College football guru Phil Steele released his preseason All-Big 12 teams earlier this week, and 10 West Virginia players made his list. Offensive guard Quinton Spain and punter Nick O'Toole were labeled as first-team selections.
Offense: Spain (1st), RB Rushel Shell (3rd), OG Mark Glowinski (3rd), WR Mario Alford (4th).
Defense: LB Nick Kwiatkoski (2nd), S Karl Joseph (2nd), LB Brandon Golson (4th), CB Daryl Worley (4th).
Special teams: O'Toole (1st), K Josh Lambert (3rd).
The clear surprise there is Shell's inclusion — and as a third-team selection, at that. Steele is projecting that Shell will not only break through the loaded WVU running back corps, bursting ahead of Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood, but manage to be a top-six Big 12 running back behind only Malcolm Brown (Texas), Shock Linwood (Baylor), Johnathan Gray (Texas), Desmond Roland (Oklahoma State) and Keith Ford (Oklahoma). Hey, if Steele is right here, WVU nation can rejoice, but count me as skeptical.
Spain was named an All-Big 12 honorable mention by the coaches after last season, and he's back to anchor WVU's offensive line this season alongside other guard Glowinski.
O'Toole — "Boomstache," they call him — was a consensus All-Big 12 second-team selection last season, his first since transferring from Fullerton College. He punted 73 times for 3,218 yards, an average of 44.1 yards per kick, and ranked No. 15 nationally and No. 2 in the Big 12 in punting.
No WVU players were on Steele's preseason All-America team.