Texas Longhorns: TCU Horned Frogs
Here are the seven players from Big 12 programs on the ballot:
Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma, Linebacker: Two-time consensus first-team All-America pick (1985-86). Set school record for tackles in a game (22) and named Butkus Award winner in 1985 and ’86. Led Sooners to three consecutive Orange Bowls and 1985 national championship.
Troy Davis, Iowa State, Tailback: Two-time consensus first-team All-American and two-time Heisman Trophy finalist. First player in NCAA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in two seasons. Big 12 Player of the Year in 1996 holds nearly every rushing record at Iowa State.
Randy Hughes, Oklahoma, Defensive Back: 1974 first-team All-American and member of 1974 national championship team and three Big Eight championship teams. Finished fourth on OU’s career interceptions list (14). NFF National Scholar-Athlete in 1974.
Bob McKay, Texas, Offensive Tackle: 1969 consensus first-team All-American helped the Longhorns to national championship and unbeaten season at Cotton Bowl in senior season. Member of two SWC championship teams and 1969 all-conference selection.
Zach Thomas, Texas Tech, Linebacker: Two-time first-team All-American, earning unanimous honors in 1995. Two-time consensus SWC Defensive Player of the Year (1993, '94) who led the Red Raiders to the 1994 SWC title. Ranks fifth all time at Tech with 390 career tackles.
LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU, Tailback: Unanimous first-team All-American in 2000 and Doak Walker Award winner in 2000. WAC Offensive Player of the Year in 1999 led TCU to consecutive co-WAC title. Holds 15 school records and is TCU’s all-time leading rusher.
Ricky Williams, Texas, Running Back: Two-time unanimous first-team All-American and 1998 Heisman Trophy winner. Finished his career as the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher and won back-to-back NCAA rushing titles. Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in 1998 left Texas with 46 school records.
Here are the two coaches:
Jim Carlen, West Virginia (1966-69), Texas Tech (1970-74), South Carolina (1975-81): Led teams to eight bowl games and 13 winning seasons in 16 years as a head coach. National Coach of the Year in 1973. Three-time Southwest Conference Coach of the Year. Coached Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers at South Carolina.
Pete Cawthon Sr., Texas Tech (1930-40): Led Tech to four Border Conference titles in 11 seasons at the helm. Led 1938 team to a 10-0 regular season and the school’s first-ever Cotton Bowl appearance. Boasts the highest win percentage (69.3) among Tech coaches with terms of three years or more.
- It will be an offense-by-committee approach at Texas.
- "I don't want that to be the highlight of my Texas Tech career." Red Raiders quarterback Davis Webb remains hungry after his Holiday Bowl MVP performance at the end of his freshman season.
- Baylor's defensive line could be the strength of the Bears' defense this season.
- It's been a while since Kansas coach Charlie Weis didn't have the offensive coordinator title next to his name.
- Oklahoma State has landed a local quarterback for its 2015 recruiting class.
- Here's a position-by-position look at Oklahoma with spring football getting under way this weekend.
- If you haven't been watching the OSU coaches Chalk Talk series, you should check it out.
- One redshirt freshman defender is impressing at TCU.
- An experienced defensive staff could be key for West Virginia.
- Texas Tech has several options at the running back position.
Some of the highlights from the Fort Worth, Texas, native:
On the Iron Bowl finish in 2013:
I would’ve liked to have been there. The SEC is where it’s really crazy, because they have nothing else in life. Just think about it, what in the name of God would Alabama be without the University of Alabama? What would Oklahoma be without the University of Oklahoma? Nothing. That’s why those people are so rabid.On Texas coach Mack Brown:
I know Mack, and he’s a nice guy. I never thought he was a great coach. He’d have been gone sooner if it hadn’t been for Vince Young. Vince gave him a lot of years. It’s like our guy here (TCU head coach Gary Patterson) said, everyone thinks Texas is the greatest job in the world, but it’s not. The greatest job in the world is OU, because you’re isolated. You got no media to deal with. Down there in Austin, you got five million bosses. And the Joe Jamails and Red McCombses and Tex Moncriefs -- the big-money guys -- they’ll give you a while, but if you don’t give them what they want, you’re gone. (Bob) Stoops? He hasn't won a national championship since 2000 -- fourteen years ago. And he’s still there. See, he wins just enough. You know, 9-3, that sort of thing. 9-3 is always what coulda happened.On money changing college football:
There’s so much money involved in the BCS, and now the playoff. I mean, can you imagine that because Baylor went to a bowl game, TCU will get a piece of the pie? It’s crazy. And there’s not one university in America that doesn’t care about money first. It should be TCU: Texas Corporate University. That part I hate.
- TCU officially named Kenny Perry as its cornerbacks coach.
- Junior cornerback Kevin Peterson talks about his road to Oklahoma State.
- Texas Tech is looking to develop depth behind Pete Robertson at linebacker during spring football.
- Here are three storylines to keep an eye on during the Red Raiders' spring drills.
- The NCAA is looking into a Baylor recruiting visit.
- A healthy Jarvis West could be key for Iowa State in 2014.
- The excitement around the Kansas State football program is growing, including record-setting season ticket sales.
- Gabe Ikard is appreciative after winning the Wuerffel Trophy. "This award validates the things I've done in college," he said.
- Former Longhorn Doug English was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame last week. He still holds the University of Texas close to his heart.
- West Virginia assistant coach Damon Cogdell feels at home coaching linebackers after thinking he would be the Mountaineers' defensive line coach at one point.
- The Kansas quarterback search is about to hit full speed.
Below is a breakdown of all the Big 12 early enrollees, and their outlooks for the spring:
OG Jarell Broxton: Could grab a starting role with All-American guard Cyril Richardson gone.
CB Chris Sanders: Was a favorite to start, but is out for the spring after shoulder surgery.
CB Tion Wright: Less highly-touted than Sanders, but has an opportunity with Sanders out.
LB Grant Campbell: With All-Big 12 LB Eddie Lackey gone, Bears hoping Campbell can fill a starting role alongside Bryce Hager.
WR Davion Hall: Recruited as a receiver, Hall is a powerful athlete who gives Baylor another potential dynamic playmaker.
RB Terence Williams: A bruising runner destined to someday fill the role held last season by Glasco Martin.
TE Jordan Feuerbacher: Baylor lost tight ends Jordan Najvar and Jerod Monk off last season's team so there’s an opportunity for Feuerbacher.
LB Jordan Harris: Harris was the No. 5 juco ILB in the country, and will help ease the sting of losing All-Big 12 LB Jeremiah George.
S Devron Moore: The Cyclones graduated both Jacques Washington and Deon Broomfield so help is needed here.
DE Gabe Luna: Luna is one of three juco DEs the Cyclones signed, but the first to arrive on campus.
OG/C Keyon Haughton: Charlie Weis calls him “a bad muchacho,” and the Jayhawks will need him to play right away.
CB Ronnie Davis: The Jayhawks return starting cornerbacks Dexter McDonald and JaCorey Shepherd, but you can never have enough corners in the Big 12.
S Anthony Smithson: Adds depth and versatility to an already deep and experienced secondary.
WR Andre Davis: All-Big 12 WR Tyler Lockett needs someone to emerge on the other side, and the No. 5-ranked juco WR has a great chance to do just that.
OT Luke Hayes: Could answer the call at a key spot vacated by departing All-Big 12 OT Cornelius Lucas.
CB Danzel McDaniel: One of the top juco corners in the country, McDaniel could lock up a starting role quickly.
TE Dayton Valentine: Adds depth as a blocking tight end.
OL Bryce Fitzner: Will have time to fill out his 6-7 frame.
TE Isaac Ijalana: The No. 1 juco TE in the country, Ijalana could help stabilize a position that has given the Sooners trouble the past couple seasons.
LB Devante Bond: Bond adds depth to what potentially could be one of the best linebacking corps in the country.
QB Justice Hansen: Will be the third-team QB with Blake Bell moving to TE and Baker Mayfield ineligible until 2015.
FB Dimitri Flowers: The Sooners need a replacement for departing all-conference blocking fullback Trey Millard.
LB Devante Averette: The hard-hitting Averette has an opportunity to nail down a starting role this spring with All-Big LBs Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis gone.
WR Tyreek Hill: Hill is running track this spring and has already broken several records; he gives the Cowboys a speedy playmaker to help ease the early loss of Josh Stewart.
QB Mason Rudolph: One of the highest-rated QBs ever to sign with the Cowboys, Rudolph will battle J.W. Walsh immediately for the starting job.
RB Devon Thomas: Thomas was the highest-rated running back from the state of Oklahoma, and adds depth to a position that could use some help.
S Kenny Iloka: Iloka has already impressed, and pads a deep and talented safety rotation at TCU.
OG Frank Kee: Will be asked to fill a starting job inside on the TCU offensive line.
TE Blake Whiteley: The nation’s No. 2 juco tight end, the Longhorns signed to fill a position that’s been inconsistent for them.
OLB Andrew Beck: With Texas’ depth at LB, Beck most likely is a redshirt candidate.
OG Alex Anderson: Recruited by Joe Wickline when still at Oklahoma State, Anderson was a late addition to the class.
S Josh Keys: The nation’s No. 5 juco safety, Keys could step into the spot vacated be departing veteran Tre’ Porter.
DT Keland McElrath: Has been dealing with a foot stress fracture, but the Red Raiders need help at DT with Kerry Hyder and Dartwan Bush gone.
WR Devin Lauderdale: Was a four-star player coming out of high school and will give QB Davis Webb another weapon on the inside.
QB Skyler Howard: Has a chance to make a move on the QB competition, especially with Clint Trickett out for the spring.
S Keishawn Richardson: Opened up the spring as the second-string cornerback behind Daryl Worley, who started as a true freshman in 2013.
LB Edward Muldrow II: Currently backing up returning starter Isaiah Bruce as the Sam linebacker.
OT Sylvester Townes: The Mountaineers have two holes at tackle, giving Townes a chance to make an instant impact.
DE Davonte James: The ESPN 300 signee brings speed to West Virginia’s D-end position.
WR Ricky Rogers: Rogers is a redshirt candidate with the entire West Virginia WR rotation back from last season.
Can freshman impact OSU's QB race?
Junior quarterback J.W. Walsh has made eight starts for the Cowboys over the last two seasons. But even with Clint Chelf now gone, Walsh still will have to fight for a job with freshman Mason Rudolph already on campus. Rudolph, who enrolled early to participate in spring ball, threw for more than 4,300 yards and 64 touchdowns his final year of high school and is one of the most highly-touted quarterback recruits ever to sign with the Cowboys. In high school, Rudolph played in an offensive scheme similar to Oklahoma State’s, which is what first interested him in the Cowboys. That should ease his transition to the college level. Of course for now, the job is Walsh’s to lose. But Rudolph has the talent and the skill set to begin applying pressure on Walsh as soon as this spring.
How will TCU adapt to the offensive overhaul?
TCU conducted its first spring practice over the weekend, and the exit polls suggested the Horned Frogs went through offensive drills fast. Like really fast. Tired of ranking near the bottom of the Big 12 in offense, Gary Patterson shook up his coaching staff and brought in Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham to install an up-tempo offensive system that resembled those of Texas Tech (Cumbie) and Oklahoma State (Meacham). As Patterson admitted after the first practice, there will be a learning curve for his players to picking up this new offensive style. But the quicker quarterback Trevone Boykin can adapt, the better off TCU will be going into 2014.
How will Texas look different under Strong?
The last time Texas had a coach other than Mack Brown running a spring practice, Bill Clinton was still president. The Charlie Strong era will begin in earnest with the start of spring practice in Austin. How will the players adjust to the new schemes of assistants Shawn Watson, Joe Wickline and Vance Bedford? How will the veterans react to their new position coaches? Who will thrive with the new staff? Who will falter? Those pivotal questions will begin to be answered this spring.
Can Texas Tech get by with only one scholarship QB?
With starting right tackle Rashad Fortenberry getting an extra year of eligibility over the weekend, the Red Raiders seem to be in good shape across the board offensively. Of course, that could change real quick should QB Davis Webb incur any kind of injury this spring. With Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma and Michael Brewer headed to Virginia Tech, the Red Raiders will be down to just one scholarship quarterback until Patrick Mahomes arrives in the summer. Though coach Kliff Kingsbury has said that Tech has a couple of capable walk-ons, an injury to Webb would hamper the spring development of an offense that will have big goals in the fall. Coming off a breakout performance in the bowl game, Webb also needs to continue developing this spring. But he also needs to remain healthy for the betterment of himself and the team.
Who will get carries for West Virginia?
Even with Charles Sims gone, the Mountaineers still enjoy a stable of capable of running backs. But where will Sims’ carries go? After rushing for 494 yards last season, Dreamius Smith is starting out the spring atop the depth chart. But he’ll have to fend off several comers to remain there. Wendell Smallwood came on strong late during his freshman season and finished the year averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Rushel Shell also joins the fray this spring after transferring over from Pittsburgh. Shell, who set a Pennsylvania high school rushing record, was formerly the No. 26 overall recruit in the 2012 recruiting class. There are still others. Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie are still around after leading the Mountaineers’ in rushing in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Oh yeah, West Virginia will also add four-star signee Donte Thomas-Williams in the summer. Good luck to the running back who dares to take a play off in this crammed competition.
1. TCU: Honorable mention All-Big 12 place-kicker Jaden Oberkrom was 13 of 14 on field goals inside the 50 last season and drilled a 56-yarder late in the fourth quarter at Kansas State. B.J. Catalon was second in the league in kickoff returns and took one to the house in the opener against LSU. Freshman Cameron Echols-Luper took his first punt return 51 yards and had a 41-yarder in the season finale against Baylor. Brandon Carter has had moments in the return game in the past as well. Ethan Perry will be a three-year starter at punter, rounding out a formidable special teams unit.
2. Baylor: Corey Coleman led the league in kick returns, and Levi Norwood scored twice off punt returns. The Bears are loaded with potential game-breakers in the return game and welcome back All-Big 12 punter Spencer Roth. If Kyle Peterson proves to be a reliable replacement for departing kicker Aaron Jones, this special teams unit will have no weakness.
4. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders will feature a lethal one-two punch in the return game in Jakeem Grant and Reginald Davis, who took a kick back for a touchdown in the bowl game. Receiver Jordan Davis also has return experience. Kicker Ryan Bustin returns after garnering honorable mention All-Big 12 honors last year.
5. Oklahoma: The Sooners lose the most explosive return duo in the league in Jalen Saunders and Roy Finch. Sterling Shepard and Alex Ross could be among the players who replace them. Oklahoma boasts the league’s most efficient returning place-kicker in Michael Hunnicutt, who nailed 24 of 27 field goal tries last season. The Sooners have a secret weapon in Nick Hodgson, who led the league in touchback kickoffs last season. Jed Barnett, fifth in the Big 12 in punting average last season, returns as well.
6. Iowa State: The Cyclones had four players make first- or second-team All-Big 12 last season, and departing punter Kirby Van Der Kamp was one of them. Replacing his production won’t be easy, though incoming three-star freshman Colin Downing will try. DeVondrick Nealy, Jarvis West and Aaron Wimberly all had several dynamite moments returning kicks. Cole Netten was 13-of-18 on field goals as a freshman,
7. West Virginia: Nick O'Toole leads the Mountaineers on special teams. The “Boomstache” was 15th nationally in punting last season. The Mountaineers have all their returners back in Wendell Smallwood, Mario Alford and Jordan Thompson, though more big plays are needed from this group -- the Mountaineers ranked last in the league in both punt and kick returns in 2013. Josh Lambert comes back after making 17 of 23 field goals as a freshman. The Mountaineers also enjoy a luxury in Michael Molinari, who can do a little bit of everything.
8. Texas: The Longhorns lose their punter and their kicker in consensus All-American Anthony Fera. That hurts. Nick Jordan, who made nine of 15 field goals in 2012, could reclaim his job. Daje Johnson -- who returned a punt for a TD against Oklahoma -- Duke Thomas, Quandre Diggs, Marcus Johnson, Kendall Sanders and Jaxon Shipley all have experience returning.
9. Kansas: Return men Connor Embree (punts) and JaCorey Shepherd (kicks) both come back. The Jayhawks also return kicker Matthew Wyman, who connected on a game-winning 52-yard field goal to beat Louisiana Tech. The freshman, however, only made two field goals after that and eventually lost that job to departing senior Ron Doherty. Trevor Pardula was third in the Big 12 in punting as a junior and received votes for Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year.
10. Oklahoma State: After enjoying All-Americans Dan Bailey and Quinn Sharp the last few years, the Cowboys were finally mediocre in the kicking game last season. Ben Grogan struggled as a freshman, making just 11 of 18 field goals while missing two critical attempts in the early-season loss at West Virginia. The Cowboys were also last in the league in punting. Oklahoma State signed three-star kicker Zach Sinor with hopes of curing some of those ills. The Cowboys were still dynamic in the return game, but with Justin Gilbert and Josh Stewart both gone, Oklahoma State could lean on juco transfer and track star Tyreek Hill for a jolt on returns.
- Kliff Kingsbury raps.
- Casey Pachall sets the record straight about his past in this great story from Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Steven Parker will continue the legacy of his grandfather, a trailblazer at Oklahoma, writes ESPN's Mitch Sherman.
- Art Briles says Baylor is ready to run the show in the Big 12.
- Oklahoma State's Joe Bob Clements breaks down twists to get to the QB.
- Cowboys newcomer Tyreek Hill named Big 12 Athlete of the Week.
- How does former Oklahoma quarterback Kendal Thompson fit in with Utah?
- Do the Sooners look like a potential 12-0 team in 2014?
- Texas Tech is counting on key contributions from its defensive line signees.
- Leigh Steinberg is starting his career over with former Texas and SMU QB Garrett Gilbert.
- Ryan Gosling looks like this Big 12 head coach.
Poor quarterback play was the main culprit, but the conference’s lack of elite signal-callers wasn’t the lone reason for the general absence of explosive playmaking in Big 12 stadiums last fall.
Conference pass catchers earned their share of the blame as well.
Yards after catch is one way Big 12 running backs, tight ends and receivers can take ownership over their offense’s success. While the accuracy of the quarterback impacts the opportunities for yards after catch, there has been a correlation between yards after catch and team success in the Big 12 in recent seasons. With the help of ESPN Stats and Information, a closer look at the yards after catch for each Big 12 team during the past three seasons reveals some interesting trends.
- Ten Big 12 teams have finished the season with at least 2,000 yards after catch during the past three seasons. Those teams averaged 8.9 wins per season, with half of them winning at least 10 games.
- Baylor’s record-setting offense was spurred by its highest yards-after-catch percentage in the past three years. The 2013 Bears gained 2,281 yards after catch, 48.9 percent of their 4,668 receiving yards during their Big 12 title season. In 2012, 41.6 percent of their receiving yards came after the catch. In 2011, 44.8 percent of their yards came after the catch.
- Goodley led the league with 598 yards after catch. His yards after catch total would have been no higher than third in the conference in 2012 and 2011. Five different receivers had at least 698 yards after catch in the past three seasons, with Tavon Austin’s 992 for West Virginia in 2012 ranking as the highest individual total during that span.
- Oklahoma State’s 2,851 yards after catch in 2011 is the highest total during the past three seasons and 56.6 percent of its 5,034 total. The Cowboys went 12-1 and won their first-ever Big 12 championship during that season. Justin Blackmon’s 794 yards after catch led the Big 12 in 2011.
- Oklahoma struggled with quarterback play throughout the 2013 season, but the Sooners led the league with 58 percent of their receiving yards coming after the catch, the highest percentage in conference during the past three seasons. OU had 2,588 receiving yards, with 1,500 of those coming after the catch. Sterling Shepard paced the way for OU with 384 yards after the catch.
- Kansas, which has struggled to find playmaking receivers in recent years, hasn’t had more than 1,000 yards after catch in the past three seasons.
- Not surprisingly, Kansas State is the lone Big 12 team that is barely impacted by yards after catch numbers. The Wildcats recorded a 39.4 yards after catch percentage during the past three seasons for a total of 2,991 yards after catch during that span.
- Dana Holgorsen’s offense at West Virginia is built around getting athletes in one on one situations and letting them make plays in the open field. The Mountaineers gained 55.3 percent of their receiving yards after the catch during the past three seasons. Although they only spent two of those seasons in the Big 12, the Mountaineers are the only current Big 12 squad who gained at least 50 percent of their yards after catch in each of the past three seasons.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the numbers via ESPN Stats and Information:
Here’s a look at the Big 12’s top performers during the 2014 combine:
Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State cornerback: Gilbert ran the fastest time among defensive backs, clocking a 4.37 in the 40 while finishing tied for third with 20 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press. Add his 35.5 inch vertical and 10.5 broad jump and Gilbert seems to have secured himself a spot in Round 1 as arguably the best cornerback in the draft. He was expected to excel at the combine, and he did.
Jace Amaro, Texas Tech tight end: The Big 12’s best tight end set the standard for tight ends at the combine, finishing among the top five in the 40-yard dash (4.74, 5th), bench press (28 reps, tied for 2nd), vertical jump (33 inches, tied for 5th), broad jump (9 feet, 10 inches), 20-yard shuttle (4.3, tied for 3rd) and 60-yard shuttle (12.26, 4th). Amaro moves like a much smaller man and proved it with strong combine numbers.
What a difference a year makes for Justin Gilbert. Awesome.— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) February 25, 2014
Jason Verrett, TCU cornerback: Verrett was nipping at the heels of Gilbert and Amaro as the Big 12’s best performer at the combine. He ran 4.38 in the 40 (tied for 2nd), recorded a 39-inch vertical (tied for 3rd) and 10.6-foot broad jump. Questions remain about his size, at 5-foot-9, 189 pounds, but his physical abilities could help lessen those worries.
Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas defensive end: The Big 12 co-defensive player of the year along with Verrett, Jeffcoat probably helped himself by finishing among the combine’s best defensive linemen in several drills. His 6.97 in the 3-cone drill was second among defensive linemen and his 4.63 in the 40 and 10-foot, 3-inch broad jump were fourth among defensive linemen. Concerns about his lack of ability haven’t been at the forefront of his draft résumé, but it was still a strong showing for the former Longhorn.
Real intersted to see where Jason Verrett ends up going-Great football player, but short...smart teams won't care even with #Seahawks model— Matt Williamson (@WilliamsonNFL) February 26, 2014
Notable: Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard had the best 20-yard shuttle among offensive linemen, recording a 4.37 and the best 3-cone drill, recording a 7.3. ... Former Oklahoma running back Damien Williams ran a 4.45 in the 40, fourth among running backs. ... Baylor tight end Jordan Najvar recorded the best 60-yard shuttle among tight ends at 12.02 and tied for second in the 3-cone drill at 7.14. ... Iowa State linebacker Jeremiah George recorded 28 reps on the bench press, tying for third among linebackers.
2. Texas: This is the deepest linebacking corps in the league, with starters Peter Jinkens, Dalton Santos and Steve Edmond all returning off a unit that improved dramatically after the rocky nonconference start. After allowing a school-record 550 yards rushing to BYU, Texas had the Big 12’s fourth-best rush defense in conference games. Whether this group can take another step up will depend on what happens with Jordan Hicks, who enters his fifth year in the program after suffering season-ending injuries in back-to-back years. Hicks was the No. 1 linebacker in the country coming out of high school and has played well when healthy.
3. West Virginia: This will be the strength of the defense, as Brandon Golson, Isaiah Bruce, Jared Barber and Nick Kwiatkoski all return with significant starting experience. Kwiatkoski was West Virginia’s leading tackler last season, and Bruce was a freshman All-American the season before. Wes Tonkery and Jewone Snow also have starting experience, and Shaq Petteway, who missed last season with a knee injury, was a key rotation player the previous year. This level of experience and production with give the new defensive regime of Tony Gibson and Tom Bradley a foundation to build around.
4. Baylor: Bryce Hager is one of the best returning linebackers in the league. He was a second-team all-conference pick two years ago and would have earned similar honors last season had he not missed the final three games of the regular season with a groin injury. Grant Campbell, a three-star juco signee, is already on campus and will vie for the vacancy of departing All-Big 12 linebacker Eddie Lackey. Kendall Ehrlich and Aiavion Edwards are the only other players at the position with any meaningful experience, but Raaquan Davis, a former four-star recruit who redshirted last season, could be a factor.
5. Kansas: Middle linebacker Ben Heeney was a second-team All-Big 12 selection after finishing fourth in the league in tackles per game. His wingman, Jake Love, got beat out by juco transfer Samson Faifili during the preseason but took over when Faifili suffered an injury and was solid. As long as Heeney remains healthy, the Jayhawks will be solid here.
6. TCU: Projected to be the Achilles’ heel of the TCU defense last season, Paul Dawson, Marcus Mallet and Jonathan Anderson actually gave the position stability. Dawson led the Horned Frogs with 91 tackles, Mallet was third with 70 and Anderson was fourth with 66. All three will be seniors in 2014 and should give the Horned Frogs a solid, reliable linebacking unit again.
7. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders and their 3-4 scheme graduate two very productive players in Will Smith and Terrance Bullitt. Smith was second in the Big 12 in tackles, and Bullitt led all Big 12 linebackers in pass breakups. Austin Stewart and Micah Awe go into the spring as the favorites to replace Bullitt and Smith, respectively. Two starters do return in Sam Eguavoen and Pete Robertson, who was honorable mention All-Big 12 thanks to his impact off the edge. Tech also has several intriguing young players, including Jacarthy Mack, Malik Jenkins and Kahlee Woods, who will all be second-year players.
8. Kansas State: The Wildcats lose two stalwarts to graduation in captains Blake Slaughter and Tre Walker. The only returner is former walk-on Jonathan Truman, who was second on the team in tackles from the weak side. The Wildcats will be hoping for big things from D'Vonta Derricott, an ESPN JC 50 signee who had offers from Miami and Wisconsin, among many others. Will Davis, who was Slaughter’s backup as a freshman last season, could thrive if he secures the starting role in the middle.
9. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are somewhat decimated here with the graduations of all-conference veterans Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey. The only returning starter, Ryan Simmons, could move inside, which would open the door for hard-hitting jucos D'Nerius Antoine and Devante Averette to start on either side of him. Seth Jacobs, who was a four-star recruit two years ago, should jump into the rotation, and the Cowboys could get an instant boost from freshman Gyasi Akem, who was an ESPN 300 signee. The potential ascension of this group, though, hinges on what Antonie and Averette accomplish.
10. Iowa State: The Cyclones graduate their defensive cornerstone in Jeremiah George, who was a first-team all-conference performer after leading the Big 12 with 133 tackles. Replacing George won’t come easy. There’s reason to hope that Luke Knott can become Iowa State’s next cornerstone at the position. The younger brother of Cyclone LB great Jake Knott, Luke Knott started five games as a freshman and quickly racked up 45 tackles before suffering a season-ending hip injury, which required surgery. If he makes a full recovery, Knott has the talent to become the next in a growing line of All-Big 12 Iowa State linebackers. Seniors Jevohn Miller and Jared Brackens, who combined for 19 starts last season, flank Knott with experience.
- West Virginia's 2015 recruiting is off to a hot start this spring.
- New WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson isn't interested in big-time scheme changes.
- Freshman cornerback L.J. Moore has left the Oklahoma program.
- Texas walk-on player is balancing football, performing in Longhorn Band.
- DE Jackson Jeffcoat put in a strong showing at the combine on Monday.
- ESPN scouts say Baylor's Lache Seastrunk is looking like a "Day 3 option" in the draft.
- NFF Gridiron Club will honor former Texas AD DeLoss Dodds.
- Three weeks after signing day, Iowa State signs a junior college defensive lineman.
- Branden Jackson on becoming the leader of the Texas Tech defensive line in 2014.
- Ex-TCU assistant AD apologizes for his Facebook post about Texas A&M in this Q&A.
- The father of a Kansas wide receiver is joining the Jayhawks' staff.
- Oklahoma's Gabe Ikard says the fallout from PastaGate has been "extremely entertaining."
- Ikard, Damien Williams and Jalen Saunders make good impressions at the NFL combine.
- Jason Verrett measured 5-9 1/2 at the combine, but the TCU corner plays big.
- A TCU assistant AD resigned following his Facebook comments on Texas A&M.
- Baylor's Lache Seastrunk celebrates his broad jump in typical fashion.
- Ahmad Dixon offers his take on what Gary Patterson said about him during the season.
- A Baylor offensive line recruit flipped his commitment to Texas on Saturday.
- It's hard not to like new West Virginia assistant coach Tom Bradley.
- Oklahoma State changing up its spring game format this year.
- Josh Stewart's 40 time was a disappointment at the combine.
- Former coach John Cooper is one of six inductees into the Iowa State Hall of Fame.
- Bob Stoops believes the 10-second proposal is about strategy, not injuries.
Here's a team-by-team look at what to watch in the Big 12 this spring:
Spring start: Feb. 28
Spring game: April 5
What to watch: Who will replace Lache Seastrunk? The Bears' running back was the engine that helped keep the Baylor offense balanced and defenses honest. Shock Linwood will step in, but is he ready to handle the burden of keeping the offense balanced? . . . Baylor, the 2013 regular-season champion, has to find key replacements on a defense that is losing half of its starters. But several second-teamers -- including Jamal Palmer, Shawn Oakman, Andrew Billings and Orion Stewart -- are poised to fill the void . . . The Bears need to replace guard Cyril Richardson along the offensive line. Several candidates, including junior college transfer Jarell Broxton, will battle for the job. Baylor has arguably the league's best group of skill position players, but that will mean nothing if its offensive line takes a step backward.
Spring start: March 10
Spring game: April 12
What to watch: New offensive coordinator Mark Mangino arrives in Ames to bring more points and creativity to the Cyclones’ offense. The spring is the first opportunity for Mangino to get a feel for the playmakers and the players to get a feel for Mangino’s expectations . . . The quarterback competition is another thing to keep an eye on. Grant Rohach ended the season as the starter, but Sam B. Richardson could take his job back with a strong spring. And there are other young quarterbacks on campus who could insert themselves into the mix . . . Defensively, the Cyclones need to replace linebacker Jeremiah George and safety Jacques Washington, who finished 1-2 in tackles in the Big 12 in 2013 and finished their careers with 59 career starts combined. Iowa State seems to always have quality linebackers, so finding a replacement for Washington could be the defense’s top priority in the spring.
Spring start: March 4
Spring game: April 12
What to watch: Shuffling the offensive coaching staff has been the theme of the offseason. New offensive coordinator John Reagan, who was a KU assistant from 2005 to 2009, returns to the Jayhawks after running Rice’s offense last season. The spring is Reagan’s first chance to identify the playmakers who will be the foundation of his offense this fall. Expect wide-open competition across the board after KU finished 115th in the FBS in points scored ... The quarterback position will grab the headlines, with T.J. Millweard joining the competition with Jake Heaps and Montell Cozart, who each started games in 2013. Millweard transferred to KU from UCLA before the 2013 season.
Spring start: April 2
Spring game: April 26
What to watch: Finding John Hubert’s replacement sits high on the Wildcats’ priority list. The former running back carried the ground attack for the past three seasons, and there’s no clear favorite to step into his shoes. Will someone step up during spring football? . . . What will happen with quarterback Daniel Sams? The Wildcats have a proven Big 12 playmaker in Sams, a junior, and another proven quarterback in Jake Waters. Sams is an exceptional open-field runner who started two games in 2013, but look for Kansas State to start exploring ways to have both on the field together this spring . . . Replacing Ty Zimmerman’s playmaking and leadership on defense is another key this spring. The defense has to replace several starters in the secondary and at linebacker. Keep an eye on junior college defensive back Danzel McDaniel, who has the versatility to step in at several different spots.
Spring start: March 8
Spring game: April 12
What to watch: With Trevor Knight poised to start at quarterback in 2014, Blake Bell moves to tight end after starting eight games under center in 2013. Bell’s transition to tight end will be the talk of the spring, with the senior’s commitment to the program and OU's need for help at the position . . . The battle to be the starting running back is another storyline, with sophomores Keith Ford and Alex Ross hoping to make a statement this spring before ESPN 300 running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine arrive in the summer. Ford forced his way into the lineup as a freshman before an injury slowed him . . . The Sooners will be looking to shore up the secondary after the departure of All-Big 12 cornerback Aaron Colvin and starting safety Gabe Lynn. Sophomore Stanvon Taylor could be set to replace Colvin, while sophomores Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas will battle to replace Lynn.
Spring start: March 10
Final spring practice: April 5
What to watch: Incoming freshman Mason Rudolph enrolled early to participate in spring football with the hope of replacing quarterback Clint Chelf. J.W. Walsh has won a lot of games in a Cowboys uniform, but will have to hold off stern competition to earn the starting spot as a junior . . . The Cowboys lose seven seniors off one of their best defenses in recent memory. The overall quality might be upgraded, but spring football will be the first chance to see if those talented yet inexperienced defenders are ready to step into the fire. Defensive end Jimmy Bean, linebacker Ryan Simmons and cornerback Kevin Peterson could emerge as the foundation of the defense . . . Who will step up at receiver? The Cowboys lose three of their top four receivers, with Jhajuan Seales as the lone returnee. But several youngsters appear poised to step in, including sophomore Marcell Ateman and redshirt freshman Ra'Shaad Samples.
Spring start: March 1
Final spring practice: April 5
What to watch: Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie have arrived to take over as co-offensive coordinators at TCU. The Horned Frogs need a jump start and could get it from the “Air Raid”-style offense the duo will bring to the table. This spring will be an important first step in improving the offense . . . Who will be the quarterback? Trevone Boykin started several games in 2013 but might actually be TCU’s top receiver. Tyler Matthews, a redshirt freshman, also saw time under center, but he faces stiff competition. Don’t expect the battle to end until fall camp . . . TCU needs someone to step up in the secondary, with Jason Verrett NFL-bound after spending the past two seasons as one of the Big 12’s top coverage cornerbacks. Ranthony Texada and Travoskey Garrett are among several young defensive backs who could try to fill the void.
Spring start: March 18
Spring game: April 19
What to watch: David Ash's health will be one of the main storylines of Texas’ first spring under coach Charlie Strong. Ash has the talent to be a key piece of the puzzle, but head injuries are always tough to overcome. If Ash is 100 percent healthy, the Longhorns will feel better about the overall status at quarterback . . . Strong has talked of instilling a tough mindset in Austin since he arrived in January, and spring football will be the first real taste of what the Longhorns’ new coach is trying to bring to the program . . . Where are the playmakers? Texas has a talent-laden roster, but didn’t have the exceptional talent who could consistently change games. This spring gives several returning skill players, including receiver Jaxon Shipley and all-purpose standout Daje Johnson, the chance to become the foundation of the offense in 2014.
Spring start: March 5
Spring game: April 12
What to watch: Davis Webb's health is the No. 1 priority for the Red Raiders, who have seen three quarterbacks leave the program since the beginning of the 2013 season. Coach Kliff Kingsbury could have the toughest job of the spring as he tries to manage the lack of quarterbacks with the desire to have a productive spring for the roster as a whole . . . The Red Raiders have some consistency among the defensive coaching staff, meaning they could improve in 2014 despite losing multiple starters, including defensive tackle Kerry Hyder, linebacker Will Smith and safety Tre' Porter. Tech could start seeing dividends of that continuity . . . The Red Raiders have to replace Jace Amaro and Eric Ward, who combined to catch 189 passes for 2,299 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez made a bunch of plays in 2013 and Devin Lauderdale, a junior college transfer and early enrollee, will get the chance to show why he had Texas Tech fans buzzing when he initially signed in February 2013.
Spring start: March 2
Spring game: April 12
What to watch: Finding a quarterback is critical for the Mountaineers, who have talent at the skill positions but won’t transform into an explosive offense without efficient quarterback play. Clint Trickett is recovering from shoulder surgery, meaning Paul Millard, junior college transfer Skyler Howard and former receiver Logan Moore will run the offense this spring . . . Tony Gibson takes over as WVU’s defensive coordinator after coaching the safeties in 2013. His promotion allows some continuity on the defense after former DC Keith Patterson left for Arizona State after the season . . . Replacing defensive tackle Shaq Rowell and defensive end Will Clarke, who started 56 combined career games for WVU, won’t be easy. The Mountaineers will lean heavily on veteran juniors Isaiah Bruce and Karl Joseph, who have started since their freshman seasons.
With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes in each conference. For the full series, click here.
The TCU Horned Frogs signed two of the Lone Star State’s top 2014 QBs in four-star Foster Sawyer (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal) and three-star Grayson Muehlstein (Decatur, Texas/Decatur). While the question remains about what TCU’s newly revamped scheme will look like under new coaches Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, both Sawyer and Muehlstein have great size with the desired arm strength and playmaking ability.
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#AskLoogs: March 7
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35