When it comes to college football, few in the media understand college football better than Phil Steele. His college football preview magazine is one of the most sought after pre-season volumes in the country.
Steele lists four teams for each conference with 28 players per team, 102 players total per conference.
The six Mountaineers honored by Phil Steele were:
- S Karl Joseph, Second Team
- RB Andrew Buie, Third Team
- OT Quinton Spain, Third Team
- DT Will Clarke, Third Team
- LB Isaiah Bruce, Third Team
- WR Jordan Thompson, Fourth Team
The six players recognized by Steele are not a surprise. Buie and Spain are two of the Mountaineers three returning starters from a potent 2012 offense, while Thompson is expected to be the focal point of the 2013 passing game. Joseph, Bruce, and Clarke are the three biggest defensive stars.
The one surprise in Steele’s list is that Isaiah Bruce only makes the Third Team. Bruce is placed behind seven other Big 12 linebackers on the list: Jordan Hicks (Texas), Steve Edmond (Texas), Shaun Lewis (Oklahoma State), and Bryce Hager (Baylor) on the First Team; Caleb Lavey (Oklahoma State), Corey Nelson (Oklahoma), and Eddie Lackey (Baylor) on the Second Team. The Second Team also includes S Sam Carter of TCU at the fourth linebacker spot.
The rising true sophomore, Bruce, had a phenomenal freshman season, amassing 94 tackles, a sack, two interceptions, and a fumble returned for a touchdown. He was one of the few bright spots on an underwhelming unit.
Bruce was the driving force in the Mountaineers front seven last season and only looks to have an even better sophomore season. The West Virginia defensive scheme is built such that the defensive line funnels rushers to the inside linebackers meaning that Bruce will be in the key position to make plays for the improved 2013 WVU defense.
It is hard to imagine that there are seven other linebackers that will be as productive as Bruce will be this season, especially when six of those linebackers come from three teams. Then again, guys like Jake Knott and AJ Klein were both very productive for the same Iowa State team last season.
Outside of Bruce, it is tough to argue with Steele’s evaluation of the Big 12 talent. Considering all the turnover on the Mountaineers roster, WVU fans should be excited they landed six on the All-Big 12 teams.