|West Virginia QB Geno Smith has thrown for 24 touchdowns without an interception this season. (US Presswire)|
Here’s the latest on the Big 12's top players projected to be among those coveted by NFL teams.
1. QB Geno Smith, 6-3, 220, West Virginia
Why he has the top spot: Smith continues to lead one of the nation’s most explosive offenses and showed in last Saturday’s 48-45 win at Texas that he can handle the pressure of a big-time road game and a talented opponent. His numbers didn’t jump off the page nearly as much as they did in previous weeks, as Smith “only” threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns. But he continued to be error-free, as he has thrown 204 passes this season without a single pick.
Season stats (five games): 166 of 204 (81.4 percent), 1,996 yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 66 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD.
Player ranking: Smith is ranked fourth overall and rated as the second-best quarterback in CBSSports.com’s latest player rankings.
Up next: Smith and the Mountaineers have their second straight road trip to the Lone Star State this week, as WVU faces Texas Tech in Lubbock on Saturday. The Red Raiders boast the nation’s No. 1 pass defense (117.4 yards per game allowed) so it’s another chance for Smith to show what he can do against a quality opponent.
2. WR Terrance Williams, 6-2, 205, Baylor
Why he has the second spot: He has everything an NFL team wants in a receiver: the size, the speed and the ability to outfight cornerbacks for a 50/50 ball in the air.
Season stats (four games): 34 receptions, 667 yards, 6 receiving touchdowns, first in FBS in receiving yards per game (166.75).
Player ranking: Williams is ranked 28th overall and is rated as the fourth-best wide receiver in CBSSports.com’s latest player rankings.
Up next: The Bears had Week 5 off, but return to action against a floundering TCU team that just allowed Iowa State’s Josh Lenz to finish with 147 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Williams could have a field day.
3. DE Jackson Jeffcoat, 6-5, 245, Texas
Why he has the third spot: If there was any doubt Jeffcoat and fellow Texas DE Alex Okafor make for the best 1-2 defensive line punch in the nation, that should have ended Saturday -- even despite a loss to West Virginia. The two rush ends caused the WVU offense’s starters to commit their first two turnovers of the season, stripping Geno Smith twice -- and recovering one of those fumbles for a touchdown.
Season stats (five games): 29 total tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 pass breakup, 6 QB hurries, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery.
Player ranking: Jeffcoat is ranked 20th overall and is rated as the third-best defensive end in CBSSports.com’s latest player rankings.
Up next: The Red River Rivalry game against Oklahoma awaits Jeffcoat and the Longhorns. It should be another opportunity for the star defensive end to show what he can do, as the Sooners are 71st nationally in sacks allowed, giving up 2.0 per game.
Keep an eye on: WR Tavon Austin, 5-9, 172, West Virginia
Why you should watch him: Against a Texas team loaded with defensive talent, Austin was easily the most athletic player on the field. He showed that in a dazzling first quarter, when he ran back kickoffs of 44 and 67 yards and added a 40-yard touchdown reception on a fourth-down play, when he caught a short pass and simply outran every defender to the sideline.
Season stats (five games): 58 receptions, 662 yards, 8 touchdowns, 7 carries, 90 rushing yards, 8 punt returns, 43 punt return yards, 8 kickoff returns, 246 kickoff return yards.
Player ranking: Austin is ranked 78th overall and is rated as the 10th-best wide receiver in CBSSports.com’s latest player rankings.
Up next: If Austin is to continue his streak of games with double-digit receptions (currently at six, dating back to last season’s Orange Bowl win over Clemson) he’ll have to do it against a Texas Tech defense that has allowed an average of only 13 completed passes per game this year.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big 12 bloggers C.J. Moore and Patrick Southern, follow @CBSSportsBig12 on Twitter. You can also follow C.J. (@cjmoore4) and Patrick (@patricksouthern).