 328 pounds, 5.43 seconds, Redshirt-Junior.

Osemele is playing left tackle for the Cyclones; he was named second-team All-Big 12 last year. In ’08 he started games at left tackle and right guard, which may be his best position. Last year, he helped Iowa State dramatically improved its pass protection and that has continued this season, as QB Austen Arnaud has gone down just a half-dozen times. Very good at blocking for the run, Osemele’s nasty attitude makes him a handful to deal with when Iowa State wants to run the ball.

KANSAS

(6th-Round) #77 C Jeremiah Hatch, 6-2½, 332 pounds, 5.34 seconds, Redshirt-Junior.

Hatch has shown versatility during his career with the Jayhawks. After a redshirt season in ’07, he started 13 games at right and left tackle during the ’08 season. Then he moved to center last year and started all 12 games. He’s been at center this season, missing only a half of one game because of a back injury.

MISSOURI

(6th-Round) #9 FS Jasper Simmons, 6-0, 200 pounds, 4.62 seconds, Senior.

His senior season has not been what Simmons expected. In the opener against Illinois he suffered a knee injury that knocked him out for three games. Then when he was ready to attempt a return, he was suspended for undisclosed reasons by Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel. Simmons joined the Tigers in ’09 after playing two seasons at Hutchinson Community College where over two seasons he had 148 total tackles, 26 passes broken up, one INT, a 33-yard average on kickoff returns and two blocked kicks. Last year for the Tigers, he averaged 22.6 yards on 36 kickoff returns.

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