Thursday, October 4, 2012
The Big 12's five best freshmen of Sept.
By David Ubben
There are plenty of young kids across the league making a big impact. Here are the league's best through the first month:
Devonte Fields, DE, TCU: Fields was forced into action after a knee injury sidelined Ross Forrest for the season. So far, he's been unbelievable. Fields will be facing better offensive lines soon, but he's been the Big 12's most productive defensive lineman to this point. TCU's nonconference schedule has been about as good as anyone's in the league, too. Fields, a 6-foot-4, 240-pounder from Arlington, Texas, is leading the Big 12 with 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.
J.W. Walsh/Wes Lunt, QBs, Oklahoma State: You can't really separate these two, but they've both excelled so far this season, giving Cowboys fans plenty of hope that Brandon Weeden's old spot will be filled admirably for the next four years. Walsh ranks fourth nationally in passer rating after filling in for Lunt, who suffered a knee injury in the Cowboys' third game. He's thrown for 797 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. Lunt, meanwhile, has completed 68 percent of his passes for 588 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Lunt's expected to take the job back over when he gets healthy.
Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor: Art Briles decided to put his faith in a redshirt freshman, enlisting Drango to protect Nick Florence's blind side. The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder beefed up in his redshirt season, and it's already paying off. Baylor ranks second nationally in scoring offense and total offense, ranking second nationally in passing offense. The offense also ranks 44th in rushing offense.
Isaiah Bruce, LB, West Virginia: Bruce made a big splash in his first start, earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 1 against Marshall. He's only continued to be productive after that 16-tackle performance. He's second in the Big 12 with 43 tackles, four tackles for loss and returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown in that Marshall win.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma: Shepard had to fight for playing time early on, but in just his first start, he showed a ton of promise, leading the Sooners in receiving against a good secondary in Kansas State. He hardly played in the opener, but he caught three passes for 48 yards against Florida A&M, and his breakout game against the Wildcats featured seven grabs for 108 yards and his first career touchdown.