July 24, 2009
Four Baylor student-athletes received preseason Big 12 Conference football honors announced by the league Friday . Junior transfer Phil Taylor was named the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year and Derek Epperson, Jordan Lake and Joe Pawelek were named to the 26-man 2009 Preseason All-Big 12 team, selected by media who cover the conference.
Taylor sat out the 2008 season at Baylor after transferring from Penn State. The 6-4, 355-pound defensive tackle will have two seasons of eligibility with the Bears.
Epperson has been named a preseason All-American punter by Lindy's (first team) and Sporting News/Walter Camp (second team). A junior, he is tied for ninth in Baylor history with 24 career punts of 50-plus yards and tied for sixth all-time with five punts of 60-plus yards. Epperson was a Ray Guy Award semifinalist in 2008.
Fifth-year senior Lake is an All-America and Jim Thorpe Award candidate. The two-time All-Big 12 honoree was labeled the Big 12's "Hardest Hitter" in the 2009 Sporting News preseason publication. Lake has totaled nine career games of 10-plus tackles. The 6-1, 215-pound safety totaled 97 tackles, including a team-high 67 solos, and two forced fumbles in 2008.
Pawelek is a three-year starter from San Antonio who was named All-America, Academic All-America and All-Big 12 in 2008 as a junior. He is a Rotary Lombardi Award and Lott Trophy candidate who ranked seventh nationally in tackles last season (10.7 tackles per game) and seventh in interceptions (0.5 interceptions per game) - the only player ranked in the top 10 of both categories.
The 6-2, 240-pound totaled 128 tackles and six interceptions in 2008, and was on the Butkus Award watch list as a junior. Pawelek has started 34 of 36 career games and with 313 career tackles is three shy of entering Baylor's all-time top 10 listing.