- David Ubben, College Football
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Time to look at a few of the best things in the Big 12 this spring.
Biggest breakout star: Bryce Petty. The Bears' quarterback is an unknown for now, but he's learned a proven system under great coaches and great quarterbacks. This spring, he never let his competition come close to making it real quarterback battle in Waco. Despite windy conditions, he capped the spring with 181 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-15 passing. Don't be surprised if he hangs similar stat lines in a first half or two next year.
Biggest flip-flop: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy. Midway through the spring, Gundy offered some real clarity on his quarterback situation, which ended with Clint Chelf carrying the Cowboys through bowl practices and a lopsided win in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. "Clint Chelf is our starter, he takes all the reps with the ones right now. The other guys compete out there, but I don't necessarily feel like there's a battle out there to start in the first game," Gundy said. A week later, though, he said the Pokes "haven't necessarily said anything about the [starter for the] first game of the season." He says they won't be offering any updates on the QB situation until after the season opener against Mississippi State and Chelf is off-limits to media, along with his competition, sophomores J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt.
Best spring-game performance: Jordan Thompson, WR, West Virginia. Dana Holgorsen joked that Thompson is earning a reputation as the greatest spring game player of all time after he recorded six catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns. Just don't spend too much time reading this paragraph. "Until he plays like that in a game, we're going to call it like it is," Holgorsen said. "I haven't seen him play like that in a game yet. Until he does that in a game, we're not going to talk about it."
Biggest surprise: TCU's quarterback indecision. Many assumed that Casey Pachall's return to the Horned Frogs meant Trevone Boykin's days as the starting quarterback were over, or at least on hold for another season. After 15 practices this spring, however, that hasn't been the case just yet. Coach Gary Patterson says Boykin's made big strides since the end of the season and Pachall looked rusty after not working out or throwing while he was in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. More than a few folks are skeptical of Patterson's insistence that the competition is still open, but we'll know for sure when TCU opens against LSU.
Most to prove: Jake Heaps and Kansas. KU's Big 12 losing streak now stands at 21 games, and Heaps is looking like a much better passer than Dayne Crist was at this time last year. Charlie Weis is also stocking his roster with tons of juco talent, which could mean a quick turnaround. Will it, though? KU needs to get back to respectability and fast, but winning that first Big 12 game won't be easy.
Best new uniforms: Baylor and West Virginia. West Virginia had a ballyhooed debut before its spring game with three sets of white, blue and Old Gold pants, jerseys and helmets, giving WVU 27 possible combinations. The numbers on the jerseys are also inspired by miners' pick axes. Baylor also debuted new jerseys, highlighted by an all gold chrome helmet and most importantly, the elimination of a cartoonish bear claw mark on the pants.