Big 12: Cale Pick
Texas has to replace quarterback Colt McCoy and star receiver Jordan Shipley. Oklahoma loses 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and tight end Jermaine Gresham, who didn't play much at all last season, and Oklahoma State said goodbye to quarterback Zac Robinson and receiver Dez Bryant.
With spring practice right around the corner, here's a look at five position battles to watch in the Big 12 this spring:
1. Oklahoma State quarterback
Robinson leaves after breaking most of the school's passing records. He'll probably be replaced by 26-year-old junior Brandon Weeden, who was a second-round draft choice of the New York Yankees in the 2002 amateur baseball draft. Weeden played well at times last season, when he filled in while Robinson was hurt. If Weeden can grasp new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen's spread offense quickly, he should hold off heralded incoming freshman Nathan Sorensen during fall camp.
2. Texas defensive line
The bad news for Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp: star defensive end Sergio Kindle and tackle Lamarr Houston departed for the NFL draft. The good news: ends Sam Acho and Eddie Jones, who combined for 15 sacks in 2009, are both coming back. Jones might be the leading candidate to replace Kindle, but he'll have to hold off Russell Carter and promising sophomore Alex Okafor. Replacing Houston's productivity might be more problematic. Sophomore Calvin Howell, who had four tackles and one sack in 2009, was the No. 2 tackle at season's end.
3. Oklahoma offensive line
The Sooners were banged up on the offensive line last season, which contributed to their unexpected slide to 8-5. Now, OU coach Bob Stoops has to replace left tackle Trent Williams, right guard Brian Simmons and center/tight end Brody Eldridge. Will the Sooners stick with their starting tackles against Stanford in the Sun Bowl? Converted tight end Eric Mensik and rising senior Cory Brandon started against the Cardinal. Junior Jarvis Jones, who split time between guard and tackle last season, is recovering from a broken heel and might not be ready for the start of spring practice. Junior Donald Stephenson, who was suspended all of last season, might be the wild card. Junior Stephen Good and senior Tavaris Jeffries have to get better in the interior line if OU is going to improve up front in 2010.
4. Kansas quarterback
Todd Reesing, who broke about every passing mark in the Kansas record book, is gone after starting the last three seasons. Sophomore Cale Pick might remind new coach Turner Gill of his playing days at Nebraska. Pick averaged 11.9 yards per rushing attempt in seven games last season, while throwing only five passes. Pick will have to hold off junior college transfer Quinn Mecham, who enrolled in classes in January. Mecham threw for 3,091 yards with 40 touchdowns and 11 interceptions at Snow College in Utah last season.
5. Nebraska defensive line
How do you replace one of the best defensive tackles in school history? That's the dilemma Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini will face when his team opens spring practice. All-American Ndumakong Suh is gone, along with senior defensive end Barry Turner. The good news for Nebraska is that it played several young players on the defensive line last season. Starting tackle Jared Crick had 9.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss and was a star in his own right. Sophomore Baker Steinkuhler and junior Terrence Moore will battle for the other tackle spot. Sophomore Cameron Meredith, who had five tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in limited time last season, is the top candidate to replace Turner on the edge.
Kerry Meier could have pouted when asked to make a position switch to wide receiver from quarterback. Instead, he became one of the most productive players in school history after moving to his new position.
Meier has flourished at wide receiver, setting a school record for receptions last season. And he still keeps busy as a quarterback, playing the position in the pinch for his team.
Player: Kerry Meier
Position: Wide receiver/quarterback
Vitals: 6-foot-3, 220 pounds; Sr.; Pittsburg, Kan.
Why he was picked: Coaches thought that Meier could become a "serviceable" wide receiver after he switched from quarterback in 2007. Instead, he blossomed beyond their wildest dreams, producing a school-record 97 catches last season in his first full year at the position. He also amassed 1,045 yards receiving (fourth-most in school history) and eight touchdowns.
Meier finished 2008 with a flourish, notching a school-record 14 receptions in the regular-season finale against Missouri and getting 10 more catches (and a touchdown pass he threw on a reverse) in the Jayhawks' Insight Bowl triumph over Minnesota. Meier is still officially considered Kansas' backup quarterback, although all three passes he threw last season came from the wide receiver position. Coming into the 2009 season, he has a streak of 13 consecutive completions dating to the middle of the 2007 season. And he also is the holder for Kansas' kicking game and is the Jayhawks' backup punter.
What 2009 will hold: Meier could become even more proficient this season if he can move full time to wide receiver. That will depend on the development of projected backup quarterback Kale Pick. An even bigger season could be expected for Meier if he spends most of his time working with the Kansas receivers coming into the season instead of bouncing back and forth to quarterback meetings. A big season from Meier will be critical if the Jayhawks have any hopes of winning their first North Division championship.
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State S Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB/KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Chris Hall
38. Texas Tech DE/DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp