Top 5 College Football Players in the Big 12 in 2021

By Dan Vasta in Sports
| August 12, 2021 7:49 am PDT

The Big 12 has been known for its offensive fireworks that get put on display during the fall. The defenses have not been elite lately, but improvement is on the way.

The number of experienced players that have returned to the relevant programs in the conference is higher than usual. Oklahoma, TCU, and Iowa State are three of the better defenses in the nation.

The quarterbacks are worthy of the national attention they often receive, but there are exciting running backs this season. Keeping a few of them off the list was a difficult task, but the number of studs in the Big 12 conference is at an all-time high.

That brings me to the best players the Big 12 has to offer. See how they stack up in my Big 12 college football player rankings for 2021.

5. Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma

Winfrey gets the ball rolling in my 2021 Big 12 college football player rankings.

The Sooners defense under Alex Grinch has been surreal. They were a laughing stock against some of the more potent offenses before Grinch arrived in Norman. Nowadays, the improved defenses have been enjoyable to watch.

Oklahoma has been dominant in the trenches, and the addition last season of Winfrey was astonishing.

A monster among men, the tackle has been unblockable.

Shedding blockers with such ease, Winfrey will have a chance to become a first-round draft pick next season.

The Sooners will be pinning their ears back and harassing all opposing Big 12 backfields. Oklahoma should be playing with a lead in their games, which only benefits players on the defensive side of the ball.

I believe this could be the number one team in the country throughout the season, and big No. 8 in the middle of the line will be one of the prime suspects for their success.

4. Mike Rose, Iowa State LB

Another stud defender in Mike Rose cracks my top-5 Big 12 player rankings for 2021.

The quick turnaround that Matt Campbell has built-in Ames is nothing short of a miracle. He has had his players buy into the program, and they achieved success as they have never seen before.

It was odd to see them in the Fiesta Bowl last season, taking the soul of Oregon in a game many believed was not going to be one-sided.

Iowa State against Iowa in Week 2 might be the most physical game of the entire season for both squads. The amount of heat-sinking missile shots in that game will be highly entertaining. Controlling the line of scrimmage for both teams is vital, but Rose has been an enforcer on the team.

He’s been a tackling machine ever since stepping on the field in 2018, and he’s developed into a big-time playmaker. Check out his stats in three years with the Cyclones.

Year Tackles Sacks Interceptions Forced Fumbles
2020 96 1.5 5 0
2019 77 3.5 1 1
2018 75 1.5 0 0

Tackling in space is never easy nowadays since many different athletes are on the field, but staying fundamentally sound is still valuable.

Rose and the Cyclones defense has become one of the most productive units in the country.

Being the leader of the entire defense has allowed Iowa State to take accountability to roam the sidelines with the confidence and swagger needed to achieve greatness. 

3. Bijan Robinson, Texas RB

The hype on Bijan Robinson has been projected ahead with the way he finished off his freshman campaign.

Avoiding a sophomore slump will be vital, but the talent is there for the Longhorns on offense. Regardless of who starts under center, Robinson will be toting the pigskin more than any other player.

The program has struggled to run the ball with consistent authority for years. The amount of pressure the quarterback has been under over the years has been a comedy act. The grueling losses have been tough to endure.

The home-run ability of Robinson is jaw-dropping, but feeding the machine is mandatory if they expect to contend with the upper-echelon of the Big 12 and beyond.

Texas saw the results down the stretch in 2020.

Stat First Five Games Final Four Games
Carries 39 47
Rushing Yards 181 522
Total Touchdowns 0 6

We should see out of the gates how vital Robinson is to their success with Louisiana, Arkansas, TCU, and Oklahoma all on the docket.

The loss of a stud back is drastic, and they could be back to square one if he misses any time. There will likely be consistent shootouts in Austin to start the tenure of Steve Sarkisian, so the play of Robinson should keep them in nearly every ball game.

Watch this next great Texas runner rack up the carries, yards, first downs, and scores to get Texas closer to being back.

2. Breece Hall, Iowa State RB

Breece Hall should be in every set of Big 12 college football player rankings you see in 2021.

If there were a few more games on the schedule, Hall could have eclipsed 2,000 yards rushing last season.

The surreal season was Heisman-worthy had Iowa State ran the table. Suffering three losses impacted their chances to reach the College Football Playoff, but this is a player and a team to watch every week. They may run roughshod on the Big 12 this season.

The final two games of the season seem to be the only ones in the way of preventing an undefeated season. Oklahoma and TCU in a three-game span will be a grind. They likely will need to win just one of those games to reach the Big 12 title game. That would keep their playoff dreams and aspirations alive.

Fortunately, Iowa State knows Hall can step up against tough competition.

Vs. Oklahoma (2 Games) Vs. TCU Vs. Oregon (Fiesta Bowl)
51 carries for 218 yds, 4 TD 18 carries for 154 yds, 3 TD 34 carries for 136 yds, 2 TD

Hall has a Top 10 offensive line blocking for him with all five starters back from a season ago. It should be the best Cyclones team from top to bottom.

The trenches obliterated Oregon in the Fiesta, and Hall made his impact in the game. He was the Fiesta Bowl MVP, and there is a chance they stay in the Top 10 for the entirety of the season.

An honorable mention for the most explosive players in college football in 2021, Hall is set up for a monster year in the Big 12.

1. Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma QB

The preseason Heisman favorite is the Oklahoma signal-caller Spencer Rattler. The Sooners have been an actual video game offensive squad that the Big 12 has struggled to defend.

Rattler has the young legs and the NFL arm to make all the throws. He enters the year among the top 10 college football quarterbacks in the nation, and he rounds out my Big 12 player rankings, as well.

He has a nose for the goal-line due to elusive running skills. Slowing Kennedy Brooks, Eric Gray, and Marcus Major are tough enough. Rattler makes them the top offensive team in America.

The accuracy issues at times were tough to comprehend, but the experience has helped the young gunslinger.

The difference has been Lincoln Riley. The best offensive guru in the country has been a godsend for the Oklahoma program.

The Sooners can make a case as the best program in America without a national title during the past two decades (2000-01). The defense under Alex Grinch has been remarkable. Now the offense can begin to devour the opposition.

The ability to control the line of scrimmage in the run game will allow Rattler to post gaudy numbers. Their offensive line is one of the best on the planet. Throw in all that speed, and this team is impossible to slow down. Which defense on the schedule is even capable of avoiding embarrassment?

Iowa State looks like the only realistic answer that can match them on both sides of the ball. The Cyclones gave the Sooners two thrilling finishes last season.

Here’s how Rattler fared in those spots.

Big 12 Title Win Regular Season Loss
272 passing yards, 2 Total TD (0 INT) 300 passing yards, 3 Total TD (1 INT)

Oklahoma will be favored in both meetings this season, and Rattler should reap the benefits of their success.

Rattler brings national upside when he potentially wins the Heisman and appears in the College Football Playoff. Needless to say, he’s one of the best players in the Big 12 in 2021 – if not the best.

Looking Ahead in the Big 12 in 2021

The Big 12 is 0-4 in the College Football Playoff, with their average margin of defeat at 18 points a game. Those four games belong to the Sooners and their lack of defense, but the conference has drastically improved.

Oklahoma may win the national title, and I could have done a top five full of Oklahoma stars.

The team is that deep, but there are a few others that are worthy, as well.

Iowa State has their best roster ever due to an exceptional defense. Offensively, they can play keep away and make enough explosive plays.

The Horned Frogs are one of my sleeper teams in because of several top five worthy players.

Gary Patterson has developed the three and four-star talents about as well as one coach could.

Many are expecting Steve Sarkisian to develop a juggernaut in Austin, too. It will take time for Texas, but this conference is on the rise despite the Sooners and Longhorns saying adios.

There is a lot to take in ahead of the 2021 college football season. Check out the posts below to get ready.

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