Big 12: Chris Johnson

It is an important spring for several players in the Big 12.

Some are fighting to keep their jobs, others are trying not to be forgotten and others have to fight off lauded Class of 2015 recruits. Here's a look at several Big 12 players who have plenty to gain during spring football.

Chris Johnson, QB, Baylor: With Seth Russell as the clear favorite to replace Bryce Petty as the starting quarterback, Johnson needs a strong spring to ensure the competition continues into the fall. He’ll also need to hold off highly regarded true freshman Jarrett Stidham.

Vernell Trent, DT, Iowa State: Trent had a decent redshirt freshman season, starting three games and finishing with 10 tackles in 2014. But ISU signed a pair of defensive tackles in the Class of 2015 with an eye on Demond Tucker and Bobby Leath becoming immediate impact performers. A good spring would help Trent secure a spot in the Cyclones’ defense.

[+] EnlargeMontell Cozart
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesMontell Cozart must impress the new Kansas coaching staff this spring.
Montell Cozart, QB, Kansas: The junior went from unquestioned starting quarterback to afterthought in a span of a few months. Former coach Charlie Weis anointed Cozart to be the Jayhawks' quarterback of the future, but he faltered and eventually was replaced by Michael Cummings in 2014. If Cozart has any hope making a major impact during his Jayhawks career, he needs to impress the new coaching staff this spring.

Judah Jones, WR, Kansas State: The Wildcats are hoping to replace the playmaking skills of Tyler Lockett. One player isn’t going to do it, but Jones has the upside to become a key player in KSU’s offense while also making an impact on special teams. KSU has several other options at receiver, so Jones needs to rise above the competition if he hopes to separate himself this spring.

Trevor Knight, QB, Oklahoma: The junior has started 15 games during the past two seasons but faces stern competition to keep his starting spot with Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield becoming eligible in the fall. As Lincoln Riley brings his version of the Air Raid to OU, many assume Mayfield is the best bet to trigger the attack. Knight can use the spring to remind everyone of his unique physical gifts.

Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State: It’s time for Ateman to step up and separate himself at the receiver spot. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, he brings size, speed and ball skills that are tough to duplicate, but he doesn’t dominate the way he should. With plenty of competition at the position, he needs to show he is ready to match his All-Big 12 talent with All-Big 12 production.

Daje Johnson, WR, Texas: When he touches the ball, Johnson looks like the dynamic playmaker the Longhorns have longed for during the past few seasons, but he constantly takes himself out of the equation by making bad decisions off the field. This spring is the opportunity for him to show he has the focus needed to make his final season on the 40 acres a breakout year.

Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein, QBs, TCU: The battle to back up Trevone Boykin should be interesting, so the spring gives Sawyer and Muehlstein the chance to lay claim to the No. 2 spot. Both quarterbacks should get plenty of chances to impress and the winner of the backup quarterback derby could set himself up to take over in 2016.

Davis Webb, QB, Texas Tech: A strong finish to the 2014 season by Patrick Mahomes has resulted in Webb being overlooked in many ways, but a healthy Webb was productive during his first two seasons in Kliff Kingsbury's program. The job is open heading into spring and Webb can make sure the quarterback battle in Lubbock is one of the most interesting aspects of Big 12 football in the spring.

Daikiel Shorts, WR, West Virginia: The Mountaineers need to fill the void left by Kevin White and Mario Alford. Shorts has been a contributor to the WVU offense since his true freshman season but hasn’t really developed into a game-changing target. This spring will give him the chance to show he can be a primary target for Dana Holgorsen's team.
With spring ball a month away, we'll be ranking the position groups in the Big 12 over the next two weeks. These evaluations will be based on past performance, future potential and quality depth. Our outlooks will probably look different after the spring. But this is how we see them at the moment. We begin this series with quarterbacks:

1. TCU: Trevone Boykin is one of the top returning quarterbacks in the country and should open the season on the short list of legitimate Heisman contenders. Boykin was fabulous in Year 1 of the Doug Meacham/Sonny Cumbie spread offense, and could be even better with a season of experience under his belt. Depth after Boykin is a bit of a concern, though Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein were highly touted signees last year.

2. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys boast one of the top young QBs in the league -- if not the country -- in Mason Rudolph, who led Oklahoma State to wins over Oklahoma and Washington to end his true freshman season. In just three starts, he displayed a poise that could elevate the Cowboys into dark-horse Big 12 contender status. After Rudolph the Cowboys have a pair of quarterbacks with extensive starting experience in J.W. Walsh and Daxx Garman. They also just signed ESPN 300 passer John Kolar, who could have the luxury of redshirting.

3. Texas Tech: If Rudolph isn't the Big 12's best young returning quarterback, Patrick Mahomes is. He caught fire after taking over the starting job, throwing for 14 TDs in Tech's final three games, including a 598-yard passing effort in a near upset of Baylor. Mahomes has become such an integral part of the program, the Red Raiders have said they will tailor spring practices around his baseball schedule. Davis Webb was thought to be Tech's quarterback of the future going into last season, but struggled with turnovers, then injuries. He still has the ability to be a quality player.

4. Baylor: Bryce Petty is gone, but the cupboard is hardly devoid of talent. Seth Russell has been a solid backup the last two years, and will enter the spring as the favorite to take over as the starter. Russell, however, will have plenty of competition, notably via incoming freshman Jarrett Stidham, who was the top-rated QB recruit to sign into the Big 12. Stidham has all the tools to be a star in the league down the road. Dual-threat Chris Johnson will also be in his third year.

5. Oklahoma: Quarterback remains a huge question mark for the Sooners, but it also has the chance to be way better than it was in 2014. Baker Mayfield is finally eligible after transferring in from Texas Tech last year. Mayfield was the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2013, and could be the favorite to win the job. Returning starter Trevor Knight was actually solid at times last season, but also killed the Sooners with costly mistakes, topping the league with three pick-six interceptions, all of which came in defeats. Cody Thomas, who started three games while Knight was injured, has given up baseball to focus on the QB derby, but might be a long shot after completing just 46 percent of his passes as a starter. Justice Hansen, who redshirted last year, is a former ESPN 300 recruit.

6. West Virginia: Skyler Howard sparked West Virginia with his wheels after Clint Trickett missed the final three games last year. But Howard was also hit and miss with his accuracy, which prevented him from locking up the job. Instead, he'll have to fend off William Crest, who actually beat out Howard for the No. 2 job coming out of fall camp before a shoulder injury forced a redshirt. Crest has a skill set reminiscent of former West Virginia standout Geno Smith. Paul Millard brings veteran depth after taking a redshirt in his fourth year. Freshman David Sills, who once committed to USC in junior high, will also take part in spring drills.

7. Texas: For now, the Longhorns are basically where they were last year. Tyrone Swoopes is the only quarterback on the roster with any experience. He's had his moments, but also struggled late last season as the Texas offense cratered. Jerrod Heard is the X factor. He won a pair of high school state championships and was a highly touted signee, but clearly wasn't ready as a true freshman. Barring an unforeseen transfer, the Longhorns will have to ride with one of those two. Kai Locksley was a key late addition to last week's class, but his passing needs development.

8. Iowa State: When healthy, Sam B. Richardson was the least of Iowa State's problems last year. He did a solid job limiting turnovers and made plays with his feet. He should be the starter again. The Cyclones also return Grant Rohach, who has 245 pass attempts the last two seasons in relief.

9. Kansas: Michael Cummings pumped life into the Jayhawks after going from fourth string to starter following the Charlie Weis firing. Kansas also signed a pair of promising players at the position last week in three-star Ryan Willis and Carter Stanley.

10. Kansas State: The Wildcats are a blank slate at quarterback following the graduation of Jake Waters. Ex-walk-on Joe Hubener will get first dibs at the job entering his fourth year on campus. Hubener has good arm strength and good speed, but only 17 career pass attempts. He'll be pushed this spring by three-star signee Alex Delton, who is already in school.
We’ll probably never know how close Baylor really got. But this program can start closer than ever before in 2015.

The Bears’ No. 3 ranking in our Way-Too-Early Top 25 for next season is no polite hat-tip to all that Art Briles’ squad achieved in 2014. It’s recognition of the fact this Baylor program can reload and return to the College Football Playoff discussion immediately.

The college football landscape will change considerably between now and September, but on this first true week of the offseason, you get the sense Baylor is finally starting to enjoy the benefit of the doubt when it comes to its rise and imminent future.

[+] EnlargeArt Briles
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsArt Briles' Bears are well-positioned for another Big 12 title run, with nearly 20 junior and senior starters expected back.
Bryce Petty is gone, off to train and prep for the NFL draft. Philip Montgomery is gone, and took a couple staffers with him to Tulsa. Impactful seniors Bryce Hager, Antwan Goodley, Troy Baker, Levi Norwood, Collin Brence and Clay Fuller are out the door, too.

Most of them were foundational pieces toward building this Baylor juggernaut, on-field performers and locker-room personalities not easily replaced. And yet, the Bears are about to cash in on an advantage they’ve been subtly constructing ever since the start of 2013.

That group, the first to win a Big 12 title at Baylor, was senior-driven but underclassmen-funded. That’s why, even with Petty and some all-timers out the door, this program is still positioned to have close to 20 juniors and seniors in the starting lineup in 2015. Spencer Drango and defensive end Shawn Oakman are passing on the draft for the chance to guide that group.

“Our future is bright,” Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said after the 42-41 loss to Michigan State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. “As disappointing and disheartening as the last six minutes of the game was, we’ve got to grow from it.”

Remember, Baylor’s No. 7 finish in the final AP poll was the best in school history. What’s made these last two bowl game finishes so much more disheartening for Briles and his staff is the fact both wiped out the storybook endings to two historic seasons.

“This is one of the tougher non-wins that I’ve ever experienced, quite honestly,” Briles said after the Cotton Bowl.

Once again, he must roll up his sleeves (kidding, Briles would never do that) and devote this seven-month offseason to further fine-tuning a machine that’s won 26 of its last 30 games.

After one of the best five-year stretches of quarterback play the Big 12 has ever seen, Baylor’s search for a new heir will be compelling. Seth Russell will be a fourth-year junior with far more playing experience than Petty prior to taking over. Chris Johnson will be a third-year sophomore, and coveted ESPN 300 freshman Jarrett Stidham is now on campus.

Beyond personnel changes and recruiting, the Bears' offseason transition to Kendal Briles as offensive coordinator should be a smooth and quiet one.

Briles made a nice first impression in the Cotton Bowl -- Petty did, after all, throw for a career-high 550 yards -- and the coaching change shouldn't move the needle much inside the Baylor offices. He was already heavily involved with running the show anyway and could take this offense to new heights from an innovation standpoint.

Quarterback change aside, the younger Briles couldn't be taking over at a much better time. No matter how the Bears' season finished, nearly all of the pieces are already in place for a Big 12 three-peat.
Every year, true freshmen enroll in college early to participate in spring ball, often with hopes of augmenting their chances for playing time in the fall. More times than not, it doesn’t work out that way.

Last year, 21 high school seniors enrolled early in the Big 12. Below is a breakdown of the outcomes from their first college seasons:

Baylor
QB Chris Johnson: A highly-touted, four-star signee, Johnson got a valuable extra spring working under coach Art Briles. But Bryce Petty was healthy and tremendous all season and Seth Russell proved to be a more than a viable backup, prompting Johnson to redshirt. After Petty and then Russell, Johnson appears to be the next in a budding line of superb Baylor QBs.

Iowa State
OT Shawn Curtis: Curtis was the top recruit in the Cyclones' 2013 class. Though Jacob Gannon and Brock Dagel seem entrenched at the tackle positions, Curtis will have ample opportunity to work into the two-deep this fall.

LB Alton Meeks: The versatile Meeks settled in as a linebacker in Ames. He too redshirted, and he too could step into the two-deep next season.

Kansas
DB Colin Spencer: Spencer, who redshirted last season, was recruited as a defensive back but has since been moved to halfback/flanker with the Jayhawks looking for pass-catching help.

Kansas State
K Matthew McCrane: Watched as Jack Cantele won the starting place-kicking job as a sophomore. Will have to wait awhile before getting another shot.

Oklahoma
WR Dannon Cavil: Cavil turned heads with his combination of size and speed in the spring, and he seemed primed to break into the receiving rotation. But that never happened, and he wound up redshirting. With 2013 starters Jalen Saunders and Lacoltan Bester gone, Cavil will have another chance at playing time this spring.

S Ahmad Thomas: Thomas created a buzz in the spring, but couldn’t topple veterans Quentin Hayes, Gabe Lynn and Julian Wilson. He is vying for a starting job this spring and figures to be a key part of the secondary in 2014.

DE D.J. Ward: The No. 1-rated player from the state of Oklahoma, Ward endured qualifying issues that kept him from participating for much of spring ball. Then during the preseason, he had to have his spleen removed, which forced a redshirt. Ward has talent, but he needs to catch a break.


Oklahoma State
DE Naim Mustafaa: The Cowboys swiped this four-star recruit just in time to get him enrolled for spring ball. But Mustafaa left the team over the summer. He landed at Miami, but he bolted from there too during the season.

Texas
LB Deoundrei Davis: Davis spent the year redshirting and recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in high school. The Longhorns remain stacked at linebacker, so Davis will have another season to improve his strength and agility.

C Jake Raulerson: Raulerson also redshirted, giving him the opportunity to bulk up as he moved to the interior of the line. He should back up senior Dominic Espinosa this season and is on track to be the center of the future.

QB Tyrone Swoopes: Former coach Mack Brown controversially pulled Swoopes’ redshirt midway through the season, but Swoopes never unseated Case McCoy and attempted only 13 passes the entire season. Swoopes has all the tools, but will need to show more polish this spring to make a serious run at Texas’ influx starting quarterback job.

TCU
QB Zach Allen: The Horned Frogs had massive issues at the quarterback spot after Casey Pachall suffered a broken forearm, but Allen never was called on for help and redshirted instead. He’s battling Trevone Boykin and Tyler Matthews for the job this spring, and the pressure will be on to make an impression to the new offensive regime, with Grayson Muehlstein and Foster Sawyer set to join the QB competition over the summer.

TE Bryson Burtnett: After redshirting last season, Burtnett could help the Horned Frogs as a blocking tight end this fall.

OT Eason Fromayan: Also redshirted last season. Tackle is a position of concern for TCU, but there are other options that appear to be ahead of him in the pecking order early in spring ball.

Texas Tech
QB Davis Webb: Kliff Kingsbury’s first QB signee, Webb had quite the rollercoaster first season. With the favorite to start, Michael Brewer, ailing with a back injury, Webb had a golden opportunity to seize the starting job. Instead, walk-on freshman Baker Mayfield beat him out. Webb made the most of his opportunities when they came, though. After Mayfield suffered a knee injury, Webb led Tech to a come-from-behind win at West Virginia. After Mayfield transferred, Webb delivered one of the best bowl performances of any QB, throwing for 403 yards and four touchdowns in a convincing win over heavily-favored Arizona State. As the only scholarship QB currently on campus, Webb is finally the clear-cut starter going into 2014. And if he builds on his bowl showing, he could have a monster sophomore campaign.

West Virginia
LB Hodari Christian: Christian redshirted last season. Considering the Mountaineers are loaded with experience at linebacker, it could be some time before Christian steps onto the field defensively.

S Malik Greaves: Greaves too redshirted in 2013 and is currently listed this spring as the third-team “spur” linebacker behind K.J. Dillon and Marvin Gross.

QB Chavas Rawlins: Rawlins went through spring ball with the Mountaineers, but he left the program after spring ball because the coach that had recruited him, Jake Spavital, left West Virginia to become the quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. Rawlins ended up enrolling at Duquesne.

WR Daikiel Shorts: Shorts was arguably the most impressive true freshman during the preseason for West Virginia and ended up starting nine games. He also tied for the team lead with 45 receptions and figures to be a playmaking cornerstone in Morgantown.

RB Wendell Smallwood: Smallwood started out helping on special teams, but he eventually carved out a role on the offense as a third-team running back behind Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith. He finished the season with 221 rushing yards on 39 carries. Even though carries will be competitive to get again, Smallwood’s versatility should cement him a role in the offense.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

October, 28, 2013
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It was only a matter of time before a big-name program took a chance on 5-foot-6, 148-pound lightning bolt/quarterback Desmon White (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto). That chance came from a Big 12 program recently, and White wasted little time taking them up on their offer.

Find out which Big 12 program he committed to as well as a big offer from Oklahoma State in this week’s edition of the Big 12 weekend wrap.

Biggest commitment: He might not be big in stature, but 2014 athlete Desmon White will bring some much-needed play-making ability to TCU. White, who plays quarterback for the undefeated DeSoto Eagles, switched his verbal pledge from North Texas to the Horned Frogs on Tuesday. This season he has completed 141 of 204 passes for 2,304 yards, 21 touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also the team’s leading rusher with 95 carries for 1,009 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s a football player, plain and simple. Nice pickup for TCU, which could use him in a variety of ways but will likely start him at slot.

Biggest offer: This one goes to Oklahoma State and the offer it extended to ESPN Junior 300 offensive tackle George Brown Jr. (Cincinnati/Winton Woods). If you are going to get into the sweepstakes for Brown, you might as well get in as early as possible. The No. 208 player in the country already has more than 30 offers, including from Big 12 programs Baylor, Kansas State and West Virginia. The only other 2015 offer to an OT that OSU has is to Texas commitment Maea Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller).

Best performance by a commit/target: Class of 2015 quarterback Ryan Agnew (Southlake, Texas/Carroll) completed 31 of 35 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-17 victory over Keller. Agnew doesn’t have any offers now but that won’t stay the case with more games like this. Several major programs are well aware of Agnew, including Texas. Tennessee and Texas A&M have also expressed interest.

Most important visit: There were several big names in attendance for Oklahoma’s victory over Texas Tech, but the biggest one was 2015 offensive guard Jalin Barnett (Lawton, Okla./Lawton). This was the fourth trip to Norman for Barnett, the No. 8 player in the country, No. 1 OG and No. 1 player in the Midlands region. That’s especially telling since he has yet to visit any other school.

Big 12 recruiting storylines: Oct. 24 

October, 24, 2013
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In the past week, the top players in Texas for 2014 and 2015 announced their commitment to the same school. One of the top playmakers in the Lone Star State switched his commitment to a Big 12 school. West Virginia got a visit from an athlete committed elsewhere.

We’ll take a look at those topics and a few others in this week’s edition of Big 12 recruiting storylines.


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Three of the best offensive weapons the state of Texas has to offer, regardless of class, committed to three different Big 12 programs this past week. Those recruits, as well as a look at a startling number of big-time uncommitted prospects left in the state, highlight this week’s top Big 12 storylines:

Baylor has 'it'

“It” at Baylor can stand for a few things. It could be the new football stadium being constructed on the banks of the Brazos River or the offense that has annually become one of the nation’s most prolific.

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We'll kick off our position rankings across the Big 12 today. Depth plays a factor in each. We're not ranking individual players, we're ranking each Big 12 team by their strength at the position. Quarterback obviously uses its depth the least, but ask Oklahoma State or TCU how important it is.

Here's how I rank the Big 12 teams at quarterback:

1. Oklahoma State: Wes Lunt is gone, but OSU still has two quarterbacks capable of winning a Big 12 title with this roster in likely starter Clint Chelf and short-yardage specialist J.W. Walsh. Walsh nearly knocked off Texas in his first career start last season. Chelf has lots of experience in the system, and Walsh led the Big 12 in passer rating last season.

2. TCU: Casey Pachall has to prove he can get back to his old self, but he's got a strong case as the Big 12's best quarterback. Trevone Boykin improved a lot over the 2012 season and coach Gary Patterson raved about his progress this spring, making Pachall's likely reclamation of his starting spot a tougher assignment than most figured. Boykin's arguably the Big 12's best playmaker at QB with his feet. No QB in the Big 12 has a stronger on-field résumé at this point in their careers than Pachall. That carries a lot of weight in these rankings.

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsBaylor QB Bryce Petty has the tools and the talent around him to potentially become a Heisman candidate in 2013.
3. Baylor: Bryce Petty is my pick for the Big 12's all-conference quarterback at the end of the season. He's got a great offense around him, but this is his fourth year in the system, learning behind great football minds like Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence. He's more physically gifted than Florence and will be able to do many of the things RG3 did with his arm. Seth Russell is a solid backup, and Chris Johnson is a promising young player, too.

4. Texas: David Ash has a shot to be the Big 12's best quarterback this season, but has to shake off rough games like he had against Kansas to do it. Case McCoy isn't the most physically gifted specimen at the position, but there's no denying his playmaking ability. Even Texas A&M fans would have to admit that. Tyrone Swoopes turned some heads during the spring game.

5. Oklahoma: Blake Bell should be an above average Big 12 starter, who proves he can throw the ball and is more than just a threat around the goal line. The inexperience all over the Big 12 at this position makes ranking this spot extremely difficult, but Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight behind Bell would be intriguing to watch if they're forced into duty. All three are playmakers with their feet.

6. West Virginia: The Mountaineers probably have more upside than any team on this list, and have three guys who could probably carry the Mountaineers to 7-8 wins this season. That's a luxury, but other than Ford Childress, I'm not sure I see a real game changer in Clint Trickett or Paul Millard. Still, don't be surprised if whoever wins the job racks up 3,500-plus yards in this offense.

7. Texas Tech: Tech is right behind West Virginia in potential at this position. Michael Brewer breaking out and proving himself as the Big 12's best quarterback this season wouldn't surprise me at all. True freshman Davis Webb has impressed Kliff Kingsbury, but Brewer's inability to beat him out for the job is something of a red flag. Not much depth at the position slides the Red Raiders down the list a bit.

8. Kansas State: K-State has an intriguing race between Daniel Sams and Jake Waters. Bill Snyder has historically preferred dual-threat quarterbacks, and Sams will easily be the fastest quarterback in the Big 12, but I want to see him operate the whole offense and not do so while nursing big leads before I truly buy in. Waters isn't a statue, but Sams could surpass Boykin as the Big 12's best running quarterback.

9. Kansas: Jake Heaps is the great hope for the Jayhawks, who don't have another serviceable quarterback on the roster. Heaps has earned some rave reviews during the spring and had moderate success at BYU. He'll have a strong running game and a better group of receivers around him than Dayne Crist did last season. Michael Cummings played some last season after replacing Crist, but the results were far from inspiring.

10. Iowa State: Sam Richardson has to prove he improved a lot in his first offseason as the team's unquestioned starter. Grant Rohach is a decent backup, but this position has been a constant struggle recently in Ames. I'm not entirely sold on Richardson being the guy to change that.

Breaking down spring camp: Baylor

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Baylor kicks off its spring practice later today. Let's take a closer look at what you can expect.

Schedule: The first of Baylor's practices will be today, concluding with a spring game in Waco on April 6. The Bears usually hold a controlled scrimmage at the practice field as part of a day-long festival, rather than a game at Floyd Casey Stadium.

What's new: Not a whole lot beyond the loss of skill position talent, which is welcome news for the Bears. There weren't any staff changes for Baylor this offseason, and we'll talk a bit more later about the factors that could make Baylor a dangerous team carrying the Big 12's longest winning streak (four games) into the 2013 season. No one else in the league has a streak of more than one game.

New faces: Baylor is welcoming four players onto the practice field this spring as early enrollees from its 2013 recruiting class. Junior college transfer Gus Penning brings some size to the tight end spot at 6-foot-5 and 245 yards, and he's joined by quarterback Chris Johnson, the nation's No. 5 dual-threat passer. Receiver Kiante' Griffin and linebacker Brian Nance are also suiting up this spring.

Getting defensive: This is Year 3 under Phil Bennett, but we saw some major, major improvement late in 2012. The Bears had a similar jump in 2011, but it didn't stick through 2012. The pieces are in place with guys like Chris McAllister, Bryce Hager, Eddie Lackey and Ahmad Dixon, but every time I visit Waco in the spring, the defense gets worked over. We may get an idea of their progress this spring in scrimmages and workouts. Progress has to happen now if Baylor's ever going to take the leap to Big 12 title contender.

Question marks: Does Baylor have enough firepower at receiver to keep its offense rolling? We'll talk about quarterbacks later, but the Bears lose Terrance Williams and Lanear Sampson, and I don't necessarily buy Tevin Reese as a ton more than a deep threat who stretches the field. Can guys like Levi Norwood or Antwan Goodley become big threats underneath? Look out for tight ends Jordan Najvar and Jerod Monk to play a bigger role in the offense, too. They've got tons of experience.

Breaking out: LT Spencer Drango. He had a great first season on Baylor's offensive line, but look out for the former blue-chip recruit to start looking like one of the Big 12's best offensive linemen alongside Cyril Richardson. He's already solid, but he may blossom into a star this offseason.

Much to prove: RB Lache Seastrunk. He turned heads and produced headlines when he predicted he'd win the Heisman next season, but Baylor's got a solid group of backs and we'll see how he handles the bulk of the first-team reps and the attention that comes with his bold proclamation. He's got the skills to back it up, but it'll be interesting to see what kind of tone he strikes in interviews this spring.

All eyes on: QB Bryce Petty. If Baylor's going to continue this run, it simply has to be excellent at quarterback. I'm not ready to completely write off Seth Russell, but I love what I've seen from Petty in my visits to practice in Waco the past couple springs. He's got a big, NFL-quarterback body at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, and a big arm, but decision-making and ability to move the offense is something you can't tell until it's time to take over the team. That time is now for Petty.

Big 12 signing day superlatives

February, 8, 2013
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With signing day in the rearview mirror, it's time to pass out some awards for the Big 12's recruiting efforts.

Biggest winner on signing day: Baylor coach Art Briles -- Briles is capitalizing on the Bears' on-field success with some huge signees who have Baylor turning some heads. Hometown blue-chip prospect Andrew Billings gave the Bears a huge late boost on the defensive line, a position of need, and the Bears' class finished just outside the national top 25. It's Briles' best class in terms of ranking, with six four-star prospects, four of whom will be playing defense. The two offensive four-stars are both top-five nationally at their positions -- No. 3 WR Robbie Rhodes and No. 5 dual-threat QB Chris Johnson.

Best closer: Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury -- The Red Raiders' class was shredded by the transition from Tommy Tuberville and lost its top commit, Devin Lauderdale. Kingsbury got Lauderdale back and pulled in a class of 24 players after sitting at just 11 players in the middle of January. It's not going to turn a lot of heads, but Tech landed four players with at least four stars.

Biggest surprise: Kansas' strong class -- As it turns out, Kansas coach Charlie Weis knows how to shop around playing time. Great shots at immediate starting positions seem to be a very valuable recruiting bait for junior college players, and Weis had a bunch to offer. You don't have to be coming off a huge season to recruit well. Weis landed five of the top 100 junior college prospects in the country, highlighted by No. 3 Marquel Combs and No. 74 Rodriguez Coleman, a receiver. We saw what Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze did in selling big-time recruits the chance to be on the ground floor of building a program. On a smaller scale, Weis did that with this class.

Who flipped/Biggest loss -- For the past year, Texas had counted on A'Shawn Robinson -- one of the nation's best defensive tackles and a native of Arlington, Texas -- as part of its recruiting class. In the months before signing day, rumors swirled that he was wavering. Finally, he made it official days before signing day, and on Wednesday, he signed with Alabama after a man in an elephant suit delivered his letter of intent. Points for creativity, but the loss was another strike for Texas on the defensive line. Strike one came when the Horns lost DE Daeshon Hall earlier in the recruiting season, and the day before signing day, Texas hit strike three when it lost Billings (see above).

Kansas State also was fired up about getting a commitment from juco linebacker De'Vondre Campbell, a 6-foot-5, 224-pounder at a Kansas junior college. Bill Snyder lost him on signing day, though, when Campbell elected to sign with Minnesota. That left a hole at a position of need for the Wildcats.
Baylor's tradition of having absurd skill position talent under coach Art Briles looks poised to continue. Receiver Robbie Rhodes, the nation's No. 35 overall prospect, has officially sent in his letter of intent.

Baylor beat out a handful of in-state schools to earn the services of Rhodes, a 6-foot, 185-pounder from Fort Worth.

Quarterback Chris Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 195-pounder from Bryan, Texas, signed back in December and is enrolling early. He's the nation's No. 5 dual-threat quarterback.

Those are a pair of huge pickups for Baylor, which also earned a commitment from Waco native Andrew Billings on Tuesday. Billings is the nation's No. 13 offensive guard, but he'll play defensive tackle for the Bears at 6-foot-2, 308 pounds.
June is nearly over, and as we head into July, it's time to update the Big 12 recruiting scorecard. You can see each full class by clicking on the team name, but you'll need ESPN Insider access to see the full coverage.

Here's where the Big 12 stands for the respective 2013 classes, which can't sign letters of intent until February.

Remember, this card is in pencil. Players are free to switch commitments until they sign a letter of intent with a school.

1. Texas Longhorns

Total commits: 15
ESPN 150 commits: 7
Key commits: QB Tyrone Swoopes, C Darius James, OT Jake Raulerson, OT Kent Perkins
Class update: Texas lost the nation's top receiver, Ricky Seals-Jones, but could pick him up later down the line. It added junior-college tight end Geoff Swaim and safety Erik Huhn.

2. Oklahoma Sooners

Total commits: 12
ESPN 150 commits: 4
Key commits: RB Greg Bryant, RB Keith Ford, DE D.J. Ward, QB Cody Thomas
Class update: Oklahoma added three commits since our last update, including a new ESPN 150 member in Thomas. It also added linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni, receiver Jordan Smallwood and athlete Austin Bennett.

3. Baylor Bears

Total commits: 13
ESPNU 150 commits: 1
Key commits: WR Robbie Rhodes, QB Chris Johnson, OLB Raaquan Davis, RB Johnny Jefferson
Class update: Baylor got the biggest pickup in the entire Big 12 since our last update, adding the nation's No. 5 receiver in Rhodes. That allowed the Bears to crack the national top 25, but they were already third in the Big 12. Baylor also added safeties Taion Sells and Austin Jupe as well as outside linebacker Xavier Phillips.

4. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Total commits: 10
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: WR Fred Ross Jr., WR Marcell Ateman, DT Vincent Taylor, OT Zach Crabtree
Class update: The Cowboys added four commits between our April and May updates, then added five more in the past month to leapfrog Texas Tech. OSU has three commits in the ESPN 300, and six players with three stars. It added Taylor, quarterback Luke Del Rio, safety Jordan Sterns, guard Rami Hammad and running back Corion Webster.

5. TCU Horned Frogs

Total commits: 9
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: OLB Paul Whitmill, OLB Sammy Douglas, OG Patrick Morris
Class update: TCU added five commits since our last update, and now has seven three-star commits. The Horned Frogs hopped over Kansas State and Texas Tech after adding defensive end Bryson Henderson, tight end Charlie Reid, cornerback Steve Wesley, tight end Bryson Burtnett and safety George Baltimore. (Future All-Name teamer?)

6. West Virginia Mountaineers

Total commits: 7
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: QB Chavas Rawlins, OT Marcell Lazard, RB DeShawn Coleman
Class update: WVU added three commits since we last updated, getting a nice boost from a slow start on the trail. Three players are four-stars and four are three stars. Inside linebacker Darrien Howard pledged to the Mountaineers, as did guard Tyler Tezeno and inside linebacker Elijah Wellman. Howard is the class' first player from Texas.

7. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Total commits: 7
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: ATH Devin Lauderdale, WR Dylan Cantrell, OG Baylen Brown
Class update: Texas Tech didn't add anyone since our last update, but has two four-star recruits and three three-star commits.

8. Kansas Jayhawks

Total commits: 5
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: TE Ben Johnson, LB Kellen Ash, QB Jordan Darling
Class update: Kansas added two commits since our last update -- Darling and cornerback Colin Spencer -- and jumped ahead of in-state rival K-State. Each of Kansas' commits is ranked.

9. Kansas State Wildcats

Total commits: 4
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: ILB Tanner Wood, DE Jordan Willis, WR LeAndrew Gordon
Class update: Kansas State hasn't added a commit since our update a month ago, but all four commits have at least three stars.

10. Iowa State Cyclones

Total commits: 4
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: QB Trevor Hodge, OG Jacob Homa, S Kamari Syrie
Class notes: Iowa State wasn't even on the scoreboard the last time we updated, getting all four of its 2013 commits in the last month. However, only one recruit, Hodge, is ranked. It also added Homa, Syrie and tight end Emmanuel Bibbs.

Baylor cracks the recruiting top 25

June, 15, 2012
6/15/12
10:00
AM ET
Our ESPN RecruitingNation team updated their national recruiting top 25, and there's a new member of the fold from the Big 12.

Oh, you sneaky, sneaky Baylor Bears.

Baylor added the nation's No. 5 receiver, Robbie Rhodes, last weekend, and that pickup moved BU into the top 25. It checked in at No. 21 on our rankings.

That's pretty big time. Anybody else remember the last time Baylor reeled in a top-25 recruiting class? I don't. Art Briles has stuck at Baylor while others have poked around to gauge his interest. He believes he can build something special, and this is more evidence that supports that idea. Want more? How's this?

Baylor now has 12 commits, with one (Rhodes) in the ESPN 150. Quarterback Chris Johnson, a Bryan, Texas, native, gives the Bears a second commit in the ESPN 300. Johnson is the nation's No. 3 dual-threat quarterback.

Texas was unchanged at No. 4, behind Michigan, Florida and Alabama.

Oklahoma was No. 12, unchanged from the last recruiting rankings.
May is nearly over, and as we head into June, it's time to update the Big 12 recruiting scorecard. You can see each full class by clicking on the team name, but you'll need ESPN Insider access to see the full coverage.

Here's where the Big 12 stands for the respective 2013 classes, which can't sign letters of intent until next February.

Remember, this card is in pencil. Players are free to switch commitments until they sign a letter of intent with a school.

1. Texas Longhorns

Total commits: 14
ESPN 150 commits: 8
Key commits: QB Tyrone Swoopes, WR Ricky Seals-Jones, C Darius James, OT Jake Raulerson
Class update: Texas added just one players since our last update, cornerback Antwuan Davis. The Bastrop, Texas, native is the nation's No. 13 cornerback and the No. 19 player in Texas. He checks in at No. 147 on our ESPN 150.

2. Oklahoma Sooners

Total commits: 9
ESPN 150 commits: 3
Key commits: RB Greg Bryant, RB Keith Ford, DE D.J. Ward
Class update: Oklahoma has added five commits since our last update, but no ESPN 150 commits. The biggest pickup was pro-style QB Cody Thomas, a native of Colleyville, Texas. The Sooners also added ATH Stanvon Taylor, kicker Jack Steed and offensive lineman Dalton Rodriguez. It's a nice bounce back from a slow start on the trail for the Sooners.

3. Baylor Bears

Total commits: 9
ESPNU 150 commits: 1
Key commits: QB Chris Johnson, OLB Raaquan Davis, RB Johnny Jefferson, WR Quan Jones
Class notes: Baylor has added three commits since our last update, but no ESPN 150 recruits. Davis pledged his intent to come to Waco from Heath, Texas. DT Tanner Thrift is also on the way, and OLB D.J. Green is one of the class' top talents as the nation's No. 27 outside linebacker.

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Total commits: 7
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: ATH Devin Lauderdale, WR Dylan Cantrell, OG Baylen Brown
Class notes: Texas Tech added two commits since we last updated the scorecard. Brown is the top recruit to join the fold. The 6-foot-4, 280-pounder is from Helotes, Texas. Safety Stormy Butler is trying to crash both Lubbock and my All-Name Team.

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Total commits: 5
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: WR Fred Ross Jr., WR Marcell Ateman, OT Zach Crabtree
Class update: OSU has been a big mover since our last update, picking up four commits, giving the Cowboys two four-star players and helping OSU leap over Kansas State. Crabtree joined the class on Tuesday, and Ateman gave OSU a second receiver earlier this month.

6. Kansas State Wildcats

Total commits: 4
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: ILB Tanner Wood, DE Jordan Willis, WR LeAndrew Gordon
Class notes: Guard Chance Allen is the only addition to the class since we last checked in with the SnyderCats. He's a 6-foot-4, 295-pounder from Spring, Texas, a Houston suburb.

7. TCU Horned Frogs

Total commits: 4
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: OLB Paul Whitmill, OLB Sammy Douglas, OG Patrick Morris
Class notes: TCU added two commits since our last update, but only two of the class members are ranked. Whitmill was the biggest addition, and takes a place as the top recruit in the class. The 6-foot, 200-pounder is the nation's No. 21 outside linebacker and hails from Bastrop, Texas. ATH Ty Slanina also committed last week.

8. West Virginia Mountaineers

Total commits: 4
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: QB Chavas Rawlins, OT Marcell Lazard, RB DeShawn Coleman
Class notes: WVU didn't have a commit the last time we checked in, but has the weakest class of those with just four commits. Only one, Rawlins, is nationally ranked. It's early, but WVU's got to pick it up. Worth noting: Three of the commits are from Pennsylvania and one is from New Jersey. The recruiting strategy switch hasn't paid off just yet. It's very, very early, though.

9. Kansas Jayhawks

Total commits: 3
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: QB Montell Cozart, TE Ben Johnson, LB Kellen Ash
Class notes: Kansas hasn't added anyone since our mid-April update, but the program is branching out its recruiting strategy to a national stage, not just the Kansas City area and Texas. That's nothing new for former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis. Can he convince them to commit, though? We'll find out soon.

10. Iowa State Cyclones

Total commits: 0
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: None
Class notes: Still nada on the board for the Cyclones, who are the lone Big 12 team without a commit in the fold yet.

Recruiting season got started in earnest on Tuesday with the release of the ESPN 150, so it's time to offer our first real check-in on where the Big 12 recruiting classes sit with a little less than 10 months before players can officially sign.

Remember, this card is in pencil. Players are free to switch commitments until they sign a letter of intent with a school.

1. Texas Longhorns

Total commits: 13
ESPNU 150 commits: 7
Key commits: QB Tyrone Swoopes, WR Ricky Seals-Jones, C Darius James, OT Jake Raulerson
Class notes: Texas' top three commits are all the best at their positions, and 10 of the class' 13 commitments are four stars or higher. That's nothing new in Austin, but Swoopes looks like the quarterback of the future in Austin, though he hails from a smaller school in Whitewright, Texas. Seals-Jones is a physical presence at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds.

2. Oklahoma Sooners

Total commits: 4
ESPNU 150 commits: 3
Key commits: RB Greg Bryant, RB Keith Ford, DE D.J. Ward
Class notes: Oklahoma's class is still pretty small for now, but the Sooners are getting some much needed help at running back, where numbers are suddenly thin following a rash of transfers after the season. Ward joins fellow DE Matt Dimon in the class, too.

3. Baylor Bears

Total commits: 6
ESPNU 150 commits: 1
Key commits: QB Chris Johnson, RB Johnny Jefferson, WR Quan Jones
Class notes: No surprise here: Baylor's new class is loaded with skill position talent. Johnson is the nation's No. 2 dual-threat passer and Jefferson is the nation's No. 36 running back. It seems like almost every year, Baylor reels in a huge prospect. For now, 2013 is no different, and coach Art Briles looks like he can continue his QB lineage. Johnson is a four-star, and Jefferson and Jones are three-star recruits.

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Total commits: 5
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: ATH Devin Lauderdale, WR Dylan Cantrell, CB Will Barrow
Class notes: Texas Tech has landed top-25 recruiting classes in each of Tommy Tuberville's first full seasons in Lubbock, and the Red Raiders are off to another nice start in 2013. Super recruiter Robert Prunty's developed a penchant for reeling in ESPN 150 talent, so keep an eye on the newest major player on the recruiting scene. Lauderdale is a four-star recruit.

5. Kansas State Wildcats

Total commits: 3
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: ILB Tanner Wood, DE Jordan Willis, WR LeAndrew Gordon
Class notes: Two of Kansas State's three commits are three-star recruits. The Wildcats won 10 games in 2011, but another solid year in 2012 could help spur recruiting efforts even further.

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Total commits: 1
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: WR Fred Ross Jr.
Class notes: Ross is a four-star and the nation's No. 21 receiver, but OSU could climb this list quickly, riding the success from its first Big 12 title in 2011. It's a slower start than you'd envision for OSU, but we'll see if the Cowboys can win some battles with Texas Tech, TCU and others.

7. TCU Horned Frogs

Total commits: 2
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: OLB Sammy Douglas, OG Patrick Morris
Class notes: Douglas is a three-star recruit and the nation's No. 36 outside linebacker. That's a big position of need for TCU, but the Big 12 entrance and recent campus drug sting that resulted in four players being arrested will be battling for positive and negative pushes on the recruiting trail. We'll see which one wins out in 2012.

8. Kansas Jayhawks

Total commits: 3
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: QB Montell Cozart, TE Ben Johnson, LB Kellen Ash
Class notes: Kansas doesn't have a nationally ranked recruit, but Weis sounds like he's high on Cozart, a highly recruited QB from the Kansas City area who had offers from West Virginia and Minnesota.

9. West Virginia Mountaineers

Total commits: 0
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: None
Class notes: WVU is one of two teams without a commit yet in the 2013 class. We'll see if that picks up if WVU can validate its membership in the Big 12 with a strong debut season.

10. Iowa State Cyclones

Total commits: 0
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: None
Class notes: Iowa State has started slow, too. Another bowl appearance would help, but it has to be a bit frustrating for the Cyclones to be behind the eight-ball for now. That's especially true considering what Kansas has done thus far.

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