Six Big 12 players have elected to go pro and try their luck in the 2015 NFL draft. What does that mean for the program they're leaving behind? Here's a closer look at players who could be tasked with filling these vacancies.

Leaving: Oklahoma WR Dorial Green-Beckham
Replacement: Michiah Quick

There is no replacing Green-Beckham. In terms of matching DGB’s size, second-year receivers Jeffery Mead and Dallis Todd come close. Mead, a 6-foot-6 wideout who needs to bulk up considerably, played in eight games in 2014 but didn’t log a catch while the 6-5 Todd ended up redshirting. The Sooners will have a new receivers coach, so both will have to work hard to prove they belong on the field.

But if we’re talking about production, Quick is the safest bet to have a breakout season in new coordinator Lincoln Riley’s offense. The speedy slot receiver put up a team-best seven catches in the Russell Athletic Bowl and caught 25 balls on the year. Quick looks like the biggest beneficiary in terms of targets now that DGB is out of the picture, and he’s going to do some real damage in this scheme.

Leaving: Texas DT Malcom Brown
Replacement: Hassan Ridgeway

[+] EnlargeHassan Ridgeway
AP Photo/Michael ThomasHassan Ridgeway filled in for Malcolm Brown this season and showed the ability to take over the role.
Losing nose tackle Desmond Jackson to a season-ending injury was a difficult blow for Texas last season. The only upside? Finding out what the Horns have in Ridgeway, who flashed potential of being a monster in his 10 starts.

Ridgeway racked up six sacks and 11 tackles for loss while lining up next to Brown. At 6-4 and 307 pounds, he can be just as imposing a presence as Brown was going forward. If you’re looking for the guy who can command double teams and open the field up for everyone else, it’s going to be Ridgeway.

Leaving: Oklahoma DT Jordan Phillips
Replacement: Matthew Romar

That's the name Bob Stoops has circled for this spot. "I think that definitely that Matt Romar as a freshmen has played really well," Stoops said this month when asked who's taking over for Phillips. Charles Walker and Jordan Wade are in line to benefit, too, from Phillips' decision to go pro, but Romar has a big opportunity to take over this spring.

The redshirt freshman isn't nearly as big as Phillips at 6 feet and 287 pounds, but he showed signs of big potential as a redshirt freshman in a reserve role with nine stops and a sack in 12 games.

Leaving: TCU S Chris Hackett
Replacement: Kenny Iloka

Iloka, whose brother George Iloka plays for the Bengals, was an under-the-radar find from Tyler Junior College who’s been on campus a full year now. He played sparingly in all 13 games and logged 15 tackles this season while playing behind one of the most talented safety groups in the country.

He doesn’t have to match Hackett’s seven interceptions in order to have a similar impact. There are a lot of nice young pieces to work with here, too, but Iloka and Derrick Kindred, both seniors, can help provide some critical leadership in the secondary now that Sam Carter and Kevin White have graduated.

Leaving: TCU RB B.J. Catalon
Replacement: Kyle Hicks

Whether Catalon came back, you knew Aaron Green was going to be the established feature back after his star turn to end the 2014 season. He’s proven to be an incredible fit for where this TCU offense is heading. So let’s focus on who can complement him.

Trevorris Johnson did a nice job in 2013 as the power back option -- the thumper who can pick up tough yards. But keep an eye on Hicks, who contributed 160 rushing yards and 118 receiving yards in a limited role as a redshirt freshman. He’s not going to be the returner that Catalon was, but his versatility can be put to good use to help keep Green fresh.

Leaving: Kansas WR Nigel King
Replacement: Kevin Thomas

You would think first-year coach David Beaty will take a special interest in a Kansas receivers group that does not bring back many proven options. Sophomores Bobby Hartzog Jr., Darious Crawley and Derrick Neal (if he moves back to offense) could be relied upon as the top insider receiver options. But what about the guys on the outside?

Thomas, a three-star recruit who comes from powerhouse DeSoto (Texas) High School, should get a chance to prove he can play right away as a true freshman. Our ESPN scouts have high praise for his size, speed and hands. Chase Harrell, another true freshman whom Beaty flipped from Houston when he landed at KU, could also get a real look at entering the lineup early.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

January, 19, 2015
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These final few weeks of this recruiting cycle should be fun to watch. Here's the latest on each Big 12 team's recruiting efforts:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 26th
The latest: The Bears hit the ground running out of the dead period with three commitments in the past week. A trio of linebackers decided to play college football at McLane Stadium with Waco (Texas) Midway's Lenoy Jones Jr., Richmond (Texas) Foster's Eric Ogor and Paris (Texas) High's Jordan Williams picking the Bears. Jones is a three-star prospect who had an offer from Houston, Williams is a unranked prospect with an offer from Sam Houston State and Ogor is a unranked prospect with offers from Lamar, Louisiana-Lafayette and McNeese State.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: The Cyclones had a solid start to the home stretch of this recruiting cycle with commitments from Jenks (Oklahoma) receiver Carson Epps, Citra (Florida) North Marion linebacker De'Amontae Jackson and Lithonia Georgia Military College safety Jarnor Jones during the past week. Jackson, a three-star prospect, is the top-rated of the trio and stands as the Cyclones' highest-ranked high school recruit on the pledge list.

KANSAS
Total commits: 21
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Did David Beaty and Rob Likens land Kansas' quarterback of the future this week? The Jayhawks grabbed a pledge from Vero Beach (Florida) quarterback Carter Stanley, who has experience running an uptempo spread offense. He passed for over 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns as a high school senior.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Bill Snyder's program could look back upon this weekend as a key stretch of this recruiting cycle after Metairie (Louisiana) Archbishop Rummel defensive tackle Tyrell Jacobs visited Manhattan, Kansas. The three-star prospect, who reports a lengthy offer list that includes Oklahoma, Arizona State and Tennessee, has plans to visit Missouri and Illinois. He would be a terrific anchor for K-State's defense if Snyder's team can secure his signature.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 19
ESPN 300 commits: 8
ESPN JC50 commits: 3
Class rank: 18th
The latest: The Sooners hosted several prospects over the weekend, including Dallas Kimball cornerback Antoine Stephens, who decided to commit to OU during his visit. The three-star prospect picked the Sooners over reported offers from Texas Tech, Baylor, Louisville and others. Stephens has the chance to bring size (6-foot-1, 187 pounds) and versatility to OU's secondary.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 2
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 34th
The latest: It was a key weekend for Oklahoma State with several prospects including a pair of potential ball carries in Rockwall (Texas) running back Chris Warren III and Dallas South Oak Cliff running back Jordan Stevenson visiting Mike Gundy's program. The running back position is a key need for the Cowboys, who lose two-year starter Desmond Roland this offseason.

TCU
Total commits: 22
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 36th
The latest: The Horned Frogs are trying to flip Miami commitment Terrell Chatman, who made an official visit to TCU over the weekend. The Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Central receiver is the No. 254 player in the ESPN300 and would bring another tall, lanky option alongside Josh Doctson in TCU's offense at 6-3, 176 pounds if the Horned Frogs are able to land him.

TEXAS
Total commits: 26
ESPN 300 commits: 11
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: Eighth
The latest: LSU commitment Nick Brossette took an official visit to Austin, Texas, and Charlie Strong's program left an impression with the four-star prospect as the Baton Rouge (Louisiana) University running back tweeted the visit "gave him a lot to think about." He is the No. 121 player in the ESPN300.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 31st
The latest: It was the first of several key weekends for Kliff Kingsbury's program as several prospects including offensive linemen Semisi Uluave and Riley Daniel visited Lubbock, Texas. Daniel is an unranked tackle from Ringling, Oklahoma, while Uluave is a three-star guard from Honolulu, Hawaii.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 24
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 26th
The latest: With the bulk of its 2015 class secured, West Virginia has an eye on the future, becoming the first school to offer Class of 2017 linebacker David Adams. The Pittsburgh Central Catholic prospect averaged 6.6 tackles per game during his sophomore season.
The 2014 season is over and done. This week, we're going to rank the top 25 players in the Big 12 from the past year.

We're including our top 25 preseason rankings of each player too. In some cases we were on the money with our preseason player projections. In other cases, our prognostications were completely off the mark.

Criteria for these rankings were based solely on performances from 2014, not a culmination of previous seasons. Pro potential was not a factor. Neither was preseason hype.

Now, without further ado, the first five names in the countdown:

21. Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma (preseason rank: 4): Striker didn’t live up to the monster preseason expectations that came with his three-sack performance in last year’s Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. But he was still a dominant player off the edge at times, finishing fourth in the Big 12 with nine sacks and 17 tackles for loss.

22. Bryce Hager, LB, Baylor (19): Hager capped his fabulous college career with another standout season. He finished fourth in the Big 12 with 114 tackles and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors for a third consecutive season. Hager had only one interception on the year, but it was a pivotal one, as he picked off Oklahoma and returned the ball to the 1-yard line to ignite the Bears’ 48-14 rout in Norman. The road victory propelled the Bears to their second straight Big 12 title.

23. Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas (18): Diggs was the vocal leader of one of the Big 12’s top defenses. He was the Longhorns’ most reliable performer in the secondary, finishing with three interceptions, 67 tackles and a pair of sacks. Diggs also helped usher in the Charlie Strong era at Texas, with his strong public backing of the first-year coach going all the way back to the summer. Replacing Diggs in the locker room will be just as difficult for Strong as replacing him on the field.

24. Dante Barnett, SS, Kansas State (NR): He successfully replaced Ty Zimmerman as the anchor of what proved to be a stout K-State defense. Barnett finished second among Big 12 safeties with 11 passes defended and was a major reason why the Wildcats ranked second in the Big 12 in pass defense. He was also second on the team with 77 tackles. With the likes of linebacker Jonathan Truman, end Ryan Mueller and nickelback Randall Evans graduating, the Wildcats will be asking even more out of Barnett in 2015.

25. Pete Robertson, LB, Texas Tech (NR): The Texas Tech defense might have been one of the worst statistical units in Big 12 history, but Robertson did everything he could to try to keep the Red Raiders afloat. Operating out of the bandit position in the Tech defense, Robertson topped the Big 12 with 13 sacks and was third in the league with 15.5 tackles for loss. Only a junior, Robertson will give new defensive coordinator David Gibbs a big piece to work with as he attempts to rebuild the Red Raiders defensively.

Coming Tuesday: Nos. 16-20

Big 12 morning links

January, 19, 2015
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That Seahawks-Packers game was terrific. I hope the Super Bowl can match it.
  • Despite not being named Kansas' permanent head coach, Clint Bowen is still excited about the future, writes Kevin Haskin of the Topeka Capital Journal. Bowen had to be disappointed not to get the job, particularly since he was able to change the atmosphere within the program, but KU could end up with a best of both worlds scenario with David Beaty taking over and Bowen willing to stick around. Time will tell if this is the recipe to turn things around but Bowen's willingness to stay and his commitment to the program should do nothing but help Jayhawks football. It's also interesting to note that Beaty and Bowen had a conversation about the situation to remove any potential animosity between the two.
  • The Red River Showdown just got more interesting. Texas hired former Oklahoma receivers coach Jay Norvell to coach its receivers, reports Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express News. Make no mistake, Norvell is a quality hire for the Longhorns. During his time at OU, Norvell coached several receivers who were selected in the NFL draft including Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills. He was fired from OU after the Sooners struggled to find playmakers outside of Sterling Shepard in 2014 but one bad season doesn't change his proven record of producing NFL draft picks and recruiting well. The Sooners were ready to move on and it could pay off greatly for Charlie Strong and the Longhorns.
  • Oklahoma is reaching back into its past with the hire of Lincoln Riley, writes Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman. During Riley's first meeting with local reporters, he balked at the thought the Sooners' quarterback position is a question mark while stating they will have three quarterbacks who have started in major college football. That's true. But the quarterback position is a major question mark at OU. The Sooners have talented quarterbacks but whoever wins the job will have to perform much better for Riley's offense to take off in 2015.
  • Former KU linebacker Ben Heeney created some buzz during his time at the East-West Shrine Game. Heeney had six tackles in the game and probably helped himself with the NFL draft on the horizon. Heeney's not a first-round pick but I could see him carve himself a solid NFL career as a linebacker and special-teamer.
  • Speaking of the Shrine Game, Kansas State center BJ Finney was one of the players who stood out, writes Rob Rang of CBSSports.com. Finney had a strong week of practices and a solid game, showing NFL scouts and draft experts why he's been among the Big 12's best players for multiple seasons. Much like Finney, he's not going to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, but he should have a solid NFL career, thanks to his experience and versatility.

Best of the visits: Big 12

January, 18, 2015
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The third weekend in January is always a busy -- if not the busiest -- weekend in the recruiting cycle. College coaches are allowed to contact recruits face-to-face again and the college football season is over, so both players and coaches have turned their attention to the final few weeks of recruiting. It was a busy weekend around the Big 12 with almost every conference program hosting recruits on official visits. Here’s a look at some of the best of the best form those visits.

ESPN 300 running back Nick Brossette has been a longtime LSU commitment, but that hasn’t stopped him from giving Texas a long, long look. Texas would like to land an impact running back in the 2015 class, and Brossette remains one of its best options. Brossette has built a great relationship with Horns coach Charlie Strong, and from all indications he had a good time in Austin this weekend.


Oklahoma landed a much-needed commitment from Dallas Kimball three-star cornerback Antoine Stephens on Sunday. The 6-foot-1, 187-pound Stephens was also offered scholarships by Texas Tech, Baylor, Louisville, SMU, Washington State and others.


After losing five commitments in the past few weeks, Iowa State received positive news from three-star inside linebacker De'Amontae Jackson over the weekend. The 6-foot, 235-pounder was a big get for the Cyclones out of the Sunshine State. At one point in time, Jackson had offers from Alabama, Florida State, Kentucky, Miami and others.


It also looks like Iowa State did a very impressive job with No. 10 junior college offensive tackle Jaypee Philbert this weekend. He posted about loving his time at the Kansas-Iowa State basketball game and also posted a picture of him hanging out with Cyclones offensive coordinator Mark Mangino.


Three-star defensive tackle Tyrell Jacobs joined fellow Louisianan Reggie Walker on an official visit to Kansas State this weekend. Jacobs, who visits Missouri and Illinois the next two weeks, was also accompanied by his mother.


Texas Tech had a large group of visitors on campus this weekend, including Kansas three-star athlete pledge Arico Evans. The 6-1, 190-pounder from Dallas Hillcrest seemed to be having a good time on his trip to Lubbock.


Oklahoma State also had some big prospects on campus, including eight players who were already committed to the Cowboys. This includes players like three-star safety Za'Carrius Green, who definitely liked what he saw with the black Oklahoma State uniform.

Postseason #CFBrank: 21-30

January, 18, 2015
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We're wrapping up the 2014 season by ranking the top 100 players in college football, just like we did before the season. As the rankings are announced, you can also find them here on the pages of ESPN.com.

What is #CFBrank?

#CFBrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

How did we rank the players?

We asked 32 of ESPN's college football writers and editors to rate players on a scale of 0-10 based on their performance during the 2014 season.


(Read full post)


Texas hires ex-Sooner Jay Norvell

January, 16, 2015
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The Red River rivalry added another layer of intrigue Friday when Texas hired former Oklahoma assistant Jay Norvell as its new wide receivers coach.

Norvell left OU earlier this month after seven seasons, including four as co-offensive coordinator.

"Jay is a guy that has always had an outstanding reputation, and when I had a chance to talk to him, what impressed me the most was his energy, passion and drive to be successful," Texas coach Charlie Strong said in a statement. "The thing you see and everyone talks about with him is that he's a great teacher, very detailed and organized, and he really develops his players. He's coached so many great players, gets the most out of his guys, and they really like playing for him.

"He brings a lot to our staff, is very familiar with the Big 12 and has experience recruiting in Texas. We're really excited he's joining us."

Prior to his time at Oklahoma, Norvell had coached at UCLA, Nebraska, Iowa State, Wisconsin, as well as in the NFL. Under his tutelage, Sooners receiver Ryan Broyles became the NCAA's all-time receptions leaders in 2011.

"The first thing that really drew me to this opportunity was the chance to work with Charlie Strong," Norvell said in a statement. "I've followed his career for a long time, and after sitting down and talking to him, seeing his vision for the program, the recruiting philosophy, his values, every area of the team, I was totally impressed. Our visit convinced me I wanted to be a part of that championship vision at Texas."

Norvell will take over at Texas for Les Koenning, who was fired after one season. Strong still has one vacancy to fill on his coaching staff after tight ends coach Bruce Chambers was also let go.


(Read full post)


In Friday's Twitter mailbag, we talk recruiting, instant impact freshmen and whether TCU will be able to handle the offseason hype.

On to the 'bag:

Trotter: Considering TCU and Baylor are loaded, and Texas and OU have quarterback problems, it probably won't be next year. But Charlie Strong and his staff have been killing it on the recruiting trail, while OU shook up its offense for the good by bringing in new coordinator Lincoln Riley. Would I be stunned if Texas and OU were the top two teams in the Big 12 again by 2016? No. But they also have plenty of work to do before getting there. Trotter: That's a great question, but I think they will. Gary Patterson does a great job of keeping his team grounded. The fact they came out playing with a chip on their shoulder in the bowl game is a great sign, too. TCU has never really been in this position before. But the leadership on this team starting with Trevone Boykin seems to be something that will help them wearing the target on their chests next year. Trotter: Some non-All Big 12 players this past year who could have big 2015 seasons: TCU DT Davion Pierson, Oklahoma State S Jordan Sterns, Oklahoma DT Charles Walker, Texas Tech CB Nigel Bethel II, West Virginia CB Daryl Worley, Kansas State LB Elijah Lee and Texas S Jason Hall. Trotter: Snyder said just last week that at his age he can only take it one season at a time. All signs point to him coaching again in 2015. Beyond that, it will come down to his health. But even at 75, Snyder seems to still be going strong. Trotter: The easy answer is Kansas State. The Wildcats graduated their QB, their two best receivers, their best offensive lineman, their best defensive lineman and their best linebacker. Because of Snyder, K-State might not take that big of a step back. But it's going to be tough. Trotter: Not bad. The Big 12 definitely needs a new One True Slogan. I've recommended, "We Play Everybody," since that's what the league originally intended to say with "One True Champion." Trotter: I read up on Spangler's high school football career, and apparently he could fling the ball around a bit. At 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, he could run a little "Belldozer" package, right? Trotter: Pancakes. Call me weird, but I especially like pancakes made from cornmeal. Trotter: It's the only hole on the offense going into next year. But it's a massive hole. Rennie Childs is a solid back, but I don't know that he's an every-down starter on a championship-caliber offense. Sione Palelei has major knee injury concerns, so who knows about him. In my opinion, Oklahoma State really needs to land a premier back in this class. They're working on it. ESPN 300 back Chris Warren III is on an official visit to Stillwater this weekend. In addition, the Cowboys are attempting to flip a commitment from the likes of Nick Brossette (LSU), Jordan Stevenson (Wisconsin) and Chris Carson (Georgia). Trotter: Iowa State fans are beginning to forget that Rhoads led the Cyclones to bowl appearances in three of his first four years. That said, the frustration is understandable. The Cyclones have been trending in the wrong direction these last two years, and the recruiting this year has been a reflection of that. 2015 is a big year for Rhoads and Co. He needs to get Iowa State back on track next season. Trotter: Baylor's Jarrett Stidham, Texas' Zach Gentry and Kansas State's Alex Delton will all be walking into quarterback situations lacking defintion. None will be a favorite to win the job going in, but the chance is at least there. ESPN 300 DT Breiden Fehoko has the opportunity to start at Texas Tech Day 1. Malik Jefferson has the talent to immediately work into Texas' rotation at linebacker. West Virginia's Miramar, Florida, haul of WR Jovon Durante, CB Tyrek Cole and S Kendrell McFadden could warrant early playing time, as well.
video

No. 4 athlete Soso Jamabo -- who would be the top-ranked RB in the ESPN 300 if not for his ATH classification -- explains his combination of elusiveness and power.

Big 12 all-bowl team

January, 16, 2015
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Below, we recognize the best individual performances of the 2014-15 bowl season with our Big 12 all-bowl team:

OFFENSE

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
AP Photo/LM OteroBryce Petty had a huge game in his college finale.
QB: Bryce Petty, Baylor. Petty didn’t go out with a win, but he did go out with a monster performance, as he threw for a Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic-record 550 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for another score.

RB: Desmond Roland, Oklahoma State. Roland ran for more than 100 yards for the first time all season and finished with 123 yards on 32 carries in Oklahoma State’s TicketCity Cactus Bowl win.

RB: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma. Perine was about the Sooners’ only positive in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Playing on a bum ankle, he ran for 134 yards to finish his true freshman season with a Big 12-best 1,713 rushing yards.

WR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State. Lockett fueled a furious second-half comeback in the Valero Alamo Bowl with 164 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The rally came up short, but Lockett was fabulous in his final game at K-State.

WR: Kevin White, West Virginia. White was unstoppable yet again in his last college game. He finished with 129 yards receiving and a touchdown in West Virginia’s loss to Texas A&M in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

WR: K.D. Cannon, Baylor. By hauling in eight caches for 197 yards and two touchdowns, Cannon became just the seventh receiver and first underclassman in Baylor history to finish with more than 1,000 yards receiving.

AP: Aaron Green, TCU. Green ignited a 42-3 onslaught of Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl by hauling in a 31-yard pass on a trick play for TCU's first touchdown. He scored the Horned Frogs’ second touchdown too and finished with 114 yards rushing and receiving.

OT: Halapoulivaati Vaitai, TCU: With “Big V” locking up one of the edges, the Horned Frogs dominated the line of scrimmage and finished with 177 yards on the ground.

OG: LaQuan McGowan, Baylor. The 400-pound backup guard delivered one of the most unforgettable plays of the bowl season, when he lined up as an eligible receiver then snagged an 18-yard touchdown pass to give Baylor a 20-point lead.

C: B.J. Finney, Kansas State. With K-State struggling to protect quarterback Jake Waters through the first half, Finney swung from center to right tackle after halftime. The Wildcats had no trouble moving the ball the rest of the way.

OG: Brady Foltz, TCU: Foltz had one of the best games of his TCU career as the Horned Frogs rolled up 423 total yards against Ole Miss’ talented defense.

OT: Zach Crabtree, Oklahoma State. Crabtree’s return to the lineup late in the year helped stabilize the line. With Crabtree, the Cowboys controlled a Washington front seven that featured three All-Americans.

DEFENSE

DE: Ryan Mueller, Kansas State. Mueller finished with seven tackles and produced a huge forced fumble of the Bruins in the third quarter that sparked K-State’s rally.

DT: James Castleman, Oklahoma State. Castleman’s biggest contributions actually came on offense. In Oklahoma State’s heavy set, Castleman rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, then late in the game hauled in a 48-yard yard reception off play-action that helped propel the Cowboys to victory.

DT: Malcom Brown, Texas. Brown did what he could in a 31-7 loss to Arkansas in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl by leading Texas with eight tackles, a tackle for loss and a pair of QB hurries.

DE: James McFarland, TCU. McFarland essentially ended the game when he came up with an acrobatic, diving interception of Bo Wallace in the Ole Miss end zone that put the Frogs ahead 28-0 just before halftime.

LB: K.J. Dillon, West Virginia. Dillon had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave West Virginia a 10-point lead over the Aggies and early command of the game. Neither the lead nor the command lasted, however.

LB: Marcus Mallet, TCU. The Horned Frogs brutalized Ole Miss’ offense, and Mallet was a big reason for that. He put up a game-high 10 tackles and forced and recovered a fumble, as the Rebels finished with just 9 yards rushing.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma State, Deric Robertson, Kevin Peterson
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriKevin Peterson (1) and the Oklahoma State defense made plenty of stops against Washington.
LB: Taylor Young, Baylor. Young had a game-high 15 tackles and very nearly produced the game-clinching play. His 84-yard fourth-quarter interception return, however, was called back by a penalty.

CB: Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State. In addition to providing solid coverage all night, Peterson came up with the game-clinching interception of Washington in the final seconds.

CB: Ramon Richards, Oklahoma State. The sure-tackling true freshman had perhaps the best performance in his young career and finished with six tackles, a tackle for loss and two pass breakups.

S: Karl Joseph, West Virginia. Joseph led the Mountaineers with 10 tackles and delivered yet another devastating hit that resulted in a forced fumble.

S: Derrick Kindred, TCU. Kindred picked off the Rebels in the first quarter and finished with five tackles and a tackle for loss as the TCU secondary swarmed Ole Miss' receivers all game.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Matthew McCrane, Kansas State. McCrane nailed 47-yard and 29-yard field goals and nearly pulled off a remarkable onside kick using the “Rabona” soccer technique. Honorable mention honors here go to West Virginia’s Josh Lambert, who broke the FBS season record with 39 made field goals.

P: Kip Smith, Oklahoma State. Smith placed all four of his punts inside the Washington 20 to help the Cowboys control the field-position battle.

Returner: Mario Alford, West Virginia: The electric Alford had two big kick returns, as well as a 45-yard touchdown reception off a quick pass in his final game as a Mountaineer.

Top recruiting targets in the Big 12 

January, 16, 2015
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Here's a team-by-team look at some remaining targets for Big 12 teams.

What he brings: John Houston Jr., the new No. 1 inside linebacker, could also be in the running for the top outside linebacker ranking. Houston is a tall, long and athletic prospect when covering in space, but also shows good instincts and awareness pursuing the football between the tackles. With the prevalence of high-tempo, spread attacks, a strong space player and coverage linebacker like Houston is coveted at the next level. He has also demonstrated the ability to be a well-rounded player. He is an active first-down defender capable of being a physical run-stopper between the tackles.


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Big 12's top recruiting visits 

January, 16, 2015
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The third weekend in January is annually the biggest official visit weekend of the recruiting cycle and that’s definitely true for 2015 and in Big 12 territory. All but a few conference schools are expected to host prospects on campus this weekend and there will be plenty of major news to come following these trips, especially at places like Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa State.

[+] EnlargeNick Brossette
Gerry Hamilton/ESPNTexas is looking to flip Nick Brossette's commitment to LSU.
Texas to host around eight visitors
The Horns will have a solid group of visitors in Austin this weekend, including a number of touted commitments like ESPN 300 prospects Louis Brown and DeShon Elliott. But what makes the weekend significant is three visitors that have yet to make up their minds. LSU commitment and No. 12 running back Nick Brossette is coming to town, along with ESPN 300 defensive backs Kris Boyd and Holton Hill. Brossette is giving Texas a serious look despite his pledge to the Tigers, and he’s built a great relationship with Charlie Strong. Boyd and Hill are two key defensive back targets the Horns would love to reel in.


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Big 12 morning links

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
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Now this makes way too much sense; I'm a big fan. I still haven't totally made up my mind on this.
  • Have you ever been so fired up that you punched yourself in the face over and over again? New Oklahoma State assistant Dan Hammerschmidt knows the feeling. Kyle Fredrickson of The Oklahoman reports on the Cowboys' defensive backs coach who made quite an impression on his Colorado State players in 1997 with that tactic. Hammerschmidt coached at Houston last season and appears to be filling the vacancy Van Malone left when he departed for SMU.
  • Baylor has filled its coaching staff vacancies. Two-time Pro Bowler Cris Dishman was hired to coach the Bears' secondary. He takes over for Brian Norwood, who took a position at Tulsa. Baylor will also have a new receivers coach in Tate Wallis, who played quarterback for SMU under Phil Bennett and has worked in football ops for Baylor for the past three seasons. I figured Baylor might hire a quarterbacks coach and let offensive coordinator Kendal Briles remain in charge of receivers, but it's no surprise Art Briles preferred to promote from within.
  • We've passed the deadline for underclassmen to enter the NFL draft (more on that later this morning in the blog) and Texas Tech must be pleased to know Le'Raven Clark is coming back. The two-time All-Big 12 offensive tackle is valuable for a whole lot of reasons. With Clark back, Tech has four returning starters on its offensive line. DeAndre Washington, the Red Raiders' first 1,000-yard rusher since 1998, should be just as thrilled as quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb. Getting one more season out of Clark should do a lot of good for Tech's offense.
  • Now this is crazy. The father of quarterback Connor Brewer told the Austin American-Statesman's Ryan Autullo they would "absolutely entertain" the possibility of coming back to Texas in 2015. Brewer transferred from Texas to Arizona in the summer of 2013 but never cracked the starting lineup. He's leaving the Wildcats as a graduate transfer with two seasons left. The knock on Brewer in 2013 was that he lacked the arm strength to thrive at this level, but I don't think that matters in Texas' current predicament. Any quarterback who's eligible this fall is worth at least considering.
  • Finally, here's a thorough and very thoughtful analysis of expanding the College Football Playoff from the great Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. In an effort to ensure perfectly qualified teams like Baylor and TCU get in, Silver suggests expanding to a six-team playoff or an eight-team one with automatic bids. Silver does a terrific job here of breaking down what we've witnessed from 1998 to 2014 and makes some compelling points. Readers, what do you think?
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Few recruiting battles are more intriguing than the ones going on in Texas for high-profile players such as Daylon Mack, Soso Jamabo and Chris Warren III. What schools they pick could tilt recruiting supremacy in the Lone Star State moving forward


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