ESPN.com's 2014 Big 12 awards

December, 16, 2014
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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.

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.

Texas' plan focuses on character

December, 15, 2014
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AUSTIN, Texas -- With recent incidents of domestic and sexual violence grabbing headlines in sports, the University of Texas on Monday launched a program to aid character development in young athletes and help them be positive role models.

The Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation will work with high school coaches on a training program to help detect and intervene at signs of troubling behavior. It will also develop a program to help athletes and other college student make sound financial decisions.

Texas football coach Charlie Strong has been noted nationally for the core values he has stated for his team: honesty, treating women with respect, no stealing, no guns and no drugs.

Strong dismissed or suspended several players this year for disciplinary reasons, including two Longhorns players who were arrested on sexual assault charges. He also met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in September to discuss his core values concept. The program will also partner with the Austin-based National Domestic Violence Hotline, which Goodell visited the same weekend he met with Strong.

"These are things that ought to start on the playground in the third grade. (But) we can't use that a reason to say there's nothing we can do. There's a lot we can do to help our student athletes, all our students," Texas President Bill Powers said.

The program will create a certification program for high school coaches of both male and female athletes. Texas officials said they believe the program is the first of its kind in the country.

National Domestic Violence Hotline spokeswoman Cameka Crawford called the program an example of how colleges and athletes can help "change our culture's perception of dating violence and sexual assault, particularly on college campuses."


(Read full post)


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.
My apologies for being disconnected this week. I've been dealing with an illness. But I'm finally feeling better, and ready for the bowl season.

Now, on to the 'bag:

Trotter: TCU should be the easy favorite. The Horned Frogs will bring back Trevone Boykin at QB. Almost the entire skill corps and offensive line returns, too. The Frogs will have to replace some key players defensively. But they'll be able to retool around All-Big 12 safety Chris Hackett.

Trotter: It looks pretty good to me. The line will need to be shored up. But the offense will still have Shock Linwood, Corey Coleman, K.D. Cannon and Johnny Jefferson -- that's some major firepower. Seth Russell, obviously, is the key. But he will have the weapons around him to thrive.

Trotter: I don't think it's very likely. There's no Group of Five program out there that entices the Big 12 leadership at the moment. But before considering expansion, the Big 12 first needs to get rid of its idiotic co-champion rule. That would allow the league to advocate one champion to the playoff committee instead of co-champs, which clearly hurt the Big 12 in the final rankings.

Trotter: Adding a conference championship game through an exemption seems more likely than expansion. The odds seem to be against it happening, at least for 2015. But there's some merit to the Big 12 considering it. A 13th game for the Big 12 champ could make a difference. It certainly did for Ohio State out of the Big Ten this year.

Trotter: One thing people need to keep in mind: Yes, Bob Bowlsby misspoke in the summer when he suggested the tiebreaker would be used for the playoff. But remember, Bowlsby is just the messenger. The league's coaches and athletic directors make the rules. And they were the ones who voted to recognize "co-champions."

Trotter: SMU would be pretty far down the pecking order. The Mustangs wouldn't expand the Big 12 footprint, and they wouldn't bring any new TV eyeballs. Plus, they're not a very good program right now, though Chad Morris could change that.

Trotter: I suspect Tech will go out and hire a veteran defensive coordinator. Kliff Kingsbury really needs to add some experience to his staff. Memphis defensive coordinator Barry Odom is a name that makes sense, especially after the Tigers fielded the No. 5 scoring defense in the country this year. But Odom reportedly has generated a lot of interest from other programs, too.

Trotter: We had Malcom Brown as our Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He was also on the ESPN.com All-American team. I can't speak to what others were thinking. But he was the most dominant defensive player I saw in the league this year.

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: 5,097)

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

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

Offense

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

Defense

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

Big 12's top recruiting visits 

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
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Just because regular-season football is over doesn’t mean the official visits cease. Three Big 12 schools are gearing up to host big weekends, and a list of new committed players to the conference could emerge by Sunday.

Take a look at these Big 12 schools ready for their weekend of official visits:

ESPN.com All-Big 12 team

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
9:00
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We had some debates along the way, but this year's all-conference team seemed easier to assemble than in most years.

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

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

Offense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big 12 morning links

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
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A 24-hour coaching search? Not bad, Barry Alvarez. Not bad at all.
  • Bob Bowlsby is back from New York. What's next? Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News caught up with the Big 12 commissioner on Thursday. The most important takeaway: The conference's stance on staying at 10 teams has not changed "one iota" and there won't be expansion in the foreseeable future. As for a conference title game, Bowlsby is still surprised by how the committee treated a 13th game and still has to determine whether the Big 12 is at a "consistent disadvantage" without one.
  • The hiring of Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery as head coach is being widely praised in Tulsa. John Klein of the Tulsa World writes that Montgomery fits the profile nicely for what the Golden Hurricane program needs right now, and John E. Hoover opines that Montgomery's deep recruiting ties in the state of Texas are a major asset for constructing TU's future. Montgomery is not the guy most following that search expected, but he'll make a good impression when he's introduced Monday.
  • The showdown of Dana Holgorsen vs. Kevin Sumlin and Jake Spavital in the Liberty Bowl should be a fun one. Holgorsen joked Thursday that he'll have to change West Virginia's entire offense and signals before squaring off against Texas A&M. Both sides have worked together, run the same offense and are used to chatting and swapping ideas during the season. No more of that for the next month.
  • Texas landed a commitment from junior college offensive lineman Brandon Hodges of East Mississippi C.C. on Thursday. Combing the juco ranks for immediate help is a move Charlie Strong's staff is not afraid to make as they assemble their first full recruiting class at UT. Hodges, an offensive tackle, chose Texas over Oklahoma State and Mississippi State. Joe Wickline is restocking Texas' depth chart with a very impressive seven-man line class in his first year at Texas.
  • Finally, we offer a fond farewell to one of the league's more beloved players. "Sooner Dave," also known as Oklahoma running back David Smith, appears to be transferring to Illinois. (The source is a teammate's Instagram account so, you know, it's not too official yet.) The scout-teamer got his big break this season against Iowa State, rushing for 76 yards and a TD. Considering how loaded OU will be at running back next year, it's a smart move for the Chicago-area native. Best of luck.
Wisconsin landed a four-star running back on Thursday despite not having a head coach. Plus, Nebraska is already impressing rival recruiters with its effort on trail.


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Big 12 mailbag: All-Big 12 honors

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
2:00
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Postseason honors and the future of the Big 12 highlight this week's mailbag. To submit questions for next week's mailbag, click here.

Chris J. in Houston, Texas, writes: Does the Big 12 need Texas to be good? Wouldn't that take away from the other schools that are rising in the Big 12? Realistically, could you see Texas becoming a team like Nebraska for the next 10-15 years? Don't you think the fans of Baylor, TCU and KSU would love for Texas to be a perennial loser?

Brandon Chatmon: It would be good for the Big 12, and college football in general, if the Longhorns are good. Why? Because it’s good for college football when the nation’s iconic programs are good. But I also understand why the rest of the league would find joy in the Longhorns' struggle. I don’t see UT becoming Nebraska for the next 10-15 years, however. There’s simply too much talent in Texas for that to happen, and I think Charlie Strong has the Longhorns on the right track. In fact, as soon as I saw the coaching staff Strong was putting together, I felt like if you want to beat Texas, you better beat them now. So if you’re hoping to bask in UT’s failure, you might be disappointed.

Corey in Allen, Texas, writes: How is that Texas Tech's Pete Robertson -- who led the Big 12 in sacks -- is not on the All-Big 12 first-team defense? Ben Heeney and Paul Dawson are definitely deserving, but Eric Striker was not as dominant a player this year as Robertson was.

BC: I wish I knew. I’m not the type of guy who holds a lack of team success against Robertson. He was exceptional with 12 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss this season. I don’t know what else he could have done to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors. I’ve been in his corner all season long, but I understand why the coaches preferred to reward players on teams that had winning seasons.

Alec in Iowa writes: Why do you think Texas receiver John Harris didn't get any conference honor? He had over 1,000 yards receiving and had seven TDs. I just don't understand. He even could've been first team over Sterling Shepard.

BC: I was just as surprised as you to see the coaches did not have Harris on the second team. Only three Big 12 receivers had 1,000 receiving yards and Harris was one of them. He should have been a second-team selection, no question about it, but I think Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett, West Virginia’s Kevin White and Oklahoma’s Shepard on the first team was the right choice.

David in Austin, Texas, writes: Were the All-Big 12 voters upset at the Texas defense this season or was the offensive ineptitude held against them? Significantly better in passing defense than the rest of the conference, yet the secondary is barely represented.

BC: I don’t think either of those reasons are behind the Longhorns' secondary, specifically Quandre Diggs, getting snubbed for first-team honors. But I felt like Diggs earned a spot on the first team. He was excellent on one of the Big 12’s best defenses, and he did so many different things for UT as a senior. He should have been a first-teamer.

Brian in Manhattan, Kansas, writes: What really annoyed me last weekend was that all of the "analysts" criticized the Big 12 for not having a conference championship, but they never acknowledged that we couldn't have one due to just being at 10 teams. Would they have been happier if we had a "watered"-down conference with more/weaker teams so that we could get that game or would the Big 12 then be perceived as being too weak and again punished? What would it take for the Big 12 to get a waiver to have a championship game? Projecting ahead, will the Big 12 get a waiver, expand, do both or do neither?

BC: You make a good point, Brian. If the Big 12 adds teams just to add teams, that opens up the conference to be criticized for a lack of overall depth. Adding two teams strikes me as a complete overreaction to being left out of the College Football Playoff. Not to mention the Big 12 did have a championship game with Baylor knocking off Kansas State, albeit at McLane Stadium instead of a neutral field, but the committee didn’t seem to value BU’s double-digit win over a Top 10 team on the final day of the season. If the committee didn't care about that, why would they care about a Big 12 championship game? Anyway, I think the Big 12's immediate move will be to try to get the NCAA to approve a waiver and consider adding a conference title game with 10 teams.

Larry Slaughter in Salt Rock, West Virginia, writes: With the amount of players returning, and the new crop coming in, do you believe that WVU has a chance to improve again this coming season?

BC: Holgorsen has the Mountaineers moving in the right direction. Things are going well on the recruiting trail with three ESPN 300 prospects on the commit list and 24 total pledges. It also seemed like this season showed that the overall depth on the roster is on the rise, particularly when WVU lost multiple cornerbacks to injury during the game but still upset Baylor. I wouldn’t be shocked if WVU wins six or seven conference games in 2015, particularly if Skyler Howard or William Crest can be the answer behind center.

College Football Awards preview: Big 12

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
9:30
AM ET
As far as invites go, this one is pretty coveted. Four of the Big 12's best are in Orlando as nominees for The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday night (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET). Here's a closer look at each player, their competition and our take on why they could take home a trophy.

Fred Biletnikoff Award: WR Kevin White, West Virginia

[+] EnlargeKevin White
Scott Clarke/ESPN ImagesKevin White is among college football leaders in receptions and receiving yards.
Competition: Amari Cooper, Alabama; Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
Last Big 12 winner: Justin Blackmon, 2011

The case for White: Well, it’s hard to envision Cooper, one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy, not taking home this honor. He’s the No. 1 player for the No. 1 team in the country. So that’s fair. But let’s not let that diminish what White achieved this season. A year after catching 35 passes, White was good for 102 receptions and 1,318 receiving yards this fall, and he still has a chance to break WVU’s single-season record. White was the first FBS receiver to reach 1,000 yards (needing just seven games) after surpassing 100 in all seven of those games. He found the end zone in eight games, recorded double-digit catch totals in five and made West Virginia’s offense move with big plays and reliability.

Lou Groza Award: K Josh Lambert, West Virginia

Competition: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State; Brad Craddock, Maryland
Last Big 12 winner: Dan Bailey, 2010

The case for Lambert: Aguayo is probably the odds-on favorite to win, which is no surprise. He won the Groza last year and hit 25 of 27 field goals this season for a Florida State team that constantly played in close games. Lambert has had a great season, too, and no FBS team needed their kicker more. With Lambert, WVU led the country in field goal makes (27) and attempts (36). He nailed two game-winning kicks on the road, a 47-yarder at Maryland and a 55-yarder to stun Texas Tech in Lubbock. No kicker in the nation had more makes from 40-plus (11) and 50-plus (four) than the Mountaineers’ trusty junior.

Davey O’Brien Award: QB Trevone Boykin, TCU

Competition: Marcus Mariota, Oregon; Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Last Big 12 winner: Robert Griffin III, 2011

The case for Boykin: The element of surprise. There isn’t a more improved quarterback in the country than TCU’s star junior. We expected Mariota to have a Heisman-caliber season, and he did just that. Prescott wasn’t an unknown on the national radar. Boykin was. He wasn’t supposed to finish No. 3 in the nation in total offense. He was supposed to play receiver. Mariota will be a lock for this one, but Boykin’s personal transformation and phenomenal numbers, to go along with the stunning success of 11-1 TCU, make him a more than worthy recipient. (Plus, you know, O'Brien was a Horned Frog, too.)

Outland Trophy: DT Malcom Brown, Texas

Competition: Brandon Scherff, Iowa; Reese Dismukes, Auburn
Last Big 12 winner: Ndamukong Suh, 2009

The case for Brown: He didn’t receive in-season acclaim on par with Suh, Aaron Donald, Glenn Dorsey or other defensive tackles who’ve won this award. But Brown is as good as it gets, an unstoppable three-tech defensive tackle who racked up 14 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks despite commanding near-constant double-teams. He’s the most important cog for a Texas team that finished No. 1 in the Big 12 in total defense, and what Brown consistently brings against the run and the pass make him a terrifying force. Of these four Big 12 nominees, Brown might have the best chance of taking home some hardware on Thursday night.

All-Big 12 honors, teams released

December, 10, 2014
Dec 10
4:00
PM ET
The Big 12 released its All-Big 12 honors on Wednesday with TCU sweeping the biggest individual honors, as voted on by the league's coaches.

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

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

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

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

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

Mariota

We'll have to wait until Jan. 12 to find out which team will the inaugural College Football Playoff.

On Saturday night, we'll learn if Oregon's Marcus Mariota will become the latest quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy, college football's most revered individual award.

On Thursday night, we'll find out the winners of college football's other top individual honors at the Home Depot College Football Awards (7 p.m. ET on ESPN) at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Here's a look at the hardware that's up for grabs, the finalists for each and who should win:

Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year)

Finalists: Vic Beasley, Clemson; Joey Bosa, Ohio State; Scooby Wright III, Arizona

Who should win: Wright

Who will win: Wright

Talk about Scooby snacks. Wright, who has already won the Bronko Nagurski Award as the country's top defensive player, ranks in the top five among FBS players with 153 total tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and six forced fumbles. He's trying to become the first FBS player since 1999 to finish in the top five in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks.

Biletnikoff Award (outstanding receiver)


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