In today’s mailbag, we discuss the Top 25 Big 12 player countdown, underrated Big 12 players, viable Big 12 Heisman candidates and the outlooks for many of the league’s teams.
I took Twitter questions for this mailbag. But you can always submit a mailbag entry the traditional way by clicking here.
On to the 'bag:
Chris in Edmond, Oklahoma, writes: I'm really surprised to that Tyreek Hill was the only player on the Top 25 ranking from Oklahoma State. Desmond Roland only started for half of last season and still led the league in TDs. I'm also surprised not to see James Castleman or Kevin Peterson on this list. Other candidates with very strong possibilities: Jhajuan Seales, Ryan Simmons and Jimmy Bean. I expect Oklahoma State to have a year similar to 2010 and the end of year awards/player rankings to reflect the talent on this roster.
Jake Trotter: Who knows, Chris, you might be right. I remember many people picked that 2010 team to finish sixth in the Big 12 South. Instead, they won 11 games. All the guys you mentioned are good players. But there are a lot of good players in the league. Hill, to me, is the most likely to be great, which is why he cracked the list. There’s a reason why Mike Gundy is saying he wants to get Hill the ball 20 times, at the least, per game. It would not surprise me at all if Peterson or Seales had All-Big 12 caliber seasons. But I think Hill could be special.
Bob in Oklahoma City writes: How is Bryce Petty No. 1 in your top 25? He’s a system QB.
Trotter: Yeah, a system quarterback who’s also going to be a first-round pick next spring.
Nealyo in Olathe, Kansas, writes: Can Kansas be considered a sleeper team? With an improved line (which still needs improvement) and a few new position players, do they have the ability to shock-and-awe a few conference wins?
Trotter: With nine starters back defensively and some viable options (finally) at wide receiver, I think Kansas will be improved. But I’m not ready to call the Jayhawks a sleeper. After all, they have only one victory in their last 30 Big 12 games.
We also took Twitter questions for today’s mailbag…
@Jake_Trotter what team has best chance to be the Paul Rhoads upset special this year
— Ted Flint (@TedFlintKansas) August 1, 2014
Trotter: There are a few candidates for this, including the Big 12 co-favorites. Oklahoma has to go to Iowa State the week before hosting Baylor. The Sooners could get caught looking ahead. Baylor, meanwhile, has to go to Ames the week before traveling to Texas. The Bears could get caught looking ahead, too. I also think Texas Tech could be ripe Nov. 15. The Red Raiders' November woes have been well-documented. But Tech will be coming off back-to-back home games against Texas and Oklahoma. They'll also have the tilt with Baylor at Cowboys Stadium the following week. Will they have anything left in the emotional well for the Cyclones? Iowa State is going to upset someone in Ames this year. I'm just not sure who.
@Jake_Trotter Jake~ Looks like OU is in everyone's Top 5. But what's the backup plan if Trevor Knight goes back to being...Trevor Knight?
— Logan Scott Culp (@logansc88) August 1, 2014
Trotter: Right now, there is no backup plan. Blake Bell is at tight end, Baker Mayfield is in ineligible and the young quarterbacks don't look ready yet. If Knight struggles, so will the Sooners. But I'd be more worried about Knight getting nicked up then him not playing well.
@Jake_Trotter Who has most potential to make a run at the top half this year? ISU, KU or WVU?
— Carter J (@carterj1982) August 1, 2014
Trotter: Definitely the Mountaineers. They have the most talent of the three. The schedule is West Virginia's biggest problem. The Mountaineers could be better and still only go 5-7. That's how tough this schedule is. But if they can survive the September portion of the schedule, this is a team that could get back to bowl eligibility.
@Jake_Trotter What is the ceiling for UT if David Ash stays healthy and productive?
— Stephen Davis (@Beltrefan) August 1, 2014
Trotter: The ceiling is a Big 12 title. Even with last week's player purge, Texas has no real weaknesses elsewhere. If David Ash is healthy and consistently plays like one of the three best quarterbacks in the league, then the Longhorns could contend with Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State for the Big 12 crown. But, as the last couple of years have shown, that is one big if.
— Mark B. Leita (@MarkLeita) August 1, 2014
Trotter: Top 60 seems a little optimistic, considering Tech ranked 85th last year. Oklahoma State had the best defense in the Big 12 last season, and only ranked 53rd nationally. That's just the result of running an up-tempo offense that forces your defense to defend a lot of plays on the other side. The key for Tech will be getting stops in the red zone and forcing turnovers, to give its potent offense short fields.
@Jake_Trotter What can we expect from Baylor's defense this year?
— Kale Norman (@kale_norman13) August 1, 2014
Trotter: The defensive line is going to be really good. Shawn Oakman is a budding superstar and Andrew Billings is right behind him. Bryce Hager is also one of the best linebackers in the league. The Bears feel good about their cornerbacks and safeties, but those guys haven't played a lot yet. They also don't have a thumper like Ahmad Dixon. But if the D-line proves to be as good as Art Briles thinks it will be, there might not be as much fall-off defensively as everyone is expecting. We'll see.
@Jake_Trotter what under the radar player is poised to make some noise this year ?
— E (@DudeNamed_E) August 1, 2014
Trotter: The league is deep at wide receiver. Everyone knows about Tyler Lockett and Antwan Goodley. But keep an eye on the likes Oklahoma State's Jhajuan Seales, Baylor's Corey Coleman and Texas Tech's Reginald Davis. Those three guys have the potential to break out with big seasons.
@Jake_Trotter Byrd or Thomas? For OU. Im thinking Ahmad
— Dave Clouse (@DavidClouse3) August 1, 2014
Trotter: Don't sleep on incoming freshman Steven Parker.
@Jake_Trotter who are the top 3 heisman candidates in the big 12?
— Grant Kawata (@GrantKawata) August 1, 2014
Trotter: Petty, and probably Knight (because of the playoff potential) and Lockett (because he returns kicks, too).