Big 12: Kansas Jayhawks

With the 2014 regular season over, we’ve come up with our final Big 12 true freshman power rankings.

This list includes three ESPN freshman All-Americans, and a collection of other players who appear to be budding stars in the league.

So, without further ado, the final top 10 true freshmen of 2104:

1. Samaje Perine, running back, Oklahoma: Perine finishes atop the Big 12 true freshman power rankings as the clear No. 1. The 243-pound, All-Big 12 performer led the conference with 1,579 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. He also averaged 6.6 yards per carry. He also set an FBS single-game record with 427 rushing yards against Kansas. Perine will be the focal point of the Oklahoma offense in 2015, and should open the season on everyone’s list of possible Heisman contenders.

2. KD Cannon, wide receiver, Baylor: Though his production dipped over the final month of the season, Cannon still finished with 50 receptions, 833 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He also had a monster game with six catches and 124 yards receiving in Baylor’s big win over TCU. The Bears will lose Antwan Goodley to graduation, but with Cannon and Corey Coleman leading the way, Baylor will still have a dynamic collection of receivers in 2015.

3. Dravon Henry, safety, West Virginia: Henry won a starting job in the West Virginia secondary in the preseason, and was an integral defender for the Mountaineers all season. His ability to cover the pass allowed hard-hitting strong safety Karl Joseph to help more against the run. And with the Henry-Joseph safety combo leading the way, the Mountaineers finished with the second-best pass defense in the Big 12. Assuming Joseph returns for his senior year, the Mountaineers could boast one of the top safety duos in the country next season.

4 (tie). Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Texas Tech and Mason Rudolph, quarterback, Oklahoma State: After standing on the sidelines most of the season, Mahomes and Rudolph stole the show in the Big 12 late in the year. Mahomes threw for 598 yards in Tech’s season finale while almost leading the Red Raiders to an upset over Baylor. In his final three games, Mahomes tossed a head-turning 14 touchdown passes to just two interceptions. Rudolph was equally as impressive for Cowboys. After playing well in his first career start at Baylor, Rudolph rallied Oklahoma State to an overtime win over Bedlam rival Oklahoma in Norman while also catapulting the Cowboys to bowl eligibility. Thanks to Mahomes and Rudolph, Tech and Oklahoma State appear to be in great shape at quarterback for 2015 and beyond.

6. Allen Lazard, wide receiver, Iowa State: It wasn’t a good year for the Cyclones, but at least they have a burgeoning All-Big 12-caliber wideout in Lazard, who delivered a series of acrobatic receptions in his first year. Though he never had a 100-yard receiving game, he was a consistent option for quarterback Sam B. Richardson with 45 catches and 593 receiving yards.

7. Jason Hall, safety, Texas: Wondering who will eventually take over for Karl Joseph as the hardest hitter in the Big 12? It might be Hall, who dropped the hammer multiple times in his first season in Austin. He also finished with 47 tackles, and should serve as a cornerstone in Charlie Strong’s defense for years to come.

8. Corey Avery, running back, Kansas: The Jayhawks didn’t have many positive developments this season, but one of the bright spots was Avery, who finished 12th in the league with 631 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Avery and De’Andre Mann should give new coach David Beaty a solid one-two punch at running back to operate with in 2015.

9. Elijah Lee, linebacker, Kansas State: Bill Snyder rarely plays true freshmen, but Lee earned Snyder’s trust as a pass-rushing specialist early on in the season. He placed second only to Ryan Mueller on the team with 4.5 sacks.

10. James Washington, wide receiver, Oklahoma State : Washington ended the season as a starter, and led the Cowboys with five touchdown catches. He also finished with 26 receptions and 423 yards receiving, and figures to be a piece of the foundation in the Oklahoma State receiving corps moving forward.

Big 12 unsung heroes

December, 18, 2014
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From record-setting freshman to Heisman contenders, the Big 12 had plenty of star power in 2014.

Yet each team had players who made a significant impact on their teams that went largely unnoticed as teammates grabbed the headlines. With the help of SIDs around the conference, here's a closer look at the Big 12's unsung heroes during the 2014 season:

Baylor LB/S Collin Brence: A former walk-on, Brence started every game for Baylor, finishing with 49 tackles and adding seven hurries, 3.5 tackles for loss and one interception. On a defense with stars like Shawn Oakman, Andrew Billings and Orion Stewart, Brence was quietly a key contributor as the Bears won a second-straight Big 12 title.

Iowa State WR D’Vario Montgomery: The sophomore transfer from South Florida emerged as the Cyclones’ best receiving threat during the home stretch of the season. Montgomery had 41 receptions for 564 yards and two touchdowns in ISU’s final seven games. His 605 receiving yards led the team and his 13.75 yards per catch average was tops among Cyclones with at least 10 receptions.

Kansas C Joe Gibson: The redshirt freshman took over starting center duties midway through the season and brought solidarity to the Jayhawks' interior line. Making QB Michael Cummings the starter and Eric Kiesau the playcaller were among the noted changes that paid off during Clint Bowen’s time as interim coach but Gibson’s role was just as important.

Kansas State DT Travis Britz: A valuable part of K-State’s defense, Britz was a key member of one of the Big 12’s top defenses before missing the final two games with an injury. The junior provided an anchor for Bill Snyder’s squad with 27 tackles including five tackles for loss and three sacks.

Oklahoma FB Aaron Ripkowski: Samaje Perine doesn’t become the Big 12’s best freshman without the help of the former walk-on fullback. Ripkowski was a driving force behind the Sooners’ running success as teams set out to stop the run yet still failed against the crimson and cream. Ripkowski’s aggressive nature, durability and stellar blocking helped OU rank No. 1 in the Big 12 in nearly every rushing category.

Oklahoma State DT Ofa Hautau: Emmanuel Ogbah grabbed Big 12 defensive lineman of the year honors but Hautau played a key role in OSU’s defensive line. His 28 tackles including 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks don’t speak to the value he brought to the table in the interior of the Pokes' defense.

Texas TE Geoff Swaim: The senior brought a consistent physical presence to the Longhorns' running game while the offensive line went through injuries, changes and uncertainty for much of the year. He also played a critical role on the Longhorns’ special-teams units.

TCU DT Davion Pierson: While Chucky Hunter got the headlines, Pierson was just as good along the Horned Frogs' defensive interior. The junior was disruptive with 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks for TCU while giving the Horned Frogs arguably the Big 12’s top defensive tackle duo.

Texas Tech HB DeAndre Washington: It’s unusual to consider Washington unsung but he was that good for the Red Raiders in 2014. There was a direct correlation between Washington’s production and Tech’s win total. He rushed for 100 yards in three of Tech’s four wins and he joined Perine and BU’s Shock Linwood as the only Big 12 running backs to surpass 1,000 rushing yards this season.

West Virginia LB Wes Tonkery: The senior brought stability to the Mountaineers defense, finishing with 62 tackles as WVU’s improved defense helped Dana Holgorsen’s squad return to a bowl game after a one-year hiatus. Tonkery also added eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

Big 12 teams sign junior college help

December, 18, 2014
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Wednesday, several teams in the Big 12 added immediate help in the form of junior college signings. Kansas and new coach David Beaty led the way with eight such signings.

All told, six players from the ESPN JC 50 signed with Big 12 schools, including a conference-high three to Oklahoma.

Not everyone in the league, however, signed juco help this week. Texas Tech, TCU and Kansas State did not sign any juco players Wednesday.

Below is a roundup of this week's Big 12 juco signees (remember, this list does not include juco players who will sign in February):

Baylor
Iowa State
Kansas
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
Texas
West Virginia

Top sleeper commits: Big 12 

December, 16, 2014
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Five-star and ESPN 300 prospects create the most buzz, but with more than 100 FBS programs competing for talent, it takes more than just those top-rated prospects. Rosters are built with mainly prospects who enter college with little fanfare, but their development and contributions are key to a program’s success. Every year we see prospects who flew under the radar in recruiting but developed into some of their conference's top players.

Throughout our evaluations we come across many players who show promise and based off their upside for development or scheme fit are great additions to their college programs. Here are five headed to the Big 12:

Big 12 morning links

December, 16, 2014
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There has been an incredible flurry of December decommitments in the Big 12 and January is setting up to be quite the month for a lot of teams, should be fun to watch.
  • Grantland's Matt Hinton hands out demerits for this season including naming Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight the worst individual underachiever. On the one hand I'd agree with giving Knight that honor, er, demerit. Yet, as Hinton notes, the preseason expectations for Knight were way out of control. So of course he failed to meet those lofty expectations. I felt like Davis Webb was the Big 12's second-best quarterback behind Bryce Petty heading into the season, mainly because Knight only finished three of the five games he started in 2013. And was very inconsistent to top it all off as a redshirt freshman. He still has great potential, which we saw a glimpse of in the Sugar Bowl, but it is a lesson to us all to think twice during the offseason.
  • We knew recruiting was one of David Beaty's forte but did we know he was this good? Kansas' new head coach landed yet another commitment on Monday with junior college running back Ke'aun Kinner picking the Jayhawks. He is KU's seventh commitment since Saturday. Yes, that's right, SEVEN in three days. Apparently numbers won't be a problem but time will tell how well these newcomers were evaluated then developed by Beaty and his coaching staff.
  • Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett is headed to the Senior Bowl. It is a valuable opportunity for Lockett to show scouts what he is about. The record-setting wideout will likely have questions about his size and speed, so being able to show his skills and how he responds to NFL coaching and the daily battles with some of college football's best could help him rise up the draft boards of NFL teams.
  • Is Baylor the landing spot for Jarrett Stidham? Bryce Cherry of the Waco Tribune takes a look at the question. The Bears and Oregon are reportedly in a battle to secure the No. 39 player in the ESPN300. Both options look pretty good for the four-star quarterback with Marcus Mariota looking NFL bound and Bryce Petty poised to play his final game in the Cotton Bowl. The Bears already have some solid talent on campus with current commit Chad President set to join the battle to replace Petty. If Stidham decides he is Waco-bound, that would make spring football even more intriguing for Art Briles' program.
  • The accolades continue to pile up for TCU coach Gary Patterson, who was named the winner of the Eddie Robinson Award on Monday. Patterson as a great coach, one of the nation's best, isn't new. He's largely to thank for TCU's rise, the Horned Frogs defense -- his main focus --was good during its first two Big 12 seasons and finally got the help it needed with the addition of co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie this season. It's been good to see him rewarded for his excellent program management and ability to maximize the talent on the roster.

Reviewing our Big 12 predictions

December, 15, 2014
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We make a lot of predictions here on the Big 12 blog. We make a lot of bad predictions, too.

Time to own it. Now that the regular season is over, we’re looking back on our best and worst picks and prognostications for the 2014 Big 12 season. In some cases, we ended up looking pretty smart. In plenty more, we do not. I’ll start us off with a doozy.

Max Olson: Texas Tech will start 7-0 again: Oops. I shouldn't have overlooked the Arkansas game. Or the Oklahoma State game. Or the Kansas State game. Or the West Virginia game.

[+] EnlargeBob Stoops
AP Photo/The Norman Transcript, Kyle PhillipsOklahoma's surprising struggles made for some Big 12 predictions gone awry.
Jake Trotter: Davis Webb will throw for more yards than Bryce Petty. With a bowl game left, Petty will likely end up throwing for at least 1,000 more yards than Webb, who missed Texas Tech’s final four games. But, technically, this was a solid pick: Webb averaged 317 passing yards per game, and Petty is averaging 300.

Brandon Chatmon: Texas will lead the conference in rushing and finish top 10 nationally. The Horns currently rank sixth in the conference and 85th nationally at a disappointing 148.7 rushing yards per game. Neither Johnathan Gray nor Malcolm Brown will rush for 1,000 yards this season.

Olson: David Ash earns All-Big 12 honors. Concussion issues ended Ash’s season and playing career after one game this season. I want to stand by this take, but Texas’ offensive line was in such bad shape that all-conference honors would’ve been a challenge.

Trotter: Kansas State will beat either Baylor or Oklahoma on the road. Winner. K-State did pull off a 31-30 upset of Oklahoma, the first of the Sooners’ three home losses.

Chatmon: Iowa State's offense will be much improved. Mark Mangino seemed to make a positive impact, but the results were minimal. ISU went from 24.8 points per game to 23.2, and from 363 yards per game to 372.5.

Trotter: Tyreek Hill will lead the league in rushing. Hill finished 15th, accounting for 534 rushing yards in his 12 games as a Cowboy before being dismissed last week. He did lead all Big 12 receivers in rushing yards, for what it’s worth.

Chatmon and Olson: Projecting an 8-win season for TCU. During our game-by-game season predictions series in July, Chatmon and I were relatively optimistic about the Horned Frogs around the same time they were picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 by league media.

Trotter: Predicting KSU over OU and WVU over Baylor in October. Trotter took the lead in our weekly predictions contest thanks to these prescient picks. He ended up finishing with a record of 67-8 on his regular-season picks. That is quite good.

Olson: Predicting TCU over OU and WVU over Baylor in July. The reader comments for these picks were amazing. A sampling: Max Olson is extremely poor at predictions.” “Please lay off the crack pipe.” “TCU scoring 34 points against anyone? Really? How do you figure this?” Best of the best: “Wow ... I legitimately lost all respect for your opinion with the WVU pick over Baylor ... May God have mercy on your soul.”

Chatmon: “Malcom Brown is going to make me regret leaving him off my list.” This was from our preseason All-Big 12 discussion. We’re going to award Chatmon a point for this, even though he did snub Brown at the time.

Olson: Joe Mixon “capable of emerging as an elite playmaker from the get-go.” Unfortunately, he emerged as a troublemaker from the get-go.

Trotter: Curse of the kicker. In a pregame post for Auburn vs. Kansas State, Jake called Jack Cantele the Wildcats’ X-factor and said KSU should “feel good about their chances” if the game comes down to a kick. He also heaped praise on OU’s Michael Hunnicutt one week before the K-State game. College kicking ain’t easy.

All three: Finished 60-4 in our unanimous weekly picks. Give us a little credit here. When we put our heads together and agreed on a result, we rarely misled you this season. The four games we were unanimously wrong on: North Dakota State over Iowa State, Arkansas over Texas Tech, TCU over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State winning Bedlam.

All three: A Big 12 team will make the College Football Playoff. We declared the winner of the Baylor-Oklahoma game on Nov. 8 would go on to represent the league in the inaugural playoff. I guess that means we foolishly thought a head-to-head win would be the tiebreaker that sends a Big 12 team to the playoff.

Big 12 morning links

December, 15, 2014
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Gift cards always the Dirty Santa gift to go for.
  • It was a brutal weekend in recruiting in a couple of corners of the Big 12. ESPN 300 quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who had been the cornerstone of Texas Tech's recruiting class since March and who had been planning to enroll early in Lubbock, decommitted from the Red Raiders over the weekend. Tech still has a couple of talented young quarterbacks on campus in Pat Mahomes and Davis Webb. But anytime a talent the caliber of Stidham de-commits, it's a dagger, especially considering how tough it will be for Tech to add a replacement quarterback to the class. The Stidham decommitment will sting even more for Tech if he ends up at Baylor. Stidham is from Stephenville, Texas, where Baylor coach Art Briles once won multiple state championships.
  • It's been nothing for bad news for Oklahoma State since the Cowboys toppled Oklahoma in Bedlam to become bowl eligible. Days after Tyreek Hill was booted from the team, ESPN 300 running back Ronald Jones II revealed he was de-committing from the Cowboys. The news leaves Oklahoma State in an unenviable predicament in its backfield. With Hill gone, Jones no longer on board and Desmond Roland set to graduate, Rennie Childs is the only healthy scholarship running back sscheduled to be on the roster in the spring.
  • Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight was cleared to resume football activities. There was speculation running through Norman about Knight's football future after the devastating hit he took from Baylor's Shawn Oakman that left him with a temporary paralysis known as transient quadriplegia. But Knight clearly is feeling well again. This is also good news for the Sooners' hopes of beating Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Sooners ran the ball fine -- better than fine, in fact -- in Knight's absence. But the passing attack turned benign with Cody Thomas behind center, as the Sooners averaged less than 100 passing yards per game in the three games Knight missed.
  • New Kansas coach David Beaty is off to a fast start in Lawrence. He landed five commitments over the weekend to boost the Jayhawks' recruiting class, including four from the state of Texas, where Beaty is reputed to be a recruiting ace. Kansas suddenly now has 17 commitments in the class of 2015.
  • Baylor lost offensive coordinator Phillip Montgomery to Tulsa last week, but the offense is unlikely to change or slow down, writes Mike Griffith of mlive.com. I think this is obvious. Montgomery has been by Briles' side since the two were at Stephenville. But Baylor is a program now, not an offense. And with Briles, his son and Baylor assistant Kendal Briles and quarterback Bryce Petty, the Bears will still be a load for Michigan State's vaunted defense in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl.

Poll: All-Big 12 biggest snub?

December, 12, 2014
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It’s honors day on the Big 12 blog with our All-Big 12 first team being released earlier today.

There were plenty of no-brainers, some breakout stars and a couple surprises as Jake Trotter, Max Olson and I debated the Big 12’s best while putting together the team. Several tough decisions had to be made and quality players snubbed as we sought to honor the conference’s best players.

SportsNation

Who was the biggest snub on ESPN.com's All-Big 12 first team?

  •  
    22%
  •  
    37%
  •  
    13%
  •  
    21%
  •  
    7%

Discuss (Total votes: 5,102)

Now it’s your turn to get involved. Who was the biggest snub?

TCU receiver Josh Doctson emerged as a legitimate No. 1 target for Trevone Boykin, using his length and athleticism to create mismatches all over the field. He was a big-play machine, scoring nine touchdowns while averaging 16.3 yards per reception to help transform TCU's passing attack.

The linebacker spot was a tough debate with Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks finding himself left out in the cold. Hicks returned from a season-ending Achilles injury in 2013 to finish with 98 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss as a critical member of one of the Big 12's top defenses.

It’s hard to ignore the sheer production of Texas Tech linebacker/defensive end Pete Robertson, but we did. The lone bright spot on the Red Raiders’ defense, Robertson lead the Big 12 with 12 sacks and added 14.5 tackles for loss. Quite simply, Tech’s bowl-less campaign made it hard for Robertson to force himself into the first team.

Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez tied with TCU first-teamer Chris Hackett for the Big 12 lead with six interceptions. The feast or famine aspect to his game was readily apparent but he never stopped competing, constantly creating turnovers for the Sooners. Yet it’s hard to find a first-team spot for a defensive back on a defense that allowed 272.7 passing yards per game, finishing No. 115 among FBS teams.

Kansas cornerback JaCorey Shepherd was quietly excellent for Clint Bowen’s defense, leading the Big 12 with 18 passes defensed. Much like Sanchez, receivers knew they were in for a battle anytime they lined up opposite Shepherd, yet he went largely overshadowed thanks to the ridiculous production of teammate Ben Heeney.

Who do you think was the biggest snub? Or is there another snub?

ESPN.com All-Big 12 second team

December, 12, 2014
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This morning we released our ESPN.com All-Big 12 team. We didn't forget about all those talented, deserving players who didn't earn spots on our first-team list. Here's our take on a second-team All-Big 12 squad.

Between our first and second team, TCU led the Big 12 in all-conference honorees with 12 players selected. Baylor had eight players make the list and Kansas State, Oklahoma and West Virginia tied with seven players honored.

Offense

QB: Bryce Petty, Baylor
RB: DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech
RB: Aaron Green, TCU
WR: John Harris, Texas
WR: Josh Doctson, TCU
WR: Curry Sexton, Kansas State
TE: Jimmay Mundine, Kansas
OL: Daryl Williams, Oklahoma
OL: Mark Glowinski, West Virginia
OL: Joey Hunt, TCU
OL: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
OL: Tayo Fabuluje, TCU
AP: Antwan Goodley, Baylor
K: Jaden Oberkrom, TCU
KR: Mario Alford, West Virginia

Defense

DE: Pete Robertson, Texas Tech
DE: Michael Reynolds, Kansas
DT: Chucky Hunter, TCU
DT: Travis Britz, Kansas State
LB: Jordan Hicks, Texas
LB: Bryce Hager, Baylor
LB: Jonathan Truman, Kansas State
DB: Kevin White, TCU
DB: JaCorey Shepherd, Kansas
DB: Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma
DB: Sam Carter, TCU
P: Nick O'Toole, West Virginia
PR: Cameron Echols-Luper, TCU

ESPN.com All-Big 12 team

December, 12, 2014
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We had some debates along the way, but this year's all-conference team seemed easier to assemble than in most years.

There are still a ton of deserving players who did not crack the first team (our second-team choices come later today), but all in all this is a loaded squad of standouts, and nearly every Big 12 team had at least two players make the cut.

Here's the 2014 ESPN.com All-Big 12 Team:

Offense

QB Trevone Boykin, TCU: Boykin emerged as one of the nation's best and led TCU to a Big 12 co-title with 3,714 passing yards and Big 12-high 39 total TDs.

RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma: The true freshman rumbled for 1,579 yards and 21 TDs, including the best rushing game (427 yards) in FBS history.

RB Shock Linwood, Baylor: The power back behind Baylor's speed attack, Linwood surpassed 1,200 yards in his first season as a starter.

WR Kevin White, West Virginia: The Biletnikoff Award finalist was a breakout star, racking up 102 catches for 1,318 yards and nine TDs.

WR Corey Coleman, Baylor: Led the Bears with 969 receiving yards, 17 yards per catch and 10 scores despite missing the first three games of the season.

WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma: Injuries derailed his last five games, but Shepard still put up 957 yards as the Sooners' go-to guy.

TE E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State: Bibbs led all tight ends nationally with eight TDs and was a matchup nightmare in Mark Mangino's offense.

OL Spencer Drango, Baylor: The All-American was dominant again after recovering from back injury with 30-plus knockdown blocks.

OL Quinton Spain, West Virginia: The mammoth guard was impressive again despite playing through injuries throughout the season.

OL B.J. Finney, Kansas State: The Rimington Trophy finalist wrapped up his career as a 51-game starter with another terrific season.

OL Tyrus Thompson, Oklahoma: Oklahoma's left tackle elevated his game during his senior year and brings exceptional size and strength.

OL Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech: All-Big 12 for the second year in a row after he anchored a Tech offensive line that gave up just 13 sacks.

AP Tyler Lockett, Kansas State: Lockett broke dad Kevin Lockett's records while finishing No. 4 nationally in receiving and adding two punt-return TDs.

K Josh Lambert, West Virginia: The Groza Award finalist led the FBS with 27 made field goals, including two game winners.

KR Alex Ross, Oklahoma: Ross went for 30-plus yards on 9 of 22 returns, including scores of 91 and 100 yards.

Defense

DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor: A 6-foot-8 beast, Oakman created problems (10 sacks, 18.5 TFLs) with his length and aggression.

DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State: Ogbah broke out big with 11 sacks, including two-sack performances versus Florida State and TCU.

DT Malcom Brown, Texas: He was a disruptive force in the middle who produced 6.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss.

DT Andrew Billings, Baylor: The sophomore helped Oakman upgrade BU’s defensive line while finishing with 11.5 TFLs.

LB Paul Dawson, TCU: Dawson made big play after big play for the Frogs, logging at least one TFL in TCU’s final eight games.

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas: The sideline-to-sideline stud capped off his KU career with 127 tackles, including 88 solo stops.

LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma: Striker created problems off the edge in one-on-one battles and finished with 7.5 sacks.

DB Quandre Diggs, Texas: Diggs did it all. He hit, covered and tackled while playing a key role as the heart of UT's defense.

DB Chris Hackett, TCU: The junior showed up big in big games, grabbing six interceptions and 73 stops.

DB Karl Joseph, West Virginia: Joseph blossomed into a complete safety while remaining among the conference’s most physical defenders.

DB Dante Barnett, Kansas State: Sliding right into the void left by Ty Zimmerman, Barnett became a playmaker on the back end for KSU.

P Trevor Pardula, Kansas: Yes, Pardula had plenty of chances, but 44.25 yards/punt average and 38.9 punting average are nothing to sneeze at.

PR Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State: The Cowboys don’t go bowling without Hill, whose blazing speed helped beat KU, ISU and OU.

Hopes and concerns: Kansas Jayhawks

December, 11, 2014
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Three Big 12 teams are already looking toward 2015.

After disappointing seasons that ended without a bowl game, Texas Tech, Kansas and Iowa State won’t see the field again until the fall of 2015. There are plenty of reasons for concern but some glimmers of hope at each school. For the next three days, we’ll take a look at three reasons for hope and three reasons for concern at Tech, KU and ISU as they look toward 2015.

Today we look at Kansas.

Reasons for hope

A new era under David Beaty: The Jayhawks announced the former Texas A&M receivers coach as their CEO earlier this week. He was passionate and emotional during his introductory news conference as his desire to succeed as the head coach at Kansas was readily apparent. Beaty promised to bring an uptempo offense and aggressive defense to the Jayhawks, who at the very least should be fun to watch in 2015.

Clint Bowen staying: The interim coach’s willingness to stick around as defensive coordinator and run the defense for Beaty’s team was quite the coup. Beaty and Bowen have coached together during Beaty’s previous stops at KU and Bowen did a terrific job of trying to change the culture of the program during his eight games as interim head coach. Beaty and Bowen could be the ideal duo to create a different atmosphere at KU.

Jayhawks recent recruiting success: KU landed a pair of ESPN300 members -- linebacker Kyron Watson and center Jacob Bragg -- along with running back Corey Avery, who lead the team in rushing with 631 rushing yards, in its Class of 2014. Now that Beaty’s in charge, the Jayhawks' recruiting fortunes could continue to rise.

Reasons for concerns

Lack of program stability: Beaty is the third coach handed the keys to the program since Mark Mangino’s departure in 2009, following Charlie Weis and Turner Gill. The program badly needs stability, continuity and patience if it hopes to get things turned around. True enough it is a “win now” world but Beaty is tasked with making some foundational changes to the program and the real fruits of his labor are unlikely to be seen in 2015, maybe even 2016. If the Jayhawks really believe Beaty is the guy to return the program to the success it achieved under Mangino, KU needs to prove it by giving him the time to transform the program into his vision for the future.

Continued culture change is a must: Bowen got things going in the right direction with some of the changes he made after Weis’ dismissal. Beaty wants to continue that culture change, including educating his players about KU football tradition and making in-state recruiting a focus. This is a long-term goal but these first few days of his tenure are critical as he pursues a coaching staff that can create the right culture in Lawrence, Kansas.

Playmakers needed: Linebacker Ben Heeney, cornerback JaCorey Shepherd and tight end Jimmay Mundine are just a few of the Jayhawks moving on after being key players in 2014. Beaty stressed the importance of developing players during his introductory news conference and he will get an immediate chance to prove that's a priority. With Avery, Watson and cornerback Matthew Boateng on the roster, KU has some young talent. They just need to develop even more young playmakers if they hope to become a force in the Big 12.

All-Big 12 honors, teams released

December, 10, 2014
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The Big 12 released its All-Big 12 honors on Wednesday with TCU sweeping the biggest individual honors, as voted on by the league's coaches.

Here’s the rundown of the individual honors and first team: (You can find the entire list including the second team and honorable mention here.)

Coach of the Year: Gary Patterson, TCU
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Trevone Boykin, TCU
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Paul Dawson, TCU
Special Teams Player of the Year: PR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Offensive Freshman of the Year: RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
Defensive Freshman of the Year: S Kamari Cotton-Moya, Iowa State
Offensive Newcomer of the Year: ATH Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State
Defensive Newcomer of the Year: DE Shaq Riddick, West Virginia
Co-offensive Lineman of the Year: T Spencer Drango, Baylor and C B.J. Finney, Kansas State
Defensive Lineman of the Year: DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State

All-Big 12 First team
Offense
QB Trevone Boykin, TCU, Jr.
RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, Fr.
RB Shock Linwood, Baylor, Soph.
FB Glenn Gronkowski, Kansas State, Soph.
WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State, Sr.
WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma, Jr.
WR Kevin White, West Virginia, Sr.
TE E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State, Sr.
OL Spencer Drango, Baylor, Sr.
OL B.J. Finney, Kansas State, Sr.
OL Daryl Williams, Oklahoma, Sr.
OL Tyrus Thompson, Oklahoma, Sr.
OL Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech, Jr.
K Jaden Oberkrom, TCU, Jr.
KR/PR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State, Sr.

Defense
DL Andrew Billings, Baylor, Soph.
DL Shawn Oakman, Baylor, Jr.
DL Ryan Mueller, Kansas State, Sr.
DL Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State, Soph.
DL Malcom Brown, Texas, Jr.
LB Ben Heeney, Kansas, Sr.
LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma, Jr.
LB Paul Dawson, TCU, Sr.
DB JaCorey Shepherd, Kansas, Sr.
DB Randall Evans, Kansas State, Sr.
DB Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma, Soph.
DB Chris Hackett, TCU, Jr.
DB Karl Joseph, West Virginia, Jr.
P Trevor Pardula, Kansas, Sr.

Thoughts and observations
  • Lockett, Drango and Mueller are the only back-to-back first-team selections.
  • TCU’s sweep of the Coach of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year was well-deserved. Patterson did an exceptional job, both in the offseason with his hires of Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, as well as during the season with TCU's defense. Boykin is a no-brainer and would have won the most-improved award if there was one. Dawson had plenty of competitors for DPOY including Billings, Ogbah, Striker, Brown and Oakman. But it's hard to go wrong with Dawson, who consistently showed up big in TCU's biggest games.
  • The biggest surprise was Ogbah as defensive lineman of the year. I’ve been on the Ogbah bandwagon since before the season began but Texas’ Brown was the guy I expected to walk away with that honor.
  • If the OPOY is not Boykin who could it possibly be? Boykin’s honor joins Perine as the Offensive Freshman of the Year as the easiest picks.
  • Riddick is a good choice for Defensive Newcomer of the Year, although I felt like K-State's Danzel McDaniel deserved that honor. Both are quality options so no major beef with Riddick getting the nod.
  • It’s good to see Cotton-Moya get the recognition he deserved. He’s been good for Paul Rhoads' team all season. The redshirt freshman led the Cyclones with 77 tackles including 55 solo stops.
  • It was a bit of a surprise to see Mueller on the first team after his production dropped as a senior. He had 11.5 sacks in 2013 before recording 5.5 sacks this season.
  • Lastly, I'm not a fan of more than 11 first-teamers on offense or defense, make a decision and live with that decision. It cheapens the honor when you add spots to fit people into the team.

Big 12 morning links

December, 10, 2014
Dec 10
8:00
AM ET
How's your holiday shopping coming along? Um, I've got some work to do.
  • Here is a pretty good bowl review from Matt Hinton, our colleague at Grantland including the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl matchup as the Reunion Bowl. I was cheering for the Texas-Texas A&M matchup that many wanted to see, but having the Razorbacks take on former SWC foe UT is a pretty solid matchup. Add the Aggies' battle with West Virginia and it seems like a pretty good second option that will help me overcome no Longhorns-Aggies bowl bonanza.
  • Texas coach Charlie Strong hopes Tyrone Swoopes has been watching the TCU tape, writes Mike Finger of the Houston Chronicle. Strong also said the Longhorns will hold an open competition at the quarterback position heading into 2015. I've felt like Swoopes was not the answer for much of the season and his final regular-season performance against the Horned Frogs didn't do much to change my mind. That said, Swoopes did have his moments when he looked like he could be the future, so I'm not as strong in my belief Jerrod Heard must be the guy behind center in Austin in the future.
  • Does Oklahoma have the worst receivers in the Big 12? The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey considers the question. Even though the Sooners' receiving corps was the conference's least productive but I wouldn't go as far as to call them the conference's worst. Why? The lackluster play from the quarterback position played a major role in that lack of production and taking the ball out of the hands of Samaje Perine and Alex Ross to put it in the hands of inexperienced receivers doesn't make much sense, either. But a lack of playmakers at receiver was a problem in 2014 and it's a problem that needs to be fixed heading into next year.
  • The search committee in charge of finding Kansas' new head coach was so impressed by David Beaty the search essentially came to a halt shortly after his interview, writes Jesse Newell of the Topeka Capital Journal. Beaty's desire to coach at Kansas, one of the reasons I thought Clint Bowen would be a solid choice, has really come through during his first few days in charge. If he can transfer that to those around him in the program, great things could be in the Jayhawks' future.
  • The Heisman finalists were announced on Tuesday with Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Alabama's Amari Cooper and Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon getting the nod. All three guys deserve a trip to New York but it sure seems like TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin should be making the trip. His exceptional junior year was a driving force behind TCU's 11-1 season. Boykin was outstanding in every single way. I think he should have been a Heisman finalist, no question about it.
New Kansas football coach David Beaty wore his emotions on his sleeve during his introductory news conference on Monday morning. The former Texas A&M receivers coach was passionate and reflective as he talked about his family, coaching influences and taking over the football program at KU.

“Kansas feels like home,” he said. “We will sacrifice everything, including sleep, to bring you a program you are proud of.”

Beaty detailed the core aspects he plans to instill in the Jayhawks program, with hard work and earning everything atop the list. Here’s a rundown of the key important aspects of Beaty’s blueprint with a quote and my quick thoughts.

[+] EnlargeDavid Beaty
Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsSometimes, it's the little things that send a message. New Kansas coach David Beaty first met with his players in the weight room to show it was all about the hard work they put in together.
Hard work and earning everything
Beaty’s quote: "The foundation of our plans is going to rest squarely on a couple of concepts: Hard work and earning everything.”
Quick take: This is nothing new as these goals should be the foundation of most programs, although that’s not always the case. Hard work builds a good foundation, but the earning everything part is key as Beaty pointed to earning the support of students, fans, high school coaches and recruits as a focus moving forward.

Build the program upon good relationships
Beaty’s quote: “Our philosophy is pretty simple: We think this is a relationship business.”
Quick take: From building a coaching staff to landing prospects on the recruiting trail, Beaty pointed to relationships as the key to success. Relationships are the deciding factor on the recruiting trail, so it should be no surprise to see Beaty, who is known for his recruiting prowess, making developing relationships a top priority in his program.

Develop a stellar walk-on program
Beaty’s quote: “We want it to be the most powerful walk-on program in the country. That’s a goal of ours. The margin between a scholarship player and a walk on is razor thin. And sometimes you don’t make the right decision. That’s the reason I think it’s so important to give those kids the opportunity to represent the Jayhawks.”
Quick take: If the Jayhawks can mimic Kansas State’s success in this area, that would be a great place to start. Walk-ons are making more and more of an impact on programs nationwide, so it is smart of Beaty to want to make a walk-on program one of the foundations of the program. It’s going to take time, however, because convincing a walk-on to walk-on at Kansas -- instead of K-State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, etc. -- will be tough until the Jayhawks’ walk-on program (and program in general) builds a reputation of sustained success.

Recruiting the right player
Beaty’s quote: “The thing we have to do a great job of is evaluation and finding the right players and developing them. We have to make sure we don’t settle for anything less than guys that fit the Kansas way.”
Quick take: Beaty wants to build a fence around the borders in the state and bring in coaches who excel at evaluation and development. Beaty also noted he wants to build a good foundation within his team so, in the future, his program can take a chance on a “risk-reward”-type of guy because they know he will be coming into the right environment to succeed.

Strong strength and conditioning program
Beaty’s quote: “One of the most important hires I will make here is the leader of our strength and conditioning program. That program is going to be based on three simple things: Hard work, discipline and accountability. Every day in every way. We win by outworking folks.”
Quick take: Beaty held his first team meeting in the Jayhawks' weight room to send a message about hard work and his expectations for his players, which was a savvy move. Beaty’s understanding of the importance of evaluation on the recruiting trail and development once a player arrives on campus should make KU fans smile.

Uptempo offense, aggressive defense
Beaty’s quote: “[Our offense] is going to attract top recruits and it’s going to be a brand of football that is going to make people want to come to Memorial Stadium.”
Quick take: Beaty wants an uptempo offense and an aggressive defense that creates turnovers. It sounds like the blueprint Oklahoma State and Mike Gundy have used to great success in recent years. It could be tough for KU to duplicate, particularly early on, but his style of football should have no problem intriguing recruits which could lead to success.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 15

December, 7, 2014
Dec 7
10:00
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