Friday, August 12, 2011
Big 12 players heading from good to great
By David Ubben
Every year, good players become great. Here are a few fresh faces to keep an eye on in 2011.
Mike Davis, WR, Texas: Davis emerged as one of the Longhorns top targets as a true freshman, catching 47 passes for 478 yards and a team-leading two touchdowns. That was in a struggling offense. Texas, one would figure with a renewed purpose and new coordinator, could only improve on offense in 2011. That, combined with Davis' experience from last year and the offseason, could mean a huge year.
Mike Davis caught 47 passes for 478 yards and two touchdowns as a Texas freshman.
Josh Gordon, WR, Baylor: Gordon, for now, remains suspended indefinitely, but there's no denying his potential once that suspension ends. Gordon, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is built exactly like Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller, and could be due for a similar jump after catching 42 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns, leading the Big 12 with an average of 17 yards per catch.
Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M: Joeckel struggled at times early in the season, but was one of the catalysts leading the way for Ryan Tannehill and Cyrus Gray's rise late in the season as a young Texas A&M line jelled. The Aggies return four starters from last year's line that improved late in the year, but Joeckel has the highest ceiling among the five starters.
Ronnell Lewis, DE, Oklahoma: Lewis has unbelievable raw physical skills, but he has yet to turn that potential into hard production, in part because he had an All-American ahead of him on the depth chart. For now, his eligibility for 2010 is still in question, but his 37 tackles and 3.5 sacks will surely grow with more time on the field -- if he gets it.
Shaun Lewis, LB, Oklahoma State: Lewis was borderline great in 2010, but he may blossom into a full-blown star in 2011, possibly on a national level. Oklahoma State's defense has a chance to be much better in 2011 than in 2010, and if that happens, he'll join safety Markelle Martin as the two biggest reasons why.
Eric Stephens, RB, Texas Tech: Stephens will step into a starting role and with a new quarterback and new receivers, Stephens could benefit from an emphasis on the running game and an offensive line that returns all five starters. Stephens rushed for 668 yards and a team-leading six scores on just 127 carries last year. With Baron Batch's 177 carries headed to the NFL, could Stephens be the Red Raiders first 1,000-yard rusher in a long while?