Five Big 12 players poised to emerge out of the shadows


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Heading into spring practice, several players across the Big 12 appear they might ready to blossom and become key contributors for their teams. Here are some of the most notable as spring practice approaches.

Missouri DE Brian Coulter -- After arriving from Florida State last summer, Coulter brashly predicted he would develop into an All-Big 12 player. He didn't do it last season, but might be ready this season as new Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel rebuilds the defensive front after losing three starters.

Colorado WR Markques Simas -- After redshirting as a true freshman in 2007, Simas was academically ineligible last season. During that period, he tore it up on the Buffaloes' scout team. That performance has provided coach Dan Hawkins with hope that Simas can develop into a consistent producer with regular playing time.

Texas Tech WR Edward Britton -- Despite the presence of receivers like Michael Crabtree and Eric Morris in the Red Raiders' rotation last season, Britton produced a team-best average of 16.5 yards per catch on his 35 receptions and produced six TD grabs. With new quarterback Taylor Potts throwing, Britton might have a chance to emerge as his featured receiver without Crabtree and Morris returning.

Texas A&M DE Von Miller -- He's been known primarily for a late hit on Graham Harrell two seasons ago and his controversial horse-collar tackle that caused a broken leg for Colorado's Rodney Stewart last season. But Miller may be ready to become one of the conference's top pass-rushing threats for the Aggies after producing 3.5 sacks last season.

Oklahoma State DT Derek Burton -- A prime contributor as a starter last season at defensive end, Burton could blossom after moving inside. Developing his run-stuffing abilities will be critical as the Cowboys compensate after the loss of starters Tonga Tea and Jeray Chatham from last season.