2024 Big 12 LB Rankings: Nick Martin, Collin Oliver Command the Position

    The conference is rife with returning talent as the 2024 Big 12 LB Rankings is dominated by dynamic duos from multiple teams.

    Despite the conference’s second-leading tackler – UCF linebacker Jason Johnson – signing as an undrafted free agent with the Cowboys, the Big 12 LB Rankings are filled nearly to the brim with returners, featuring just one transfer in the top-10.

    A strong position only got stronger with the additions of four former Pac-12 teams, with the Utah Utes one of three teams to crack the top 10 twice. As competitive a position as there is in the conference, let’s examine how they stack up in the 2024 Big 12 LB Rankings.

    2024 Big 12 LB Rankings

    10) Matt Jones, Baylor Bears

    A three-year starter for the Baylor Bears, Matt Jones is entering his sixth season overall in Waco. Jones led the program in total tackles (73) and tackles for a loss (11.5) last season, earning a 2023 All Big 12 Honorable Mention nod. So far, he’s amassed 214 tackles, 25.5 for a loss, and eight sacks.

    With 33 career starts to his name, Jones enters his final season as the man in the middle for the Bears.

    9) Kaleb Elarms-Orr, TCU

    Spending his first three seasons playing sparingly at Cal, Kaleb Elarms-Orr emerged as a dependable starter for the Bears last season, leading the team with 92 tackles. He left Berkley for Fort Worth, joining the Horned Frogs with two years left to play.

    Elarms-Orr joins a talented linebacker room at TCU as one of two Horned Frogs in the 2024 Big 12 LB Rankings.

    8) Levani Damuni, Utah Utes

    After playing his first four years at Stanford, Levani Damuni departed for Utah before last season and quickly acclimated to the Utes defense. Damuni led the team with 87 tackles last year, giving him 291 for his career.

    Part of a dynamic duo with the next player on the 2024 Big 12 LB Rankings, Damuni has one year left as a sixth-year senior.

    7) Karene Reid, Utah Utes

    A newbie to the Big 12, Karene Reid should have no problem adjusting to his new surroundings after amassing 31 starts the last three seasons at Utah. A 2022 first-team All-Pac-12 selection with second-team 2023 All-Pac-12 honors, Reid has 184 career tackles, 67 of which came last season.

    Reid and Damuni proved to be a force together last season in the Pac-12 and their success should continue into the Big 12 in 2024.

    6) Namdi Obiazor, TCU Horned Frogs

    Initially a junior college prospect spending his first two seasons at Iowa Western, Namdi Obiazor has been a pivotal piece for the Horned Frogs’ defense the last two seasons. He primarily came off the bench in 2022, recording 49 tackles, before becoming a starter and leading the team in tackles (87) last year, earning a 2023 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.

    MORE: 2024 Big 12 Weekly Football Schedule 

    Now a fifth-year senior, Obiazor will be paired with Elarms-Orr for one of a handful of fearsome tandems in the Big 12 LB Rankings.

    5) Deshawn Pace, UCF Knights

    Staying in conference, Deshawn Pace is a Cincinnati transfer who spent his first four seasons with the Bearcats before joining the Knights in January. Pace’s first season in the Big 12 last year saw him earn a 2023 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention after leading the Bearcats in tackles with 80.

    With Johnson off to the NFL, the anticipation that Pace will step up into his role earns him a spot in the 2024 Big 12 LB Rankings.

    4) Ben Roberts, Texas Tech Red Raiders

    Ben Roberts quickly went from a redshirt backup to the Red Raiders’ leading tackler, amassing 107 tackles and earning a 2023 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection. Roberts also finished second on the team with 6.5 tackles for a loss while tallying two forced fumbles and an interception.

    Roberts blew away expectations last season, but they are raised this season as he cracks the top five of the 2024 Big 12 LB Rankings.

    3) Jacob Manu, Arizona Wildcats

    If Arizona had stayed in the Pac-12, Jacob Manu would be the top linebacker in the conference heading into this season. While he comes up third in the 2024 Big 12 LB Rankings, it’s not for a lack of talent. He’s made 20 starts in his first two college campaigns, racking up 170 tackles, including 117 last season, which earned him a 2023 All Pac-12 First Team selection.

    A true junior who made seven starts right out of high school in 2022, Manu enters the Big 12 as one of the most productive linebackers at a talent-rich position for the conference.

    2) Collin Oliver, Oklahoma State Cowboys

    Despite Collin Oliver being named the 2023 CFN Big 12 Linebacker of the Year, he finishes second on the 2024 Big LB Rankings to his teammate.

    Oliver just misses the top spot after registering 73 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, and six sacks last season, earning a 2023 All-Big 12 Second Team nod. For his career, Oliver has 130 tackles, 38.5 for a loss, and 22.5 sacks in 41 games for the Cowboys.

    Entering his fourth and final season, Oliver returns as team captain for the Cowboys.

    1) Nick Martin, Oklahoma State Cowboys

    After not starting his first two seasons in Stillwater, Nick Martin solidified his place on top of the 2024 Big 12 LB Rankings after leading the conference in tackles with 140. He added 16 tackles for a loss, six sacks, two interceptions, two defended passes, a forced fumble, and a recovery.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Big 12 EDGE Rankings

    Martin just sneaks past his fellow OSU team captain to secure the top spot of the 2024 Big 12 LB Rankings.

    2024 Big 12 LB Rankings | 11-20

    11) Jesiah Pierre, UCF
    12) Jamal Morris, Houston
    13) Caleb Bacon, Iowa State
    14) Shad Banks Jr., TCU
    15) Reid Carrico, West Virginia
    16) LaVonta Bentley, Colorado
    17) Tate Romney, Arizona State
    18) Lander Barton, Utah Utes
    19) Desmond Purnell, Kansas State
    20) Jack Kelly, BYU

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