2014 All-Big 12 underclassman team

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
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From Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine to West Virginia placekicker Josh Lambert, the Big 12 was loaded with underclassmen who made an impact on the 2014 season. With that in mind we unveil our second annual All-Big 12 underclassman team (freshmen and sophomores).

The underclassman team is based on 2014 performances, not future potential -- though many on this list have bright futures as well. Number of games played was also a factor, which is a reason why budding true freshman quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Mason Rudolph, who both came on strong only during the final month of the season, just missed the cut.

Without further ado, the ESPN.com 2014 All-Big 12 underclassman team:

Offense
QB: Tyrone Swoopes, Texas
RB: Shock Linwood, Baylor
RB: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
WR: Corey Coleman, Baylor
WR: KD Cannon, Baylor
WR: Allen Lazard, Iowa State
OT: Adam Pankey, West Virginia
OG: Baylen Brown, Texas Tech
C: Kyle Fuller, Baylor
OG: Daniel Burton, Iowa State
OT: Kent Perkins, Texas
FB: Glenn Gronkowski, Kansas State
AP: Wendell Smallwood, West Virginia

Defense
DE: Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
DT: Andrew Billings, Baylor
DT: Hassan Ridgeway, Texas
DE: Jordan Willis, Kansas State
LB: Taylor Young, Baylor
LB: Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma
LB: Seth Jacobs, Oklahoma State
CB: Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma
CB: Nigel Tribune, Iowa State
S: Jordan Sterns, Oklahoma State
S: Orion Stewart, Baylor

Special teams
K: Josh Lambert, West Virginia
P: Colin Downing, Iowa State
KR: Alex Ross, Oklahoma
PR: Cameron Echols-Luper, TCU

ESPN.com's 2014 Big 12 awards

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
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We've given you our All-Big 12 team first team, All-Big 12 second team, All-Americans and True Freshman All-Americans. Later today on the blog, we'll unveil our take on an All-Underclassman Team. But first, it's time to honor the very best of the best in the Big 12.

A few of these selections were easy. A lot of them were not. Here are our award winners for the Big 12 in 2014.

[+] EnlargeTrevone Boykin
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesTrevone Boykin went from being a possible backup quarterback to a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Trevone Boykin, TCU

College football's most improved player by far, Boykin went from utility player to superhero in an instant. His dream season included more than 4,400 total yards, 39 touchdowns, leadership of the nation's No. 2 scoring offense, 11 wins, a Big 12 championship trophy and a fourth-place finish for the Heisman Trophy. In August, there was no guarantee he'd be TCU's starting quarterback. By December, he had more Heisman votes than Jameis Winston. Incredible player, incredible season.

Defensive Player of the Year: DT Malcom Brown, Texas

The All-American and Outland Trophy finalist played defensive tackle at a level this league hadn't seen since Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. Brown, an unblockable 6-foot-2, 320-pound monster, fought through double teams for 64 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He's a nightmare to gameplan against and was consistently dominant from the start of the season to the finish.

Coach of the Year: Gary Patterson, TCU

Patterson's trophy case is filling up with national awards this month, and we'll throw him one more. A no-brainer choice for ESPN.com Coach of the Year, Patterson guided one of the most impressive one-year turnarounds we've seen in a long time. His 11-1 Horned Frogs looked nothing like the 4-8 team from 2013, even with nearly all of the same players from that season. Patterson hired the right coordinators, picked the right quarterback and nearly took them all the way to the College Football Playoff.

Offensive Freshman of the Year: RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma

Freshmen aren't supposed to rush for 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns and an NCAA-record 427 yards in one game. Perine, a perfectly built wrecking ball of a back, never played like a freshman this season. He surpassed 200 yards in three games, put the Sooners on his massive back and finished the regular season as the No. 8 rusher in the country.

Defensive Freshman of the Year: S Dravon Henry, West Virginia

The Mountaineers had high hopes for their former ESPN 300 recruit, and he lived up to the hype. Henry has started at free safety since day one and logged 37 tackles and two interceptions, including a 52-yard pick-six. He's going to be a difference-maker in this conference soon.

Offensive Newcomer of the Year: RB Rushel Shell, West Virginia

We initially voted last week give this one to Tyreek Hill, because Oklahoma State is not bowl eligible without him talents as a receiver, rusher and returner. But in light on his domestic abuse arrest in dismissal, we'll instead recognize Shell. The Pitt transfer is the complete package on his best days, a tough runner who accounted for 897 total yards and seven scores while splitting carries.

Defensive Newcomer of the Year: CB Danzel McDaniel, Kansas State

A hard-hitting corner who can do everything else, too, McDaniel shined in his first season as a Wildcat. The Dodge City Community College transfer started every game and finished with 55 tackles (five for loss), a 5-yard pick-six at Oklahoma and two forced fumbles. McDaniel covers, plays the run, hits with aggression and brought a lot of confidence.

Big 12 morning links

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
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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.
Samaje Perine ran over defenders, KD Cannon ran by them and Dravon Henry brought the savvy of a veteran to a secondary in need of depth.

Oklahoma's Perine, Baylor's Cannon and West Virginia's Henry earned ESPN.com True Freshman All-American honors on Monday as the trio secured spots among the nation's best with stellar first seasons in the Big 12. You can find the full team here.

Perine, a running back from Pflugerville, Texas, led the Big 12 with 1,579 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 6.58 yards per carry during his freshman campaign. He averaged 7.05 yards per carry on first down and rushed for 150 yards or more in each of the Sooners' final three games.

Cannon, a receiver from Mount Pleasant, Texas, finished with 50 receptions for 833 yards and six touchdowns. He was a handful from the opening kickoff with 17 receptions for 409 yards and five touchdowns in the first quarter this season.

Henry, a safety from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, made at least one tackle in 11 of 12 games this season and started every game of his freshman campaign.

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 recruiting scorecard

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
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Here's what's been cooking on the recruiting trail in the past week around the Big 12:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Texas Tech's loss could be Baylor's gain. ESPN 300 QB Jarrett Stidham, who decommitted from the Red Raiders over the weekend, visited Baylor on Sunday. Despite all the Stidham speculation, fellow early enrollee QB Chad President has declared he's still solid with the Bears.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones added some much needed beef to the middle of its defensive with a commitment from DT Bobby Leath from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College.

KANSAS
Total commits: 19
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: New coach David Beaty has forged a reputation on being able to recruit Texas, and over the weekend, he delivered four verbal commitments from the Lone Star State. The Jahawks also added tight end Jace Sternberger from Kingfisher, Okla.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats bolstered their future linebacking corps with a commitment from three-star Louisiana LB Reggie Walker, who had offers from the likes of Florida, Arkansas and Miami. He's a good get, especially because the Hurricanes are trying to flip fellow K-State linebacker commit Mohamed Barry. Still, this was a huge pickup for the Wildcats. K-State also added juco DE Aulelio Olomua last week.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: ESPN 300 DE Ricky DeBerry is expected to make his decision on Friday and the Sooners are a finalist, if not the favorite. Oklahoma assistant Tim Kish did a final in-home visit with DeBerry on Sunday. Oklahoma will have to fend off several big-time programs for DeBerry, including Alabama.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: ESPN 300 running back Ronald Jones, the gem of Oklahoma State's recruiting class, announced Sunday he was reopening his commitment. The Cowboys now desperately need to add a running back to this class, especially in wake of Tyreek Hill's dismissal.

TCU
Total commits: 20
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Days after reeling in former Baylor 2016 DB commit Keshawn Somerville, TCU landed three-star defensive back Montrel Wilson, who backed out of his pledge to the Bears in October. The Frogs also flipped three-star center Jozie Milton from South Carolina over the weekend.

TEXAS
Total commits: 20
ESPN 300 commits: 9
The latest: This could be a huge week for the Texas defense. ESPN 300 LB Darrin Kirkland Jr., a Texas target and former Michigan commit, will announce his decision later today. Top target and ESPN 300 LB Malik Jefferson is scheduled to reveal his decision on Friday.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: The Red Raiders suffered a major blow over the weekend when quarterback Jarrett Stidham, the cornerstone of Kliff Kingsbury's recruiting class since March who was set to enroll early, revealed he had decommitted from Texas Tech. The pressure will be on the Red Raiders now to get a premier QB in the class of 2016.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 24
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Mountaineers are trying to replace Kevin White with another juco WR in four-star Isaac Whitney. Later this week, Whitney is deciding between the Mountaineers, USC and Washington State, but he visited West Virginia over the weekend, which seems encouraging for the Mountaineers' chances.
Admit it. You never, ever thought Trevone Boykin would end up being a Heisman Trophy finalist.

It's OK to confess that. No way Gary Patterson or even Boykin himself could've seen that coming. In fact, Vegas didn't even start putting odds on his chances until the end of October. And yet, the TCU quarterback ended up finishing No. 4 in Heisman voting, thanks to more than 100 third-place votes and even seven first-place ballots.

So the question must be asked: Who's the next Boykin? Following up on Jake Trotter's post today that Boykin and Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine give the Big 12 two significant Heisman contenders, we're taking a way-way-way-too-early look at the conference's potential dark horse candidates.

QB Seth Russell, Baylor: There are a lot of logical reasons for betting on whoever replaces Bryce Petty as Baylor's quarterback. Not betting on Russell here so much as on Baylor's style of play, coaching and surrounding skill talent producing yet another prolific passer. Russell will be an experienced fourth-year player and brings a sneaky ability to run (4.49 40-yard dash speed). Whether it's Russell or somebody else, whoever earns the starting job has to play up to Art Briles' standard. That standard has already produced a Heisman winner and Petty, who finished in the top 10 in Heisman voting twice.

QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech: Why Mahomes over young QBs like Mason Rudolph or Tyrone Swoopes? We can only go by what we've seen so far, and Mahomes' four starts to end Texas Tech's season offered promise. He was the Big 12's leading passer over the final month of the season, and Jarrett Stidham exiting the picture helps Mahomes' chances of holding down the job. He'd still have to beat out Davis Webb and lead Tech to a huge comeback season, but this kid showed flashes of being special as a true freshman.

RB Shock Linwood, Baylor: We have to throw a running back in here due to the lack of established, exciting Big 12 quarterbacks returning in 2015. Since the start of the 2013 season, Linwood ranks 20th nationally in rushing with 2,107 yards. All of those yards have come while splitting carries, and he'll have to again next season. But Briles' offense has always run as much (in fact, more) than it has passed, and leaning on Linwood will make the next QB's job easier. You can also make a deep-sleeper case, by the way, for running backs Johnathan Gray and maybe even Aaron Green.

WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma: OK, yes, this is an absolute shot in the dark and perhaps a pointless one. The biggest "if" here is really whether DGB elects to go pro after a season of practicing with the Sooners. If he spurns the draft and rewards Bob Stoops' faith with another year in Norman, Green-Beckham should be one of the Big 12's most talented players in 2015. The Heisman traditionally has no love for receivers, but DGB is good enough to put up crazy numbers for the Sooners next year.
Not long ago, the Heisman Trophy ran through Big 12 country.

From 1998 to 2011, the Big 12 produced five Heisman winners in Ricky Williams, Eric Crouch, Jason White, Sam Bradford and Robert Griffin III. Others, like Josh Heupel, Adrian Peterson and Vince Young, were worthy runners-up.

[+] EnlargeTrevone Boykin
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesAfter a breakout 2014 season, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin could be even better in 2015.
Lately, though, the Big 12 has been in a Heisman drought.

No winners since 2011.

No finalists since 2012.

That, however, could change in big way next season.

The Big 12 figures to boast a pair of preseason Heisman heavyweights in TCU fleet-footed quarterback Trevone Boykin and Oklahoma bulldozing running back Samaje Perine.

As arguably the most improved player in college football this season, Boykin drove the Horned Frogs to an 11-1 record and the cusp of the College Football Playoff. He led the Big 12 with 3,714 passing yards and 30 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Boykin also ran for 642 yards and eight scores.

The Horned Frogs will be loaded again offensively next season with 10 starters back. Despite splitting time with Casey Pachall his first two years, Boykin will be one of the most experienced quarterbacks in college football. And he will have a season under his belt operating the Doug Meacham/Sonny Cumbie spread offense.

Boykin’s top quarterback competition nationally should be out of the way as well. Marcus Mariota, this year’s Heisman winner, will likely be in the NFL. So likely will Jameis Winston and Baylor’s Bryce Petty.

Because he finished fourth in the voting over the weekend, Boykin will open his senior year on the radar of Heisman voters, which can be an important factor in generating enough traction. And Boykin will be the quarterback of a probable preseason top-10 team and playoff contender, another critical element to mounting a successful Heisman race.

Not since Davey O’Brien accomplished the feat in 1938 has TCU produced a Heisman winner. But with so many factors working in his favor, Boykin will be TCU's best shot to win the award since LaDainian Tomlinson.

However, Boykin won’t be the Big 12’s only shot.

A running back hasn’t won the Heisman since 2009, but Perine could have as good a chance as any running back in 2015 coming off his phenomenal true freshman campaign.

The 5-foot-11, 243-pound power runner led the Big 12 with 1,579 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns this season. One week after Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon set an FBS single-game rushing record with 408 yards, Perine eclipsed it with 427 yards against Kansas on Nov. 22. While splitting carries at times with Keith Ford and Alex Ross, Perine averaged 6.6 yards per carry.

Considering he will have his first full offseason with a college strength and conditioning program, Perine figures to get stronger and sharper, which is a scary thought for opposing Big 12 tacklers. He will be the clear focal point of the Oklahoma offense next season. And like Boykin, he will have Heisman buzz going into the season.

The Sooners will have to win for Perine to have a shot. But if they do, and Perine puts up even bigger numbers as a sophomore, he could join Boykin as a major factor in the Heisman race.

Boykin and Perine aren’t the only Big 12 players who could impact the Heisman race. Anyone quarterbacking the Baylor offense has a chance to make waves. Mason Rudolph and Pat Mahomes shined as true freshman quarterbacks for Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, respectively, and could turn into big-time players.

Few saw Boykin as a starting quarterback, much less a Heisman contender, before this season. Who knows who next year’s Boykin will be from the Big 12?

But after banner 2014 seasons, Boykin and Perine have prime opportunities to turn the Heisman race back through the place it once ran seemingly every year: Big 12 country.

Big 12 morning links

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
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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.

Early Offer: The dead period is here 

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14
11:00
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video
What is the dead period and why is it an important time in football recruiting? Plus, Texas Tech’s loss at quarterback could be Baylor’s gain.

Best of the visits: Big 12

December, 14, 2014
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With the NCAA dead period scheduled to begin Monday, many schools were looking to get one final opportunity this year to impress committed and uncommitted recruits. Several players took in official visits to Big 12 schools over the weekend.

Sooners host big visitors

Cornerback Justin Martin was expected to take an official visit to Texas, but the ESPN JC 50 athlete decided to head to Norman instead and visit Oklahoma. That's huge for the Sooners, who have two cornerback commits but could use Martin's experience in the secondary.

And if Martin wasn't enough, ESPN 300 cornerback DeChaun Holiday was gearing up for a visit to Oklahoma - his first official visit of his recruiting process.

The Sooners have ESPN 300 P.J. Mbanasor and ESPN JC 50 William Johnson already committed at the position. Imagine the possibilities if Oklahoma can add Martin and Holiday as well.

Jayhawks red hot under Beaty

The David Beaty era is here for Kansas, and the Jayhawks are wasting no time adding quality talent. Over the weekend, athlete Arico Evans, wide receiver Emmanuel Moore and tight end Jace Sternberger each committed. Moore flipped to Kansas after being committed to North Texas.

OFFICIALLY A JAYHAWK!!! =L<

A photo posted by eman (@emanmoore) on

Evans and Sternberger are underrated talents who could come in and be playmakers much sooner than later in Beaty's offense. Evans can play receiver and quarterback; Sternberger is a tight end who also could project as a defensive lineman.

Another underrated player Kansas is recruiting heavily is wide receiver Xavier Castille, a do-it-all player who plays alongside ESPN 300 running back Chris Warren III. Castille has more than a dozen offers, but his Kansas offer is the first from a Big 12 school.

Weekend in the Little Apple

A handful of recruits traveled to Manhattan, Kansas, for official visits to Kansas State. Three-star quarterback Alex Delton was one of them. Delton has been committed to the Wildcats the longest of all their 13 pledges. Delton committed to Kansas State in February.

Among the others in attendance were three-star defensive end Adam Holtorf, three-star offensive tackle Scott Frantz and three-star running back Denzel Goolsby. The trio enjoyed the trip to Manhattan and is ready to play for Bill Snyder & Co.

 

Trevor Knight cleared to play

December, 13, 2014
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Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight has been cleared to practice and play in the Russell Athletic Bowl, the school announced Saturday.

Knight missed the Sooners' final three regular-season games after suffering a neck injury against Baylor on Nov. 8.

The sophomore could jumpstart Oklahoma's ailing pass offense against Clemson in the bowl game. With freshman Cody Thomas in the lineup in place of Knight, the Sooners averaged less than 100 yards passing per game.

Knight has an 11-3 record as Oklahoma's starter. He was the MVP of the Sugar Bowl last season after passing for 348 yards and four touchdowns.

This season, Knight has passed for 2,197 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushed for 340 yards and five scores.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


(Read full post)


True Freshman All-America Team

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
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[+] EnlargeSamaje Perine
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsSamaje Perine set the NCAA record for rushing yards in a single game. Not bad for a true freshman.

It seems like every year, true freshmen are having a greater impact on the game. This season continued that trend. There were so many good first-year running backs that great players such as Nick Chubb and Dalvin Cook couldn't find their way to this team. Meanwhile, a trio of SEC pass-rushers had immediate influence, with one even breaking Jadeveon Clowney's freshman sack record. Expect to hear a lot more from this group over the next few years.

Offense

QB: Brad Kaaya, Miami

This past summer was a disaster at quarterback for Miami, which lost starter Ryan Williams to injury and prospect Kevin Olsen to off-the-field issues, but Kaaya provided a resounding solution. After some early struggles on the road in his first start, Kaaya was exceptional and led the ACC in touchdowns (25), yards per attempt (8.6) and passer rating (148.2) while proving to be one of the best deep-ball threats in the country.


(Read full post)


Poll: All-Big 12 biggest snub?

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
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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
Dec 12
12:00
PM ET
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

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BIG 12 SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
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Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12