Conference honors 12 Tigers

Thursday, December 4, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:32 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The good news keeps coming for the Missouri football team.

More of the fruits of success were bestowed upon the Tigers on Wednesday when 12 players were named to the coaches’ All-Big 12 Conference team, up from seven selections last season.

Missouri received one first-team, three second-team, three third-team and five honorable-mention selections.

Tigers' offensive power receives recognition

Senior center A.J. Ricker led the way, earning a spot on the first team. Ricker, who set a school record by starting all 46 games of his career, was named to the second team last season.

Kansas State’s Nick Leckey, Oklahoma’s Jammal Brown and Vince Carter and Texas’ Tillman Holloway join Ricker on the first-team offensive line.

MU offensive linemen Rob Droege and Tony Palmer also made the team. Droege, a senior tackle, made the second team after being named to the first team last season. Palmer, a sophomore guard, made honorable mention.

Thanks to the offensive line’s help, Missouri ranks second in the Big 12 in rushing offense. That feat is reflected in senior tailback Zack Abron and sophomore quarterback Brad Smith’s selection to the team.

Abron, who is Missouri’s all-time leader in rushing (3,061 yards), scoring (246 points) and touchdowns (41), made the second team.

Kansas State’s Darren Sproles and Oklahoma State’s Tatum Bell beat out Abron and Texas’ Cedric Benson for first-team honors.

Smith, who was named Missouri’s most valuable player at an awards banquet Sunday, tied Kansas’ Bill Whittemore and Kansas State’s Ell Roberson for third-team status.

Smith needs 178 passing yards in Missouri’s bowl game to become the first NCAA Division I-A player to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a season twice. Smith joined Clemson’s Woody Dantzler last season as the only players to do so.

Oklahoma’s Jason White made the first team, and Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons made the second team at quarterback. White also was named the Offensive Player of the Year.

J.D. McCoy, who was named Missouri’s best receiver Sunday, was an honorable mention, rounding out Missouri’s offensive players on the team. McCoy had career-highs with 190 receiving yards on 21 catches and two touchdowns during the regular season.

Tigers defense garners attention too

Despite the attention the Tigers’ offense garnered throughout the season, Missouri’s much-improved defense also earned equal honors on the team.

Sophomore defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, who made the second team, leads six defensive players selected. Among his 60 tackles, Mosley leads Missouri with 15 tackles for loss, including six sacks.

Defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison and linebacker James Kinney, both juniors, made the third team. Ellison has 67 tackles, 12 for loss, and four sacks. Kinney, Missouri’s leading tackler with 141, ranks third in the Big 12 and 17th in the NCAA, averaging 11.67 tackles per game.

Rounding out Missouri’s selections, freshman defensive end Brian Smith, senior linebacker Brandon Barnes and senior cornerback Michael Harden earned honorable mention.

Smith’s eight sacks and four forced fumbles rank in the top 20 in the nation, and he leads all NCAA freshmen in sacks.

Barnes has racked up 106 tackles, recovered three fumbles and intercepted two passes in his first season at linebacker after moving from free safety during the offseason.

Harden has 73 tackles, including five for loss, and leads the Tigers with 13 passes defended.

Oklahoma and Nebraska notables

Oklahoma’s six selections dominated the first-team defense. End Dan Cody, tackles Tommie Harris and Dusty Dvoracek, linebacker Teddy Lehman, defensive back Derrick Strait and punt returner Antonio Perkins made the top squad for the No. 1 Sooners.

Strait earned Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Oklahoma had 18 selections, including 11 to the first team.

Oklahoma State end Greg Richmond, Texas tackle Marcus Tubbs, Kansas State linebacker Josh Buhl, Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson, Nebraska punter Kyle Larson and defensive backs Josh Bullocks of Nebraska, Darrent Williams of Oklahoma State and Nathan Vasher of Texas round out the first-team defense.

Nebraska tight end Matt Herian, receivers Rashaun Woods of Oklahoma State and Mark Clayton of Oklahoma, Oklahoma kicker Trey DiCarlo and Texas Tech kick returner Wes Welker round out the first-team offense.

Freshman quarterback Vince Young of Texas and defensive end Jason Berryman of Iowa State were named Newcomers of the Year.

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