There have been so many, that it seemed about time that we made up a trophy to recognize them all. With a hat tip to my pal @drryanpepper who came up with the name, I present to you the "Darren Sproles water bug trophy for most outstanding tiny person."
To be eligible for the award a player needs to play offense, fit the size requirements*, and be an absolute terror in space.
I present to you, the most outstanding tiny persons of the Big 12 dating back to the year 2000.
Winners of the Darren Sproles water bug trophy for most outstanding tiny person
2000: Hodges Mitchell, Texas
Runner-up: Quentin Griffin, Oklahoma
2001: Quentin Griffin, Oklahoma
Runner-up: Ricky Williams, Texas Tech
2002: Quentin Griffin, Oklahoma
Runner-up: Darren Sproles, Kansas State
2003: Darren Sproles, Kansas State
Runner-up: Wes Welker, Texas Tech
2004: Darren Sproles, Kansas State
Runner-up: Cory Ross, Nebraska
2005: Cory Ross, Nebraska
Runner-up: Hugh Charles, Colorado
2006: Tony Temple, Missouri
Runner-up: Dantrell Savage, Oklahoma State
2007: Dantrell Savage, Oklahoma State
Runner-up: Eric Morris, Texas Tech
Morris wasn't utterly horrifying unless it was 4th and 3, your defense was gassed, and you knew that another Texas Tech 1st down was going to be the end of your DL's legs. In that scenario, he was pretty scary.
2008: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
Runner-up: Quan Cosby, Texas
Cosby's listed size at Texas made him borderline but in reality he was probably just within the parameters. In 2008 he was actually the no. 1 target at Texas (Shipley wouldn't take that mantle until 2009 although he was also brilliant in 2008) in one of the all-time greatest quick passing attacks that has ever existed. Again, 2008 was nuts. You also had an insanely loaded Oklahoma offense and a Tech offense that nearly put five guys at or over 1k yards from the line of scrimmage (Michael Crabtree 1166, Baron Batch 1207, Shannon Woods 1113, Detron Lewis 913, Eric Morris 805).
2009: Rodney Stewart, Colorado
Runner-up: Alexander Robinson, Iowa State
2010: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
Hunter was back from injury in 2010 and tearing through defenses again as a part of the Holgo-Raid Cowboy offense that changed the league by helping to reintroduce play-action passing, now from spread sets. He was lethal this year in their innovative diamond and spread-I sets though certainly helped by the Weeden to Blackmon and Weeden to Cooper connections that created space for him to run.
Runner-up: Rodney Stewart, Colorado
Stewart put in an impressive year as the workhorse for a poor Colorado team, any time a guy that's only 175 pounds touches the ball 319 times from the line of scrimmage you have to tip your hat.
2011: Tevin Reese, Baylor
Runner-up: John Hubert, Kansas State
2012: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The one year when Tavon Austin was eligible for this award, this is one of the all-time great water bug seasons in Big 12 history. Tavon Austin left ruin in his wake.
Runner-up: Tevin Reese, Baylor
Tevin Reese fell short of reclaiming the award with Tavon Austin introduced to the league. Hubert had another season much like his 2011 (and his 2013) but missed out thanks to the presence of these two mini-titans.
2013: John Hubert, Kansas State
Hubert had three consecutive seasons that were all about the same but in 2013 we have to finally give him his due.
Runner-up: Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
This was year one of the Jakeem Grant experience, where he quickly asserted himself as the most terrifying water bug in the Big 12 despite not yet playing as large a role in the Tech offense as he later would.
2014: Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
Runner-up: Tyreek Hill
Hill always gave the greater appearance of danger then actual production. Despite getting 133 touches from the line of scrimmage he only reached the end zone twice. He was good, to be sure, but he had as many runs go nowhere as he did explosive plays for the Cowboys. Then he committed a heinous crime off the field and that was it for his shot at the illustrious prize.
2015: Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
Runner-up: Kavontae Turpin, TCU
So, who was the greatest? What was the best season by a "Darren Sproles water bug trophy for most outstanding tiny person" recipient? Who's got next?
*The size requirements
A 5'10" player must be 180 or lighter.
A 5'9" player must be 190 or lighter.
A 5'8" player must be 200 or lighter.
At 5'7" a player can weigh any amount and be eligible.