Big 12: West Virginia Mountaineers

In today's Twitter mailbag we discuss 400-pound tight end LaQuan McGowan, players off the radar that could become All-Big 12 selections, and the backfields at TCU and Oklahoma.

Condolences to West Virginia fans for Thursday's historical beatdown. Still, I know of eight other Big 12 fanbases that wished their teams would have advanced to the Sweet 16.

On to the 'bag:

I actually asked Seth Russell which would be worse, getting sacked by Shawn Oakman or trying to tackle McGowan. He said Oakman. I respectfully have to disagree. Oakman is a bad dude, but nobody is stopping McGowan with a head of steam, Oakman included.

Trotter:You mean in one game? By the way, I hope you guys took time to read my McGowan piece earlier in the week. I enjoyed interviewing him. Interesting kid with a fascinating backstory.

Trotter: Texas would be the most attractive destination. Any of Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones would start with little resistance from what the Longhorns have on the roster. And Texas would be an option for any of the three for obvious reasons, including the track record of Charlie Strong and his staff working with Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville.

Trotter: At this moment, it's difficult to envision the game going much differently than it did last season. The addition of transfer linebacker Mike Mitchell and freshman defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko will help the run defense, and coordinator David Gibbs will have the players in the right gaps. But the Razorbacks completely mowed over the Red Raiders last season. You either have the horses or you don't, and Tech has long way to go to prove it can up its own again up front against a power-running team such as Arkansas.

Trotter: No update. Carry on.

Trotter: If I had to bet, I'd put heavy money on Baker Mayfield being the opening-day starter. There's a lot to like about Mayfield, notably his confidence and savvy. But people, notably Sooners fans, seem to forget that Mayfield really struggled against the better teams while at Texas Tech two years ago. Can OU win a Big 12 championship with Mayfield behind center? I'm not sure.

Trotter:It's a possibility. He's going to be buried on depth chart behind Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. True freshman Rodney Anderson had been turning heads this spring, too, before he suffered an MCL sprain. Apparently, Keith Ford's sister posted something on Facebook suggesting he might transfer. But Ford was at practice this week.

Trotter:The TCU backfield is going to be good. Aaron Green, who can reel off big plays, is an all-conference caliber talent; Shaun Nixon, meanwhile, was highly touted coming out of high school. But I don't know that it's necessary going to be markedly better than last year's group. Don't forget, B.J. Catalon was excellent before suffering the head injury.

Trotter:Hmm... I would definitely take Trevone Boykin, Mason Rudolph and Pat Mahomes over Sam B. Richardson. But after that, there are no slam dunks. Seth Russell obviously could have a big season, but he has only one career start. Skyler Howard is going to have to be more accurate to rank near the upper tier of Big 12 QBs. Joe Hubener has potential, but he's an unknown. I mentioned my concerns with Mayfield above. So is it unthinkable that Richardson becomes the fourth- or fifth-best QB in the league? No. He'll have good wideouts to throw to, and he has a ton of experience. The key for Richardson is health. He's been severely banged up the last two years, and when that's happened, his effectiveness has plummeted.

Trotter: Not sure how off the radar you want to go, but here are a few guys who have never had any honorable-mention recognition that could be first-teamers in 2015: Oklahoma State safety Jordan Sterns, Baylor nickelback Travon Blanchard, Oklahoma center Ty Darlington, Iowa State guard Daniel Burton, Texas defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, Texas Tech cornerback Nigel Bethel and TCU cornerback Ranthony Texada.

Trotter:Well, if you believe you're a big-time program that can compete with anyone, you go out and schedule the Ohio States of the world. Oklahoma has been doing it since Bob Stoops arrived, and it served the Sooners well during the BCS era. Texas has recently ramped up its scheduling as well. As a conference champ, you have to beat someone of note in the non-conference to guarantee yourself a spot in the playoff. TCU will have plenty of opportunities to do that in the coming years.

Trotter: Who didn't see that TCU fan tweet coming?

Running back Chris Carson could hold the key to Oklahoma State’s offense, wide receiver DeDe Westbrook could take Oklahoma’s new spread attack to another level and defensive tackle Demond Tucker could provide much-needed strength in the middle of Iowa State’s defense.

That trio is among the nine ESPN Junior College 50 recruits who signed with Big 12 schools and have the potential to become household names in the conference this fall.

SportsNation

Which ESPN JC50 signee will have the biggest impact in 2015?

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    20%

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    36%

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    25%

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    8%

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    11%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,663)

Which ESPN JC 50 newcomer do you expect to have the biggest impact?

Carson was a late addition to the Cowboys' signing class as OSU looked to secure a backfield mate for quarterback Mason Rudolph. The No. 12 player in the ESPN JC 50, Carson brings good size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and the ability to be a workhorse for Mike Gundy’s program.

Westbrook is already on campus and participating in spring drills with the Sooners. The No. 14 player in the ESPN JC 50 combines quickness and speed with good size (6-1, 175), which makes him a candidate to excel in the slot or on the outside in Lincoln Riley’s offense.

Rasul Douglas will add to a talented West Virginia secondary in the summer. The No. 23 player in the ESPN JC 50 has the size (6-2, 200) and athleticism to be a versatile asset for WVU’s defense, with the skills to play cornerback or safety.

Tucker was a much-needed addition for the Cyclones defense. After Iowa State struggled with its depth and production along its defensive front in 2014, Tucker is participating in ISU’s spring practices with a eye on making an major impact this fall. His quickness could help him become a disruptive force for the Cyclones defense.

Five other ESPN JC 50 signees could have a similar impact in the Big 12. Cornerback Will Johnson (No. 15 in the ESPN JC 50) is already impressing during the first few practices at OU, and the Sooners secondary is looking for playmakers heading into the fall.

Offensive tackle Maurice Porter (No. 31 in the ESPN JC 50) could add additional depth for Baylor’s offensive line when he arrives in the summer.

Guard Jamal Danley (No. 39 in the ESPN JC 50) is going through spring drills with OU as he battles to make an impact on a Sooners offensive line that must replace four starters.

Texas is hoping Quincy Vasser (No. 45 in the ESPN JC 50) can help lessen the loss of Cedric Reed at defensive end.

Motekiai Maile (No. 49 in the ESPN JC 50) could help replace James Castleman in the interior of OSU’s defense, helping free opportunities for returning Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Emmanuel Ogbah.

Who do you think will have the biggest impact? Vote now and leave a comment below.

Fielding a strong pass defense is critical in the Big 12.

The conference is full of offenses that look to spread opponents and attack them through the air, putting pressure on defensive backs and pass rushers alike. Yet it can be difficult to measure defensive success against those offenses as passing yards per game and completion percentage can be misleading particularly on teams that feature high-scoring offenses that end up forcing opponents to throw for the majority of the game.

Passing yards per attempt is one key stat that give a good gauge of which teams have efficient pass defenses that are harder to defeat than it may appear. With the help of ESPN Stats and Information, here's a look at the Big 12 rankings in passing yards per attempt (conference games only) since TCU and West Virginia joined the conference in 2012.

[+] EnlargeDavid Porter
AP Photo/LM OteroThe Kansas State Wildcats have allowed only 6.7 yards per pass attempt over the past three seasons.

1. Kansas State 6.7
Summary: The Wildcats are very good at forcing offenses to take what they are willing to give. Opponents 61.5 completion percentage is ninth among Big 12 teams yet their low yards per pass attempt average is a sign they tackle well after limiting opponents to short completions. Outside of standouts Ty Zimmerman and Randall Evans, KSU doesn’t tend to have superstars in the secondary but their performance as a unit is unmatched.

2. Oklahoma State 6.86
Summary: The Cowboys allow 277.85 passing yards per game but their yards per pass attempt average make them one of the Big 12’s top pass defenses. OSU’s up tempo, high scoring offense resulted in the defense facing a conference-high 40.52 pass attempts per game during the past three seasons. Talented defensive backs like Justin Gilbert and Kevin Peterson have helped the Cowboys withstand the barrage.

3. Texas 6.93
Summary: The Longhorns defense has been solid overall, ranking first in passing yards per game (220.3), sack percentage (8.4 percent) and touchdowns per pass attempt (3.6). A combination of talented defensive backs (Kenny Vaccaro, Quandre Diggs) and pass rushers (Jackson Jeffcoat, Alex Okafor) cemented UT’s place in the top three.

4. Oklahoma 7.02
Summary: The Sooners are among the top two in passing yards allowed (241.7) and completion percentage (54.9) helping to land them a spot in the top half of the conference. Current NFLers Aaron Colvin and Tony Jefferson are among the former Sooners who made OU’s pass defense one of the Big 12’s better units before a disappointing 2014 season put dents in that reputation.

5. TCU 7.18
Summary: The Horned Frogs’ opponent completion percentage (54.9), third-down conversion percentage (31.3) and first down per pass attempt percentage (28.8) were the best in the Big 12. But TCU’s yards per completion percentage (13.57) was ninth in the conference and doomed them to a spot outside the top four despite featuring some of the Big 12’s best defensive backs in Jason Verrett, Chris Hackett and Kevin White.

6. Baylor 7.39
Summary: The Bears explosive offense resulted in BU’s pass defense facing 37.67 pass attempts per game which contributed to them finishing in the bottom third of the conference in passing yards per game (278.33, eighth) and third down conversion percentage (43.4, tenth). This is one element of Art Briles program that requires continued improvement if BU is going to extended its Big 12 title run.

7. Texas Tech 7.68
Summary: The Red Raiders ranked near the bottom of the Big 12 in several categories but their touchdown-to-interception percentage stands out above the crowd. Tech gave up 3.88 touchdowns per interception during this span, nearly a full touchdown worst than any other team in the Big 12. Nigel Bethel, Tevin Madison and Justis Nelson are among the young defensive backs on the roster with the talent to help turn this Red Raider trend around.

8. Iowa State 7.74
Summary: The Cyclones landed at the bottom of the Big 12 in passing yards allowed per game (292.3) and sack percentage (3) as ISU struggled to slow the pass happy attacks of the Big 12. Cornerback Nigel Tribune and safety Kamari Cotton-Moya provide hope the Cyclones can improve their pass defense in 2015.

9. West Virginia 8.21
Summary: The Mountaineers pass defense is one main reason WVU has been up and down during its first three seasons in the conference. Losing one-on-one battles and shoddy tackling have resulted in a Big 12-worst 13.92 yards per completion. Yet WVU enters the 2015 with the Big 12’s best combination of talent and experience in the secondary so the Mountaineers could start to build a better reputation this fall.

10. Kansas 8.24
Summary: The Jayhawks struggled in pretty much every category, allowing opponents to complete 62.9 percent of their attempts while also allowing 35 percent of those attempts to result in first downs. A lack of sacks (3.6 sack percentage, eighth) and interceptions (2.2 interception percentage, ninth) helped cement KU’s spot at the bottom of the Big 12. To make matters worse KU enters the 2015 looking to replace the bulk of its secondary including All-Big 12 cornerback JaCorey Shepherd.

Seth Russell's stellar spring scrimmage, Texas Tech's Davis Webb, and West Virginia's chances lead the mailbag. As always, thanks for your questions. To submit questions for next week's mailbag, click here.

[+] EnlargeRussell
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsSeth Russell's spring has given Baylor fans every reason to believe a third consecutive title is a real possibility.

Robert in Tulsa writes: How far away was Seth Russell last Friday from Baylor three-peating?

Brandon Chatmon: Russell had a terrific scrimmage for the Bears, no question about it. He left no doubt he won’t give up his starting spot without a fight with 345 passing yards and four touchdowns. I think we saw the reason Baylor should be considered right alongside TCU as the favorites in the Big 12 despite losing Bryce Petty. A three-peat is a definite possibility.

Lillian in Austin, Texas, writes: If the Longhorns are able to figure out the quarterback problem, will they have a shot at the Big 12 Title?

BC: Absolutely. The Longhorns went 5-2 when ending a game with a Total QBR above 50 (which is considered average) in 2014. A good quarterback can cure a lot of ills, and the Longhorns have enough talent in their locker room to join the fight for a Big 12 title if they are getting consistent quarterback play from Tyrone Swoopes, Jerrod Heard or whoever wants to step up.

Michael in Dallas writes: True or false: Kliff Kingsbury continues to favor Davis Webb in order to try and prove that letting Baker Mayfield slip away was the right call?

BC: False. That sounds like a good way to end up searching for a new job. You can’t favor anyone after a 4-8 season. To be clear, I think Patrick Mahomes should be the guy, and ultimately will be the guy, but I don’t think Kingsbury should be handing out jobs to anyone, particularly a young quarterback with four starts under his belt during a bowl-less season.

Omar C. in Flower Mound, Texas, writes: Do you think it would be justifiable if NCAA mandated all Power 5 conferences to play one Power 5 and one Group 5 in their schedules to level the playing a field a little bit?

BC: First off, you’re giving the NCAA more credit and power than it has. If the Power 5 conferences decided to move forward with this idea, I think it would be a good one for fans and observers alike. I’m all for anything that helps to put schedules closer to an even playing field. I don’t see it happening unfortunately because it would require all of those schools to give up their power over their own schedules while risking losing money and/or games. I don’t see that happening.

Lonely in Lubbock, Texas, writes: When the old Big 12 changed everyone was making a big fuss about Texas losing its second-best rival Texas A&M, but in Lubbock we lost our main and only rival. After three years of this new version, do we have any hope of finding a new rival as good as the Aggies?

BC: I’m not a big fan of creating rivalries. I like when they organically emerge. I could Oklahoma State, TCU or even West Virginia as good potential candidates. But it requires something special to happen and leave a lasting memory for a rivalry to be born. And we haven’t seen that yet. I don't think you can force rivalries to happen so we might have to be patient until one develops on its own.

John Newcomb in Rochester, Pennsylvania, writes: I have to ask you, if William Crest and Dontae Thomas-Williams come out and become the starters with all the new wideouts including Ka'Raun White what levels could this team rise on defense and offense? Shot at the title in the near future?

BC: I don’t see it happening. Crest may win the starting quarterback job but DTW has Rushel Shell and Wendell Smallwood ahead of him at runing back. Nonetheless, I could see the Mountaineers getting a shot at a Big 12 title as early as this fall. An efficient quarterback could make WVU the surprise of the Big 12 this fall.

Jacob Worcester in Manhattan, Kansas writes: Kyle Klein should be back from an injury, and he even started two games in 2013. What type of impact will he have when he comes back for the Snydercats?

BC: He can be an asset for the Wildcats' offense. I don’t see him replacing Tyler Lockett (who can?) nor do I see him reaching the heights of older brother Collin. But he would bring experience to a relatively inexperienced receiver group.

Chris in Arden, West Virginia writes: What is your take on Joe DeForest at West Virginia?

BC: DeForest is a solid coach who seems to take a lot of undue heat from Mountaineers fans for some reason. His safeties should be among the Big 12’s best with Karl Joseph and Dravon Henry leading the way and his special teams helped win games in 2014 with Josh Lambert coming up clutch several times while punter Nick O’Toole was solid. Granted the WVU punt return unit was laughable at times so his units and players aren’t perfect, but whose are?

Cole in Oklahoma City writes: Will DeDe Westbrook and Joe Mixon share punt return snaps this spring ... leading in to the summer to see who is going to be returning punts for Oklahoma? Would you consider Heard to be the starting QB for Texas? Who is more of a dark horse Big 12 team?

BC: Three for one huh? Punt return duties are at the bottom of OU’s priority list but Westbrook or Michiah Quick would be good candidates. I think Heard should get every opportunity to win the job, and personally think he will. West Virginia is a good dark horse team to keep an eye on, particularly if the quarterback position becomes a strength.

Over the next two weeks, we'll be featuring 10 Big 12 players who are on the spot this spring. Maybe they are coming back from injury. Maybe they have much to prove after a disappointing 2014 season. Maybe they are embroiled in a key position battle. Whatever the case, this spring is big for them.

Today's player on the spot: West Virginia receiver Shelton Gibson

[+] EnlargeShelton Gibson
Mark Humphrey/AP PhotoReceiver Shelton Gibson will have his work cut out for him as he fights for a starting role in the Mountaineers' starting rotation.

The Mountaineers are looking for playmakers on the outside and Gibson is one of the favorites in the battle to fill the void left by former WVU receivers Kevin White and Mario Alford. Donning the No. 1 jersey that Tavon Austin wore while becoming Big 12 defenders' worst nightmare, Gibson enters the spring with plenty of promise yet plenty of expectations.

"We need to find some wideouts who can make plays," coach Dana Holgorsen said.

It's far from a do-or-die situation for Gibson, who made an impact as a kick returner during his redshirt freshman season in 2014. The sophomore averaged 19.23 yards on 13 kick returns and saw minimal action on offense with four receptions for 60 yards, but he has the speed, shiftiness and big-play ability to assume an expanded role with ease. The former ESPN 300 receiver -- who spurned offers from Ohio State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn and others to sign with WVU -- is reminiscent of several young and promising players on the Mountaineers' roster who are talented but unproven.

Many will probably look at the big-play potential as the determining factor in the search for a replacement for White and Alford on the outside. But receivers coach Lonnie Galloway has other factors he will be placing high on the priority list as he evaluates Gibson and the rest of the receivers battling to become primary targets in the offense.

"If they don't block, they're not going to play," Galloway said. "We didn't have to worry about that with Kevin. Mario would get in the way a little bit. The biggest thing that we're going to try to accomplish for these 15 days is what they're doing now with [strength coach] Mike [Joseph], which is being tough. We'll get the offense part of it right, but you're going to be tough. You're going to block, or you're not going to play. We'll play the freshmen coming in."

Incoming freshman Jovon Durante and Gary Jennings will arrive in the summer with loads of upside and a similar opportunity to impress unless Gibson locks down one spot this spring.

For Gibson, this spring is about taking advantage of an opportunity to cement himself as a playmaker Holgorsen can count on this fall. Or risking a true freshman arriving in the summer and stealing the spotlight.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

March, 23, 2015
Mar 23
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Spring ball rolls on and a few new commitments rolled in, too. The latest from the Big 12 on the recruiting trail:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 7
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 4
The latest: The Bears hosted a big group of recruits for its "Friday Night Lights" scrimmage, including incoming freshmen and targets from several classes. One big man on campus was ESPN 300 lineman J.P. Urquidez, a 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle from Copperas Cove, Texas. Urquidez also visited Miami recently and has those two schools high on his list along with Texas and Oklahoma. He's expected to make his decision this spring.

IOWA STATE
Total commits:
0
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones still have not landed a commitment for 2016. They do continue to pursue defensive end Noah Fant, though that's getting more challenging. The defensive end out of Omaha, Nebraska, recently took an unofficial visit to Nebraska and is expected to check out Purdue next. Getting him in for ISU's junior day was a good move, but Fant is drawing more and more interest these days.

KANSAS
Total commits: 1
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest:
Kansas could face an interesting battle for offensive lineman Chris Hughes of Harker Heights, Texas. He's been offered by KU, North Texas and now Texas Tech, and you wonder if his stock will rise this spring. The younger brother of Texas players Naashon Hughes and Camrhon Hughes is 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, but doesn't hold an offer from the Longhorns yet. Can KU fight to steal him from the state of Texas?

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 1
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats lost a big-time commit over the weekend when defensive end Xavier Kelly elected to reopen his recruitment. Kelly, whose stock has been on the rise this spring, had committed to KSU back in November but is reportedly focusing on Michigan, Oregon and TCU at the moment. He checked in at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds with a 4.55-second 40-yard dash at The Opening regional camp in Arlington, Texas.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 3
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Sooners got one of the nation's best running back recruits on campus. ESPN 300 running back Devwah Whaley, the nation's No. 34 recruit, took an unofficial visit to Norman over the weekend. Texas A&M is presumed to be the frontrunner for Whaley at the moment, but OU is right there in the mix along with Texas, Georgia and several other programs.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 3
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: Who might Oklahoma State take at quarterback for 2016? The favorite sure seems to be Nick Starkel, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound passer from Argyle, Texas. Though his only FBS offers are from Oklahoma State and Old Dominion, Starkel had a good showing at his Elite 11 tryout in Dallas earlier this month and is expected to visit Stillwater again at the end of the month.

TCU
Total commits: 8
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Horned Frogs' first commit for 2017 is in the books: Roshauud Paul. The athlete from Bremond, Texas, pulled the trigger on a commitment last Tuesday and is being recruited as a receiver/corner. As a sophomore, he helped lead Bremond to a Class 2A state title as a quarterback with more than 3,200 total yards and 40 TDs.

TEXAS
Total commits: 4
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 3
The latest: Texas actually has five pledges for 2016, as quarterback Matthew Merrick will grayshirt and enroll next spring. That's his final decision after several schools (led by Florida) pushed hard following signing day to flip Merrick and get him enrolled in the fall. Merrick and ESPN 300 commit Shane Buechele both are expected to arrive in Austin in January. Merrick has a big arm and will be a nice development prospect.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 3
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: Texas Tech's staff landed a good one in Donte Coleman. The tight end from West Mesquite High in Texas turned down a dozen other good offers to pick the Red Raiders on Saturday. Coleman, who hauled in four TDs as a junior, could be a matchup nightmare in Tech's scheme at 6-4 and 220 pounds.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 7
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: West Virginia's newest pledge came from Zach Sandwisch of Toledo, Ohio, an outside linebacker who likes how he'll fit in the Mountaineers' defensive plans. Sandwich racked up 80 tackles in 10 games while helping lead Central Catholic to a state title as a junior. He took visits to West Virginia, Indiana, Toledo and Bowling Green before reaching his decision last week.

Thursday wasn't pretty for Big 12 basketball. Never fear, I'm here to put ailing minds back on football. In Friday's Twitter mailbag, we discuss a potential undefeated Revivalry showdown, Texas Tech's underrated offensive weapon, and whether Baker Mayfield will win the starting QB job in Norman.

On to the 'Bag:

Trotter: The easy answer on offense is either TCU or Baylor or both. The Horned Frogs return 10 starters off an attack that ranked second in the country (behind Baylor). Quarterback is the only real question in Waco, and the early returns on Seth Russell this spring have been good. Defensively, keep an eye on Oklahoma State. The Cowboys will have four cornerbacks who can really play. Jordan Sterns is an All-Big 12-caliber safety. The linebacking corps will be the deepest of the Mike Gundy era. And Emmanuel Ogbah is the reigning Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Trotter: At this point, I'd be surprised. A lot can happen this spring. But the Sooners got a long look at Trevor Knight and Cody Thomas last year, and it was very evident that neither was the answer, at least in their 2014 form. Given his time at Texas Tech and his skill set, Mayfield is also a better fit for the air raid offense that new coordinator Lincoln Riley is installing. Knight could get another shot if Mayfield struggled next season. But my money would be on Mayfield opening the year as the starter.

Trotter: You forced me to look up that 1935 Iron Skillet showdown. That was a big one, considering both the Frogs and Ponies were undefeated. But a "Revivalry" featuring an unbeaten TCU and Baylor would be monstrous. The winner would be all but guaranteed a spot in the playoff. I feel pretty comfortable in saying that would constitute the biggest college football game in Fort Worth history.

Trotter: I expect a step back offensively. But maybe a step forward on defense. It would be almost impossible for any offense to immediately replace the production that Kevin White, Mario Alford and Clint Trickett supplied last year. The Mountaineers also have some retooling to do on the offensive line. Even in a best-case scenario, it's hard to see the Mountaineers being close to as explosive as they were last year. That said, West Virginia could have the league's top secondary with Karl Joseph, Dravon Henry and Daryl Worley. The linebackers have experience. And though pass rush is a concern, this has a chance to be West Virginia's best defense in years. Will that be a net plus given the losses on offense? Probably not. But the possibility is there.

Trotter: I'm not sure what preview you're referring to, but Washington definitely gets overlooked, due to Tech's overall struggles last year. But he's a dynamic all-around back, who can reel off big plays and inflict damage as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. This is one of the league's better offensive players. With more consistent quarterbacking in front of him, he could have a huge 2015 season.

The production from Kansas State's quarterbacks in the past three seasons should make it no surprise the Wildcats have become mainstays in the Big 12 title race.

Since TCU and West Virginia joined the Big 12 in 2012, the Wildcats have had the conference's most productive quarterbacks ahead of Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and other Big 12 programs that have a reputation for stellar signal-callers. With the help of ESPN Stats and Information, here's a closer look at the Big 12 Total QBR rankings (conference games only) since 2012.

(Note: Total QBR is a ESPN metric used to determine a quarterback's impact. Here is a detailed explanation of Total QBR.)

1. Kansas State, 79.5
2014: 83.5, 1st
2013: 71.8, 3rd
2012: 83.2, 2nd

Summary: The combination of Jake Waters and Collin Klein helped push the Wildcats to the top of the list. Klein’s 83.9 Total QBR in 2012 is the third-best in the Big 12 since 2012, and his 23 rushing touchdowns helped offset a 16:9 touchdown-interception ratio. Waters’ 83.2 Total QBR led the Big 12 in 2014 and was fifth overall during this span. The Wildcats were the only program with two quarterbacks in the top five.

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
Allen Kee/ESPN ImagesIn 2013, Baylor's Bryce Petty had the Big 12's best statistical season for a quarterback in the last three years.

2. Baylor, 78.6
2014: 71.2, 4th
2013: 85.4, 1st
2012: 78.8, 4th

Summary: Bryce Petty had the Big 12’s best season during this span, recording a 86.2 Total QBR and earning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year during the 2013 season. Nick Florence finished with a 79.5 Total QBR in 2012, helping offset Petty’s 71.4 a year ago. The Bears started one of the conference’s top quarterbacks in each of the past three seasons, a feat only K-State can match.

3. Oklahoma, 74.5
2014: 75, 2nd
2013: 57.8, 7th
2012: 83.9, 1st

Summary: Landry Jones had the Big 12’s second-highest Total QBR during this span, recording a 84.4 in 2012 during the last season OU used a air raid-style offense. After a horrible 2013 season full of uncertainty at the position, the Sooners landed third on this list thanks to Trevor Knight’s 79.4 in 2014.

4. Texas Tech, 69.4
2014: 68.9, 5th
2013: 67.2, 5th
2012: 72.5, 6th

Summary: Davis Webb’s 77.7 Total QBR in 2013 is yet another reason to pump the brakes on the Patrick Mahomes coronation. It was the Red Raiders' best and among the top 10 in the conference during this span. Mahomes (70.7 in 2014) and Seth Doege (71.4 in 2012) join Webb among the top 15 in the Big 12 during the past three seasons, giving the Red Raiders three quarterbacks in the top 15, more than any other Big 12 program.

5. Oklahoma State, 66.4
2014: 46.3, 9th
2013: 74.6, 2nd
2012: 72.7, 5th

Summary: Clint Chelf is the sole reason the Pokes finished in the top half of the conference. His Total QBR was second in the Big 12 at 83.8 in 2013 and 13th in the Big 12 at 71.2 in 2012. Chelf was constantly battling for his spot during his final two seasons, but when Oklahoma State turned the offense over to him, he produced.

6. Texas, 65
2014: 58.4, 8th
2013: 70.1, 4th
2012: 66.7, 7th

Summary: This sums up the Longhorns' quarterback struggles. Case McCoy’s Total QBR of 69.1 in 2013 was the Longhorns' highest Total QBR during this span. Tyrone Swoopes recorded a 58.2 in 2014 and David Ash had a 67 in 2012.

7. West Virginia, 64.3
2014: 64, 6th
2013: 44.1, 9th
2012: 81.2, 2nd

Summary: Things went downhill for Dana Holgorsen’s team after Geno Smith recorded a 80.5 Total QBR in 2012, sixth in the Big 12 during this span, then headed to the NFL. Clint Trickett started the 2014 season strong, but his turnover-filled second half of the season dropped his final Total QBR to 61.9. Yet that was still better than the 54.9 he recorded in 2013.

8. TCU, 58.5
2014: 72.5, 3rd
2013: 47.9, 8th
2012: 54.2, 8th

Summary: This underscores just how bad the Horned Frogs production at quarterback was during TCU’s first two seasons in the Big 12. And that lackluster production came partially with Trevone Boykin under center. Boykin recorded a 52 Total QBR in 2013 before jumping to a 71.8 in 2014. It was one of the nation's highest jumps from a returning quarterback.

9. Iowa State, 54.9
2014: 58.8, 7th
2013: 56.7, 6th
2012: 47.5, 9th

Summary: One big reason the Cyclones have been going downhill since TCU and West Virginia entered the league is their subpar quarterback play. Fortunately for Iowa State, Sam Richardson has the potential to make quarterback a strength for the Cyclones in 2015.

10. Kansas, 31.7
2014: 44.5, 10th
2013: 20.2, 10th
2012: 30.7, 10th

Summary: The Jayhawks are the only team that showed no movement in the standings in any of the three seasons. It doesn’t get much worse than KU’s production in 2013. It’s easy to see why Kansas decided to go in a different direction with the hope David Beaty can spark a change at quarterback.

Barring some unforeseen catastrophe in Waco or Fort Worth, TCU and Baylor will exit spring ball still as the Big 12 co-favorites heading into 2015.

But the following question will linger well into the summer: Who in the league is most equipped to challenge their conference superiority?

It’s a question sure to foster several opinions, which is why we’re putting it you in our weekly Big 12 poll.

SportsNation

Which team has the best chance of challenging Baylor and TCU?

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    11%

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    26%

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    19%

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    22%

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    22%

Discuss (Total votes: 6,873)

Oklahoma State debuted as the No. 3 team in our Way-Too-Early Big 12 Power Rankings. The Cowboys seem to have a budding standout at quarterback in rising sophomore Mason Rudolph. Oklahoma State returns several starters on either side of the ball as well. But the Cowboys also struggled for much of last season. And without a miraculous comeback in the regular-season finale in Norman, which catapulted Oklahoma State to its bowl victory over Washington, the Cowboys’ 2015 outlook wouldn’t be looking so sunny. This is still a team with much to prove.

Oklahoma was viewed as the co-favorite along with Baylor heading into the 2014 season. The Sooners were in the top five of the polls during the first half of the season, too, before the bottom fell out. The Sooners have some major questions, notably at quarterback and in pass defense. But Samaje Perine and Sterling Shepard are All-American-caliber performers and whoever wins the quarterback battle could flourish in Lincoln Riley’s air-raid system.

Texas has an even bigger question at quarterback. Tyrone Swoopes struggled down the stretch last year, and Jerrod Heard will only be a second-year freshman. The Longhorns will also be replacing several of its best players off last year’s team. Charlie Strong, however, has recruited well. And if the young pieces come along fast, Texas could be a factor.

TCU overshadowed the run that West Virginia made last year until a late-season slide. The Mountaineers have to replace a lot of offensive firepower in wideouts Kevin White and Mario Alford. But Skyler Howard received invaluable experience at quarterback filling in for Clint Trickett. And behind safety Karl Joseph, the Mountaineers should feature the best defensive backfield in the league.

Kansas State doesn’t have much coming back off a team that was a Big 12 title contender going into the final week of last season. The departures of Tyler Lockett, Jake Waters and several other key contributors won’t easily be replaced. But the presence of Bill Snyder alone warrants the Wildcats a spot in this poll.

So, midway through spring ball, who is the biggest threat to TCU and Baylor?

Let us know what you think by casting your vote.

One of the best times of the year tips off later Thursday as March Madness gets underway.

A Cinderella team is likely to emerge to grab the attention of the entire nation this weekend.

The exact same thing could happen in the Big 12 this fall. TCU and Baylor are clear favorites to win the conference with uncertainty reigning behind the returning co-champions. Yet it wouldn't be a surprise to see a Cinderella team rise into the Big 12 title fight. Here's a look at three teams that could become a Cinderella Big 12 champion in 2015:

Kansas State

Outside observers will look at the departures of Tyler Lockett, B.J. Finney, Jake Waters and Ryan Mueller and assume the Wildcats can't put themselves in Big 12 title contention for the fourth time in five seasons.

Bill Snyder's program is like an undeterred train that just keeps cruising down the track with minimal impact from its surroundings. It doesn't matter who is the conductor, it doesn't really matter if there are new parts in the engine room, the train just keeps on moving forward. No matter what the scenario, the odds are the Wildcats are going to be difficult to beat and will not beat themselves.

Joe Hubener is the favorite to replace Waters at quarterback and KSU has several options at receiver to help mimic the production of Lockett. Even with plenty of offensive questions, the Wildcats promise to have a creative attack that puts the ball in the hands of its best players in unique ways. Defensively, safety Dante Barnett, defensive tackle Travis Britz and cornerback Danzel McDaniel return to be among the best in the Big 12 at their positions and sophomore linebacker Elijah Lee has star potential.

Oklahoma State

The Cowboys are the easiest Cinderella pick of the bunch after a strong finish to the 2014 season and a roster full of talented returnees. Mike Gundy's program has made people take notice, even being projected as a College Football Playoff participant by ESPN insider Brad Edwards.

Last season, OSU was like a lion cub. It was readily apparent they would eventually be dangerous but just as apparent they weren't quite ready to hunt. Then came Bedlam. The Cowboys notched their first "big game" with a 38-35 road win over Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, transforming from potential predator to bonafide killer. This fall presents the opportunity for Gundy's squad to show they're established hunters and ready to become among the nation's most dangerous teams.

Sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph is the spark plug who has ignited the preseason praise for the Pokes. But he still has just three total games under his belt, meaning there could be potholes ahead as he learns what it takes to consistently perform at a Big 12 title level. Luckily for the Cowboys, Rudolph's relative inexperience is overridden by eight returning starters on each side of the ball including All-Big 12 defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.

West Virginia

It's easy to forget how close the Mountaineers were in 2014. Fresh off the heels of wins over Baylor and Oklahoma State, WVU entered November with the Big 12 title within reach. Three losses in their final four Big 12 games and turnover-filled performances followed to erase the memories of the Mountaineers in the Big 12 title chase.

After two up-and-down seasons in the conference, WVU was like a long-distance traveler in 2014. Nearing the end of a long journey, which included plenty of new roadside views and unexpected turns in the road, the Mountaineers stumbled as they neared the destination as if they forgot to stop for gas. Committing 13 turnovers in the final four regular season games ended Mountaineer dreams of a first Big 12 title.

Heading into the fall, WVU has the speed and athleticism on its roster, from top to bottom, to compete with anyone. The Mountaineers' two games against the Big 12's best resulted in a win over Baylor and narrow one-point loss to TCU in 2014. Dana Holgorsen's team could have the Big 12's best secondary, one of the Big 12's best groups of running backs and plenty of experience at linebacker. If WVU finds a pass rush and a playmaking quarterback, the Mountaineers could rise up the Big 12 standings in a hurry.

In this week's Take Two Tuesday, we examine the toughest players to replace in the Big 12. There are many. But TCU linebacker Paul Dawson and West Virginia receiver Kevin White are at the top of the list. Who will be tougher to replace? Depends who you ask.

Take 1: Brandon Chatmon -- Dawson

Dawson won’t be easy to replace. He made life easier for Gary Patterson and the rest of the Horned Frogs.

He averaged 10.46 tackles per game for TCU on his way to 136 total tackles and 81 solo stops as a senior. And tackles were just a portion of the story with the former high school receiver. He had 20 tackles for loss, six sacks, and four interceptions as he was constantly around the ball. Dawson’s ability to make plays in the running game yet hold his own in the passing game is almost irreplaceable.

What really separated Douglas was his excellence in big games. His performances against Minnesota (15 tackles, 4 TFLs), Oklahoma (11 tackles, interception returend for a TD), Baylor (18 tackles, 2 sacks) and West Virginia (12 tackles, one sack, one interception) are just a few examples of his ability to step up when the Horned Frogs needed him most.

Sammy Douglas entered the spring as Dawson’s replacement atop the depth chart, but he faces a tough task to replace the production of the 2014 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Take 2: Jake Trotter -- White

Dawson is a phenomena player, the heart and soul of TCU's defense last season, and won't be easily replaced. But the Horned Frogs were good defensively before Dawson, and they should remain good after him.

Losing White's other-worldly downfield pass-catching ability could have a severe impact on the Mountaineers. It's not that West Virginia can't be lethal again offensively in 2015. But the Mountaineers won't have the element of a receiver who can go up and get the ball over anyone.

The Mountaineers also have much to replace offensively aside from White. Mario Alford was a tremendous receiving wingman. Quarterback Clint Trickett was good for much of the 2014 season. The Mountaineers also have some retooling to do along the offensive line.

A player the caliber of Dawson can't be replaced, but can be covered up by some of the returning surrounding parts. White can't be replaced. And his graduation leaves a much more glaring void in Morgantown.

Big 12 Tuesday mailbag

March, 17, 2015
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In Tuesday's mailbag we chat about West Virginia's offensive line, Texas Tech's potential standouts and Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. As always, thanks for your questions. To submit questions for next week's mailbag, click here.

Zac in Auburn, Nebraska, writes: A recent article indicated the questions coming out of the spring in Morgantown revolve primarily around quarterbacks and receivers. I'm more concerned with the offensive line, what with Mark Glowinski and Quenton Spain gone. Adam Pankey is being moved to guard on one side of Tyler Orlowski and Marcus Lucus is the only other returning starter. Who fills in the rest? What's WVU's O-Line gonna look like? To me that's the most important question, given, they open the holes for the backs and protect the QB. What are your thoughts?

Brandon Chatmon: Offensive line is definitely a question mark Zac, no doubt about it because if that doesn’t come together it won’t matter who wins the quarterback battle or receiver competition. But I get the sense WVU feels good about its options and the overall competition up front. Offensive line coach Ron Crook wants the ability to move guys around to find his best five players and I think the Mountaineers have options, with guys such as Russell Haughton-James and Tony Matteo set to battle for starting spots, yet the depth and competition to make the entire unit raise its level. Pankey’s move inside to guard is a sign WVU likes its options at tackle, even though there isn’t an unquestioned replacement for him. This spring is about finding those five guys, but I don’t think the offensive line will end up being a weak link in Morgantown.

Thomas James in Bossier City, Louisiana, writes: What do you think Samaje Perine's role will be in Oklahoma's new air raid offense? Will there be a few between-the-tackles runs to keep the defense from selling out 100 percent to the pass? Also, is a Baker Mayfield-Perine backfield good enough for a New Year's Six bowl?

BC: I think Perine will make defenses pay if the Sooners can force opponents to respect their passing game. I expect him to get plenty of carries, but I also expect him to be used in the passing game at times as well. He’s not the pass-catching threat that Joe Mixon or Keith Ford is, but he’s not bad as a pass receiver either. He should get plenty of touches and OU’s running backs should be good enough to get into a New Year’s Six bowl. It’s the quarterback position that is the question mark, and I'm not ready to pencil Mayfield in as the starter. If he runs away with the job this spring, maybe we can start talking about New Year's Six bowls.

Dave Fredriksen in Chicago writes: How did the Kansas State pro day go for all KSU players involved with it? What is the latest on Jake Waters, who had shoulder surgery after the season in mid-January?

BC: Receiver Tyler Lockett and center B.J. Finney had strong showings at the NFL combine, so they didn’t really need to makeup for any missteps in Indianapolis. Lockett and Finney simply followed up with a solid pro day. I think both guys are going to be pretty good NFL players and potential starters as rookies. Receiver Curry Sexton reportedly ran a 4.66 and 4.67 with a 32-inch vertical, which should help him earn a shot in an NFL camp. Waters will have to prove he’s healthy first then he could get his NFL shot.

Nick Tam in Dallas writes: Who do you think will be the top players to watch on offense and defense for the Red Raiders? Is it possible that we'll see a slightly more energetic defense under Gibbs?

BC: It sounds like David Gibbs has definitely brought energy to the Tech defense with the Red Raiders skill guys telling reporters they don’t like the Tech defense’s new tendency to rip at the ball every chance they get. Tech fans should be excited to hear those types of things coming out of Lubbock. It makes me think Gibbs is the guy to get the Red Raider defense turned around. I think quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the guy to watch on offense and cornerback Nigel Bethel on defense. I think both guys could have stellar sophomore seasons that earn them consideration among the best in the Big 12 at their positions.

Tim in Austin, Texas writes: The word on the street is that Tyrone Swoopes is entering spring practice as the frontrunner and the guy to beat. How long before ESPN backtracks on that mantra that you've presented as fact that Swoopes is definitely not the answer?

BC: I’m not going to step back in my opinion that Swoopes is not the answer, Tim. Obviously you think he is. The great thing about sports is it doesn’t matter what I think. Tyrone can shut me up between the white lines. He has shown flashes he can be that guy, but it hasn’t been consistent enough for me to think he’s the answer. Instead I think Jerrod Heard could be. By the way, I don’t know how being the favorite heading into spring practice changes anything. He could start Game 1 of the 2015 season and that doesn’t mean he’s the answer, unless the question is: Who is going to start the season opener? And that’s not the question I’m looking to answer.

One has been compared to Cam Newton, one made national headlines before he hit high school and the other had FCS schools hovering before a strong summer camp showing earned his first FBS offer.

William Crest, David Sills and Chris Chugunov are the relative unknowns in the competition to be the starting quarterback at West Virginia this spring. That trio of freshmen join Skyler Howard in the horse race which has started with Howard a couple of lengths ahead of the competition.

"He's played the most and he knows the most right now," head coach Dana Holgorsen said of Howard, who quarterbacked the offense in WVU's final three games. "He played a big role in three of the games last year. He's still pretty raw so he will continue to get better."

[+] EnlargeDana Holgorsen
Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY SportsWest Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen has a talented but inexperienced group competing for the starting quarterback.

Howard has the experience advantage but it won't keep Holgorsen from naming one of the three freshman as the starter if they supplant the junior quarterback. Holgorsen is taking over the duties as quarterback coach and is looking forward to exploring the positives he sees in each of his three freshmen.

Crest, who was compared to Cam Newton by his high school head coach Lawrence Smith, is the big name among the freshman trio. The four-star prospect earned the backup quarterback spot as a true freshman before a shoulder injury forced a medical redshirt season in 2014. Crest played in WVU's 54-0 win over Towson State, completing 3 of 4 passes for 7 yards and rushing five times for 27 yards and a touchdown before the injury. At 6-foot-2, 214 pounds, Crest brings a physical presence to the offensive backfield that no other competitor offers.

"William (Crest) has the next amount of experience. What I've seen of him is very limited," Holgorsen said. "Crest looks great physically. I told him he better quit lifting or he will be a linebacker. He looks great."

You might remember Sills as the 13-year-old who committed to USC and Lane Kiffin before he entered high school. He remained on USC's commit list until 2014 and he eventually picked the Mountaineers before enrolling early to compete for a starting spot this spring. His unusual recruiting journey -- Michigan and Clemson were among the other schools that pursued him -- overshadowed his ability. Even with the early attention his talent attracted, Sills still has room to grow and develop as a quarterback, particularly after a broken ankle robbed him of the bulk of his senior season after three games.

"David Sills may be the most athletic one we have," Holgorsen said. "You can see that with the different drills he's running."

The least known of the trio is Chugunov, who was being chased by FCS schools before former WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson saw him throw in person and convinced him to visit campus and throw at a WVU camp. Chugunov impressed, WVU offered and he committed. He's not as big of a dual threat as the other three, but his ability to throw the ball and operate the offense could help him stand out.

"Chris Chugunov is a little less athletic but has absorbed the offense quicker," Holgorsen said. "You can tell from asking him questions that that dude is pretty bright."

All four quarterbacks have physical gifts that could separate them from the pack, yet those aren't the attributes that are going to win the job. The quarterback who can operate the offense the way Holgorsen requires -- makes good decisions and can think quickly on their feet -- will likely win the job.

"As far as how they process things, how the ball comes out of their hand, I don't know," Holgorsen said. "Because we haven't been able to do that yet."

That's why this spring could be a spring board for one of the four quarterbacks. Howard, Crest, Sills and Chugunov will get opportunities to impress as Holgorsen.

But Holgorsen isn't in a hurry to name a starter.

"That's up to them," he said. "I name them when I feel good about naming them. Two years ago we did it and no one took ahold of it. Last summer, Clint [Trickett] came back and took ahold of things. That's up to them. There will be a lot of snaps in the spring that will give them opportunities to prove themselves."

Big 12 morning links

March, 17, 2015
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Already changed my Final Four picks a couple times. After Kentucky, it's not easy. Also, I think we have four legitimate Final Four contenders out of the Big 12 this year.

  • The linebacker spots are up for grabs in Waco, writes the Waco Herald-Tribune's John Werner. Well, not all linebacker spots. Weakside linebacker Taylor Young is back after earning Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors. But the other two spots will be key, especially on the inside, where Baylor is replacing three-time All-Big 12 performer Bryce Hager. Aiavion Edwards and Grant Campbell will be vying to be that replacement. The Bears will also be looking to find a starting nickelback this spring. Travon Blanchard and Patrick Levels are the contenders there.
  • Oklahoma State is on its third offensive line coach in as many years, but the experience of new assistant Greg Adkins could upgrade the unit, in the opinion of the Tulsa World's Mark Cooper. Adkins arrives after a stint with the Buffalo Bills. He was previously an offensive line coach at Syracuse, Tennessee and Georgia. Of the four assistants Mike Gundy brought in this season, Cooper writes that the Adkins’ hire is probably most important. I can't disagree. Offensive line carries a huge key to Oklahoma State's success in 2015. The rest of the offense seems to be in place. If the offensive line, which should be deeper and more experienced, continues to build on the last season's late surge, then the Pokes have a chance to be a force on that side of the ball.
  • The Mountaineers will host an intrasquad scrimmage on April 18 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, at the AdvoCare Sports Performance Center at the Greenbrier, the same complex where the New Orleans Saints hold their training camp. I always think it's a great idea when schools take their spring practices on the road. It gives fans a chance to get a glimpse of their team they might not otherwise have. Nobody is better at this than West Virginia, which held practices in Wheeling and Charleston last year
  • The Orlando Sentinel, which does a great job covering college football on a national level, released its five conference games to watch in the Big 12 this year. I definitely agree with two of them. I'm not sure about the other three. I will, by the way, be ranking every game in the Big 12 again later on in the summer.
  • The Des Moines Register's Courtney Crowder has a fun piece on what it's like to be "Cy," the Iowa State mascot. "Despite the smile permanently plastered across his beak, portraying Cy, who celebrated his 60th birthday in October, is harder than it looks," Crowder writes. "In addition to keeping up with their schoolwork, the five students who inhabit Cy must try out for their spot on the squad and spend about 100 hours in the suit each year."

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

March, 16, 2015
Mar 16
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Several elite recruits in the area were in Dallas over the weekend to battle for a spot in The Opening, an elite Nike football camp held annually in June in Eugene, Oregon.

BAYLOR
Total commits: 7
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 4
The latest: The offers continue to roll in for defensive tackle commit Jordan Elliott, who reportedly added offers from Michigan and Florida State last week. Texas, Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma are among the other teams trying to flip Elliott from the commit list of Art Briles team. He claims he is solid with BU but plans to take other visits.

Total commits: 0
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones continue to try to find hidden gems in Florida with seven offers to recruits from the Sunshine State including Sarasota Riverview athlete Oshea Grant. The Cyclones join Kentucky, Connecticut and South Florida as teams who have offered the 6-foot, 180-pound prospect.

KANSAS
Total commits: 1
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks got a pleasant surprise with an unofficial visit from 2017 prospect Najee Harris. The Antioch (California) running back already boasts offers from Alabama, TCU, UCLA, USC and others. In addition the Jayhawks offered Isaiahh Loudermilk, an eight-man football standout. The Howard (Kansas) West Elk prospect also boasts an in-state offer from Kansas State.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 2
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats offered a couple of quality prospects in TCU commit D'Eriq King and highly regarded cornerback Jared Mayden. It was a terrific week for Mayden, who also earned an invite to The Opening after a strong showing in the Dallas Regional.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 3
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: Houston C.E. King running back Trayveon Williams released his top 10 last week with the Sooners making the cut for the ESPN Junior 300 member. The ultra-quick running back would be the ideal fit as a all-purpose threat in Lincoln Riley’s offense. Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech join the Sooners on his top 10 list.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 3
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cowboys landed their third pledge of the Class of 2016 with Arlington (Texas) Lamar cornerback Madre Harper deciding to commit to OSU. Harper turned down several other offers including Oklahoma to join the Pokes' commit list.

TCU
Total commits: 8
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 3
The latest: TCU offered Washington commit Brandon Wellington as Gary Patterson’s program continues to expand its recruiting reach to the West Coast. The Horned Frogs also missed out in its pursuit of a potential playmaker when California receiver Theo Howard, who had made unofficial visits to TCU and Baylor, picked Oregon over the weekend.

TEXAS
Total commits: 4
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 3
The latest: Longhorns receiver target Devin Duvernay starred at the Dallas Regional, earning a spot at The Opening. He reportedly ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash over the weekend and has several schools including the Longhorns, TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma and others battling for his signature.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 2
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Red Raiders became the first offer for Baldwin Park (California) offensive lineman Francisco Perez. San Diego State and Vanderbilt quickly followed with offers for the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 6
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Mountaineers held junior day on Sunday and it paid off with a pair of commitments. Sandy Spring (Maryland) Sherwood receiver Marcus Simms and Charleston (West Virginia) Capital quarterback Tyrhee Pratt picked the Mountaineers. Simms picked WVU over Maryland, Pittsburgh and others.

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