Big 12: Baylor Bears

Best of the visits: Big 12

January, 25, 2015
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Another busy weekend on the recruiting trail as visits and commitments are starting to give shape to each school’s recruiting class. The second-to-last weekend before signing day brought plenty of intrigue and some consternation (particularly in Austin, Texas).

Oklahoma State landed a commitment from ESPN300 athlete Louis Brown during his visit to Stillwater, Oklahoma, over the weekend. The Burton (Texas) prospect boasts offers from Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oregon and others. A 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Brown is a raw talent with extremely high upside and should be a good fit in OSU’s defense. The No. 267 player in the ESPN 300, Brown was a long-time UT commit who parted ways with the Longhorns during his official visit last weekend.
The Cowboys weren't the only team having success on the trail this past weekend, with TCU landing a pledge from Monroe (Louisiana) Neville's Kavontae Turpin. The receiver prospect picked the Horned Frogs during his visit to Fort Worth. At 5-foot-8, 145 pounds, Turpin could be a good fit for TCU's slot receiver role in its high-scoring attack. Three-star cornerback Henry Black spent his weekend in Waco, Texas, checking out Art Briles' program. A recent Bears offer, the Shreveport (Louisiana) Woodlawn prospect is a relatively raw talent with good size at 6-foot, 182 pounds. Iowa State is searching for help along its defensive line so seeing Jacksonville (Florida) Christian defensive lineman Josh Coleman in cardinal and gold is a good step forward. The Cyclones are hoping Coleman is a hidden gem that picks ISU in the end. Coleman is expected to visit Fresno State on Jan. 30. Texas hosted several top recruits over the weekend including ESPN 300 athletes Soso Jamabo (Plano, Texas/West) and Kai Locksley (Baltimore, Maryland/Gilman). Jamabo is the No. 28 player in the ESPN 300 and could kick start UT's offense by providing an immediate big play threat. Locksley, a Florida State commit, is the No. 289 player in the ESPN 300 and could project to several different positions in college including quarterback. West Virginia has its eye on rounding out its recruiting class with three-star prospect Gary Jennings. The Stafford (Virginia) Colonial Forge athlete spent the weekend in Morgantown, West Virginia, and could be a good fit at receiver in Dana Holgorsen's offense. Jennings, who boasts offers from Wisconsin, Notre Dame and others, is a prospect to keep on eye on during the home stretch of this recruiting cycle.
In today's Big 12 mailbag, we discuss the Top 25 player ranking, the looming QB derbies in Waco and Manhattan, the Texas recruiting wars, Oklahoma State running backs and, curiously, Kurt Russell.

On to the 'bag:

Trotter: We're big fans of Washington here on the blog. We made him a second-team All-Big 12 selection. But the top 25 player ranking was a tough list to crack. A number of other terrific players like Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard and Baylor's Antwan Goodley didn't make the list, either. Washington has a chance, though, to open next year on the preseason top 25 list as one of the league's top returning running backs.

Trotter: Rennie Childs is the obvious bet at this point, since he's the only healthy scholarship running back currently on campus. But I think the Cowboys land a marquee back before signing day. Oklahoma State has a powerful pitch to make, and that's immediate playing time. Keep an eye on Chris Carson, who is an ESPN Junior College 50 prospect. Carson has been committed to Georgia since August, but he's reportedly taking a visit to Stillwater this weekend. Because they can offer playing time -- and Georgia can't having Nick Chubb -- I think the Cowboys have a decent chance to flip Carson.

Trotter: I believe that Briles believes or was told that. But after Heather Dinich spoke with College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, it doesn't seem very likely that Briles got good info, considering the playoff votes are taken via secret ballot over computer.

Trotter: The Red River Showdown hasn't been the league's most important game in seven years. I don't see why next season would be any different.

Trotter: "Miracle." But "Death Proof," "Escape from L.A.," "Tombstone," "Poseidon" and even "Overboard" have high rewatchability.

Trotter: Yes, but only if he's not the best quarterback. If he is, Baylor should start him. That would give him four seasons.

Trotter: I think so. Incoming freshman Alex Delton is an intriguing prospect, but Bill Snyder isn't prone to playing true freshmen anywhere, much less at quarterback. Joe Hubener has three years in the system, which gives him a huge advantage over the others. He has good size, good speed and a good arm, from what I hear. If he takes care of the ball he will be tough to unseat.

Trotter: No latest. If you read my Q&A with commissioner Bob Bowlsby from earlier this week, you'll know that there are no immediate plans for either. The only change I see the Big 12 making is eliminating the "co-champions" rule. Otherwise, expect status quo.

Trotter: I already did a too-early Big 12 power poll for 2015, and I had Oklahoma State third. The Cowboys clearly have something that OU, Texas, Kansas State and West Virginia don't at the moment, and that's a quarterback (Mason Rudolph).

Trotter: Pretty good. Last I checked, Trevone Boykin is still on the roster.

Trotter: He will if he flips the gem of Texas A&M's recruiting class, Kyler Murray who is the nation's No. 13 overall player and top dual-threat quarterback, to Texas. That would send a strong message to College Station.

Art Briles' brash statements can ruffle some feathers, but tend to come with a dose of truth. The Baylor coach’s declaration that the Bears are one of the best programs in college football is backed by his program’s back-to-back Big 12 titles.

"We feel like we've established ourselves as somebody," Briles said shortly before the Cotton Bowl. "When you're looking at one of the better teams in the southwest part of the United States of America, Baylor is one of them."

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong, Malcom Brown
AP Photo/Eric GayCoach Charlie Strong says finding players with strong character is the key to getting Texas back among the Big 12's elite teams.
That's right, parity has hit the Big 12. And it’s been around for a while.

Although it earned a Big 12 co-championship in 2012, Oklahoma hasn’t won an outright Big 12 title since 2010. Texas hasn’t won a conference title outright since 2009. Those two programs combined to win every Big 12 title from 2004 through 2010.

A conference that could point to Oklahoma and Texas as its standard bearers for the majority of the 2000s has seen five different teams win a share of the Big 12 title since 2010.

The immediate assumption is the problem can be found on the recruiting trail. As the Big 12’s most dominant performers slid down the standings, surely they slid down the recruiting rankings. After all, talent wins games.

The reality is different.

Oklahoma and Texas have finished 1-2 in the Big 12 in recruiting rankings every season since 2010. And each program finished among the top 20 nationally each season, including three top-five finishes by the Longhorns. According to ESPN recruiting analysts, here is a closer look at the top recruiting classes in the conference each year since 2010:

Class of 2014

  • Oklahoma No. 13 in nation, 1st in Big 12
  • Texas No. 16 in nation, 2nd in Big 12
  • Baylor No. 22 in nation, 3rd in Big 12
  • Oklahoma State No. 28 in nation, 4th in Big 12
Class of 2013

  • Texas No. 16 in nation, 1st in Big 12
  • Oklahoma No. 17 in nation, 2nd in Big 12
  • Oklahoma State No. 27 in nation, 3rd in Big 12
  • Baylor No. 28 in nation, 4th in Big 12
Class of 2012

  • Texas No. 3 in nation, 1st in Big 12
  • Oklahoma No. 11 in nation, 2nd in Big 12
  • Texas Tech No. 20 in nation, 3rd in Big 12
Class of 2011

  • Texas No. 5 in nation, 1st in Big 12
  • Oklahoma No. 11 in nation, 2nd in Big 12
  • Oklahoma State No. 23 in nation, 3rd in Big 12
Class of 2010

  • Texas No. 2 in nation, 1st in Big 12
  • Oklahoma No. 5 in nation, 2nd in Big 12
  • No other Big 12 team in top 25

Those recruiting rankings haven’t transferred to the field. Oklahoma has the best winning percentage during that span, with Oklahoma State and Baylor -- two programs lauded for their ability to develop and evaluate -- joining the Sooners in the top three. Texas is just eight games above .500 and in the bottom half of the conference.

Winning percentage since 2010

  1. Oklahoma 77.3 percent (51-15 overall)
  2. Oklahoma State 73.8 percent (48-17)
  3. Baylor 72.3 percent (47-18)
  4. Kansas State 69.2 percent (45-20)
  5. TCU 60.5 percent (23-15 in 38 games as Big 12 member)
  6. Texas 56.3 percent (36-28)
  7. Texas Tech 52.4 percent (33-30)
  8. West Virginia 47.4 percent (18-20 in 38 games)
  9. Iowa State 35.5 percent (22-40)
  10. Kansas 20 percent (12-40)
Development has been key as Oklahoma has been the Big 12’s best at developing its recruits into NFL draftees, followed by Baylor and Texas. The Sooners have the ability to attract elite talent and turn them into NFL players, and the Bears have excelled at evaluation and development, gradually rising up the recruiting rankings. Texas' individual talent has been evident on the field, but it hasn’t turned into great teams on the field.

NFL Draftees since 2010

  1. Oklahoma 28
  2. Baylor 17
  3. Texas 16
  4. TCU 13
  5. West Virginia 13
  6. Oklahoma State 10
  7. Kansas State 7
  8. Iowa State 5
  9. Kansas 4
  10. Texas Tech 4

What does it all mean?

Texas, under Mack Brown, was struggling to transform its talented signees into wins as a combination of poor evaluation and development hampered the Longhorns. First-year coach Charlie Strong has an eye on changing that trend.

"It's all about character, young men who want to change their lives," Strong said during his debut season. "The thing about it, I'm not looking for players who want to be mediocre. We don't need to be mediocre. That's not who we are. We need to recruit players who love football and want to do something special."

The Longhorns have made terrific inroads with their first full class under Strong, sitting atop the Big 12 and ranking No. 9 nationally in the Class of 2015.

The Sooners’ recruiting problems and lack of talent are grossly overstated. Bob Stoops' program is looking down at everyone in the Big 12 with the highest number of NFL draftees and best winning percentage since 2010, with only Texas consistently landing higher-ranked recruiting classes. Oklahoma isn’t as dominant as it was during the 2000s, but that has everything to do with the improved overall depth of the Big 12 more than the Sooners’ struggles. And Oklahoma looks poised to land another quality class, ranking second in the Big 12 and 17th nationally.

The foundation of Baylor’s rise is found in that program’s ability to turn overlooked recruits into stars. Turning two-star receiver Tevin Reese into an NFL draft pick is just one example of how Briles' program has risen to national prominence.

"You want to find the lifeline of our business, it's all about recruiting and getting the players that you need on campus and giving you a chance to sustain," Briles said. "We’ve proved we have substance as a football program. We have other things we need to prove at a very high level, and that to me is what it's all about. You know, that night will pass, there will be another night. We're not a one-night wonder."
This week, we’ve been counting down the Big 12's top 25 players of 2014.

Our countdown concludes below with Nos. 1-5:

1. Trevone Boykin, TCU (preseason rank: NR): Boykin put together one of the most stunning one-year turnarounds in Big 12 history. After finishing 2013 as a wide receiver, Boykin transformed himself into one of the top quarterbacks in the country in 2014. He threw for more than 3,900 yards and totaled 41 touchdowns while leading TCU to a 12-1 record. Boykin also finished fourth in the Heisman voting and figures to enter 2015 on the short list of Heisman favorites, especially with nine other offensive starters back for the Horned Frogs.

2. Tyler Lockett, Kansas State (2): Lockett was absolutely tremendous in his final season in a K-State uniform. He topped the Big 12 with 1,515 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns while also leading the country in punt returns. Lockett finished with a flurry too, as he racked up 57 receptions and seven touchdowns in K-State’s final five games to pass his father, Kevin, as K-State’s all-time leading receiver.

3. Bryce Petty, Baylor (1): A back injury in the opener prevented Petty from becoming a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy. But even though his numbers were slightly down from his junior season, Petty was still lethal in his second year operating the Baylor offense. He finished sixth in the country with 321 passing yards per game to go with 29 touchdown passes. Petty was especially magical in Baylor’s stunning, come-from-behind win over TCU, in which he threw 510 yards and six touchdowns to erase TCU’s 21-point fourth-quarter lead. Petty finished his Baylor career by setting a Cotton Bowl Classic record with a career-high 550 yards passing against Michigan State.

4. Malcom Brown, Texas (15): Brown was the tone-setter for Texas’ stout defense and one of the most dominant interior defensive linemen in the country. With 6.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss, Brown became the first defensive tackle to lead the Longhorns in both categories since Lombardi Award winner Tony Degrate in 1984. As a result, Brown was a consensus first-team All-American and finalist for the Outland (best interior lineman) and Nagurski (top defensive player) awards. Brown, who is married with children, is leaving Texas early for the NFL draft, where Mel Kiper Jr. projects Insiderhim to be a first-round pick.

5. Paul Dawson, TCU (NR): Dawson, who was a former high school receiver, spearheaded the TCU defense with a speculator senior season. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year teamed with Marcus Mallet to give the Horned Frogs the best linebacker tandem in the Big 12 and one of the finest in the country. Dawson led the conference with 136 tackles and tied for third in the league with four interceptions. One of those picks resulted in a game-winning touchdown return in the fourth quarter of TCU’s 37-33 win over Oklahoma. All year, Dawson was the heart and soul of a Horned Frogs unit that led the Big 12 in both total defense and scoring defense.

Big 12 morning links

January, 23, 2015
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And we're off...
  • Kansas quarterback commit Carter Stanley has completely shut down recruiting, reports Tom Keegan of the Lawrence Journal-World. The Jayhawks pledge told the new coaching staff he would shut things down if they stopped recruiting other signal-callers. It's a clear sign the Jayhawks think pretty highly of Stanley if they are willing to stop recruiting other quarterbacks. That's not to say that he is going to step into the starting lineup from Day 1 but new head coach David Beaty and offensive coordinator Rob Likens obviously think they may have a hidden gem in Stanley, who added an offer from Connecticut in recent weeks.
  • Who is going to be Texas' starting quarterback? Tyrone Swoopes? Jerrod Heard? Kyler Murray? Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News takes a stab at predicting the starter, with percentages for each potential option. Finger tabs Heard as the favorite to start and I'd have to agree. Murray set social media on fire with his tweet of a Longhorns jersey earlier this week and UT might be the Texas A&M commitment's best option if he hopes to play immediately. But it seems like Charlie Strong and the Longhorns are playing with fire a little it with long-time commitment Zach Gentry flirting with Michigan while UT flirts with Murray. I guess we will see if Charlie has any game.
  • Former Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel appears to have landed on his feet as the new offensive coordinator at Utah State. OU fired Heupel earlier this month after the Sooners' offense struggled to find balance and explosive plays for the second-straight season. Yet it seems like a good fit for Heupel, as he gets the opportunity to blaze his own trail, and a good hire for Utah State.
  • Baylor coach Art Briles discusses several things including freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham and his coaching hires in this story from John Werner of the Waco Tribune. One interesting tidbit is Baylor holding its spring game at McLane Stadium for the first time. It will be a drastic change for the Bears, which held the spring game on their practice field in the past. Baylor's spring game should be a much better recruiting tool this year with recruits getting a much more game-like feel for the program.
  • Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett is making himself some money in Mobile, Alabama. Lockett has shined during Senior Bowl practices, showing scouts the quickness and shifty moves that made him one of the Big 12's most explosive playmakers for the past four years. He had 28 plays of 30 yards or more during his Wildcats' career and could be a terrific value pick for an NFL team with his route running, return prowess and willingness to play special teams.

Big 12's top recruiting visits 

January, 23, 2015
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We've reached the final few weeks of this recruiting cycle and things are starting to heat up nationwide. From surprise visits to flipped commitments, nothing seems certain with signing day on the horizon. It should be another intriguing weekend in Big 12 recruiting.

Big weekend for Baylor

It's a big recruiting weekend for the Bears with several prospects and commitments set to check out Art Briles' program. Three-star Henry Black (Shreveport, Louisiana/Woodlawn) is a recent Baylor offer who could provide depth to the Bears secondary. Meanwhile, Ringling (Oklahoma) offensive tackle Riley Daniel is a rising prospect who has picked up offers from Florida and Kansas State in recent weeks. Baylor will be hosting the bulk of its current commit list this weekend as one of several schools who elect to bring in the majority of their class on the same weekend. More than anything, it's important for Baylor to keep its commitment list intact as players flip their commitments during the home stretch of the recruiting cycle.

This week, we've been counting down the Big 12's top 25 players of 2014. Friday, we'll unveil our top five players.

But before then, we want to mention the players who narrowly missed the cut.

The unfortunate part of our top 25 ranking is that only 25 players can make the cut. But we considered at least a dozen other standouts who were also worthy of inclusion.

SportsNation

Who has the biggest gripe being left off the Big 12 top 25 player ranking?

  •  
    13%
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    27%
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    46%
  •  
    6%
  •  
    8%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,477)

Standouts like Baylor's KD Cannon, who totaled more than 1,000 receiving yards as a true freshman; Texas' Jordan Hicks, who led a stout Longhorns defense in tackles; West Virginia's Mario Alford, who was a big-play threat on offense and special teams; Kansas State's Curry Sexton, who was third in the league in receptions despite playing alongside Tyler Lockett; Baylor's Shock Linwood, who finished second in the Big 12 in rushing; and Texas' John Harris, who finished fifth in the league in receiving.

But there were five other players who proved most difficult to leave out.

Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard most definitely would have made the top 25 had he not suffered a groin injury that severely limited him late in the season. Still, with more than 900 receiving yards before November, Shepard almost made the cut anyway.

So did his teammate, offensive right tackle Daryl Williams. The first-team All-Big 12 selection helped pave the way for the Sooners' powerful running game. His tackle cohort Tyrus Thompson, however, did crack the top 25 at No. 20.

Like Shepard, Baylor wideout Antwan Goodley would have been a lock had it not been for an early-season injury. After totaling more than 1,300 yards receiving last year, Goodley finished with just more than 800 this season. Still, Goodley re-emerged as one of the most dominant pass-catchers during Big 12 play, placing seventh in the league in receiving during conference games. He had 158 yards receiving and two touchdowns in Baylor's critical 61-58 victory over TCU.

The final two players who nearly made the list didn't play for prolific teams, but they stood out nonetheless. Iowa State tight end E.J. Bibbs tied for seventh in the Big 12 with eight touchdown receptions. Kansas' JaCorey Shepherd, meanwhile, surfaced as one of the top cover corners in the conference for an underrated Jayhawks defense. Shepherd was fourth in the country with 18 pass breakups.

So we put the question to you in our weekly Big 12 poll.

Of Shepard, Williams, Goodley, Bibbs and Shepherd, who has the biggest gripe about being left out of our Big 12 top 25 player ranking?
This week, we’re counting down the Big 12’s top 25 players of 2014.

Remember, criteria for these rankings were based solely on performances from 2014, not a culmination of previous seasons. Pro potential was not a factor. Neither was preseason hype. Number of games played was taken into account.

Without further delay, our countdown goes on to Nos. 6-10:

6. Kevin White, WR, West Virginia (preseason rank: not ranked): The light came on for White as a senior, as the Mountaineer receiver committed himself to taking more of a businesslike approach to his preparation. The result was 109 receptions for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns during a season that made him an Biletnikoff Award finalist. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, White’s long frame and terrific ball skills make him a prime red zone candidate and deep-ball threat. Yet he’s terrific after the catch, as well, leading the Big 12 with 650 yards after catch.

7. Spencer Drango. T, Baylor (9): Drango’s importance to the Baylor offense rose to the forefront after his injury late in the 2013 season. He returned to his dominant, pre-injury form in 2014, earning All-Big 12 and All-American honors while anchoring the offensive line that helped the Bears lead the nation in points per game (48.2), yards per game (581.5) and first downs (30.1). Drango led all BU offensive linemen with an 88.8 coaches grade.

8. Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma (NR): The hard-running true freshman burst upon the scene with a 242-yard, four-touchdown performance in an early road win at West Virginia. Yet few remember that performance, thanks to his FBS-record 427 rushing yards against Kansas in November. Perine is a handful for defenders, finishing with 263 carries for 1,713 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and 21 touchdowns. His 636 yards after contact and 1,148 yards between the tackles led the Big 12.

9. Ben Heeney, LB, Kansas (16): Few players can match the productivity of Captain Heeney in 2014. The Jayhawks senior left his best for last, leading the Big 12 with 10.58 tackles per game and 88 solo tackles. Heeney could make plays from sideline to sideline and finished his final season with double-digit tackles in seven games, including a 21-tackle game against Texas Tech. KU didn’t have the team success he was striving for, but Heeney did everything he could for the Jayhawks.

10. Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor (NR): The strongest man in the Big 12 is also one of the most disruptive. While teammate Shawn Oakman got most of the attention, Billings was anchoring the middle of a Bears defense that allowed 3.15 yards per carry, ranking seventh among FBS teams. The sophomore had a breakout season, finishing with 37 tackles including 11.5 tackles for loss, nine hurries, two sacks and one forced fumble. Billings is a critical building block for Art Briles' team in 2015.

Big 12 morning links

January, 22, 2015
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Marcin, it was nice knowing ya.
  • Well, Baylor coach Art Briles made national news again Wednesday. During an interview with a group of reporters, Briles noted "a source" told him that his Bears fell short of the fourth and final playoff spot by an 8-to-4 vote. "We were close this year," Briles said. "We were an 8-to-4 vote getting in from the No. 4 spot. Whether that's public or not, I don't know, but it is now. Unless I'm getting bad information, and I won't give you my source." Briles might have been handed some bad info, at least according to College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, who said an "8-4 vote would not be possible under the committee's protocol," since teams are only examined in groups no smaller than three. Hancock added that all votes are taken confidentially via secret ballot, as well.
  • This is a cool idea: Kansas State is considering playing its spring game off-campus at Kansas City’s Sporting Park, according to the Kansas City Star's Kellis Robinett. The soccer venue of Sporting Kansas City would host the spring game instead of Bill Snyder Family Stadium with construction of the new Vanier Football Complex in the north end zone well underway. I'm all for schools holding spring practices or scrimmages off campus. Texas Tech (in Midland) and West Virginia (in Charleston and Wheeling) have done this in recent years.
  • Could the Longhorns be on the verge of a recruiting coup, at the expense of their old instate rival no less? Possibly. Kyler Murray, the nation’s No. 13 overall player and top dual-threat quarterback, and ESPN 300 receiver DaMarkus Lodge took an impromptu unofficial visit to Texas on Wednesday, causing a stir among recruiting circles. Murray has been the gem of the Texas A&M commitment class since May 28. Lodge was previously pledged to the Aggies as well before re-opening up his recruitment, though he's still believed to be considering A&M. If the Longhorns landed either or both, what a message it would send to College Station.
  • To Texas Tech fans worried that commit D’Vonta Hinton might waver, have no fear. The three-star inside linebacker from Texas City, Texas, got a special haircut to reaffirm his pledge to the Double T. The Dallas Morning News has more on how the Red Raiders' recruiting class is going here.
  • The Dallas Morning News' Ryan Gerbosi also examined how TCU's recruiting has been going, which includes pursuit of five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack. With longtime stalwart Chucky Hunter graduating, the Horned Frogs have an open spot in their rotation along the defensive line. Either way, Gerbosi writes, with only a couple spots left TCU is putting the finishing touches on a solid class coming off its 12-1 season.
This week, we’re counting down the Big 12’s top 25 players of 2014.

Remember, criteria for these rankings were based solely on performances from 2014, not a culmination of previous seasons. Pro potential was not a factor. Neither was preseason hype. Number of games played was taken into account.

Without further delay, our countdown goes on to Nos. 11-15:

11. Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor (preseason rank: 7): Oakman inspired countless memes with his intimidating physique. He also produced on the field, racking up 11 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles. Unfortunately for opposing Big 12 offenses, Oakman will be back at Baylor in 2015 after he spurned the NFL draft.

12. B.J. Finney, C, Kansas State (13): Finney capped his fabulous K-State career by earning first-team All-Big 12 honors for a third consecutive season. The former walk-on who started a K-State-record 52 straight games was also a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which is given to the nation’s top center. Finney showcased his value to the Wildcats in the Valero Alamo Bowl, when he swung from center to right tackle in the second half and stabilized K-State’s edge protection against UCLA’s barrage of pass-rushers.

13. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State (NR): Ogbah busted out with two sacks in the opener against Florida State and never slowed down. Ogbah, just a sophomore, tied Oakman for second in the Big 12 with 11 sacks. He also had 17 tackles for loss for a young Cowboys defense that could be salty in 2015 with seven returning starters.

14. Jake Waters, QB, Kansas State (24): Waters’ steady hand helped keep K-State in the Big 12 title hunt up until the final week of the season. Despite playing through an injury to his throwing shoulder during the second half of the season, Waters passed for more than 3,500 yards and completed 66 percent of his attempts. He also didn’t commit a single turnover through K-State’s first five Big 12 games. Waters was a major threat with his wheels, too, finishing second only to TCU’s Trevone Boykin among Big 12 quarterbacks with 484 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. The Wildcats will have their work cut out replacing Waters’ leadership and efficiency next season.

15. Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor (NR): While Antwan Goodley battled through a quadriceps injury for a good chunk of the season, Coleman emerged as Baylor’s No. 1 receiver. Coleman finished second in the Big 12 with 112 receiving yards per game, and tied for the league lead with 11 touchdown receptions despite sitting out the first three games. Coleman was especially brilliant in Baylor’s 48-14 victory at Oklahoma, as he torched the Sooners for 15 receptions and 224 yards. With Kevin White and Tyler Lockett graduating, Coleman could enter 2015 as the Big 12’s top wideout.

Coming Thursday: Nos. 6-10

Big 12 morning links

January, 21, 2015
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Who is he, Tom Haverford?
  • Ever wonder which teams spend in waves on the recruiting trail and which teams take a more frugal approach? Bleacher Report has an interesting look at the recruiting expenses for men's teams at FBS schools. The story reveals that no Big 12 is among the top 10 spenders and Oklahoma State gets the most bang for its buck. It isn't a major surprise that the Cowboys are able to combine wise spending with landing well-regarded recruiting classes. With the facilities at OSU, if they can get a recruit on campus, that is half the battle.
  • Kansas added another Texan to its commitment list with a pledge from cornerback Shola Ayinde of Richmond, Texas. The Jayhawks were already starting to stick their foot into the state of Texas before David Beaty was named head coach and it continued with Ayinde's decision. KU's class has a strong Texas slant with 15 of its 23 current commits from Texas.
  • Tommy Hicks of Al.com took a Senior Bowl player poll asking 20 players if they would have included TCU in the College Football Playoff. The players seemed just as split as the general public with 11 saying the committee got it right and nine saying TCU should have been included. It's good to know college football players are just as uncertain as the rest of us. Although I should note they were kind of busy on Saturdays this fall so it would have been hard for them to see all the teams in action as much as the rest of us. It's an interesting poll nonetheless.
  • It's never too early for 2015 predictions and Athlon comes through with its ranking of the Big 12 from top to bottom. They had a couple of teams a little low but West Virginia at No. 7 strikes me as particularly low. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Mountaineers rise towards the top of the standings in 2015 and even possibly force their way into the Big 12 title race. They were on that road this year and played TCU and Baylor as well as anyone in the conference. TCU and Baylor are the clear favorites but WVU could surprise.
  • Baylor's Bryce Petty is one of the players with the most to gain Insider at the Senior Bowl, writes ESPN Insider's Todd McShay. Petty could play his way into the conversation as a first-round pick with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl. I was asked about Petty's pro prospects in Tuesday's mailbag and I think he will have a solid NFL career. There are a lot of things to like about Petty but, most importantly, he's a winner. It's a big week for several former Big 12 stars with Kansas State's Tyler Lockett and TCU's Kevin White already creating some buzz early in the week. It should be fun to keep track of these guys after watching them excel in the Big 12 the past few weeks.

Big 12 Tuesday mailbag

January, 20, 2015
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Questions from Austin, Texas, dominate Tuesday's mailbag (come on Big 12, are you really going to let Longhorn nation run this thing?) as inquires about replacing Malcom Brown and finding a quarterback remain hot topics. As always, thanks for your questions. To submit questions for next week's mailbag, click here.

Lillian Sims in Austin, Texas, writes: With Malcom Brown entering the NFL Draft early, and huge talent on the defense graduating, who do you think will make a big difference on defense next year for the Longhorns?

Brandon Chatmon: As crazy as it sounds I think Hassan Ridgeway (six sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss in 2014) can step right into the void left by Brown. Longhorns fans should be more concerned about who steps into Ridgeway’s complementary role in 2015. There are good options like Poona Ford and Paul Boyette Jr. who could fit the bill in the defensive interior. As far as general playmakers for Charlie Strong’s defense, safety Jason Hall stands out as someone who could become a star on the Longhorns' defense in 2015.


Scott in Lafayette writes: I will immediately admit that I am biased; but is Marcus Mariota really that much better than Bryce Petty? Do you think Petty warrants a first round pick or is Mariota overrated? Or is the talent gap really that much between the two?

BC: Let me preface this by saying I’m not an NFL draft expert but I don’t think Mariota is overrated at all. I also don’t think Bryce Petty is that far behind. Petty may not end up being a first-round pick but I think he will have a successful NFL career and become a starter at the next level. His accuracy and leadership should help him have success on Sundays, in a league in need of quality quarterbacks. He may not be a first-round pick and, while that hurts his pocketbook, I don’t think it will keep him from developing into a NFL quarterback.


Tommy in Austin, Texas, writes: I know there is a lot of talk about the Big 12 having "One True Champion" and Baylor fans bring up the head-to-head win and TCU fans bring up the better non-conference schedule and not losing to West Virginia. So, if the point is to get our Big 12 champion into the playoff then don't we want that team held in the highest regard by the committee? So why not use the last ranking by the committee as the tie breaker if 2-3 teams end with the same conference record?

BC: If three teams end up tied, that is the tiebreaker. With two teams it should be the head-to-head winner. Co-champions should be a thing of the past. I understand why the Big 12 commish played his hand like he did in December, and it could have turned out to be a genius move, but the head-to-head winner should always win a tiebreaker in that scenario. I’m uncertain about the committee doing it all based off the drastic difference in the second-to-last poll and the final poll this time around. I’m not sure a clear and defined champion between Baylor and TCU would have changed the final result this year. The message Big 12 teams received is don’t leave your destiny in the hands of others (Florida State didn't, got rewarded, then got run off the field in the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual).


Raymond in Dallas writes: With all the recent success with Redshirt Freshman QB's, why don't people give Jerrod Heard a chance on the field before talking about UT still not having an elite QB?

BC: I think the short answer is this: Tyrone Swoopes started 11 games with Heard on campus. I don’t really agree with that line of thinking but it explains why some people might be quick to write off Heard. I’ve always said I felt like Heard was the answer and nothing has made me stray from that thinking. I’m willing to sit back and see what he brings to the table but I think we all know Texas won’t reach new levels under Strong without finding an answer at quarterback.


Tom in Austin, Texas, writes: I think Ohio State's victory with a third-string QB was an excellent case study in how useful a good offensive line can be (without minimizing Cardale Jones' accomplishments, of course). How long before Joe Wickline can fix Texas's O-line?

BC: It needs to happen this year and I think it can happen this year. Part of the problem along the UT offensive line in 2014 was limited numbers and lack of competition. The Longhorns currently have six offensive linemen on the commit list, meaning Wickline is starting to get his guys in his meeting room. The more that happens, the more successful that unit will be under Wickline. I’d be surprised if it's not a much improved group in 2015.


Mark in Georgetown, Texas writes: Has Bob Stoops won his last Big 12 title?

BC: No. It is time to stop questioning Bob Stoops and start recognizing that the Big 12 is much improved. Many have questioned Stoops' desire with OU’s recent stumbles but I think he sent a message with his decision to part ways with former offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, which could not have been an easy one. You can question certain ways Stoops runs the program and how he goes about trying to win a Big 12 title and get in the national title conversation but I don’t think you can question Stoops' will to win.

Roundtable: Big 12 recruiting

January, 20, 2015
Jan 20
1:30
PM ET

With signing day just a couple weeks away, we delve into the recruiting storylines around the league in this week's Big 12 roundtable:

Which class has impressed you the most?


Chatmon: It’s hard not to like what Charlie Strong is doing with his first full class at Texas. It’s packed with defensive talent including three ESPN 300 linebackers in Malik Jefferson, Anthony Wheeler and Cameron Townsend. Add five offensive linemen to help address UT’s issues up front and it looks like the Longhorns are on their way to a strong recruiting haul. The cherry on top would be ESPN 300 quarterback Zach Gentry becoming the future behind center.

Olson: Texas has the best class of the Big 12. But I'm also really impressed by what Baylor has done on offense and what Oklahoma is doing on defense. The Bears are loading up again, and I really like Jarrett Stidham, Ja'Mycal Hasty, Devontre Stricklin and Blake Lynch. The Sooners still need linebackers but are stacked everywhere else on D with this group. The group of defensive backs they've landed -- P.J. Mbanasor, Will Sunderland Jr., William Johnson, Kahlil Haughton and Antoine Stephens -- promises to be killer.

Trotter: Texas obviously has the most impressive class, but you have to also be impressed with what Oklahoma has done, despite the mediocre season and the coaching changes. Jerry Montgomery has been an absolute terror on the trail, loading up the Sooners with a trio of ESPN 300 prospects along the defensive line.


Who really needs a strong finish?

Chatmon: Oklahoma State needs some good things to happen in the home stretch of this recruiting cycle. Ronald Jones' decommitment was a crippling blow as he looked like the ideal fit with the chance to become a dynamic quarterback-running back-receiver trio with Mason Rudolph and James Washington. Instead Jones is USC-bound and the Cowboys are searching for answers at the position. OSU’s offense was at its peak when it had NFL running backs carrying the ball, so it’s critical the Cowboys land a running back such as Chris Warren, Jordan Stevenson or juco RB Chris Carson.

Olson: Texas is in a fascinating spot here with two weeks left. The Longhorns have eight spots left to fill in their class and are recruiting a ton of big-name players for those scholarships. Defensive backs Holton Hill and Kris Boyd and running backs Chris Warren III and Nick Brossette are right at the top of that list. All four could end up in Austin. All four really could go elsewhere. Texas still needs another quarterback, too, and Charlie Strong's staff must fight hard to make sure no other commits flip to other schools.

Trotter: I'm with Brandon, Oklahoma State has to land a running back here in the final two weeks. If not, the Cowboys are going to be stuck with Rennie Childs and not much else in the backfield. With Rudolph settling in at quarterback, the Cowboys have no other weaknesses offensively. But to keep the balance Oklahoma State wants to play with, the Pokes have to go out and land a back, whether it's Warren, Carson or somebody else.

Who will be the instant impact freshman recruit in this class?

Chatmon: Jefferson has the athleticism and versatility to slide right into a role in Texas defense. He’s a playmaker who should be ready to play as a true freshman on special teams and on defense. As the No. 31 player in the ESPN300, Jefferson has all the tools to help the Longhorns at a linebacker spot that is losing 222 combined tackles from Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond this offseason.

Olson: How wild would it be if five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack does end up signing with TCU? The former longtime Texas A&M commit is still strongly considering the Aggies, but Gary Patterson and his coaches have done a deft job of staying in this race throughout. At the Under Armour All-America Game, Mack proved he's ready to wreck college offensive lines right away. Securing the nation's No. 6 recruit would be a heck of a cherry on top of the Frogs' dream season.

Trotter: Texas Tech desperately needs help on the defensive line, and ESPN 300 DT Breiden Fehoko has the talent to bring help right away. But keep an eye on QB Jarrett Stidham. Baylor has an heir apparent to Bryce Petty in Seth Russell, who has been a solid backup the last two seasons. But Stidham has the ability to make a move on the job should Russell struggle this spring or during the season.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

January, 20, 2015
Jan 20
10:00
AM ET
Oklahoma landed much-needed secondary help, Oklahoma State hosted a ESPN300 running back and Texas put its hat in the ring for a fast-rising Californian.

These, and more, in this week's Big 12 recruiting weekend recap:

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Big 12 recruiting scorecard

January, 19, 2015
Jan 19
1:00
PM ET
These final few weeks of this recruiting cycle should be fun to watch. Here's the latest on each Big 12 team's recruiting efforts:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 26th
The latest: The Bears hit the ground running out of the dead period with three commitments in the past week. A trio of linebackers decided to play college football at McLane Stadium with Waco (Texas) Midway's Lenoy Jones Jr., Richmond (Texas) Foster's Eric Ogor and Paris (Texas) High's Jordan Williams picking the Bears. Jones is a three-star prospect who had an offer from Houston, Williams is a unranked prospect with an offer from Sam Houston State and Ogor is a unranked prospect with offers from Lamar, Louisiana-Lafayette and McNeese State.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: The Cyclones had a solid start to the home stretch of this recruiting cycle with commitments from Jenks (Oklahoma) receiver Carson Epps, Citra (Florida) North Marion linebacker De'Amontae Jackson and Lithonia Georgia Military College safety Jarnor Jones during the past week. Jackson, a three-star prospect, is the top-rated of the trio and stands as the Cyclones' highest-ranked high school recruit on the pledge list.

KANSAS
Total commits: 21
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Did David Beaty and Rob Likens land Kansas' quarterback of the future this week? The Jayhawks grabbed a pledge from Vero Beach (Florida) quarterback Carter Stanley, who has experience running an uptempo spread offense. He passed for over 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns as a high school senior.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Bill Snyder's program could look back upon this weekend as a key stretch of this recruiting cycle after Metairie (Louisiana) Archbishop Rummel defensive tackle Tyrell Jacobs visited Manhattan, Kansas. The three-star prospect, who reports a lengthy offer list that includes Oklahoma, Arizona State and Tennessee, has plans to visit Missouri and Illinois. He would be a terrific anchor for K-State's defense if Snyder's team can secure his signature.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 19
ESPN 300 commits: 8
ESPN JC50 commits: 3
Class rank: 18th
The latest: The Sooners hosted several prospects over the weekend, including Dallas Kimball cornerback Antoine Stephens, who decided to commit to OU during his visit. The three-star prospect picked the Sooners over reported offers from Texas Tech, Baylor, Louisville and others. Stephens has the chance to bring size (6-foot-1, 187 pounds) and versatility to OU's secondary.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 2
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 34th
The latest: It was a key weekend for Oklahoma State with several prospects including a pair of potential ball carries in Rockwall (Texas) running back Chris Warren III and Dallas South Oak Cliff running back Jordan Stevenson visiting Mike Gundy's program. The running back position is a key need for the Cowboys, who lose two-year starter Desmond Roland this offseason.

TCU
Total commits: 22
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 36th
The latest: The Horned Frogs are trying to flip Miami commitment Terrell Chatman, who made an official visit to TCU over the weekend. The Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Central receiver is the No. 254 player in the ESPN300 and would bring another tall, lanky option alongside Josh Doctson in TCU's offense at 6-3, 176 pounds if the Horned Frogs are able to land him.

TEXAS
Total commits: 26
ESPN 300 commits: 11
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: Eighth
The latest: LSU commitment Nick Brossette took an official visit to Austin, Texas, and Charlie Strong's program left an impression with the four-star prospect as the Baton Rouge (Louisiana) University running back tweeted the visit "gave him a lot to think about." He is the No. 121 player in the ESPN300.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 31st
The latest: It was the first of several key weekends for Kliff Kingsbury's program as several prospects including offensive linemen Semisi Uluave and Riley Daniel visited Lubbock, Texas. Daniel is an unranked tackle from Ringling, Oklahoma, while Uluave is a three-star guard from Honolulu, Hawaii.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 24
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 26th
The latest: With the bulk of its 2015 class secured, West Virginia has an eye on the future, becoming the first school to offer Class of 2017 linebacker David Adams. The Pittsburgh Central Catholic prospect averaged 6.6 tackles per game during his sophomore season.

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