Counting Down the Big 12's Top Players
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
LonghornDigest Publisher
Posted Jun 11, 2011


LonghornDigest.com will count down the Big 12's top 50 players. Only players who have played games for their current teams will be included, so don't expect to find freshmen or transfers here.

50) Toben Opurum, junior DE, Kansas

The amazing thing about Opurum is that he probably would have made the preseason list last season, but as a running back. As a freshman, Opurum led the Jayhawks in rushing with 554 yards and scored nine touchdowns, rushing for at least one touchdown in each of the first six games, serving as one of the league's top short-yardage runners.

But at 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, Opurum didn't fit the home run threat coveted by new coach Turner Gill, and he was unceremoniously moved to linebacker in the offseason. But midway through the season, the Kansas coaching staff found another role for Opurum, placing him as a rush end, where he started the final six games. The results weren't immediately apparent, but Opurum came on in the last few games, forcing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown on a key play in Kansas's rallying win against Colorado, then grabbing his first career sack in the season finale against Missouri.

By all accounts, his development accelerated exponentially in the spring, with the Kansas coaches attesting to Opurum's All-Big 12 potential. Defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt, who coached Von Miller at Texas A&M, even said Opurum had that kind of potential to boost the Kansas defense. Opurum isn't as fast as Miller is, but he's stronger and more powerful.


2010 Stats: 21 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble



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