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Jayhawks left off of media's preseason all-Big 12 teams

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The morning sky brightens over Memorial Stadium as the Jayhawks watch over special teams practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

The morning sky brightens over Memorial Stadium as the Jayhawks watch over special teams practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The media’s picks for preseason all-Big 12 honors were released today, and, probably to no one’s surprise, the first-team lists did not include any Jayhawks.

During the past couple of weeks, I thought long and hard about KU’s chances of getting a player on the first team. Each time, I concluded that it was not likely.

Not only are the Jayhawks devoid of top-tier talent — especially when comparing them to the rest of the Big 12 rosters — but they’re also coming off of two of the worst years in school and league history, something that surely that has stuck with the rest of the media members who cover the league.

There are guys who belong in the conversation. Offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson is a legit talent with an NFL future who has carved out a nice career, but it’s not surprising that he was not named a first-teamer. I would say Hawkinson, who once again will hold down his familiar spot at left tackle during his senior season, had a better shot of being a first-teamer on the postseason awards than he did the preseason lists.

Another guy who constantly crosses my mind when it comes to these types of lists is senior wide receiver and kick returner D.J. Beshears. Last year, I included Beshears on my preseason ballot but KU’s special teams as a whole — including Beshears — were a disaster last season and he did not sniff a mention on the postseason squad.

Others who KU fans might think warranted consideration here include: defensive end Toben Opurum, safety Bradley McDougald or punter Ron Doherty.

While I like all of those guys and think they are among KU’s best players, I don’t think they’ve proven that they belong on this list just yet. Opurum and McDougald are still relatively new to defense and their numbers have not necessarily made them stand out in the minds of people outside of Lawrence.

As for Beshears, he may have another stellar year in the return game like he did as a sophomore, but, even at that, it’s hard to justify putting him ahead of Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett on this list.

Today’s news might have come as a disappointment for some KU fans, but it should not have come as a surprsie. Based on what we know about KU’s roster and how certain players stack up against the league’s top players at each position, it seems more than fair to leave the Jayhawks off of this list and make them earn their way onto the postseason squad. Whether any will or not remains to be seen.

For the record, neither Tom Keegan, Jesse Newell or myself included a single KU player on our ballots.

Here’s a look at the media's picks for the preseason all-Big 12 first-team offense and defense:

OFFENSE
Pos Name School Ht Wt Cl/Exp Hometown
WR Kenny Stills, Oklahoma 6-1 189 Jr/2L Encinitas, Calif.
TE Jordan Najvar, Baylor 6-6 260 Jr/1L Spring, Texas
OL Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma 6-4 295 Jr/2L Oklahoma City, Okla.
OL Cyril Richardson, Baylor 6-5 335 Jr/2L Fort Worth, Texas
C Ben Habern, Oklahoma 6-4 292 Sr/3L Argyle, Texas
OL LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech 6-6 318 Sr/3L Columbus, Texas
OL Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State 6-3 328 Sr/3L Arlington, Texas
WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia 5-9 174 Sr/3L Baltimore, Md.
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia 6-3 214 Sr/3L Miami, Fla.
RB Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State 6-1 200 Jr/2L Wichita, Kan.
RB Malcolm Brown, Texas 6-0 213 So/1L Cibolo, Texas
PK Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State 6-1 205 Sr/3L Mansfield, Texas
KR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State 5-11 175 So/1L Tulsa, Okla.

DEFENSE
Pos Name School Ht Wt Cl/Exp Hometown
DL Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas 6-5 250 Jr/2L Plano, Texas
DL Stansly Maponga, TCU 6-2 265 Jr/2L Carrollton, Texas
DL Alex Okafor, Texas 6-4 260 Sr/3L Pflugerville, Texas
DL Jamarkus McFarland, Oklahoma 6-2 296 Sr/3L Lufkin, Texas
LB Arthur Brown, Kansas State 6-1 228 Sr/3L Wichita, Kan.
LB A.J. Klein, Iowa State 6-2 244 Sr/3L Kimberly, Wis.
LB Jake Knott, Iowa State 6-3 239 Sr/3L Waukee, Iowa
DB Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State 5-8 185 Sr/3L Houston, Texas
DB Kenny Vaccaro, Texas 6-1 215 Sr/3L Brownwood, Texas
DB Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma 5-10 199 Jr/2L Chula Vista, Calif.
DB Nigel Malone, Kansas State 5-10 185 Sr/3L Manteca, Calif.
P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State 6-1 205 Sr/3L Mansfield, Texas
PR Tavon Austin, West Virginia 5-9 174 Sr/3L Baltimore, Md.

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