Big 12: Carmon Boyd-Anderson
You guys loved it. It's still a little soon to make generalizations about the 2010 class just yet, but you wanted more, so let's take a look back at 2007.
Here's half of the Big 12. We'll look at the rest later this week. (Note: Players who signed and did not academically qualify are not eligible.)
Best surprise: "CB" Elliott Coffey. Coffey signed with Baylor as the nation's No. 84 cornerback and a middle of the road recruit for Guy Morriss. By the end of his career, he'd gained almost 60 pounds and was a versatile linebacker at 235 pounds and the leader of the Bears' defense as an All-Big 12 talent.
Biggest bust: WR Romie Blaylock. He was the highest-ranked recruit who made it to campus for the Bears but managed to have negative receiving yardage in his true freshman season. He eventually moved to cornerback but made just one start and eventually transferred to Midwestern State.
IOWA STATE CYCLONES
Best surprise: OL Kelechi Osemele. This wasn't a very strong class from Iowa State, but Osemele, the nation's No. 149 tackle from Houston, blossomed into a three-year starter and an NFL draft pick who started for the Baltimore Ravens and won a Super Bowl ring earlier this month.
Biggest bust: QB Philip Bates. Bates lost a quarterback competition to Austen Arnaud and transferred during his sophomore season, eventually landing at Ohio where he played quarterback and receiver. The Omaha native was Iowa State's highest-ranked recruit and the nation's No. 76 quarterback.
Best surprise: OLB Justin Springer. Springer was rated higher than just two of KU's high school signees in the 23-member class, but he emerged as a starter and a team captain as a senior in 2010, helping KU upset the ACC champion Georgia Tech and winning the Big 12's Player of the Week honor. The California native was unranked as a recruit.
Biggest bust: RB Carmon Boyd-Anderson. The Jayhawks' signed the Jacksonville, Texas native as the nation's No. 71 running back and the second-highest rated recruit in the class. He played sparingly as a freshman before transferring before the 2008 class when it was clear he had fallen down the depth chart.
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
Best surprise: DE Ralph Guidry. He was the nation's No. 150 defensive end in an average class for K-State and came to K-State at just 235. He was all the way up to 290 pounds by the end of his career and was a two-year starter at defensive tackle who notched more sacks than all but one Wildcat in 2011, when K-State won 10 games and reached the Cotton Bowl.
Biggest bust: S Lamark Brown. Brown was the class' highest-ranked recruit as the nation's No. 19 safety, but he played exclusively offense in Manhattan and never caught on. He switched positions twice but never had more than 215 yards receiving and transferred to Minnesota State Mankato in the summer of 2010.
Best surprise: "RB" Travis Lewis. The top of Oklahoma's class in 2007 was loaded, but the nation's No. 86 running back made a huge impact after a redshirt season. He led the team with 144 tackles and won Big 12 Freshman of the Year. He topped 100 tackles two more times in his career and became the first player in Oklahoma history to lead the team in tackles in four seasons.
Biggest bust: S Desmond Jackson. Jackson was the class' second-highest rated recruit, behind only the late Austin Box. He was the nation's No. 16 safety but never started a game and made just 13 tackles before transferring to Tarleton State.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Kansas' magical 12-1 season was one of the feel-good stories of recent college football history. The Jayhawks were picked to finish toward the bottom of the North Division, but emerged as a legitimate national championship contender before losing to Missouri in their regular-season finale. And they didn't let that defeat ruin their season, bouncing back for an impressive victory over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl that represented their first BCS bowl victory.
Coach Mark Mangino will be hard-pressed for an encore, particularly as he faces a more difficult schedule that will include all three expected South Division contenders -- after facing none last season. And for good measure, the Jayhawks will travel to South Florida on Sept. 12 in one of the nation's top nonconference games this season.
The Jayhawks will be looking to make history, making bowl trips in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. To get there, here are five pressing questions they need to settle.
1. Will the new offensive tackles perform up to standards?
First-team All-American Anthony Collins and three-year starter Cesar Rodriguez both are gone from last season's team. Their replacements will be a pair of redshirt freshmen. Mangino has been intrigued by the development of left tackle Jeff Spikes, who he calls one of the most accomplished offensive lineman he has coached at that stage of his career. And converted guard Jeremiah Hatch has emerged to beat out Matt Darton and Nathan D'Cunha on the right side in a surprise positional victory. Their play will largely determine how successful Kansas' passing game will be.
2. Do the Jayhawks have enough depth at running back?
Leading rusher Brandon McAnderson is gone, but the Jayhawks are expected to fill in for him with a combination of leading returning rusher Jake Sharp or bullish junior-college transfer Jocques Crawford. Angus Quigley also has shown flashes in practice, but the loss of potential backups like Donte Bean, Carmon Boyd-Anderson and Sean Ransburg earlier in camp makes Kansas' depth questionable -- no matter what Mangino says.
3. Who will be Kansas' kicker?
Mangino still hasn't decided on his kicker heading into Saturday's game against Florida International. Sophomore transfer Grady Fowler and Alonso Rojas, who previously had been listed only as a punter, are still battling heading into the opener.
4. How will the Jayhawks handle their schedule?
A much more stringent schedule awaits the Jayhawks than in 2007. Kansas hosts Texas and Texas Tech and visits Oklahoma. The Jayhawks also have a trip to Nebraska -- a place where they haven't won since 1968. So it's understandable why many observers are expecting the Jayhawks to take a step back this season.
5. Who will emerge at tight end?
Derek Fine was one of the nation's most underrated tight ends last season, providing steady blocking and 46 receptions to set a single-season record for Kansas tight ends. Sophomore Bradley Dedeaux earned a tight victory for the opening-game start over redshirt freshman A.J. Steward. Both should see extensive playing time as the season progresses.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
As mentioned earlier Tuesday in my morning links, Kansas is facing a big loss after sophomore TB Donte Bean decided to move for a better playing opportunity at another school.
His departure has left what was thought to be one of the Jayhawks' biggest offensive strengths before the season into a potential question mark. Three weeks ago, the Jayhawks had seven scholarship running backs. Now they have four.
Mark Mangino's backfield woes started a week before his team reported for training camp when freshman Sean Ransburg was informed he did not pass through the NCAA clearinghouse and would be ineligible this season. And on Sunday, sophomore Carmon Boyd-Anderson told Kansas coaches he was leaving the team for personal reasons.
Bean and Boyd-Anderson were both heralded recruits -- the kind that Kansas had rarely attracted in recent seasons. Both said their limited use at practice was their primary reason for leaving.
The Jayhawks are stacked with options at the top with Jake Sharp, who rushed for 821 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry last season in relief of Brandon McAnderson. The arrival of heralded junior college transfer Jocques Crawford from Cisco Junior College brings another potential featured back into the mix. And Kansas coaches rave about the occasional production of Angus Quigley, a 222-pound bull who hasn't always been motivated earlier in his career.
In case of an emergency, Kansas is working to switch redshirt freshman Rell Lewis back to running back from wide receiver.
Sharp had a quick start last season, rushing for 100 yards in three of his first six games. But he seemed to slow down as McAnderson came on late in the season. That's where Crawford, who led all junior colleges with 1,935 rushing yards last season, might fit as he learns the Kansas playbook.
Kansas coaches have Sharp pegged as the Jayhawks No. 1 back coming into the season. It wouldn't surprise me to see Crawford make a similar late charge after he becomes comfortable in the offense.
The loss of Bean and Boyd-Anderson and Ransburg's ineligibility has clearly stripped the Jayhawks of much of their depth. They still have several options at the top of their backfield depth chart, but can ill afford an injury to one of their top players as the season progresses.
The Jayhawks will already be playing a significantly more difficult schedule this season as they pick up Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma from the Big 12 South and face a tough early season road game at South Florida. Mangino's incredibly shrinking backfield is just another item for him to worry about as he prepares for his Aug. 30 opener against Florida International.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The quote of the day comes from Scott Wright of the Oklahoman, who caught up with Troy coach Larry Blakeney and asked him about Oklahoma State's aim for revenge after losing at Troy last season. "They might have a bonfire and burn some of T. Boone's money to get ready for the game," Blakeney said, referring to the megabuck Oklahoma State booster.
Meanwhile, new Baylor coach Art Briles has shucked a traditional playbook in favor of his new team learning his philosophies by seeing and doing rather than reading. It's targeted to a younger generation that doesn't have the attention span to sit and learn by reading a book.
"It does require a lot of film study, because you've got to know what to do in live action in case anything happens," junior receiver Ernest Smith told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "If there's a check or an audible, you've got to be able to react fast. I've watched a lot of U of H film ... just getting familiar with it all."
Briles was successful with his new-age strategy, at least if four bowl appearances in the last five seasons at Houston is any indication. We'll see how it works at Baylor this season.
And for those readers out there who are too impatient to wade through 20 newspapers that cover the Big 12, I've take something from Briles' approach. Here's a condensed version of what's happening around the conference in about 20 quick links.
- Kansas sophomore RB Carmon Boyd-Anderson has opted to transfer from the program for "personal reasons," the Kansas City Star reported.
- A massive offensive line has prompted a new word around the Colorado team to describe them: "gifreakinnormous."
- Des Moines Register columnist Sean Keeler has to cover Iowa State and Iowa relatively equally. That's why he listed his top 23 ranking for a combination of the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences on his blog. Hope that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany doesn't see this. He might get an idea for some kind of "gifreakinnormous" super-conference.
- The Topeka Capital-Journal's Tully Corcoran unearthed an interesting nugget buried deeply in Ron Prince's new contract.
- Colorado DE Drew Hudgins will miss the season with a knee injury. Hudgins told the Denver Post he plans to petition the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility.
- Massive Texas A&M FB Jorvorskie Lane tells the Houston Chronicle's Terrance Harris that he's come to terms with his lessened role in the Aggies' backfield.
- New Texas director of high school relations and player development Ken Rucker is credited for the Longhorns' lack of off-the-field incidents this summer, according to Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls.
- Mike Leach's European vacation is fodder for the San Antonio Express-News' Mike Finger's report on Texas Tech. Leach earlier described the trip as something like the Griswolds might have made.