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November 1, 2011

Sharp's kicks, boots give Cowboys boost

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST
Coaches Power Rankings: Head Coach | Off. Coordinator | Def. Coordinator

Oklahoma State's high-powered offense justifiably has garnered most of the attention around Stillwater as the Cowboys have made their run toward the top of the BCS standings.

But the nation's third-ranked team also has benefited from the presence of the game's top special-teams performer.

Oklahoma State had to replace Lou Groza Award winner Dan Bailey from last season's team, but junior punter Quinn Sharp's willingness to add to his responsibilities enabled the Cowboys to make a seamless transition.

"He's been tremendous for us," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said.

Sharp has gone 12-of-14 on field-goal attempts, and he leads the nation with 38 touchbacks on kickoffs. He also ranks third nationally in punting with an average of 47.6 yards per attempt. Sharp's versatility has made him the new No. 1 special teams player in the Rivals.com College Football Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

In Oklahoma State's 59-24 blowout of Baylor last week, Sharp averaged 49.5 yards on two punts and made a 36-yard field goal. That enabled him to take over the No. 1 spot in the rankings from Texas kick returner Fozzy Whittaker, who had no returns Saturday in a 43-0 victory over Kansas.

Baylor-Oklahoma State photo gallery [Photo gallery: Oklahoma State rips Baylor]

"He's three guys [in one]," said Gundy, referring to Sharp's ability to handle field goals, kickoffs and punts. "We're pleased he's able to stay healthy and fresh in handling all those duties. Joe DeForest is our special teams coach, and he's done a great job of limiting his reps on certain days.

"On Sundays, he doesn't kick at all. He doesn't kick on Monday. He does a little bit of one on Tuesday, a little bit of the other on Wednesday and both on Thursday. We're very pleased with his production up to this point."

Sharp's rise represented the only change at the top of the power rankings this week. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles, Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen, Boise State offensive tackle Nate Potter, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, Alabama coach Nick Saban, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris and LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis remained atop their respective positions.

There's one notable position change in the power rankings this week. South Carolina's Antonio Allen, the No. 5 linebacker in our rankings last week, moves over to defensive back this week. Allen plays South Carolina's "spur" position, a hybrid linebacker/defensive back role. Since Allen was selected Monday as one of 12 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back, we felt it was most appropriate to have him included among the defensive backs.

The rankings put a special emphasis on recent performances while also taking career achievements into consideration. Our coordinator rankings exclude coordinators who don't call their own plays or signals.

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST
Coaches Power Rankings: Head Coach | Off. Coordinator | Def. Coordinator

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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