- New West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson has a big challenge in trying to figure out what Alabama's offense will look like, writes the Charleston Gazette's Dave Hickman.
- The Sooners are still waiting on two freshmen to show up, according to The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey.
- Oklahoma's games against Tennessee and Oklahoma State are sold out.
- Former OU defensive lineman Larry Birdine faces domestic assault charges, the Norman Transcript's Jessica Bruha reports.
- Baylor will be unveiling a statue of RG III at McLane Stadium.
- Bears QB Bryce Petty was named one of the freaks of college football.
- The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Nicholas Talbot weighs in on the punch that led to Nigel Bethel II's dismissal.
- Iowa State named two football assistant strength and conditioning coaches.
- Will this season be more of the same for the Jayhawks?
- Texas freshman DT Poona Ford has been cleared and should be ready to go in August.
- The Oklahoman's Cody Stavenhagen offers up 10 Cowboys who could break out this season.
No. 34 Daniel Brooks, running back, 5-foot-8, 185 pounds, sophomore
Impact thus far: Brooks has never played in a game for the Sooners. He redshirted during the 2012 season after injuring his ACL in high school then didn’t get any playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2013.
Impact in 2014: Brooks will have to force his way onto the field. He's in competition with several talented, young running backs for playing time this fall. There's is minimal experience returning at running back.
Long-term upside: Brooks is talented and showed flashes of ability during the spring game. Nonetheless he faces a tough road to playing time at running back in 2014 and beyond.
Evaluation grade for Brooks: C. Ideally, Brooks would have had some type of impact thus far, even if he just played a role on special teams. After all, several of his fellow 2012 signees are the foundation of OU’s 2014 title hopes, including receiver Sterling Shepard, quarterback Trevor Knight and defensive end Charles Tapper. And several 2013 signees surpassed his productivity in one year on campus. Brooks still has time to make an impact, but he’s clearly looking up at other signees of his class.
Development grade for Brooks: C. The Sooners could have given him a little playing time a year ago, particularly in blowout games, yet chose not to give him playing time. That said, the Sooners have given opportunities to several other players, so the lack of opportunities could fall on Brooks' shoulders as much as anyone else.
Today's topic: Should Oklahoma have resorted to adding alternate uniforms?
Take 1: Brandon Chatmon -- Yes
It's been a long time coming for the Sooners. OU needed a new alternate look to keep up with the times in the arms race that is college football recruiting. The Sooners had a stellar close to its Class of 2014, landing several elite prospects in the final month of the recruiting cycle, a clear sign that uniforms aren't the end-all, be-all of recruiting.
Yet, they do have an impact.
Several recruits took to social media to express their approval including current commitment P.J. Mbanasor of Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson and local target Will Sunderland of Midwest City, Oklahoma/Midwest City. And several former players expressed their envy of current Sooners who will get the chance to don the alternate uniforms this fall. Players love alternate uniforms and uniform options so the Sooners' decision to add them was the correct decision.
For OU to dig its heels in the ground and refuse to tinker with their uniform options would have been silly. Uniforms help win recruiting battles and winning recruiting battles wins games. Uniforms are completely in the Sooners' control and it's taken too long for the Sooners to take advantage of this opportunity as it is.
Better late than never.
Take 2: Jake Trotter -- No
The past few years, I had the parent of a player email me many times, inquiring as to why Oklahoma didn't have alternate uniforms.
My answer was always the same. The Sooners had an iconic brand and an iconic look, and didn't need to resort to such tactics.
Sure, the uniform craze has worked wonders for the likes of Oregon and instate rival Oklahoma State, the first school in the Big 12 to follow the Ducks and repeatedly change up its look. Yet before this millennium, Oregon and Oklahoma State football had very little identity. The snazzy uniforms helped give them one.
But Oklahoma already had an identity. And while most kids have never heard of Barry Switzer, much Less Bud Wilkinson, kids are smart enough to know who the “it” schools in college football are. Oklahoma, I always thought, was one of them. Apparently the Sooners themselves weren't so sure.
The new uniforms, no doubt, will generate excitement with the players (see this video) and drum up enthusiasm with recruits.
But there's a reason you don't see Alabama changing its looks for the sake of appealing to recruits. The Crimson Tide don't need to.
I didn't think Oklahoma needed to, either. Like Alabama, I thought the Sooners were above that.
I, apparently, was wrong.
It’s their final chance to maximize their potential, show off for NFL scouts and push their teams to higher heights. In other words, it’s now or never for several Big 12 players who are poised to play the final 12 games of their college careers. Last week we looked at five offensive players who are facing now-or-never seasons. Here’s a look at five seniors on the defensive side of the ball who could have a major impact on their teams' success or hamper those chances for success if they struggle as individuals.
Why he might excel: Talent and production have never been the issue for Hicks. He was poised to become a star until back-to-back season-ending injures derailed his junior and redshirt junior seasons. If he returns to full health and remains healthy, he should be one of the Big 12’s top defenders. The Ohio native had 40 tackles in four games in 2013. If he's productive and healthy, Texas' defense is better and more experienced.
Why he might struggle: Much like teammate David Ash, Hicks' injury history makes it tough to build around him. Hicks has played in seven games in the past two seasons, with a hip injury in 2012 and a Achilles injury in 2013. There’s no guarantee he can return to be the active, productive player who was donned the burnt orange No. 3 during the past few seasons.
Cornerback Kevin White, TCU
Why he might excel: White has quietly performed at a high level for the past two seasons but has remained relatively unnoticed while being overshadowed by the excellence of fellow cornerback Jason Verrett, the San Diego Chargers’ 2014 first-round draft pick. White has started in 24 games in the past two seasons and earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors as a junior. His senior season offers a chance for him to cement himself as one of the top defenders in the conference, particularly as TCU’s top cover man.
Why he might struggle: He will be asked to be the man in the secondary. While lining up opposite Verrett, White was tested plenty during the past two seasons. But can he hold his own when consistently asked to cover the Big 12’s top receivers? If he stumbles, there aren't a lot of experienced options to turn to in the Horned Frogs' secondary.
Defensive tackle James Castleman, Oklahoma State
Why he might excel: Castleman has been productive for the Cowboys during the past two seasons and has all-conference potential. This season is his last opportunity to fulfill that potential. He enters the season with 70 tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss and two sacks in his first three seasons. If Castleman is a disruptive force in the middle, he would help the Cowboys' inexperienced secondary greatly.
Why he might struggle: Castleman has seemed like a guy who could have a breakout season since his sophomore year. Yet it hasn’t really happened during his first three seasons. With Calvin Barnett moving on, Oklahoma State will lean on Castleman to fill the void and take his game to another level. He has supreme talent, but needs to finally maximize his potential during his final season.
Why he might excel: He’s an NFL-level talent with unique physical gifts. Grissom finally began to show his ability to be a dominant player in the final stretch of the 2013 season, particularly the Allstate Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. His junior season was easily his most productive with 40 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception. The Sooners clearly view him as a critical piece in the defense and he could be a guy who helps Eric Striker and Charles Tapper create havoc for opponents.
Why he might struggle: Grissom’s exceptional athleticism has been an anchor during his career in some ways. Recruited as a defensive end, Grissom moved to tight end at one point during his career and he even practiced at linebacker during the spring. The constant moving might be one reason for inconsistency in his play. If he consistently plays his best football, he can be an All-Big 12 performer and rise up NFL draft boards. If he doesn't maintain his Cotton Bowl production, Oklahoma's defense would take a step backward.
Linebacker Kenny Williams, Texas Tech
Why he might excel: He’s a terrific team player and is very versatile. He’s proved he can be a quality Big 12 running back and appears poised to start at linebacker during his final season at Texas Tech. Williams has a unique ability to play several roles and make an impact. If he can excel at linebacker, it gives the Red Raiders a little more piece of mind about a defense that will have to improve greatly for Tech to make a Big 12 title run.
Why he might struggle: He’s listed as a starter at a position he hasn’t called home during his time as a Red Raider. He enters the season as Tech’s most productive returning running back, but his move to linebacker is the best move for the team. It could take him a while to adjust and become productive.
LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- ESPN 300 offensive tackle Andre James appeared calm when he arrived at The Opening, which was to be expected, as the No. 165 overall prospect recently came to a decision regarding his college choice. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound lineman narrowed his list to Ohio State, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC and will announce where he will attend during the event.
It's Insider's second go-round projecting college football's next three years in our Future Power Rankings.
What did we learn from our first edition? For one, teams can make a substantive move in just a year's time. Just look at Auburn, which jumped from 23rd to fifth after a run to the championship game. USC, now with coaching stability, made the biggest leap (25th to sixth). Oklahoma, UCLA, FSU and Baylor were among other risers, and you'll soon read why.
On the other side, we were high a year ago on Florida and Michigan. Oops. The Gators' injury-plagued 4-8 season dropped them from No. 4 to No. 14, while the Wolverines, who lost five of their last six games, fell from fifth to 20th. We know Will Muschamp's job is in danger, but is that an omen for Brady Hoke's future in Ann Arbor?
Alabama is again our No. 1 team, but with two losses to end the season, its lead shrank. Is that a subtle signal that the Tide might have peaked under Nick Saban?
We'll examine those topics and more in the Future Power Rankings.
Here's how we compiled it: Our panel -- myself, Brad Edwards, Brock Huard, Tom Luginbill and Mark Schlabach -- provided 1-10 ratings in five different categories that we found to be comprehensive in determining current positioning, as well as a projection for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Here are the top 25 college football teams over the next three years:
SEC FPR RANK: 1
The bar graphs reflect the average points given by the voters for each category. Category averages are weighted by importance to generate overall score.
Coaching: Saban did not receive a perfect 10, as he did a year ago. Maybe the one panelist who gave him a nine dinged him for how he managed the final second of the Iron Bowl.
But seriously, Saban is still well ahead of No. 2 Urban Meyer (9.2) and No. 3 Bill Snyder (9.0). (Have to appreciate that Snyder gets that kind of love, even if K-State didn't break the Top 25.)
Edwards thinks 2014 is a big year for Saban because it will show whether he can adapt his defense to better handle tempo offenses. Look at how Saban's defenses mightily struggled last year against not only Texas A&M, but also Auburn and Oklahoma.
"You put them all together and you realize, 'You know what, Alabama might have an issue with this,'" Edwards said. "I happen to believe Saban and [defensive coordinator] Kirby Smart have done enough to deserve the benefit of the doubt. Let's see what they can come up with this year before I decide the dynasty is over. Saban is now recruiting to find those types of players [to defend tempo offenses]."
As for the best coach in the state?
"I want to see Gus Malzahn beat Nick Saban one more time before I say he's a better coach," Edwards said, "which is a conclusion a lot of people are already making."
Current talent: There are more positional questions than in the past few years, especially the offensive line and cornerback spots. Rival coaches are even rumbling about it. "I don't know about them," one SEC coordinator said. But do not be fooled for an instant into thinking the Tide have suddenly become as barren as a bachelor's refrigerator in terms of talent.
Bama still has the top running back group in the country with T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry, who was a bright spot in the otherwise drab Sugar Bowl performance. The time could be now for LB Reuben Foster and FS Landon Collins to shine on defense. MLB Trey DePriest will be the defense's rock.
And what about QB Jake Coker? His old coach at FSU, Jimbo Fisher, believes Coker is capable, which is why Coker nearly beat out last year's Heisman Trophy winner to start at FSU.
Recruiting: This is why Alabama earned association with the word "dynasty" -- it started winning almost every major recruiting battle, and the program became the closest thing there is on the planet to the NFL's minor league system. It has not dipped, and there's no reason to believe it will as long as Saban is around; he will not let it slide.
Title path: It's going to happen, and it could happen this year: The SEC is going to knock itself out of the playoff. The strength of the top half of the league could turn out to be a bad thing in some seasons.
The Tide are regularly part of a kickoff game of some kind, playing the likes of Clemson, Virginia Tech or West Virginia, but the nonconference slate is typically manageable. The conference schedule always works for and against the SEC. For the Tide, Auburn is the new-slash-old menace.
The rating suggests that it isn't the ideal road to the playoff, but it should not be preventive for a power program such as Alabama.
Program power: Like the coaching category, Bama still received four 10s and a nine. The takeaway: It's hard to remain perfect.
"We all know that every dynasty comes to an end, but when you look back on every dynasty, you know where the turning point was," Edwards said. Will we say it was the Iron Bowl and Sugar Bowl, perhaps? "I think what you have is a lot of people trying to be the first one to predict the end of the dynasty," Edwards said. "They want to be the ones to say they didn't miss it. I think they're jumping the gun a little bit."
Which is why Alabama is still No. 1. But one program is making up ground in a hurry ...
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No. 29 Rashod Favors, defensive end, 6-foot-1, 253 pounds, senior
Impact thus far: Favors' impact has been minimal during his first four years on campus and featured a position change. After a redshirt season in 2010, he played in one game in 2011 as a linebacker. ... In 2012, he had the lone production of his career with 10 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, in nine games played. ... In 2013, he played in 12 games, largely in a special teams role. He’s played in 22 career games with zero starts heading into his final season in crimson and cream.
Impact in 2014: Expect Favors to play a similar role to 2013 when he saw spot duty on defense and played a special teams role. He should be a contributor but it would be a surprise if he earns a start this fall.
Long term upside: He’s a contributor, not a game changer, but his experience could prove useful as a senior.
Evaluation grade for Favors: D. He’s a contributor, but entering his senior season without a start drops this grade below average. Favors has played in 22 games as a Sooner, which cannot be overlooked, but more is expected from a Sooners’ signee.
Development grade for Favors: C. Favors flashed some pass-rush ability early in his career but wasn’t moved to the defensive line until his junior season. Yet it’s hard to say he hasn’t gotten opportunities because he has gotten some chances on defense, but other players have simply outperformed him.
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Bears have had a couple of decommits in recent weeks but are still in terrific shape at the skill positions. Adding some beef up front, particularly along the offensive line, will be key for Baylor as this recruiting cycle progresses.
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones' recruiting class looks much better today than it did early last month with Paul Rhoads' program landing five commitments in June including Austin (Texas) Westlake quarterback Dominic DeLira. It will be important for the Cyclones to hold off other suitors for DeLira and build this class around him now that he is on their commit list.
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks added another junior college commitment when Trinity Valley Community College (Texas) defensive back L.B. Bates picked KU on June 29. Bates is a 6-foot, 175-pounder who is originally from Allen, Texas, and can play cornerback or safety.
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: K-State has two commitments from Georgia -- running back Kalin Heath and Isaiah Zuber -- among their six total commitments. Bill Snyder’s program is one of many Big 12 schools that have recognized the opportunity to land overlooked hidden gems in SEC country.
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: OU added alternate uniforms last week, with an eye on giving its recruiting a boost while maintaining its tradition. Several recruits liked the move, which had been in the works since last year with the help of former players Trey Millard, Aaron Colvin and Gabe Ikard contributing to the design.
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Cowboys are off to a solid start on the recruiting trail, particularly at the skill positions. Nacogdoches (Texas) cornerback Jaylon Lane, a current Cowboys commit, is at The Opening this week and is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the nation.
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Horned Frogs might be in the best shape of any Big 12 school with more than half of its recruiting class already secured. TCU, which doesn’t have a ESPN300 member on its commit list, can now focus on rounding out its class with elite signees.
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: The Longhorns are in solid shape along the offensive front with three offensive linemen on their commit list including ESPN300 members Toby Weathersby of Houston, Texas/Westfield and Patrick Vahe of Euless, Texas/Trinity.
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: Kliff Kingsbury’s program got terrific news last week when ESPN300 defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko of Honolulu, Hawaii/Farrington decided he would not take any more recruiting trips and is 100 percent committed to the Red Raiders. He will also take part in The Opening this week.
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers are late to the party but WVU threw its hat into the mix in the race to sign elite Class of 2017 prospect Anthony Hines III of Plano, Texas/East. Hines has 43 total offers but has been committed to Mississippi State since Oct. 13.
- Lynn McGruder, another Sooner who received a second chance, tells The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey he is pulling for Dorial Green-Beckham.
- The Charleston Gazette previews West Virginia's first opponent -- Alabama.
- Oklahoma State's recruiting is focused on defensive backs, according to The Oklahoman's Cody Stavenhagen.
- AL.com's Joel A. Erickson examines Auburn's early-season trip to Kansas State.
- Traffic signs pointing to Baylor’s old Floyd Casey Stadium are coming down this week.
- Nigel Bethel II's dismissal could impact Texas Tech's secondary depth, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Nicholas Talbot.
- The Dallas Morning News projects the starting offensive lines of TCU, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor.
That ball got rolling Monday morning with the release of the watch lists for the Maxwell (player of the year), Bednarik (defensive player of the year) and Hornung (most versatile player) awards.
Here are the Big 12 players who made each watch list.
- RB Malcolm Brown, Texas
- WR Antwan Goodley, Baylor
- RB Johnathan Gray, Texas
- QB Trevor Knight, Oklahoma
- RB Shock Linwood, Baylor
- WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
- QB Bryce Petty, Baylor
- QB Jake Waters, Kansas State
- QB Davis Webb, Texas Tech
- DT Malcom Brown, Texas
- S Sam Carter, TCU
- CB Quandre Diggs, Texas
- DE Devonte Fields, TCU
- LB Bryce Hager, Baylor
- LB Ben Heeney, Kansas
- DT Chucky Hunter, TCU
- S Karl Joseph, West Virginia
- DE Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
- DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor
- DE Cedric Reed, Texas
- LB Frank Shannon, Oklahoma
- LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma
- DE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
In 2007, just two days before the Sooners’ season opener, freshman Ryan Broyles was arrested, accused of stealing gasoline from a Norman convenience store.
But as it turned out, Broyles wasn’t a troubled kid. He was just a kid in trouble.
And after serving his time with Stoops, Broyles would go on to become a model student and citizen, a team captain and leader and the most prolific career pass-catcher in NCAA history.
Which brings us to Green-Beckham, who stunningly was added to the Oklahoma roster last week after stunningly getting the boot from Missouri in April.
The Sooners clearly viewed the high reward outweighed the high risk with Green-Beckham , and it’s actually not difficult to see why.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Green-Beckham was a significant part of the Tigers’ run to the SEC East championship last season. He led Missouri with 59 receptions and 12 touchdowns, including a school-record four receiving touchdowns against Kentucky. He also had 144 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the SEC championship game.
Green-Beckham is precisely the lone piece Oklahoma lacked offensively going into the 2014 season.
The Sooners have the most experienced returning offensive line in the league. They have a budding star at quarterback in Trevor Knight, who broke out in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. They have plenty of young talent at running back. And they have a go-to receiver in the slot in Sterling Shepard. But Oklahoma previously didn’t have a proven downfield threat on the outside. That’s exactly what Green-Beckham is. His seven red-zone touchdown catches, in fact, would have led the Big 12 last season.
The Sooners plan to petition the NCAA to make Green-Beckham eligible for the 2014 season via the run-off exception. The exception applies to student-athletes who don’t have the opportunity to return to their previous team for “reasons outside the control of the student-athlete (Oklahoma would also have to show Green-Beckham is in good academic standing, and Missouri would have to sign off on the eligibility request).
But it will be interesting to see how the NCAA interprets its own rule in the case of Green-Beckham. Was his dismissal from the Tigers football team really “outside his control?”
Twice before his dismissal at Missouri, Green-Beckham was arrested on marijuana-related complaints, though charges were never filed after the second arrest.
But the shoe only dropped on Green-Beckham after he was accused of breaking into the apartment of an 18-year-old female Missouri student while trying to see his girlfriend. The student told police that Green-Beckham also pushed her down at least four stairs. Green-Beckham was never charged with a crime, because, according to police, the women opted not to press charges.
But text message conversations released between Green-Beckham's girlfriend and the alleged victim painted the picture of a troubled kid, and not just a kid in trouble.
Green-Beckham has the talent (think Calvin Johnson) that could put Oklahoma over the top and into the College Football Playoff.
But he also has the baggage that could potentially stain Stoops’ sterling reputation of success with second-chance players like Broyles.
Violence against women on college campuses is a growing problem, and several noteworthy cases involving college football players in the last year have only amplified the epidemic.
Green-Beckham might or might not be on the field for games this season, depending on the outcome of the waiver. But either way, he will most definitely be on Oklahoma’s campus.
What message would it send if Green-Beckham were accused again of attacking a female student?
According to Oklahoma officials, Green-Beckham will be on a zero-tolerance policy. He will be regularly drug-tested. He will have mandatory counseling. He has been given the chance to turn his life around, both on and off the field. From Stoops to school president David Boren, the Sooners believe he can.
But with this troubled player, the risk is high.
Just like the reward.
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No. 28 Alex Ross, running back, 6-foot-1, 221 pounds, sophomore
Impact thus far: Ross hasn’t made a major impact despite impressing behind closed doors in practice. After a redshirt season in 2012, he played in 10 games in 2013, mostly on special teams, ending the season with three carries for 19 yards.
Impact in 2014: Ross had a strong spring, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him earn some carries this fall. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see him duplicate his 2013 production with so many talented running backs on the roster. But, regardless of how much talent is on the roster, Ross will be hard to keep off the field if he starts to maximize his potential.
Long term upside: His size/speed combination is hard to match. If he's healthy, he could become a critical piece in the Sooners' offense in the next few years.
Evaluation grade for Ross: C. Even though he’s impressed in practice, Ross has yet to show that potential during his opportunities in spring games or last season. Until he starts to produce, this grade will rise no higher than average.
Development grade for Ross: C. It wouldn’t have been the worst idea to get him more carries in 2013, but he has to play his part in earning those opportunities. Keith Ford’s rise up the depth chart is a sign that the opportunity to play is there if someone is focused on grabbing it.
Quotable: “I paid my dues and waited my time. I felt like I needed time to get acclimated to everything around here. I feel like I’ve matured a little bit just in getting bigger and knowing what to do in my part," said Ross, on the chance to play in 2014.
Dorial Green-Beckham Worth The Risk?
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET North Dakota State Iowa State 3:30 PM ET West Virginia Alabama 7:00 PM ET Louisiana Tech Oklahoma 7:00 PM ET Samford TCU 7:00 PM ET Central Arkansas Texas Tech 7:10 PM ET Stephen F. Austin Kansas State 8:00 PM ET Florida State Oklahoma State 8:00 PM ET North Texas Texas