In a rare show of restraint, Phil "The Animal" Steele is forsaking his penchant for jampacking and, instead, judiciously parceling out his preseason all-conference and All-American teams to select media outlets.
Homerism was fortunate enough to get his hands on a bootleg copy of Steele's Big 12 media release. I was sitting in my solarium this afternoon drinking a white wine spritzer and sifting through about 200 names on eight different teams when, lo and behold, Oklahoma Sooners running back DeMarco Murray popped up as a first-team All-American.
And take a look at the hyped runners who didn't make the first team: Jacquizz Rodgers, LaMichael James, Ryan Williams.
If you told me three years ago that Murray would be making these preseason lists in 2010, it would have surprised me. Not because I doubted his ability, but because I figured he'd be preparing for his first or second year in the NFL.
Now entering his fifth year in Norman, Murray still has plenty left to prove. He has yet to make it through a full year without missing time or suffering a significant injury. Even more concerning, however, is the toll all those injuries seem to have taken on him.
As a redshirt freshman, Murray displayed the kind of speed and elusiveness that made him a threat to go the distance almost any time he touched the ball. Since sustaining a smorgasbord of serious leg injuries, he has often looked like a shadow of that home run hitter OU fans saw on the field in 2007.
In fact, the now-veteran running back has gradually morphed into a determined between-the-tackles runner. Put him in space and he can still make some magic happen. The problem is getting him there in the first place, though, as he has yet to recapture the burst that once made him so explosive.
Needless to say, although I wouldn't be shocked if Murray bounces back with a solid 2010 campaign, I don't share Steele's bullish outlook for Murray's season.
But who am I to question COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S MOST ACCURATE PRESEASON PROGNOSTICATOR 11 YEARS RUNNING!!!!!
A few other observations from Steele's all-star teams:
*Adrian Taylor nabs a spot at defensive tackle on the Big 12 first team. I know The Animal supposedly devours the footage of every second of every game played every season, so he had to have seen the big fella's horrific injury in the Sun Bowl, right?
As with Murray, I hope Steele's right on this one, but I have my doubts that we'll see Taylor going full speed before midseason.
*After all the receiving talent that has passed through the Big 12 in the last few years, Steele's all-conference teams illustrate the shallow pool of pass catchers in the league this season. He is buying the hype surrounding Sooner wideout Ryan Broyles, though, naming him a first-team All-American.
*On the other hand, check out all the defensive talent in the conference. Yowza.
*Not one Boise State Bronco on the All-American teams. Looks like Steele isn't sold.