Big 12: Kansas Jayhawks
I took Twitter questions for this mailbag. But you can always submit a mailbag entry the traditional way by clicking here.
On to the 'bag:
Chris in Edmond, Oklahoma, writes: I'm really surprised to that Tyreek Hill was the only player on the Top 25 ranking from Oklahoma State. Desmond Roland only started for half of last season and still led the league in TDs. I'm also surprised not to see James Castleman or Kevin Peterson on this list. Other candidates with very strong possibilities: Jhajuan Seales, Ryan Simmons and Jimmy Bean. I expect Oklahoma State to have a year similar to 2010 and the end of year awards/player rankings to reflect the talent on this roster.
Jake Trotter: Who knows, Chris, you might be right. I remember many people picked that 2010 team to finish sixth in the Big 12 South. Instead, they won 11 games. All the guys you mentioned are good players. But there are a lot of good players in the league. Hill, to me, is the most likely to be great, which is why he cracked the list. There’s a reason why Mike Gundy is saying he wants to get Hill the ball 20 times, at the least, per game. It would not surprise me at all if Peterson or Seales had All-Big 12 caliber seasons. But I think Hill could be special.
Trotter: Yeah, a system quarterback who’s also going to be a first-round pick next spring.
Trotter: With nine starters back defensively and some viable options (finally) at wide receiver, I think Kansas will be improved. But I’m not ready to call the Jayhawks a sleeper. After all, they have only one victory in their last 30 Big 12 games.
We also took Twitter questions for today’s mailbag…
Trotter: There are a few candidates for this, including the Big 12 co-favorites. Oklahoma has to go to Iowa State the week before hosting Baylor. The Sooners could get caught looking ahead. Baylor, meanwhile, has to go to Ames the week before traveling to Texas. The Bears could get caught looking ahead, too. I also think Texas Tech could be ripe Nov. 15. The Red Raiders' November woes have been well-documented. But Tech will be coming off back-to-back home games against Texas and Oklahoma. They'll also have the tilt with Baylor at Cowboys Stadium the following week. Will they have anything left in the emotional well for the Cyclones? Iowa State is going to upset someone in Ames this year. I'm just not sure who.
@Jake_Trotter what team has best chance to be the Paul Rhoads upset special this year— Ted Flint (@TedFlintKansas) August 1, 2014
Trotter: Right now, there is no backup plan. Blake Bell is at tight end, Baker Mayfield is in ineligible and the young quarterbacks don't look ready yet. If Knight struggles, so will the Sooners. But I'd be more worried about Knight getting nicked up then him not playing well.
@Jake_Trotter Jake~ Looks like OU is in everyone's Top 5. But what's the backup plan if Trevor Knight goes back to being...Trevor Knight?— Logan Scott Culp (@logansc88) August 1, 2014
Trotter: Definitely the Mountaineers. They have the most talent of the three. The schedule is West Virginia's biggest problem. The Mountaineers could be better and still only go 5-7. That's how tough this schedule is. But if they can survive the September portion of the schedule, this is a team that could get back to bowl eligibility.
@Jake_Trotter Who has most potential to make a run at the top half this year? ISU, KU or WVU?— Carter J (@carterj1982) August 1, 2014
Trotter: The ceiling is a Big 12 title. Even with last week's player purge, Texas has no real weaknesses elsewhere. If David Ash is healthy and consistently plays like one of the three best quarterbacks in the league, then the Longhorns could contend with Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State for the Big 12 crown. But, as the last couple of years have shown, that is one big if.
@Jake_Trotter What is the ceiling for UT if David Ash stays healthy and productive?— Stephen Davis (@Beltrefan) August 1, 2014
Trotter: The defensive line is going to be really good. Shawn Oakman is a budding superstar and Andrew Billings is right behind him. Bryce Hager is also one of the best linebackers in the league. The Bears feel good about their cornerbacks and safeties, but those guys haven't played a lot yet. They also don't have a thumper like Ahmad Dixon. But if the D-line proves to be as good as Art Briles thinks it will be, there might not be as much fall-off defensively as everyone is expecting. We'll see.
@Jake_Trotter What can we expect from Baylor's defense this year?— Kale Norman (@kale_norman13) August 1, 2014
Trotter: The league is deep at wide receiver. Everyone knows about Tyler Lockett and Antwan Goodley. But keep an eye on the likes Oklahoma State's Jhajuan Seales, Baylor's Corey Coleman and Texas Tech's Reginald Davis. Those three guys have the potential to break out with big seasons.
@Jake_Trotter what under the radar player is poised to make some noise this year ?— E (@DudeNamed_E) August 1, 2014
Trotter: Don't sleep on incoming freshman Steven Parker.
@Jake_Trotter Byrd or Thomas? For OU. Im thinking Ahmad— Dave Clouse (@DavidClouse3) August 1, 2014
Trotter: Petty, and probably Knight (because of the playoff potential) and Lockett (because he returns kicks, too).
@Jake_Trotter who are the top 3 heisman candidates in the big 12?— Grant Kawata (@GrantKawata) August 1, 2014
"He will bring leadership, a guy that is consistent and someone we can count on," tight end Jimmay Mundine said. "He was their go-to guy [at Miami] and they could count on him to be that. Every time."
The numbers speak for themselves.
During the past three seasons, KU receivers have combined for 229 receptions for 2,759 yards and nine touchdowns. While suiting up for Miami from 2010-12, Harwell had 229 career receptions for 3,166 yards and 23 touchdowns in three seasons. That included 97 receptions for 1,425 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore.
Harwell should bring a level of consistency to the Jayhawks' passing game that Charlie Weis has been searching for since he arrived in Lawrence, Kansas, before the 2012 season.
"He's going to open it up for everybody," Mundine said. "If you put him 1-on-1, he can beat anybody. We need that consistency, leadership and the thought that he will be there for us."
Harwell's playmaking ability could create more space for Mundine, receiver/running back Tony Pierson and quarterback Montell Cozart in KU's new offense. If the Jayhawks' spring game is any indication, offensive coordinator John Reagan will make it a point to put the ball in the hands of the explosive Harwell.
"Anytime you can plug in a No. 1 wide receiver that's already been playing, played three years already as a starter with big production, it puts a whole different composition to your wide receiver position," Weis said. "Adding a valuable senior leader like Nick, with his athleticism, just makes everyone around him play better."
After off-the-field troubles forced Harwell to transfer to KU before the 2013 season, linebacker Ben Heeney got to see first-hand just how talented he was during Harwell's time on the scout team. The Jayhawks' first-team defense had to deal with Harwell every day during his 2013 season on the sideline, so those defenders could have the best understanding of the type of impact Harwell could have on KU's offense.
"Every time he touches the ball, something special happens," Heeney said. "He's got the speed and playmaking ability. He's going to be special for us this year."
- Here are five questions heading into West Virginia's preseason camp.
- Here are more details about the incident involving TCU defensive end Devonte Fields, reported by The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- The investigation into an incident involving Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon could last another week or more, reports Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman. Mixon has been suspended pending the investigation.
- Baylor picked a defensive back commitment for its Class of 2015.
- Kansas can win four games this season says Tom Keegan of KUsports.com, who takes a closer look at the Jayhawks' schedule.
- The Jayhawks' leadership group, a new twist added this summer by strength coach Scott Holsopple, could result in a closer squad this fall.
- Witness intimidation charges against West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood have been dropped. Smallwood is expected to be on the field with the Mountaineers when they open fall camp.
- Thanks to the recent graduation of a player from the 1990s, Oklahoma State's APR penalty has been lifted. The Cowboys will have the full 20 weekly hours of practice time.
- Oklahoma State added future games with Tulsa, reports the Tulsa World's Bill Haisten.
- Oklahoma State is experiencing an all-time five-year win total, according to Kyle Porter of pistolsfiringblog.com.
- The fate of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is in the hands of the district attorney and coach Bob Stoops, writes The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel.
- Norman police released the 911 call in the Mixon investigation.
- A court date has been set for two former Longhorns charged with felony sexual assault.
- Could more Texas players face possible suspension?
- Jonathan Truman is a tried and true veteran anchoring the Kansas State defense, writes the Topeka Capital-Journal's Ken Corbitt.
- The Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan lays odds on who will lead the Jayhawks in rushing.
- Eastern Washington will play at Texas Tech in 2017.
With the Big 12 football season kicking off in a few weeks, college recruits will be focused on setting up official visits and also narrowing their college lists in preparation for a commitment. As important as this time will be for recruits, it’ll be equally important for schools, as they prepare for a season that, with solid performances in home-game environments, can assist in landing some of the best uncommitted prospects around.
Here are some names that the Big 12 schools will be pursuing throughout the fall.
The Las Vegas sportsbook released odds on each team's chance to win the conference earlier this summer and recently released an updated set of odds. The Sooners are now 2/3 to win the conference, followed by Baylor at 11/4.
The biggest surprise on this list might be Oklahoma State. Even though the Cowboys lost the bulk of their 2013 team, Bovada is still bullish on them at 10-1. But the sportsbook is not buying Texas Tech as a darkhorse conference title contender, pegging the Red Raiders at 28/1.
Here's a look at the full list of odds for the conference crown:
Kansas State: 10/1
Oklahoma State: 10/1
Texas Tech: 28/1
West Virginia: 66/1
Iowa State: 100/1
- Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon met with police investigators on Monday, The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey reports. His attorney claims Mixon did nothing wrong regarding assault allegations of a female student from last week.
- Texas Tech added a transfer QB from Iowa to shore up its depth.
- Seafood po’boys, barbecue sandwiches and various deep-fried and bacon-wrapped concoctions are among the concession items that will be available at Baylor's McLane Stadium.
- Athlon released its Big 12 breakout players for 2014.
- Defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin, a former Sooners pledge, committed to Texas, which has been picking up its recruiting momentum in July.
- The Jayhawks are shrugging off negativity, writes KUSports.com's Benton Smith.
- The little brother of West Virginia running backs coach running backs coach JaJuan Seider will be joining him in Morgantown.
- Iowa State picked up a commitment from a Kansas linebacker.
- There are plenty of questions about the Cyclones defensive line, writes the Ames Tribune's Bobby La Gesse.
- The Oklahoman's Kyle Fredrickson did a Q&A with Oklahoma State receivers coach Jason Ray.
This is a ranking of who we think the best 25 players will be over the course of the 2014 season.
Monday, we kicked this series off with the first five names. Today, we continue with Nos. 20-16.
20. Johnathan Gray, RB, Texas: Health is the only concern with Gray. Because when he’s healthy, Gray is a devastating combination of speed and power. There’s a reason the Longhorns have never lost when Gray has gotten 20 carries, which included victories over Oklahoma and Kansas State last year. A torn Achilles ended his 2013 season prematurely. But Gray has been cleared for fall camp, which is a good sign for the Longhorns and a bad one for the rest of the Big 12.
19. Bryce Hager, LB, Baylor: Hager is the Bryce Petty of the Baylor defense, with a pair of second-team All-Big 12 seasons behind him. Hager has recorded 195 tackles over the past two seasons and is one of the most seasoned players in the league. He missed the spring rehabbing from a season-ending groin injury, but should be 100 percent when the Bears begin fall camp. If Baylor avoids a drop off from last year’s breakout defensive campaign, Hager’s steady play will be a major reason why.
18. Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas: Diggs is the most outspoken player in the league, even foreshadowing during Big 12 media days that coach Charlie Strong might have to weed out certain players. Diggs will be a four-year starter and the unequivocal leader of the Texas defense. He should be more comfortable back at cornerback after a stint last season at the nickel. With cornerbacks Jason Verrett, Justin Gilbert and Aaron Colvin all gone, Diggs figures to be the new class of the position in the league.
17. Chucky Hunter, DT, TCU: The Horned Frogs might not have star end Devonte Fields this season. But they should still be stout up front, thanks to the return of Hunter, who is coming off an All-Big 12 season. Fellow tackle Davion Pierson is one of the most underrated players in the league. And the two form arguably the best one-two punch at defensive tackle in the league.
16. Ben Heeney, LB, Kansas: Don’t blame Heeney for the Jayhawks’ 3-9 record last year. The Big 12’s top returning tackler spearheaded a defense that gave opposing offenses fits at times in 2013, despite getting virtually no assistance from the Kansas offense. With nine starters back, the Jayhawks could create even more problems for the offenses of the Big 12. Especially with Heeney manning the middle.
Coming Wednesday: Nos. 15-11
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: ESPN300 linebacker Malik Jefferson of Mesquite, Texas/Poteet visited Baylor over the weekend. The No. 39 player in the ESPN300 has an offer list that includes the nation’s elite and fellow Big 12 squads Oklahoma and Texas.
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones landed arguably the top recruit on their current commit list when Sachse (Texas) running back Devine Ozigbo picked Iowa State. At 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, the three-star prospect is in line to bring a big, physical presence to the Cyclones’ running back corps. His pledge wasn’t the only positive news for Cyclone nation as Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Washington tackle Julian Good-Jones also picked ISU last week. Another three-star prospect, Good-Jones picked ISU over offers from Kansas State and Oregon State.
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks lost one of their top signees from the Class of 2013 when running back Traevohn Wrench failed to qualify and enrolled in Butler (Kansas) Junior College. Wrench was a four-star signee who had the talent to battle for carries in the race to replace James Sims this fall.
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: K-State held a camp over the weekend with 2016 quarterback Kasey Ford reportedly in attendance. The Bentonville (Arkansas) signal caller is largely considered a strong Arkansas lean but his attendance at Wildcats camp is a sign he’s willing to give Bill Snyder’s program an opportunity to earn his signature.
Total commits: 9
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery is a happy man. The Sooners landed a pair of defensive line commitments last week with Metairie (Louisiana) Archbishop Rummel defensive tackle Tyrell Jacobs and Burleson (Texas) defensive end Kenneth Mann picking OU. Mann picked the Sooners over Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa, California and others. Jacobs selected OU over K-State, Arizona State, Tennessee and others.
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: ESPN300 quarterback John Kolar of Norman (Oklahoma) North, a Cowboys commitment, told The Oklahoman he is taking summer classes and is considering enrolling early at OSU. Kolar is the No. 82 player in the ESPN300. If he chooses to enroll early he would be the third straight scholarship quarterback recruit to do so, following in the footsteps of Wes Lunt and Mason Rudolph.
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU’s coaching staff will have to wait a while to see the fruits of its labor but Class of 2016 quarterback Brennen Wooten could prove worth the wait after he decided to be a part of Gary Patterson’s program last week. The Marble Falls (Texas) signal caller is the No. 109 player in the ESPNJR300 and a four-star prospect. It’s pretty clear the Horned Frogs’ new offense is already paying dividends on the recruiting trail.
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 7
The latest: While Charlie Strong was taking a hacksaw to his current roster, he was adding hope for the future. UT landed a pair of ESPN300 members with the commitments of Burton (Texas) athlete Louis Brown and Tallahassee (Florida) Lincoln receiver John Burt last week. Brown is the No. 251 player in the ESPN300 and Burt is the No. 236 player in the ESPN300.
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: Tech commit and Class of 2016 prospect Collin Wilder took an unofficial to Lubbock, Texas, this week. The Katy (Texas) defensive back is the No. 212 player in the ESPNJr300. Although he’s been committed to Kliff Kingsbury’s program since June, Wilder continues to be pursued by several programs so keeping him on Tech’s commit list will be just as important as landing him in the first place.
Total commits: 15
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers added to their commit list with the pledge of Belle Glade (Florida) Glades Central guard Jah'Shaun Seider. The three-star prospect picked WVU over offers from LSU, Ole Miss and others. He is the younger brother of WVU running backs coach JaJuan Seider.
- The Texas regents are behind Charlie Strong's roster shakeup, writes the Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls and Brian Davis.
- The Longhorns picked up a big-time out-of-state commitment.
- The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel destroys the "wrong place at the wrong time" myth.
- Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight loves the Sooners' new uniforms.
- A future Sooners kicker is smack-talking Texas.
- Florida State QB Jameis Winston provides a massive test for an Oklahoma State defense in transition, writes The Oklahoman's John Helsley.
- The Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan offers 10 reasons why fans should watch the Jayhawks this season.
- Kansas lost one of its top signees to junior college.
- Catherine Conti is looking forward to being the first female to officiate a Big 12 football game.
- Clint Trickett has taken the uncertainty away from West Virginia's QB position.
- The Waco Tribune-Herald's Brice Cherry reveals items not known about Baylor's new McLane Stadium.
- The captaincy is significant for Kansas State's seniors.
- Big 12 facilities are always on the grow, writes the Kansas City Star's Kellis Robinett.
- Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino is impressing players while improving his image.
- The Cyclones are seeking more from their quarterbacks, according to the Ames Tribune's Bobby La Gesse.
- Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury is using pre-dawn workouts to keep his players sharp, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Don Williams.
More Big 12 predictions for 2014.
at Baylor 41, Kansas State 24: With the final weekend mirroring 2013, the Bears know this game could gain added importance if the Sooners slip up in Bedlam. Taking the field with that mindset, Baylor takes a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter and never really looks back. Bryce Petty is efficient and effective, and Baylor's defense uses the experience gained in the first 11 games to help slow Bill Snyder’s Wildcats in a comfortable win to end Year 1 at McLane Stadium.
at Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 35: Another Bedlam, another close game, another late-game win for the Sooners. This time it’s true freshman running back Joe Mixon who turns a swing pass into a late fourth-quarter touchdown, giving the Sooners a late lead and, for the second straight Bedlam game, Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker seals the win with a big play on the Cowboys’ final drive. The Sooners win the Big 12, and their campaign to be included in the College Football Playoff begins immediately with Bob Stoops saying the Sooners “absolutely” deserve to be one of the four teams included during his postgame comments.
at TCU 42, Iowa State 20: The Horned Frogs end a solid eight-win season in style with a blowout win against the Cyclones. TCU’s offense gives Horned Frogs fans plenty of hope with a six-touchdown performance to end the season, including a touchdown pass and touchdown reception from “Mr. Versatility” Trevone Boykin.
Final Big 12 standings
1. Oklahoma -- 11-1, 8-1
2. Baylor -- 10-2, 7-2
3. Kansas State -- 9-3, 7-2
4. Texas -- 8-4, 6-3
5. TCU -- 8-4, 5-4
6. Texas Tech -- 7-5, 4-5
7. West Virginia -- 5-7, 4-5
8. Oklahoma State -- 5-7, 3-6
9. Kansas -- 3-9, 1-8
10. Iowa State -- 2-10, 0-9
- "People are still doubting me." Sounds like Big 12 quarterbacks better be on the lookout for Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller, again, this fall.
- The Charleston Gazette continues its review of West Virginia opponents with TCU.
- A pair of late-season losses still remain in the forefront of Mike Yurcich's mind. The Oklahoma State offensive coordinator is entering his second season as the Cowboys' play-caller.
- Kansas' depth at linebacker/defensive end took a hit on Thursday.
- An Oklahoma fan pounced on a spelling mistake in Texas' spring guide.
- Former OSU receiver Justin Blackmon had another brush with the law.
- TCU may have landed its quarterback of the future.
More Big 12 predictions for 2014.
Kansas State 38, at West Virginia 35: K-State’s ability to win close games rises to the forefront as the Wildcats grab a key road win in Morgantown, West Virginia. The Mountaineers lead for the majority of the second half but All-Big 12 receiver Tyler Lockett comes through when K-State needs him with a late touchdown.
at Baylor 48, Oklahoma State 28: The Bears jump on the Cowboys early, taking a three touchdown lead after one quarter of play. OSU’s big-play threats Tyreek Hill and Jhajuan Seales spark a Cowboy rally with back-to-back second quarter scores but BU quarterback Bryce Petty isn’t about to let the Pokes ruin the party, passing for two scores in the third quarter and finishing with five touchdowns overall in the win. Revenge is sweet for Art Briles’ squad.
at Oklahoma 49, Kansas 10: The Sooners are dominant at home against the Jayhawks scoring on four of their first five drives and taking a comfortable lead at halftime. It’s a rough but important experience for KU quarterback Montell Cozart who struggles against OU’s athletic defense but starts to find a rhythm toward the end of the game. Meanwhile, OU’s eyes turn to Bedlam and securing another Big 12 title.
Texas Tech 38, at Iowa State 34: The Cyclones appear ready to secure yet another upset win in Ames until Davis Webb suddenly gets on fire in the final 15 minutes with a pair of long touchdown passes and a quarterback sneak for another score in the final two minutes to help the Red Raiders escape with a win.
Current Big 12 standings
1. Oklahoma -- 10-1, 7-1
2. Kansas State -- 8-2, 6-1
3. Baylor -- 8-2, 5-2
4. Texas -- 7-4, 5-3
5. TCU -- 7-3, 4-3
6. Texas Tech -- 7-4, 4-4
7. Oklahoma State -- 5-6, 3-5
8. West Virginia -- 4-7, 3-5
9. Kansas -- 3-8, 1-7
10. Iowa State -- 2-8, 0-7
The Big 12 media days on Monday and Tuesday gave coaches a chance to share their opinions on their teams, their competitors and the future of college football. It also allowed each coach to talk about the positives and negatives of recruiting.
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But the league’s players give the slight edge to Baylor as the team to beat in the Big 12 this season.
This week, the Big 12 blog team anonymously polled 30 of the 39 players that attended Big 12 media days.
Oklahoma received 47 of 56 first-place media votes in the Big 12’s preseason poll, which was released last week. But 43 percent of the players polled said the defending Big 12 champion Bears were actually the team to beat in the league, narrowly topping the Sooners.
The players were asked several other questions about the league, including its most impressive coach, its most obnoxious team, and its most underrated player.
The results of the poll:
(Note: players were not allowed to answer their own school or any teammate in any of the questions)
Who is the team to beat this year in the Big 12?
Kansas State: 6%
Oklahoma State: 6%
Who is the league’s most impressive coach?
Kliff Kingsbury: 24%
Bill Snyder: 21%
Art Briles: 17%
Bob Stoops: 14%
If you could draft an opposing Big 12 player and put him on your team, who would it be?
Baylor QB Bryce Petty: 27%
Baylor WR Antwan Goodley: 15%
Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett: 12%
Kansas State QB Jake Waters: 12%
Who is the league’s most underrated player?
TCU DT Davion Pierson: 10%
Iowa State TE E.J. Bibbs: 10%
Other answers: Kansas State DE Ryan Mueller, Texas Tech LB Sam Eguavoen, Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma State LB Ryan Simmons, Baylor DE Shawn Oakman, Kansas State C BJ Finney, TCU CB Kevin White, Baylor RB Devin Chafin, Baylor RB Johnny Jefferson, Kansas State CB Randall Evans, Oklahoma State DT James Castleman
Who is the team you’re most fired up to play?
Kansas State: 21%
Who is the most obnoxious team in the league?
Texas Tech: 14%
What program has the best pregame intro?
Oklahoma State: 19%
Who do you predict will make the inaugural playoff?
(Note: Players were allowed to include Big 12 teams here)
Florida State: 20%
Other top vote-getters: Auburn, Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Stanford