The Big 12 Conference must replace two of its all-time best at linebacker this season. Derrick Johnson of Texas was a first round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs and Barrett Ruud of Nebraska went early in the second round to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With Johnson and Ruud out of the picture, the league really only returns one headliner at linebacker in Kansas's Nick Reid.
Reid topped our preseason poll at linebacker with six of ten first place votes and 39 overall points.
Last season Reid was an All-Big 12 performer as he led KU with 109 tackles, including 15 for loss and three sacks.
Finishing second in the poll behind Reid was Aaron Harris of Texas with two first place votes and 32 overall points.
Harris will replace Johnson at UT as the leader of the Longhorn defense. Last season he registered 118 tackles, 10 TFLs, six pressures, nine pass break ups, two forced fumbles, two sacks, one fumble recovery and one interception.
Colorado's Brian Iwuh was third in the poll with 21 total points. Iwuh is arguably CU's top defensive player, as he was a second-team all-Big 12 selection last season.
He became the first linebacker to lead the team in tackles since 1999, recording 98 total stops (74 solo). Iwuh earned his way on CU's prestigious Victory Club for his performance as a junior.
Rounding out our poll at No. 4 and 5 were Oklahoma's Rufus Alexander and Kansas State's Brandon Archer.
Both Alexander and Archer received one first vote respectively, and they are expected to be leaders on their defenses this fall.
We accepted nominations from all Big 12 schools for our listing of the top five players at each position. Ten schools returned their ballots to vote for our final selections. Five points were awarded for a first place vote and one for a fifth place vote. Below are the results from our linebacker poll.
The Final Vote
1 – Nick Reid (6), Kansas – 39 pts
2 – Aaron Harris (2), Texas - 32 pts
3 – Brian Iwuh, Colorado - 21 pts
4 – Rufus Alexander (1), Oklahoma – 17 pts
5 – Brandon Archer (1), Kansas State – 16 pts
Over the next two weeks, the Rivals.com Big 12 Network will rank the top five players at running back, wide receiver, tight end, defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback and safety.