Big 12: Adam Ulatoski

Notable undrafted Big 12ers finding homes

April, 27, 2010
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Nine players from the Big 12 were drafted in the first round, but not everybody can make millions. Here's where a few notable Big 12ers ended up after going undrafted:

Baylor

Four-time All-Big 12er will try to fit in with new coach Pete Carroll.

Everyone respects Lake as a hitter, but a lack of speed will likely keep the Thorpe Award candidate from succeeding at the pro level.

Kansas

Might end up in Canada after struggling to show scouts he could compensate for his lack of height.

Kansas State

Banks ran a 4.43 at the combine, the fifth-fastest time recorded by a receiver, but his size will keep him from playing receiver at the next level. Some team will give him a shot as a return man eventually. What he does with it is up to him.

Missouri

NFL teams are waiting on Alexander to pass a physical after undergoing his fourth knee surgery in just over a year. The nation's receiving leader can't seem to catch a break.

Baston and Gregory were second-team All-Big 12ers and Carolina began contacting Gregory during the sixth round, expressing its interest in signing him.

Nebraska

Turner and O'Hanlon make five Blackshirts who ended up on NFL rosters after leaving Nebraska. DT Ndamukong Suh, S Larry Asante and LB Phillip Dillard were drafted.

Oklahoma

An ankle injury ended English's season early and any chance the defensive end, who was named to the All-Big 12 first team as a freshman, had of being drafted.

  • DT DeMarcus Granger - Seattle
Former blue-chip recruit never recovered from offseason back surgery before last season and didn't play until the bowl game.

Solid runner led the Sooners in rushing the past two seasons. Might be able to slip into Josh McDaniels' uncertain situation at running back. Lesser accomplished backs have done it in Denver in the past, but that was under Mike Shanahan, who's now in Washington.

Oklahoma State

Toston stepped in after Kendall Hunter was injured and ran for over 1,000 yards.

Lewis began the season on the cover of SI, and Bond came to Oklahoma State after playing eight-man football. Both are now on current NFL rosters.

Texas

The most accurate kicker in Texas history, Lawrence doesn't seem likely to beat out the solid Connor Barth, who took over the job midseason last year, for the starting job. But impress during minicamp, or stay on the roster through training camp, and other teams could take notice.

Ulatoski has the size (6-foot-6, 310 pounds) to succeed in the NFL, he just has to prove it with the Texans. Tanner and Ulatoski have a handful of All-Big 12 honors heading into the next level.

Texas A&M

McCoy caught 35 passes for 367 yards and two scores and made the All-Big 12 second team.

Texas Tech

Sharpe finished second in the Big 12 with 15 sacks.

Carter, most known for his hair and makeup, turned an All-Big 12 first-team effort in 2009 into a free-agent deal with the world champs.

Q&A with Texas OC Greg Davis

February, 23, 2010
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Defending Big 12 champion Texas opens spring practice on Friday.

Among the Longhorns’ biggest chores during spring practice: replacing record-setting quarterback Colt McCoy and star receiver Jordan Shipley.

Texas fans got a sneak peak at new quarterback Garrett Gilbert during the Longhorns’ 37-21 loss to Alabama in the Citi BCS National Championship Game. After McCoy injured his throwing shoulder early in the first quarter, Gilbert was thrust into the game against one of the country’s most ferocious defenses. The freshman responded by throwing for 186 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions on 15-for-40 passing. After struggling mightily during the first half, Gilbert nearly rallied the Longhorns back from a 24-6 deficit in the second half.

Texas also will have to replace three starting offensive linemen: center Chris Hall, left guard Charlie Tanner and left tackle Adam Ulatoski.

I talked with Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis on Monday about replacing his offense’s departed stars:


Chris Williams/Icon SMITexas offensive coordinator Greg Davis is breaking in starters at many key positions this offseason.
How does your team replace Colt McCoy?

Greg Davis: Four years ago, everybody asked me, “What are you going to do when Vince Young leaves?” Now everybody wants to know what we’re going to do after Colt left. We’re going to regroup and plan on winning. I have to find exactly what Garrett’s strengths are and find his comfort area. We’ve got to find the things we’re going to do to utilize his talents. I’m very confident that he will be an outstanding player.

What are you looking to accomplish with Gilbert this spring?

GD: What I want from him this spring is just to relax and to be himself and not try to be Colt. I’m talking to him this offseason the same way I talked to Colt four years ago. I told Colt: “Hey, you’re not going to rush for 1,000 yards like Vince Young. Just be Colt McCoy.” That’s what I’m talking to Garrett about. I told him: “You just need to go out and be yourself and lead the way you’ve always led.” We expect to win games with him.

What did you learn about Gilbert after he was thrown into the BCS National Championship Game after McCoy injured his shoulder?

GD: I learned that a lot of the things we thought we knew about him were true. We thought he had a lot of poise. To start the way he did in the first half, and to have him come back and play the way he did in the second half, I think he showed a lot of poise and maturity. I thought he grew up a lot as the game went on. To play in that venue and play against that defense, and to have to adjust to the things they were throwing at him and to have to change protections, move around and know where his hot reads were, I was really encouraged by what I saw from him in that ballgame. I thought that was what I would see, but you never know until he gets thrown in there. I was pleased overall with the way he performed in that game.

Gilbert is a bigger quarterback than McCoy. What do you anticipate his playing weight to be?

GD: He’s gained about seven pounds and weighs about 214. I would guess that he’ll be in the neighborhood of around 220 pounds in August. He’ll be a good-sized kid.

Your offense loses Shipley, who caught 116 passes and 13 touchdowns last season. You have a veteran group of receivers coming back and add one of the best recruiting classes in the country. How will you replace Shipley’s production?

GD: It’s going to have to be spread around. We went into last season knowing that Jordan would have over 100 catches and over 1,000 yards receiving. We went into the season expecting him to do that. We’re going into the spring expecting those numbers to be spread out. We’re expecting those numbers to be spread among guys like James Kirkendoll, Malcolm Williams, John Chiles, Marquise Goodwin and Greg Timmons, a young guy we redshirted last season. We’re not going into the spring with the idea that one of them is going to have 100 catches and 1,000 yards receiving next season. We’re going into the spring with the idea that we’re going to spread the ball around. The group is going to have to pick up the slack.

How much progress did you think your offense made running the ball year?

GD: I thought there were times where we made progress, but when we sat down and looked at the season as a whole, we feel like it’s still an area where we have to be more productive. The last two seasons, we kind of put a bunch of eggs in Colt’s basket as far as running the ball. We kind of said, “If the defense outnumbers the run, that’s fine and we don’t care.” But we’ve got to be better in the run game this season than we were the last two years. We’re going to do some things this spring to try and help that.

Do you plan to make any changes schematically to your offense?

GD: We’re going to go back under center with the quarterback some more. We played the last two years almost exclusively out of the shotgun. We will continue to play a lot of the game from the shotgun, but we’re going to go back under center to try and help the backs run more downhill. With the zone read dropping off the radar, we’re going to play with the running backs’ alignment in the gun. When we are running the ball out of the gun, they can run more downhill. We can be tighter on our zones with the offensive line because of the landmarks with the backs. I think that is a big emphasis this spring -- to try and take the pressure off the quarterback and run the ball better.

How much more important is it to be able to run the ball more effectively this coming season to take the pressure off a young quarterback?

GD: We did the same thing when Colt took over. Even though we thought Colt was going to turn out to be a much better quarterback than anybody anticipated, we wanted to make sure we took some pressure off of him by being able to run the ball. We had a 1,500-yard rusher in Jamaal Charles [in 2007]. I think it’s an important aspect of spring training to be more productive in the running game. We have the same kind of confidence in Garrett Gilbert, but we have to be able to run the ball to help him.

Brewster, Walters will miss Texas' upcoming spring practice

February, 5, 2010
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Texas will be without safety Nolan Brewster and guard Mason Walters when the Longhorns begin spring practice in early March.

Texas athletic trainer for football Kenny Boyd said that Brewster (right shoulder) and Walters (left foot) will miss work that will begin with their practice in pads. And linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who underwent surgery for a sports hernia repair, will be limited when the Longhorns start.

Two practices will be open to the public on March 2 and March 8 at Texas' Denius Fields. They will begin at 4 p.m.

And the Longhorns also have scheduled their annual Spring Football Jamboree and Orange-White Game for Sunday April 4. More information and the starting time will be released by the school later.

Brewster's injury is significant because he would have had a shot at winning a starting safety slot during spring practice. He was backup to Earl Thomas last season. Christian Scott, Ben Wells and Blake Gideon are the prime returning players at that position.

Walters missed much of last season with the injury. His absence will keep him from immediately challenging in the battle to replace departing starting tackle Adam Ulatoski.

And with Acho missing at linebacker along with the departing Roddrick Muckelroy, players like Ryan Roberson, Dustin Earnest and Tariq Allen a chance for extra work .

NFL combine list dotted by Big 12 players

February, 3, 2010
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The NFL has released its final list of late additions to its annual pre-draft player combine, which will take place in Indianapolis from Feb. 24 to March 2.

The Big 12 is well represented on the list of invited players, with every team but Iowa State and Texas A&M having at least one representative.

Here's the final list. The late invitations, typically from underclassmen who declared for the draft, are listed in bold.

BAYLOR (2)

WR David Gettis

C J.D. Walton

COLORADO (1)

TE Riar Geer

KANSAS (3)

WR Dezmon Briscoe

WR Kerry Meier

S Darrell Stuckey

KANSAS STATE (3)

WR Brandon Banks

TE Jeron Mastrud

CB Joshua Moore

MISSOURI (4)

WR Danario Alexander

G Kurtis Gregory

WR Jared Perry

LB Sean Weatherspoon

NEBRASKA (4)

S Larry Asante

LB Phillip Dillard

C Jacob Hickman

DT Ndamukong Suh

OKLAHOMA (9)

QB Sam Bradford

RB Chris Brown

OLB Keenan Clayton

TE Brody Eldridge

CB Dominique Franks

TE Jermaine Gresham

CB Brian Jackson

DT Gerald McCoy

T Trent Williams

OKLAHOMA STATE (6)

S Lucien Antoine

WR Dez Bryant

CB Perrish Cox

T Russell Okung

QB Zac Robinson

RB Keith Toston

TEXAS (7)

DT Lamarr Houston

DE Sergio Kindle

QB Colt McCoy

LB Roddrick Muckelroy

WR Jordan Shipley

S Earl Thomas

T Adam Ulatoski

TEXAS TECH (2)

G Brandon Carter

CB Jamar Wall

All-Big 12 teams show recruiting hits and misses

February, 2, 2010
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As we all pore over the recruiting ratings of each school for the next few days, it's wise to take all of these rankings and ratings with a healthy grain of salt.

Recruiting is, always has been and always will be an inexact science. For every can't miss product, there are others who emerge out of nowhere to become standout players.

This trend was shown after I analyzed the first- and second-team All-Big 12 teams from the 2009 season and went back to check their original ESPNU grades. On some, the service hit. But on many others, it missed like Sean Weatherspoon and Danario Alexander.

Both had scores of 40 when they came out in their recruiting class. Weatherspoon weighed 195 pounds. Alexander was projected as a safety. And both put aside their dubious recruiting marks to develop into two of the best players in the country at their position over the course of their college career. I thought it was interesting to go back and look at the best players in the conference and see where they were ranked coming into college.

The ESPNU ratings database goes back only to 2006. That does not allow us to get ratings for players who took a redshirt year during their college careers. But it gives a pretty accurate picture about the crap shoot that college recruiting really is.

Here's a look at the Big 12's coaches' first and second teams for 2009. The positional rankings, typically listed second for most players, are national rankings.

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE

QB: Colt McCoy, Texas: Class of 2005, no information available.

RB: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State: Junior college class of 2009.

RB: Keith Toston, Oklahoma State: 77 rating; ranked 44th among all safeties; ranked 73rd in state.

FB: Bryant Ward, Oklahoma State: Walk-on.

WR: Jordan Shipley, Texas: Class of 2004, no information available.

WR: Danario Alexander, Missouri: 40 rating (as safety), ranked 229th in state.

WR: Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas: 40 rating, ranked 363rd in state.

TE: Jeron Mastrud, Kansas State: 40 rating, ranked 13th in state.

OL: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State: 73 rating, ranked 61st among all tackles, 138th in state.

OL: Trent Williams, Oklahoma: 76 rating, ranked 22nd among all guards, 78th in state.

OL: Nick Stringer, Kansas State: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Brandon Carter, Texas Tech: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Nate Solder, Colorado: 40 rating (as tight end), ranked 48th in state.

PK: Grant Ressel, Missouri: Walk-on.

KR/PR: Brandon Banks, Kansas State: Junior college class of 2008.


FIRST TEAM DEFENSE

DL: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska: Class of 2005, no information available.

DL: Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma: 89 rating, ranked 2nd among all defensive tackle, ranked first in state, ranked 21st in nation.

DL:Von Miller, Texas A&M: 77 rating, ranked 37th among all defensive ends, ranked 52nd in state.

DL: Brandon Sharpe, Texas Tech: Junior-college class of 2007.

DL: Jared Crick, Nebraska: 73 rating, ranked 86th among all defensive ends, ranked seventh in state.

LB: Jesse Smith, Iowa State: Class of 2005, no information available.

LB: Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri: 40 rating, ranked 294th in state.

LB: Travis Lewis, Oklahoma: 75 rating, ranked 86th among all running backs, ranked 96th in state.

DB: Earl Thomas, Texas: 71 rating, ranked 75th among all cornerbacks, ranked 170th in state.

DB: Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State: 77 rating, ranked 25th among all cornerbacks, ranked 57th in state.

DB: Dominique Franks, Oklahoma: 74 rating, ranked 53rd among all cornerbacks, ranked 15th in state.

DB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska: 78 rating, ranked 31st among all running backs, ranked fifth in state.

DB: Larry Asante, Nebraska: Junior college class of 2007.

P: Derek Epperson, Baylor: 76 rating, ranked 15th among all kickers, ranked 87th in state.


SECOND TEAM OFFENSE

QB: Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M: 79 rating, ranked first among all athletes, ranked 29th in state.

RB Roy Helu Jr., Nebraska: 73 rating, ranked 113th among all running backs, ranked 97th in state.

RB: DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma: 92 rating, ranked first among all running backs, ranked first in state, ranked sixth in nation.

FB: Jamie McCoy, Texas A&M: Class of 2005, no information available.

WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma: 77 rating, ranked 58th among all wide receivers, ranked fourth in state.

WR: Kerry Meier, Kansas: Class of 2005 , no information available.

WR: Brandon Banks, Kansas State: Junior college class of 2008.

TE: Riar Geer, Colorado: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: J.D. Walton, Baylor: Class of 2005, no information available (transfer from Arizona State).

OL: Chris Hall, Texas: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Kurtis Gregory, Missouri: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Adam Ulatoski, Texas: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Brody Eldridge, Oklahoma: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Lee Grimes, Texas A&M: Class of 2005, no information available.

PK: Alex Henery, Nebraska: Walk-on.

KR/PR: Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State: 77 rating, ranked 25th among all cornerbacks, ranked 57th in state.


SECOND TEAM DEFENSE

DL: Sergio Kindle, Texas: 92 rating, ranked first among all outside linebackers, ranked second in state, ranked seventh in nation.

DL: Lamarr Houston, Texas: 78 rating, ranked seventh among all fullbacks, ranked fourth in state.

DL: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma: 80 rating, ranked 11th among all defensive ends, ranked 17th in state, ranked 137th nationally.

DL: Jaron Baston, Missouri: Class of 2005, no information available.

DL: Daniel Howard, Texas Tech: Junior college class of 2007

LB: Joe Pawelek, Baylor: Class of 2005, no information available.

LB: Roddrick Muckelroy, Texas: Class of 2005, no information available.

LB: Phillip Dillard, Nebraska: Class of 2005, no information available.

DB: Jamar Wall, Texas Tech: 72 rating, ranked 79th among all safeties, ranked 142nd in state.

DB: Quinton Carter, Oklahoma: 77 rating, ranked 39th among all safeties, ranked third in state.

DB: Brian Jackson, Oklahoma: Class of 2005, no information available.

DB: Jordan Lake, Baylor: Class of 2005, no information available.

DB: Cha’pelle Brown, Colorado: 40 rating, ranked 287th in state.

DB: Trent Hunter, Texas A&M: 68 rating, ranked 90th among all cornerbacks, ranked 250th in state.

P: Tress Way, Oklahoma: 78 rating, ranked sixth among all kickers, ranked sixth in state.

It's interesting to note that only four members of the two teams were ESPNU top 150 selections: Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy, DeMarco Murray and Jeremy Beal and Texas' Sergio Kindle.

McCoy wins DCTF honors

January, 22, 2010
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Dave Campbell Texas Football's winter edition will hit the newsstands in the next several days.

One of the interesting things about the magazine's winter edition is their annual All-Texas team for players from colleges across the Lone Star State.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes were named as the offensive and defensive players of the year.

Here's a look at the other selections for the magazine.

All-Texas first-team offense

QB: Colt McCoy, Texas

RB: Donald Buckram, UTEP

RB: Charles Sims, Houston

WR: Jordan Shipley, Texas

WR: Emmanuel Sanders, SMU

WR: James Cleveland, Houston

TE: Dan Buckner, Texas

OL: Brandon Carter, Texas Tech

OL: J.D. Walton, Baylor

OL: Chris Hall, Texas

OL: Marshall Newhouse, TCU

OL: Marcus Cannon, TCU

K: Hunter Lawrence, Texas

All-Texas first-team defense

DL: Von Miller, Texas A&M

DL: Brandon Sharpe, Texas Tech

DL: Lamarr Houston, Texas

DL: Jerry Hughes, TCU

LB: Daryl Washington, TCU

LB: Sergio Kindle, Texas

LB: Joe Pawelek, Baylor

DB: Earl Thomas, Texas

DB: Rafael Priest, TCU

DB: Jordan Lake, Baylor

DB: Jamar Wall, Texas Tech

P: Chase Turner, Houston

Ret: Jeremy Kerley, TCU

The magazine all selected other awards for specific positional groups.

Best passer: Case Keenum, Houston

Best runner: Donald Buckram, UTEP

Best offensive lineman: Marshall Newhouse, TCU

Best receiver: Jordan Shipley, Texas

Best defensive lineman: Jerry Hughes, TCU

Best linebacker, Daryl Washington, TCU

Best defensive back: Earl Thomas, Texas

Most versatile: Von Miller, Texas A&M

DCTF also picked an all-Texas second team as well

All-Texas second-team offense

QB: Andy Dalton, TCU

RB: Lance Dunbar, North Texas

RB: Shawnbrey McNeal, SMU

WR: Jeff Moturi, SMU

WR: Tyron Carrier, Houston

WR: Kendall Wright, Baylor

TE: Justin Akers, Baylor

OL: Adam Ulatoski, Texas

OL: Jarve Dean, Houston

OL: Mike Aguayo, UTEP

OL: Lee Grimes, Texas A&M

OL: Charlie Tanner, Texas

K: Ross Evans, TCU

All-Texas second-team defense

DL: Scott Solomon, Rice

DL: Tyrell Graham, Houston

DL: Daniel Howard, Texas Tech

DL: Sam Acho, Texas

LB: Tank Carder, TCU

LB: Marcus McGraw, Houston

LB: Craig Robertson, North Texas

DB: Nick Sanders, TCU

DB: Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith, UTEP

DB: Blake Gideon, Texas

DB: Brandon Brinkley, Houston

Ret: Tyron Carrier, Houston

P: Derek Epperson, Baylor

Note: All Big 12 players are listed in bold facing.

Big 12 South recruiting needs

January, 21, 2010
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Here's a look at what each of the South Division teams need to address in terms of recruiting with signing day fast approaching.

Baylor

Defensive line: After losing starters Jason Lamb and Trey Bryant and having Phil Taylor and Earl Patin entering their senior seasons, the Bears need to add immediate depth. Xavier Ruben and Anthony Gonzales will help shore up the deficiencies and the Bears still are in the hunt for top prospects like Carlos Thompson and Byran Jones.

Secondary: Starters Jordan Lake and Jeremy Williams have graduated and four juniors in the two-deep roster will start their senior seasons. Coach Art Briles has already lured surprising strength in the defensive backfield with Ahmad Dixon, Tyler Stephenson and Prince Kent. That trio makes it one of the finest positional groupings for Baylor in recent history.

Robert Griffin’s redshirt season has lessened the immediate need at quarterback: With Griffin now having three years of eligibility remaining, recruits now see only a two-season window to play. But another Robert Griffin should help the Bears as well. Baylor coaches see the other Griffin, a junior college transfer from Coriscana Junior College, being able to contend for the starting position at right tackle from his first day in the program.

Oklahoma

Running back: With Chris Brown graduating and DeMarco Murray entering his senior season, the Sooners need some producers at the position. Bob Stoops has never hesitated to playing top freshman players in the past if they can help. Don’t be surprised if top recruits like Brennan Clay and Roy Finch get an early chance in 2010 with the Sooners.

Receiver: Ryan Broyles is entrenched in the slot, but the Sooners are looking all over for pass catchers who can challenge existing players. Recruits Kenny Stills, Joe Powell, Julian Wilson and Sheldon McClain all should challenge this summer to battle their way into the rotation.

Defensive tackle: Injuries and NFL declarations have riddled the Sooners’ depth at the postion. Gerald McCoy will leave early for the NFL draft with JaMarkus McFarland ready to take over. Adrian Taylor was set at the other position, but his nasty ankle injury sustained in the Sun Bowl has depleted the Sooners’ depth. Redshirt sophomore Casey Walker and four incoming freshmen are all that is in place as far as depth at the critical position.

Oklahoma State

Offensive line: The Cowboys lose four senior starting offensive linemen from the Cotton Bowl team, including the left side of their offensive line in tackle Russell Okung, guard Noah Franklin and center Andrew Lewis, as well as right tackle Brady Bond. Mike Gundy needs some immediate help at the position, both from existing players and incoming ones.

Defensive tackle: Starters Swanson Miller and Derek Burton both will graduate and top backups Shane Jarka and Chris Donaldson both will be senior this season. Defensive coordinator Bill Young needs to find some defensive linemen who can challenge for playing next season.

Linebackers: Young also will have to rebuild this group after the underrated group of Andre Sexton, Donald Booker and Patrick Lavine helped sparked the Cowboys’ surprising defensive growth last season. All will be gone this season, putting pressure to add some more contributors to add to the returning mix of players including James Thomas, Tolu Moala and Justin Gent.

Texas

Defensive end: With Sergio Kindle graduating and Sam Acho and Eddie Jones both entering their senior season, the Longhorns need a talent boost here. It also just happens to be the position where top target Jackson Jeffcoat would immediately fill the rather sizable hole.

The left side of the offensive line: Tackle Adam Ulatoski, guard Charlie Tanner and center Chris Hall combined for 114 starts during their careers.The Longhorns has some strong arriving talent, but they’ll still miss the leadership and savvy that this trio provided over the years.

Quarterback: Even with Garrett Gilbert seemingly entrenched as the Longhorns’ quarterback of the future, the Longhorns added depth with the commitments of Connor Wood and Colt’s little brother Case McCoy. It will make for some interesting competition this spring and fall as the rotation sorts itself out.

Texas A&M

Defensive end: The Aggies received a huge boost when Von Miller announced he would return for his senior season, but A&M needs to prepare for his departure -- particularly after losing starting defensive end Matt Moss and Miller’s backup Matt Featherston as departing seniors from 2009.

Tight end: Starter Jamie McCoy graduated and top replacements Kenny Brown and Craig Raschke both will be seniors next season. Adding at least one player would be beneficial as the Aggie coaches hope they can find a combination blocker/receiving threat at the position like McCoy was.

Offensive tackle: The Aggies lose bookend senior starters Michael Shumard and Lee Grimes. They do have Stephen Barrera and Danny Baker in the depth chart but would like more depth to help the line develop.

Texas Tech

Defensive line: The Red Raiders’ biggest need is at defensive end where all three players in the two-deep roster -- Brandon Sharpe, Ra’Jon Henley and Daniel Howard were seniors. At defensive tackle, Richard Jones departs as a senior and Colby Whitlock will be a senior next season. New coordinator James Willis needs to find some productive players in the trenches quickly.

Linebackers: Starters Bront Bird and Brian Duncan will be back as seniors next season, but Tech loses departing starter Marlon Williams on the other side. They need some depth to help build for the future at the position.

Quarterback: Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield will wage one of the closest-watched battles for playing time in the nation during the spring and summer. But both will be seniors, meaning the Red Raiders need to prepare for their departure by grooming some young talent like Scotty Young, a recent commitment at the position.

Thirty-two invited to combine from Big 12

January, 12, 2010
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The Big 12 will be well represented when the NFL holds its scouting combine in Indianapolis.

The official list has not been released, although SportingNews.com has accounted for most of the early players. The list does not include juniors and other players who might be invited late to the festivities, which will begin Feb. 24 in Indianapolis.

I would think Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek, Baylor safety Jordan Lake and Texas center Chris Hall all will be invited later.

And I would expect eligible juniors such as Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant to get their opportunity at the combine.

Baylor: WR David Gettis, C J.D. Walton.

Colorado: TE Riar Geer.

Iowa State: None.

Kansas: WR Kerry Meier, S Darrell Stuckey.

Kansas State: WR Brandon Banks, TE Jeron Mastrud.

Missouri: WR Danario Alexander, G Kurtis Gregory, WR Jared Perry, LB Sean Weatherspoon.

Nebraska: S Larry Asante, LB Phillip Dillard, C Jacob Hickman, DT Ndamukong Suh.

Oklahoma: RB Chris Brown, TE Brody Eldridge, TE Jermaine Gresham, CB Brian Jackson, T Trent Williams.

Oklahoma State: CB Perrish Cox, T Russell Okung, QB Zac Robinson, RB Keith Toston.

Texas: DT Lamarr Houston, DE Sergio Kindle, QB Colt McCoy, LB Roddrick Muckelroy, WR Jordan Shipley, OT Adam Ulatoski.

Texas A&M: None.

Texas Tech: G Brandon Carter, DB Jamar Wall.

SEC's recent bowl domination no extra motivation for Longhorns

January, 3, 2010
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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Southeastern Conference teams have claimed the last three national championships, stamping the conference as the best in the country.

Texas was the last non-SEC team to win a national championship, when the Longhorns stunned No. 1 USC in January 2006 at the Rose Bowl.

Since then, Florida (twice) and LSU have won titles to point national attention to the SEC as the best football conference.

But Texas offensive tackle Adam Ulatoski said that the recent run of success isn't intimidating the Longhorns.

"Our motivation isn't conference competition or anything else," Ulatoski said. "Our goal is the national championship."

The Longhorns will be fighting to overcome some recent struggles for the Big 12 against Southeastern Conference teams. Earlier losses in bowl play by Oklahoma State to Mississippi in the AT&T Cotton Bowl and by Texas A&M to Georgia in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl have dropped the Big 12's record against SEC teams in bowl games to 3-11 since 2003.

Longhorns intrigued by unusual underdog role against Alabama

December, 21, 2009
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AUSTIN, Texas -- The struggles of Texas' offensive line against Nebraska's dominant front is one of the biggest reasons why the Longhorns are an early underdog to the Crimson Tide.

The Longhorns offensive front struggled to keep Ndamukong Suh out of their backfield as the Cornhuskers racked up nine sacks, including 4.5 by the Cornhuskers' All-American defensive tackle.

Those problems likely don't bode well against Alabama, whose defensive front is keyed by massive 6-foot-5, 354-pound defensive tackle Terrence Cody.

"We're happy to be in this game," Texas senior tackle Adam Ulatoski said. "It's really exciting to be there. That's what we're focusing on."

Texas coach Mack Brown has thrown open competition at all positions heading into bowl practice, which he said could lead to some positional turnover for the bowl game. That was the main reason that he declined to release a depth chart, saying one would be ready after the remainder of the Longhorns' bowl practices in Austin.

"We didn't play as well on defense as we would have liked against Texas A&M and we didn't play as well offensively against Nebraska," Brown said. "We didn't finish as strongly as we would have liked. We're being hard on the guys and having tough physical drills. We're changing the depth chart daily and we'll present it when we got out there."

Despite the line's struggles against Nebraska, Longhorns players have put those struggles behind hem.

"We've moved on and we're working on this game," Ulatoski said. "We're worried about ourselves so we continue to get better. But we don't have to have a lot of motivation when you are playing for a national championship. Our goal is to go out there and play our best and win the game."

Texas center Chris Hall said he embraces the role of being an underdog against the No. 1 Crimson Tide.

"That's OK," Hall said. "That's not a problem. And if we were favored, it wouldn't be a problem either. It's two great football teams for sure. We'll have our hands full and it will be a fun one to play in."

But Texas defensive end Sergio Kindle said that placing any labels on his team would be overstated before the game began.

"It really doesn't matter," Kindle said. "Underdog, overdog, we just come to play."

McCoy, Suh head All-Big 12 team

December, 8, 2009
12/08/09
2:42
PM ET
Here's a look at my All-Big 12 team. There were couple of late selections that were affected by the Big 12 championship game. If you look closely enough, you probably will see where I made my switches.

Oklahoma leads the team with five selections, Texas had four and Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Missouri three picks apiece.

Offense:

QB: Colt McCoy, Texas

RB: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State

RB: Keith Toston, Oklahoma State

WR: Danario Alexander, Missouri

WR: Jordan Shipley, Texas

TE: Riar Geer, Colorado

OL: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State

OL: Brandon Carter, Texas Tech

OL: Trent Williams, Oklahoma

OL: Adam Ulatoski, Texas

C: Reggie Stephens, Iowa State

K: Grant Ressel, Missouri

KR: Brandon Banks, Kansas State

Defense:

DL: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

DL: Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma

DL: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma

DL: Brandon Sharpe, Texas Tech

LB: Von Miller, Texas A&M

LB: Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri

LB: Joe Pawelek, Baylor

DB: Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State

DB: Earl Thomas, Texas

DB: Brian Jackson, Oklahoma

DB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska

P: Alex Henery, Nebraska

PR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

Three keys for UT-Texas A&M game

November, 25, 2009
11/25/09
5:21
PM ET
Texas and Texas A&M will hook up for the 116th time in their storied series Thursday night at Kyle Field.

The No. 3 Longhorns are hopeful of taking another step to the BCS National Championship Game. And their most bitter traditional rivals would like nothing more than to stop their trip.

Here are three keys for each team heading into Thursday’s game.

Texas
  • Get the running game started: The Longhorns have sputtered all season trying to move the ball on the ground. They’ve shown some flashes in recent weeks as Tre’ Newton has gotten healthy and assumed the featured back role. And offensive coordinator Greg Davis also has Cody Johnson and several others ready to contribute depending on game situations. If Texas can run the ball well, it will get them into favorable down-and-distance situations where Colt McCoy can pick apart a leaky A&M defense that ranks 82nd in pass efficiency defense and 110th in pass defense.
  • Tackle better in space: Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was angry after the Longhorns’ victory over Kansas because nine missed tackles led to 97 yards of extra yardage. Texas A&M will hit the Longhorns with an even more talented group of athletes including Jeff Fuller, Uzoma Nwachukwu, Jamie McCoy, Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael. All are capable of burning Texas for big plays if given the chance. The Longhorns’ strong defense needs to take care of something as basic as tackling if they want to fulfill their championship aims. Thursday’s game will be a good test.
  • It’s a rivalry game. Deal with it: Texas will be facing its biggest challenge in a true road game this season when it travels to Kyle Field. Texas has lost eight of the last 12 games at Kyle Field in the series, including a 2007 game where they inexplicably couldn’t cover A&M’s seldom-used passing attack. The crowd will be howling from the start of the game. It will be important for Texas to play like a championship team, taking control early and silencing the Aggie fans with a strong start.
Texas A&M
  • Attack on defense: The Aggies will come into the game decided underdogs with one of the conference’s youngest defenses trying to contain Colt McCoy and Texas. Even with that decided disadvantage, the Aggies can’t be passive. They need to take the fight to the Longhorns from the beginning of the game, particularly on defense. Getting Von Miller around mammoth Texas tackle Adam Ulatoski will be important. McCoy has been susceptible to turnovers in the past, particularly against the Aggies. The Aggies would love to rattle him early -- again.
  • Don’t blink because of the television cameras: The Aggies are 6-0 in games that have not been televised this season and 0-5 in games that have been telecast. But with this being a rivalry game with the nation watching, expect the young but developing Aggies not to be nearly as shy. A sellout crowd at Kyle Field will help them fight through any timidity.
  • Make the special teams special: Texas has struggled covering kickoffs all season and were blistered for a 98-yard return for a touchdown last week by Kansas’ Dezmon Briscoe. Cyrus Gray is a threat every time he touches the ball with a 25.5 yard average ranking third in the conference. A big play would provide the Aggies with a surge of confidence they desperately need.

Ulatoski, Acho chosen as first-team Academic All-Americans

November, 24, 2009
11/24/09
6:32
PM ET
Texas tackle Adam Ulatoski and defensive end Sam Acho were chosen for ESPN The Magazine's Academic All-America team selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Ulatoski is a graduate student with a 3.53 grade-point average while majoring in corporate communications and advertising. Acho, a junior, has a 3.62 grade-point average in honors business.

Kansas State tight end Jeron Mastrud and Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek were chosen for the second team. Mastrud, a senior, has a 3.81 grade-point average while majoring in management. And Pawelek, a senior, has a 3.71 grade-point average in finance/economics.

I've met and interviewed all four of these players over the course of their careers. All of them richly deserve their honors.

How Texas compares with 2005 title team

November, 10, 2009
11/10/09
11:35
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

As Texas streaks to its second 9-0 start since 1983, it’s understandable that some are already comparing this year’s team to the other team that started that fast.

Texas’ 2005 national championship team is the benchmark for all of the other Texas teams coached by Mack Brown. And this team appears to be the closest to the national championship squad in many respects.

While Brown says such comparisons are premature, he does say his current team’s fast start makes for some inevitable comparisons.
Brendan Maloney/US Presswire
Colt McCoy and the Longhorns have drawn comparisons to the 2005 national championship team.

“I would think you could compare them because there’s been only one close game for this team and for that team in 2005,” Brown said. “It was the Ohio State game in 2005 and the Oklahoma game this year that was in question late in the ballgame.”

But in order to meet the challenge of matching the 2005 team, Colt McCoy’s team will have to match the finishing kick of Vince Young’s team.

“At this time, they’ve earned the right to be in conversation with the 2005 team,” Brown said. “But they haven’t earned the right to be considered as good because they have to finish like that bunch did.”

The 2005 national championship led the conference in 11 statistical categories; the current team leads it in five. The 2005 team was the nation’s leading scoring team and led the nation in pass efficiency. The current team is more defensively oriented as it leads the nation in rushing defense and scoring defense and ranks second in kickoff returns.

The 2005 title team ranked 10th or better in 10 of the 17 team statistical categories tracked by the NCAA. The 2009 team ranked 10th or better in eight of those team statistical groups.

Here's a position-by-position comparison of the two teams:

Quarterbacks: Both teams featured quarterbacks who were involved in the Heisman Trophy race. The 2005 team had Vince Young, a multi-purpose player who accounted for 3,036 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes. Most importantly, he provided leadership for a team that had never won a Big 12 title under Brown. McCoy redshirted on that team, earning the opportunity to soak up lessons watching Young’s leadership. He’s capping the most productive statistical career for a Texas quarterback by passing for 2,447 yards and 17 touchdowns with at least three games remaining -- not counting a potential Big 12 championship game and a bowl. And his leadership skills are comparable with Young’s in guiding his team to an undefeated season so far.

Edge: Even

Rushing game: The 2005 team relied on Young, who rushed for a team-high 1,050 yards and scored 12 touchdowns and also had a strong starter in Jamaal Charles and an outstanding change-of-pace player in Ramonce Taylor. That team produced 55 rushing touchdowns and had five different backs with eight rushing touchdowns or more. The current team’s rushing game might be its major weakness without a featured rushing threat, as no current back has rushed for more than 275 yards. Depending on game situations, the team has utilized any of three starters, but its most consistent producer has been Cody Johnson, who will become its fourth starter this week against Baylor.
Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
Vince Young quarterbacked the 2005 Texas team to the national title.
Edge: 2005 Texas

Receivers/Tight end: The 2005 team had a stacked collection of receivers led by top deep threat Billy Pittman and Limas Sweed. But the most consistent receiving threat for Young was tight end David Thomas, who produced 50 receptions, including a career-best 10 in the BCS title game victory over USC. But that team had no receiving threat to match Jordan Shipley, who has already produced 75 catches, four double-figure reception games and broken the school single-game receiving yardage record. Dan Buckner developed early into a receiving threat at flex end and Malcolm Williams, James Kirkendoll and John Chiles all have been strong in an offense that has lived by short passes. But Shipley has been the focal point of a passing game that features short, quick passes as its primary offensive weapon.

Edge: 2009 Texas

Offensive line: The 2005 team featured three-first team All-Big 12 picks in Justin Blalock, Jonathan Scott and Will Allen. Because of Young's mobility, that team allowed only 14 sacks and produced 5.9 yards per carry and 55 rushing touchdowns. The current team is nearly as strong with key players like Adam Ulatoski, Charlie Tanner and Chris Hall, who have currently combined for 99 career starts and should be peaking as the season continues. The current team is producing 3.9 yards per carry, 16 sacks and 20 rushing touchdowns.

Edge: 2005 Texas

Defensive line: The 2005 team featured first-team All-Big 12 players like Rodrique Wright and Tim Crowder and pass-rushing specialist Brian Robison, a converted linebacker who led the team with sacks. But that team didn’t feature anybody as proficient as Sergio Kindle or a run-stuffing tackle like Lamarr Houston. It’s the main reason the current Texas team leads the nation in rush defense (55.33 yards per game), total defense (230.78 yards per game) and ranks in the top 20 in both sacks and tackles for losses. The 2005 team was 39th nationally in sacks and 29th in tackles for losses.

Edge: 2009 Texas

Linebackers: The 2005 unit was at its weakest at linebacker where no players earned All-Big 12 first-team or second-team designation. Robert Killebrew was that team’s only player to earn honorable mention. The current team features an anchor in the middle in senior linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy, flanked by Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho. Will Muschamp’s unit seldom uses three linebackers except in run-stuffing situations, preferring to use a nickel formation. But his current group still has the edge at linebacker over the championship team.

Edge: 2009 Texas

Secondary: The 2005 team might be one of the great college units of all time. That team featured the Thorpe Award winner in Michael Huff and another all-league player in Cedric Griffin. Huff, Cedric Griffin, Michael Griffin, Aaron Ross and Tarell Brown all were drafted in the NFL and had eventual pro careers. The unit was nearly impermeable as it broke up 85 passes and permitted only two teams to pass for more than 200 yards against them. The current group is young and skilled and might develop into as strong of a group with experience.

Earl Thomas has played like the best defensive back in the country this season with six interceptions, including two touchdown returns. Curtis Brown, Chykie Brown, Aaron Williams and Blake Gideon have already helped the defense combine for 16 interceptions. And the group is playing with swagger as the season continues.

The current group could match the eventual production of the 2005 team, but it still has to get there.

Edge: 2005 Texas

Special teams: Neither team had to punt very often, but Hunter Lawrence has a narrow edge over David Pino at kicker for his consistency and range. The biggest difference is in the return game. The current team features two threats with D.J. Monroe (two TDs, 36.5 yards kick return average) and Shipley (14.5 punt return average, two TDs), giving it an edge over Ramonce Taylor and Aaron Ross (14.7 punt return average, two TDs).

Edge: 2009 Texas

Coaching: With largely the same cast of coaches, the 2009 team appears to be better coached. In 2005, Brown was trying for his first Big 12 title and utilized defensive co-coordinators with Gene Chizik and Duane Akina. It often seemed that the individual talents of Young took over the game during that championship season. But this team features a better job by Greg Davis as he compensates for his team’s lack of a consistent running game by developing a crafty passing game utilizing quick short passes. And the defense has taken big steps this season in its second season under Muschamp.

Edge:2009 Texas

Intangibles: The 2005 team was trying to become Brown’s first Big 12 title team and played well throughout. It started with a dramatic comeback victory over Ohio State and continued with a run through the Big 12 that featured no victory less than 11 points. The 2005 team needed a comeback over Oklahoma State, but Young helped the team peak as the Longhorns scored at least 40 points in 12 games. The team rolled to victories of 62, 52 and 11 points in November before notching a record-breaking 70-3 triumph over Colorado in the Big 12 title game and the 41-38 BCS title game victory over USC.

This team hasn’t faced many tests, although it did handle Oklahoma in a 16-13 triumph that ranks as its closest margin. Other than that game, the 2009 Longhorns have rolled up at least 34 points in every game and allowed more than 20 points on only two occasions. But it still has its chance to finish strongly in November like the 2005 team did.

Edge: 2005 Texas

If they met: The 2005 team still would merit a slight edge, mainly because this team doesn’t have a transcendent talent like Young. But the current team is developing and could have a chance to match the championship with a strong finish.

Edge: 2005 Texas

Fifteen Big 12 players make academic team

November, 5, 2009
11/05/09
7:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Fifteen Big 12 players, including quarterbacks Sam Bradford of Oklahoma and Todd Reesing of Kansas, were selected Thursday on the 2009 CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District team.

The Big 12 area includes two districts with South teams in District 6 and North teams in District 7.

Players who were selected to the first team will be placed on the national ballot for Academic All-America consideration.

Here's the list of players who were selected.

Big 12 players on 2009 CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District teams
DISTRICT 6 FIRST TEAM
Pos. Name School Yr. Hometown GPA Major
QB Sam Bradford Oklahoma Jr. Oklahoma City, Okla. 3.94 Finance
WR Alex Torres Texas Tech So. El Paso, Texas 3.34 Business
OL Will Harvey Texas Sr. Houston, Texas 3.52 Finance
OL Adam Ulatoski Texas Gr. Southlake, Texas 3.53 Corp. Comm. (BA); Adv. (MA)
DB Cody Davis Texas Tech So. Stephenville, Texas 3.61 Business
LB Joe Pawelek Baylor Sr. San Antonio, Texas 3.71 Finance / economics
DL Sam Acho Texas Jr. Dallas, Texas 3.62 Honors business
DL Jason Lamb Baylor Sr. Richardson, Texas 3.33 Mgmt / HR mgmt.
P Derek Epperson Baylor Jr. Southlake, Texas 3.47 Management / MIS
DISTRICT 7 FIRST TEAM
Pos. Name School Yr. Hometown GPA Major
QB Todd Reesing Kansas Sr. Austin, Texas 3.64 Finance & economics
TE Jeron Mastrud Kansas State Sr. Beaverton, Ore. 3.81 Management
OL Kurtis Gregory Missouri Gr. Blackburn, Mo. 3.48 Agriculture
OL Nate Solder Colorado Jr. Buena Vista, Colo. 3.45 Biology
DB Austin Cassidy Nebraska So. Lincoln, Neb. 3.84 Psychology
LB Drew Dudley Kansas Jr. College Station, Texas 3.67 Civil engineering

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