Breaking down Athlon Sports’ Preseason All-Big 12 team

Breaking down Athlon Sports’ Preseason All-Big 12 team

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How does the Texas roster stack up from a national perspective? Athlon Sports shed light on how talented the team should be in 2023.

The respected sports publication listed its Big 12 all-conference selections on Monday. Texas saw its team receive several selections.

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It’s easy for the national media to recognize bigger programs like Texas and Oklahoma or surging teams like Kansas State and TCU. Even so, it appears Athlon did its homework with a thorough list that accounts for several teams.

Kansas headlines the first team with top quarterback Jalon Daniels and running back Devin Neal.

For Texas, defensive tackle Byron Murphy and safety Jalen Catalon make surprising first-team nominations. The two easily possess that ability but have plenty to prove on the field. Murphy will be asked to play starter snaps after Texas lost two defensive tackles to the NFL. Catalon needs to prove he can be healthy.

Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ all-conference nominations.


Kansas junior quarterback Jalon Daniels

  1. Jalon Daniels, Kansas
  2. Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma
  3. Quinn Ewers, Texas
  4. Will Howard, Kansas State

The above list is reasonable. There’s very little separation between quarterbacks 1-4. Will Howard might be the best of the group.

Running Back

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

  1. Devin Neal, Kansas; Richard Reese, Baylor
  2. Javontae Barnes, Oklahoma; Aidan Robbins, BYU
  3. Gavin Sawchuck, Oklahoma; Jonathon Brooks, Texas; Treshaun Ward, Kansas State
  4. Ollie Gordon, Oklahoma State; Emani Bailey, TCU;  Jirehl Brock, Iowa State; RJ Harvey, UCF

First-team honors are up for grabs at running back following the departure of Bijan Robinson and Deuce Vaughn. For the most part I like the list.


Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

  1. CJ Donaldson Jr., West Virginia
  2. Tahj Brooks, Texas Tech
  3. DJ Giddens, Kansas State

This list has really good players that could make as big an impact as any running back above. Brooks and Giddens might be among the most underrated players in the league.

Wide Receiver

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

  1. Xavier Worthy, Texas; Matthew Golden, Houston; Brennan Presley, Oklahoma State
  2. Jerand Bradley, Texas Tech; Jordan Whittington, Texas; Jalil Farooq, Oklahoma
  3. Kody Epps, BYU; Phillip Brooks, Kansas State; Jaylin Noel, Iowa State
  4. Savion Williams, TCU; Javon Baker, UCF; Lawrence Arnold, Kansas; Monaray Baldwin, Baylor

Monaray Baldwin and Javon Baker are severely underrated here with AD Mitchell standing out as a bad omission from the list.

Tight end

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  1. Ja’Tavion Sanders, Texas
  2. Ben Sinnott, Kansas State
  3. Mason Fairchild, Kansas
  4. Jared Wiley, TCU

Oklahoma tight end Austin Stogner is an interesting omission. Outside of Sanders, he would seem to be the best tight end in the league.

First-team offensive line

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

  • Zach Frazier, West Virginia
  • Cooper Beebe, Kansas State
  • Kelvin Banks Jr., Texas
  • Mike Novitsky, Kansas
  • Andrew Coker, TCU

The first three on the list are the clear best linemen in the league. Christian Jones might deserve to be a first-team player.

First-team defensive line

Ncaaf Navy Midshipmen At Cincinnati Bearcats Nov 6 0079

  • Ethan Downs, Oklahoma
  • Dontay Corleone, Cincinnati
  • Byron Murphy II, Texas
  • Jaylon Hutchings, Texas Tech

Corleone is the clear top defensive tackle. Downs is a surprise pick. I would have chosen Bothroyd from Oklahoma over Downs.

First-team linebackers

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

  • Jaylan Ford, Texas
  • Johnny Hodges, TCU
  • Collin Oliver, Oklahoma State
  • Danny Stutsman, Oklahoma

Ford is an easy pick at the position. Stutsman was a stat-compiler last season but appears undersized at his position. Jaren Kanak is a breakout player to watch.

Defensive Backs

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

  1. Cobee Bryant, Kansas
    Josh Newton, TCU
    Jalen Catalon, Texas
    Kendal Daniels, Oklahoma State
  2. T.J. Tampa, Iowa State
    Malik Dunlap, Texas Tech
    Kobe Savage, Kansas State
    Aubrey Burks, West Virginia

First-team specialists

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

K Griffin Kell, TCU
P Mason Fletcher, Cincinnati
KR Keilan Robinson, Texas
PR Phillip Brooks, Kansas State

Kell was as responsible for TCU’s miracle run as anybody, hitting one clutch kick after another. He’s back and could play another huge part for the Horned Frogs.

Second-team specialists

Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK

K Bert Auburn, Texas
P Austin McNamara, Texas Tech
KR Brennan Presley, Oklahoma State
PR Xavier Townsend, UCF

Auburn was one of the bigger surprises for Texas last season after losing Cameron Dicker. He’s a proven player for the Longhorns.

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