Big 12: David Garrett

Kansas State spring wrap

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
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2011 overall record: 10-3
2011 conference record: 7-2
Returning starters: Offense 9; defense 7; P/K (2)

Top returners:
QB Collin Klein, RB John Hubert, LB Arthur Brown, CB Nigel Malone, WR Tyler Lockett, LB Tre Walker, WR Chris Harper

Key losses:
CB David Garrett, LB Emmanuel Lamur, S Tysyn Hartman, DL Ray Kibble, DE Jordan Voelker

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Collin Klein* (1,141 yards)
Passing: Collin Klein* (1,918 yards)
Receiving: Chris Harper* (547 yards)
Tackles: Arthur Brown* (101)
Sacks: Meshak Williams* (7)
Interceptions: Nigel Malone* (7)

Spring answers

1. Filling the void left behind by Garrett: David Garrett was one of the biggest playmakers for the K-State defense, but Allen Chapman seems to have locked down the assignment of replacing him in 2012. The California juco transfer broke up four passes last year and returned his only interception 60 yards for a touchdown. K-State's secondary should be solid. Kip Daily will also help out at corner.

2. Collin Klein can chuck it: You have to take into account that Klein did it against second-teamers and that the quarterbacks have put up big numbers in spring games, but his 47-of-56, 480-yard performance is encouraging. He won't do that during the fall, but it's a good sign that Klein's improvement was obvious in the one practice fans or media were allowed to see.

3. Lockett returns: Tyler Lockett was the most explosive talent on an offense mostly devoid of home run threats, but a lacerated kidney ended his 2011 season early. Lockett returned and practiced this spring, but reportedly had another minor injury before the spring game, depriving us of a chance to see him back in action. Still, it sounds like he'll be back in the fall.

Fall questions

1. Can Kansas State validate its surprising 2011? The Wildcats memorably won eight games in 2011 by a touchdown or less, ascending to a second-place finish in the Big 12 after being picked to finish eighth. Advanced college football statistics suggest K-State is due for a regression in 2012, but this is Bill Snyder we're talking about. His team will be better in 2012. Can its record improve, too? Klein must remain healthy after leading the Big 12 in carries last season.

2. Who's filling in for Tysyn Hartman? Hartman had loads of experience and was one of the most intelligent players on the team. The Wildcats don't have many question marks, but who replaces Hartman is one. They'll still have competition between Thomas Ferguson, Randall Evans and Jarard Milo this fall to win the job.

3. What will the offensive line look like? Kansas State was the Big 12's most physical team in 2011 because of their strong offensive line. K-State loses three starters, and there's no doubt that if there's one thing that derails K-State in the fall, it's the new faces on the line. B.J. Finney is a stud at center, and Nick Puetz is solid, but the other three spots on the line didn't sound like they were sewn up by the end of spring.

Lunch links: Texas Tech TV network?

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
12:00
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In Ron Artest's defense, James Harden's beard told him he was really unimpressed with Artest's dunk.

The best players who just missed the top 25

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
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Our top 25 has come and gone, but we're taking a deeper look at the list throughout the day on the blog.

As we do with every list, here are the guys who were probably good enough to be on the top 25, but didn't make the cut. After all, there's only so much room.

These are listed in no particular order.

Carrington Byndom, CB, Texas: Broke up 15 passes and picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown. Also forced a fumble and of his 54 tackles, seven were for losses.

James Franklin, QB, Missouri: Threw for 2,865 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Also rushed for 981 yards and 15 touchdowns on 217 carries.

Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State: Made 71 tackles and broke up eight passes. Also made two tackles for loss and forced a fumble.

Steven Johnson, LB, Kansas: Led the Big 12 with 119 tackles. Made six tackles for loss and had an interception. Broke up two passes and forced two fumbles.

Keenan Robinson, LB, Texas: Second on the team with 98 tackles. Made 8.5 tackles for loss and had one sack. Broke up seven passes and forced two fumbles.

Jeremiah Hatch, OL, Kansas: Bounced back from a scary injury against Oklahoma and played well enough to earn a second-team All-Big 12 nod.

LaAdrian Waddle, OL, Texas Tech: Was the most outstanding member of the Texas Tech offensive line, which finished sixth in the Big 12 in total offense.

David Garrett, CB, Kansas State: Picked off two passes and returned one for a touchdown. Made 88 tackles and had 6.5 tackles for loss. Also broke up two passes.

Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State: Made 74 tackles and broke up 11 passes. Made five tackles for loss and forced two fumbles.

Gabe Ikard, OL, Oklahoma: Was the most outstanding member of the Sooners' offensive line, which paved the way for more than 512 yards per game, third-most in the Big 12.

Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M: Missed the final three games of the season, but averaged more than six yards per carry and finished eighth in the Big 12 with 899 yards and eight touchdowns on 149 carries.

Luke Joeckel, OL, Texas A&M: Improved as a second-year starter at tackle, has the most upside of any player on the Aggies' line, which helped produce the Big 12's No. 4 offense.

Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: Third in the Big 12 with 17 tackles for loss. Had eight sacks and broke up three passes. Made 63 tackles.

Clyde Aufner, OL, Kansas State: Aufner helped Kansas State roll to the No. 5 rushing offense in the Big 12 and lead the Big 12 with 606 carries. Earned first-team All-Big 12 honors from the coaches.

Jamie Blatnick, DE, Oklahoma State: Made eight sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Recovered two fumbles, made 50 tackles and had an interception. Forced a fumble and broke up seven passes.
We're moving on with our 2011 postseason position rankings. Today, it's time for cornerbacks. If you missed it, here's how I ranked them in the preseason.

Here are the other position rankings we've done so far:
Depth is somewhat of a factor here, but I weighted it heavily toward the top two starters at the position.

[+] EnlargeCarrington Byndom
John Albright/Icon SMICarrington Byndom went up against some of the Big 12's top receivers and held his own.
1. Texas — The Longhorns duo of Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs were by far the league's best at limiting the big play. Both are physical. Both return. Beware, Big 12 offenses. In just their first year as starters, they helped the Longhorns lead the league in pass defense. Diggs, a true freshman, led the team with four interceptions. Until the regular-season finale against Baylor, Texas and Alabama were the only teams that hadn't given up a touchdown pass longer than 20 yards. Obviously, that's way, way more impressive in the Big 12.

2. Kansas State — K-State overachieved in a lot of ways this year, and perhaps nowhere more than at cornerback. Juco transfer Nigel Malone led the league with seven interceptions. Known entity David Garrett was even more solid, making 88 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. I ranked this unit 10th in the Big 12 before the season. They finished second. I was wrong.

3. Oklahoma — The Sooners' corners were good, but not great, and underachieved slightly. Jamell Fleming and Demontre Hurst are supremely talented, but were susceptible to big plays this year. Granted, everybody in the Big 12 was, but the Sooners ranked fourth in pass defense. Fleming broke up 10 passes and intercepted two more. Hurst broke up 11 and had an interception.

4. Oklahoma State — At times, Oklahoma State's Brodrick Brown was a legitimate shutdown corner. Justin Gilbert turned in a solid effort in his first year as a starter, which was much more important after a season-ending injury to Devin Hedgepeth in September. Gilbert picked off five passes, second-most in the Big 12.

5. Iowa StateLeonard Johnson was quietly an NFL prospect that put together a huge year. He was a big reason for ISU's upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State, and helped shut down Justin Blackmon. He finished with 71 tackles, eight pass breakups and a pick. Jeremy Reeves added two picks and seven pass breakups.

6. MissouriE.J. Gaines led the Big 12 with 16 pass breakups, and the Tigers ranked fifth in the Big 12 in pass defense. Fellow first-year starter Kip Edwards added a pick and three pass breakups.

7. Texas A&M — The team's top corner, Coryell Judie, was hampered by a hamstring injury all season, but production is production. It wasn't there for Judie, one of the league's top corners in 2010. Terrence Frederick had a good year with 13 pass breakups and a pick, but the Aggies were susceptible through the air all year. Lionel Smith and Dustin Harris filled in well in Judie's absence, but not well enough. A&M finished eighth in pass defense and helped five QBs set career highs for passing yardage in 2011.

8. BaylorK.J. Morton played well down the stretch for Baylor, but the Bears defense left a lot to be desired almost everywhere. They finished last in the Big 12 in pass defense, giving up over 290 yards a game. Morton picked off four passes and broke up six more. All four of his picks came in the final three games of 2011. Chance Casey broke up six passes and made 48 stops.

9. Texas Tech — How's this for irony? The Red Raiders actually finished second in the Big 12 in pass defense. It doesn't matter much. Tre' Porter had the only interception for a cornerback all season, and broke up two passes. Injuries were a problem all season. Cornelius Douglas, Derrick Mays, Jarvis Phillips and Sawyer Vest filled the unit, but Tech faced 61 fewer pass attempts than Kansas and 111 fewer than the next team in the Big 12. That's what happens when you can't stop the run. Doesn't mean the corners played well.

10. KansasGreg Brown picked off two passes and broke up three more. Isiah Barfield made 35 tackles and broke up five passes. The Jayhawks ranked ninth in the Big 12 in pass defense. They didn't get much of a pass rush to help the corners, but the corners were very poor in 2011.

Big 12 recruiting needs in 2012

January, 24, 2012
1/24/12
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Signing day is coming fast. Next Wednesday, the next round of players will sign up for their respective programs and start what could be storied careers.

Here's what each team across the Big 12 needs. You'll find Texas A&M and Mizzou on the SEC blog and West Virginia on the Big East Blog.

BAYLOR

Quarterback: This one's pretty simple. Robert Griffin III is taking his talents to the NFL early. Nick Florence is waiting to take over, and the Bears have Bryce Petty behind him, but more reinforcements at quarterback are needed. Dual-threat quarterbacks, ideally.

Defensive tackle: Baylor already was one of the nation's worst teams (102nd nationally) at stopping the run. Now it'll need to replace both its interior linemen, Nicolas Jean-Baptiste and Tracy Robertson.

Offensive linemen: Baylor's offensive line, meanwhile, has been solid. It loses junior college transfer and two-year starter Robert T. Griffin, as well as All-Big 12 center Philip Blake. John Jones, a reserve guard, also has exhausted his eligibility.

IOWA STATE

Receiver: This has been a weak spot for the team for several years, and its top overall talent, Darius Reynolds, is gone. Darius Darks is, too. Aaron Horne and Josh Lenz will be the team's best weapons in 2012, but the pair of shifty slot guys will be seniors. This position needs reinforcements.

Defensive back: The DBs have been a quiet strength for ISU, especially in 2011. Cornerback Leonard Johnson and safety Ter'Ran Benton both have exhausted their eligibility, though, and defensive backs coach Bobby Elliott left for Notre Dame. You'll see plenty of new faces in the Cyclones' secondary next year.

Defensive line: Experienced starters Stephen Ruempolhamer and Jacob Lattimer are both gone, and Iowa State has struggled to stop the run consistently the past few seasons.

KANSAS

Quarterback: Kansas landed high-profile transfers Dayne Crist (Notre Dame) and Jake Heaps (BYU), but this is still a huge position of need. Last year's starter, Jordan Webb, left the team. Quinn Mecham is out of eligibility. Heaps is sitting out his NCAA-mandated year after transferring. Crist is the starter, but he badly needs a backup, especially if Brock Berglund's transfer appeal allows him to leave.

Wide receiver: Kansas lacks a big threat at this position. It needs a talent upgrade in a big way. Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay is joining the team, but he's no guarantee to a) be granted immediate eligibility or b) become an impact player.

Defensive tackle: Kansas is thin here, too. Richard Johnson, Patrick Dorsey and Michael Martinovich are gone, and Kansas couldn't stop much of anything on defense. Some push up front could help make everything look better. A late addition to the 2012 class from a junior college seems like a no-brainer. The Jayhawks need physically mature players to contribute immediately.

KANSAS STATE

Offensive line: K-State's offensive line was much better in 2011 and could be again in 2012. It needs help replacing All-Big 12 lineman Clyde Aufner, though. Starter Colten Freeze is also gone.

Defensive line: Kansas State is bringing back about as many starters as anyone in the Big 12, but the biggest losses are along the defensive line. Kick-blocking specialist (five in 2011) Ralph Guidry is gone, along with tackle Ray Kibble. Juco transfer Jordan Voelker exploded onto the scene this year, but he's gone, too.

Defensive backs: Cornerback David Garrett leaves a huge hole behind. Tysyn Hartman may not be as talented as teammate Ty Zimmerman, but his experience leaves a big hole. Zimmerman will have to mentor a younger safety in the near future.

OKLAHOMA

Receiver: The Sooners are thin here in a big way. That was obvious late in the season when Ryan Broyles' storied college career ended a few weeks early with a knee injury. The team also lost Justin McCay (transfer) to Kansas. Jaz Reynolds and Kenny Stills are the likely top two targets, but they need help.

Tight end: This position inspired a bit of panic at the end of the season. Seniors James Hanna and Trent Ratterree are gone. Austin Haywood wasn't allowed back on the team, and two more tight ends left the team for various reasons. That left the Sooners suddenly without a scholarship player at the position returning in 2012.

Offensive line: Starting tackle Donald Stephenson must be replaced, as will guard Stephen Good, who moved in and out of the starting lineup throughout his career. The Sooners bring back a lot of talent and aren't dying for depth there, but those two will leave holes. Three more offensive line starters will be seniors in 2012.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Offensive line: The Cowboys need a whole lot of help here to fill in behind young players stepping into the starting lineup. Starters Levy Adcock, Nick Martinez and Grant Garner are gone. Backup center Casey LaBrue is gone, too. Those are two All-Big 12 linemen who leave big shoes to be filled.

Receiver: Justin Blackmon surprised no one by leaving a year early, and Josh Cooper leaves with perhaps the most underrated career of any receiver in school history. In OSU's offense, there's always room for depth here. Nine receivers had at least 19 catches in 2011. Blackmon and Cooper combined for 192, though.

Defensive ends: The pass rush was solid for Oklahoma State this year, but both starters, Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones, are gone. Replacing both is a necessity.

TEXAS

Receiver: Texas lacks a true game-changer at the position, though Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis may develop into that role in 2012. Former blue-chip recruit Darius White left for Missouri, too.

Quarterback: David Ash and Case McCoy didn't show a ton of potential at quarterback this year, though Ash may grow with an offseason to prepare as starter. Garrett Gilbert got a big chunk of the work in the spring, summer 7-on-7 and fall preseason camp. Even if Ash does grow, the Longhorns need reinforcements at the position.

Linebacker: Two senior impact players are gone. Texas is left trying to replace Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson, though Jordan Hicks may mature into a star in 2012.

TCU

Offensive line: TCU's offensive line is headed for some major turnover. OT Robert Deck, OG Kyle Dooley and OG Spencer Thompson are gone. Two more starters, OG Blaize Foltz and C James Fry, will be seniors in 2012.

Defensive linemen: TCU isn't losing a lot at this spot, but Ross Forrest and D.J. Yendrey will be seniors in 2012. The Horned Frogs would be well-served to prepare, and offer some depth next year.

Specialists: TCU will have to break in a pair of new starters on special teams next season. Kicker Ross Evans and punter Anson Kelton have exhausted their eligibility.

TEXAS TECH

Receiver: The Red Raiders' offense requires a lot of depth here. Tramain Swindall is the only loss at the position, but three more (Alex Torres, Cornelius Douglas, Darrin Moore) will be seniors. Douglas moved to cornerback this year after the team was racked with injury, but we'll see whether he moves back this offseason.

Offensive line: Tech has a huge need here. Four players won't be returning in 2012. Lonnie Edwards, Mickey Okafor and center Justin Keown must be replaced.

Defensive linemen: Tech's Donald Langley and Scott Smith are both out of eligibility, and juco transfer Leon Mackey will be a senior.

The 2011 Big 12 All-Bowl team

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
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Here's the All-Bowl team from the Big 12, recognizing the best single-game performances from this year's bowls.

QB: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: Weeden threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns (it could have been four if a game-winning TD pass to Colton Chelf hadn't been overturned) on 29-of-42 passing. His first pass was intercepted, but he had an otherwise solid night and ran for his first career touchdown in the 41-38 win against Stanford.

[+] EnlargeTerrance Ganaway
AP Photo/Darren AbateBaylor's Terrance Ganaway rushed for five TDs in the Alamo Bowl.
RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor: The Big 12 rushing champion ran for 200 yards and five touchdowns in the Bears' 67-56 win against Washington in the Alamo Bowl.

RB: Ben Malena, Texas A&M: Malena stepped in for the injured Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael and had a solid game in the Aggies' 33-22 win against Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. He finished with 77 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, showcasing his physical running style. He also caught six passes for 36 yards.

FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma: Millard carried the ball four times for 21 yards but also helped pave the way for three Blake Bell touchdowns from the Belldozer formation.

WR: Ryan Swope, Texas A&M: Jeff Fuller had better numbers in the bowl, but it was aided by big catches late. Swope kept the Aggies offense humming for most of the game, with eight catches for 105 yards in the win against Northwestern.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: Blackmon was the best offensive player in the Big 12 bowls, spearheading Oklahoma State's offense in the Fiesta Bowl win with eight catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

WR: Colton Chelf, Oklahoma State: Chelf made two huge catches over the middle early and a third nearly won the game, but his touchdown was overturned. Still, OSU doesn't win its first BCS bowl without Chelf's 97 yards on five catches.

TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri: By Egnew's standards, it was a quiet game, but he played well with a 25-yard grab and three catches for 39 yards in Mizzou's win.

OL: Grant Garner, Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State's offensive line is keyed by Garner, who helped the Cowboys handle Stanford's blitzes well and give Weeden plenty of time in the Fiesta Bowl win.

OL: Philip Blake, Baylor: Baylor ran for 482 yards and scored 67 points in its win against Washington in the Alamo Bowl. Blake's the man who keyed it all.

OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State: Adcock's the best overall talent on OSU's line, and he showed it in the win against Stanford.

OL: Dan Hoch, Missouri: Missouri rolled over one of the nation's best rush defenses, North Carolina, for 337 yards on the ground.

OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M: The Aggies' offense was potent for most of its win against Northwestern, and Joeckel was solid in run and pass blocking for the balanced attack.

DEFENSE

DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas: Jeffcoat made five tackles, two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss in the Longhorns' 21-10 win against Cal. The Texas defense dominated, and the defensive line's play was the catalyst. He did it all with a torn pectoral muscle, too. He'll miss the spring after having it surgically repaired this week.

[+] EnlargeAdam Davis
AP Photo/Matt StrasenKansas State defensive end Adam Davis, 97, had two sacks and forced this first-half fumble by Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson in the Cotton Bowl.
DL: Adam Davis, Kansas State: Davis sacked Arkansas' Tyler Wilson twice and had three tackles for loss with a forced fumble in the loss to the Razorbacks.

DL: R.J. Washington, Oklahoma: With Ronnell Lewis ineligible, Washington showed up big in the win against Iowa. He had two sacks and made three tackles.

DL: Tony Jerod-Eddie, Texas A&M: Jerod-Eddie made eight tackles and had a sack in the win against Northwestern.

LB: Damontre Moore, Texas A&M: Moore was a monster in the season finale for the Aggies, making nine tackles and forcing a fumble on his lone sack.

LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State: Klein flew around for the Cyclones, making 15 tackles in a physical game against Rutgers, though the Cyclones lost.

LB: Jordan Hicks, Texas: Could this be a big piece of momentum heading into 2012? Hicks starred with seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup in the win against Cal.

CB: Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma: Fleming was the Big 12's best defensive player of the bowls and the best player on the field in the Insight Bowl, making seven tackles, intercepting a pass and returning it 21 yards. He also broke up three passes.

CB: David Garrett, Kansas State: Garrett made 10 tackles and had two tackles for loss in the loss to Arkansas.

S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas: He hates the nickname Machete, but Vaccaro was hacking away at Cal. He made three tackles, including two for loss and a sack.

S: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State: Even if it was illegal (it was), Martin had the hit of the bowl season with a huge blast on Stanford's Ty Montgomery that took Montgomery's helmet off on the opening drive. He finished with nine tackles and a tackle for loss, with a fumble recovery.

SPECIALISTS

P: Tress Way, Oklahoma: Way averaged 50 yards on his six punts, including a 67-yarder.

PK: Randy Bullock, Texas A&M: Bullock made all four of his field goal attempts, including two from beyond 40 yards.

PR: Dustin Harris, Texas A&M: Harris looked the part of the Big 12's best, returning a punt 35 yards and finishing with 54 yards on his four returns.

KR: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: Gilbert had a 50-yard return and returned his four kicks for a total of 136 yards.

Chat: UT ranking, Gundy, A&M, K-State

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
4:50
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Thanks for stopping by today's chat. Here's the full transcript.

And if you want to reach me throughout the week, here's where you can do it.

And here's a few highlights from today:

Scott (Dallas): David- Now that A&M is joining the SEC, do you see a team like Texas, TCU, or maybe OK State playing Arkansas for a new southwestern classic in Jerry's world for years to come?

David Ubben: It'll be interesting to see how that shakes out. It won't be a Big 12 team, most likely. TCU makes some sense, but they're locked in for 2012 for their nonconference schedule. I could also see the rest of the Big 12 pressuring them not to play A&M, especially not in Dallas, the home of the Big 12 headquarters. Truthfully, I think the annual game in JerryWorld is over for A&M now that it's a conference game and they don't want to keep the Arkansas game there.

Justin (Florida): Will OKstate lead the Big 12 in rushing next year? or will Texas hang their hat on that title?

David Ubben: Interesting question. I could see OSU doing it, but my money is actually on Kansas State, closely followed by Texas.

Mike (Twin Cities): Do you think WV will play in the Big 12 next season?

David Ubben: Yes. Still unofficial though. I talked to a few people from the Big 12 at the Cotton Bowl on Friday night. Everybody on both sides is still on board with making it happen in 2012. They just have to make it official and make sure the Big East isn't granted an injunction. That's all that could stop it right now.

Reilly Beeman (Dallas TX): I've always been a big Kansas State fan and I was just wondering, how did they win so many games? They had a tim tebowesque QB that was mediocre at best, with no one else of note on the team. I love them, but when my friends ask me why I think they're gonna win I just shrug.

David Ubben: Ha. Well, for one, the defense is a lot better than people realize. The combo of Arthur Brown, Nigel Malone and David Garrett was huge this year. And offensively, guys like WR Chris Harper and RB John Hubert were a little underrated. Hubert was almost a 1,000-yard rusher, but he was overshadowed by Collin Klein.

Gundy (Stillwater): Should people be bashing me for sticking up for my team, and saying that we should've had a chance in the NCG? Especially after that embarrasing performance last night by LSU? I think I'm just being a great coach.

David Ubben: I've had no problem with anything Gundy's said through this process. I think he's handled it well, and most importantly, he won his BCS game. He's been persistent and clear, without being obnoxious.

Kurt (Austin): Your colleague Robert Smith put Texas 4th in the country in his 2012 pre-season rankings. Is it possible that this kind of hype is warranted? We've seen that winning without a star quarterback is possible (LSU) as long as there are play-makers at every other position.

David Ubben: Nope. I totally disagree. Texas will be better next year. Definitely a top 25 team. Probably top 15-20. But no way, without a big-time quarterback, they can win enough in this league to reach the top 5.

SC Cy (Kansas City, MO): You slot Iowa State as #9 in your early 2012 power rankings. I can only assume that is the floor for the Cyclones. What do you project as the ceiling?

David Ubben: Basically. The problem is, the Big 12 is really, really deep. I'd say ISU's ceiling is probably fifth place? Maybe 7-8 wins?

The Riddler (Gotham): Would you rather have to watch only the 2011 Bama v. LSU football games for the rest of your life or get bit by a rattlesnake once a year?

David Ubben: I feel like this is the beginning to a wonderful series of questions. And to answer your question: the latter.

What to watch for in the Big 12: Week 10

November, 3, 2011
11/03/11
10:15
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Here's what I'm keeping an eye on in this week's games.

1. Kansas State's secondary. The Wildcats failed their big test last week against Oklahoma and it gets just as difficult, if not more so, this week in Stillwater. And time it's on the road. OSU's running game is better than Oklahoma's, and its passing game is just as difficult to cover. Brandon Weeden has been sharp, and the task ahead of Nigel Malone and David Garrett is enormous. This matchup will decide the game.

[+] EnlargeJames Franklin
Sarah Glenn/Getty ImagesMissouri QB James Franklin should give SEC defenses cause for concern next season.
2. Baylor's front seven. The Bears are giving up almost 250 yards on the ground in conference play, and Missouri fields a two-headed rushing attack with James Franklin and Henry Josey, who both torched a solid Texas A&M front seven last week. These guys have to play well to give Robert Griffin III and the Bears a chance, or Missouri will control possession and the game.

3. Oklahoma's home prowess. The home streak is gone, but did the mystique follow Texas Tech out of the building? Badly beating a good Texas A&M team would be a nice start for the Sooners, but Texas A&M has to be significantly less intimidated by a) seeing that result and b) beating Oklahoma last season. So which is it?

4. Texas QB(s)? Texas continues to list Case McCoy and David Ash as co-starters when the playing time looks like there's nothing "co" about it. Does McCoy still have a future on the field, or has the true freshman, Ash, taken over a full-time role? My guess is the latter, but Texas Tech will be a real test, unlike Kansas. The Red Raiders could be revealing.

5. Kansas ... offense? Prove to us that this offense really is better. Iowa State's defense doesn't really scare many folks across the Big 12, but KU had just three first downs against Texas last week and 46 total yards in a 43-0 loss. Part of that was the Longhorns eliminating the Jayhawks' running game, but can the offense help the Jayhawks get their first conference win?

6. Missouri's secondary. E.J. Gaines & Co. have stepped up their play in recent weeks, but this week will be a tough test for the Tigers. Griffin III endured a frustrating outing against Oklahoma State last week and will be back at home, where he's been dominant all season. Are the Tigers up to the task? They're dealing with one of the best receiving corps in the league, and a quarterback that would love nothing more than to beat them over the top.

7. Seth Doege's accuracy. Iowa State didn't blitz Tech much in last week's 41-7 win, but Doege wasn't sharp and the Red Raiders paid the price with a nonsensical loss. Doege's been outstanding, but can he bounce back this week? I expect him to, but Texas' secondary is one of the league's best, and the Longhorns will harass him and make him hurry throws at corners Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom.

8. Texas A&M's second half. It has to be said, does it not? Texas A&M has been the league's most odd team this year, only a few plays away from being in the top 3, instead of Oklahoma State. But alas, here they are, with losses to three teams after possessing double-digit halftime leads. Second halves haven't been the issue on the whole for this team, but they've been more evident in the losses. What's in store this week at Oklahoma?

9. Iowa State's identity. Who are these Cyclones? Was last week a statement of how good they can be? Or did Texas Tech lay an egg? I don't know how much Kansas can answer that question this week, but the Cyclones would be well-served to be the next team to blow out the Jayhawks, but Kansas could reach up and do to Iowa State what the Cyclones did to Tech. Should be an interesting matchup.

10. Oklahoma State's yes, focus. We've seen it the past two weeks. Oklahoma, then Texas Tech. If Oklahoma State isn't sharp, K-State will make it pay for dropped passes and poorly-timed three-and-outs. The ranking beside K-State's name should help the Cowboys perk up, but seeing last week's blowout loss to Oklahoma might inspire a bit of complacency. Or will it? OSU's stayed pretty loose this week, and this will be one of the toughest tests left before the showdown with Oklahoma.

Midseason review: Kansas State

October, 11, 2011
10/11/11
9:00
AM ET
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

Record: 5-0 (2-0 Big 12)

Kansas State has earned the title of the Big 12's most surprising team through its first half, and like Oklahoma State in 2010, is all alone in collecting the honor. It's happened via a disciplined defense that's exponentially faster than it was a year ago, buoyed by newcomers Arthur Brown at linebacker and cornerback Nigel Malone. Additionally, the development of junior college transfer David Garrett and sophomore Ty Zimmerman, as well as converted safety Emmanuel Lamur playing linebacker alongside Brown, has completely changed the face of Kansas State's team.

The season started modestly, with a 10-7 win over Eastern Kentucky, but the Wildcats have racked up wins against Miami, Baylor and Missouri since. Collin Klein is carrying the team on his back, leading the Big 12 in carries. All the focus entering the season was on the Brown brothers, and while Arthur has blossomed into a star and one of the league's top talents, Bryce Brown's status with the team is tenuous at best as he deals with a personal situation. It hasn't mattered on the field for the rest of the team. John Hubert has assumed the role of featured back and served the team well.

All that stands between K-State and one of the biggest games in school history, when they Oklahoma in two weeks, are trips to Texas Tech and Kansas. The second half of the season will be much dicier as the meat of the schedule hits. So far though Kansas State has been as good as anyone could have expected, and as a result, it has ascended to just outside the top 15.

Offensive MVP: Collin Klein, QB. Klein's passes aren't pretty, but he's getting it done for the 'Cats and taking a beating along the way. He's leading the Big 12 in carries with 115. There are eight running backs on the carries list before another quarterback. Klein's rushed for 468 yards and seven touchdowns, and thrown for 593 yards while completing 57 percent of his passes.

Defensive MVP: Arthur Brown, LB. Brown has a legit case as the Big 12's best defensive player through the first half of the season. The linebacker's been flying around and ranks fifth in the Big 12 with 38 tackles, with 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He also came up with the biggest play of the year, intercepting Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III (the only player to score a pick off of Griffin) that helped set up the game-winning field goal that kept K-State undefeated.
Kansas State led the nation in scoring defense and total defense after its first two games.

The problem? The impressive numbers came against FCS Eastern Kentucky and Kent State from the MAC.

"They didn’t give us much credit after we played well the first two nonconference games," said Wildcats safety Tysyn Hartman. "People didn’t expect us to play well against Miami."

[+] EnlargeKansas State's Arthur Brown
AP Photo/J Pat Carter"He really moves at a different speed than everybody else," teammate Tysyn Hartman said of Kansas State's leading tackler, Arthur Brown.
The reason? Kansas State had one of the nation's worst defenses a year ago. They were one of just two teams to give up 3,000 yards rushing and ranked 106th nationally in team defense.

After the strong start against weak competition, there was reason to doubt how long it would be before Kansas State slipped down the national rankings.

Last week, though, the Wildcats gave up just three first-half points to Miami and won the game with a goal-line stand.

"A week ago, they were in a similar situation with the exception of the game wasn’t on the line, but the shutout was, and played as well at that time and had a great goal-line stand," said coach Bill Snyder. "I think it’s given them a great deal of confidence."

This week, an even tougher test awaits Kansas State in its conference opener against Baylor. Slow the red-hot Bears offense, and nobody will doubt the change from 2010 to 2011.

"We struggled last year. It was one of the big concerns of the offseason and we got better and better as the offseason progressed, and really, I don’t think people expected us to play this well," Hartman said. "We’ve been flying under the radar for awhile, but if we put up the numbers we did in the first few games, I don’t think that’s going to happen anymore."

K-State couldn't ask for a better test. Baylor comes into Saturday's game with a quarterback that's shined as one of the brightest stars of the season, and an offense that's outscoring every team in college football but Georgia Tech and Oregon.

"Hopefully we can change that up a little bit, but he’s hot right now. He’s playing great football and then he has great weapons around him," Hartman said. "It’s not really about who we’re playing, it’s about us getting better. As long as we’re getting better week in and week out, that means we can beat anybody and that showed up last week when everybody counted us out."

The change started in the offseason. Last season's struggles were obvious, and the season ended with Syracuse's Delone Carter rushing for 202 yards and two touchdowns in the Pinstripe Bowl, a Kansas State loss. Goal No. 1 in the offseason was to get faster, a weakness a defense can't afford in the wide-open Big 12 where offenses seek to take advantage of space and athletic ability.

"You can’t stop the run unless you have all 11 guys pursuing to the ball, and just training secondary to trigger it and get down there on the run and that’s really helped," Hartman said.

The defense also added juco transfer Nigel Malone, who now leads the team in interceptions and former blue-chip recruit Arthur Brown. Brown, a former Miami Hurricane, has nine more tackles than any other Wildcat.

"He really moves at a different speed than everybody else. If you’ve got a chance to watch him, really just instincts how fast he gets to the ball and he doesn’t miss tackles," Hartman said. "Once he gets you wrapped up, I mean, you’re going down."

Snyder credits another year of experience and maturity for players like Hartman and cornerback David Garrett, as well as sophomores Ty Zimmerman and Tre Walker, who won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week after making three tackles in last week's game-winning goal-line stand.

"We’ve gotten a little bit faster. We’ve played a bit better up front. We’ve gotten more sizeable and quicker linebackers," Snyder said. "Our secondary certainly has gained experience as well and has been reasonably responsible. There’s just a number of things and if you had to identify one, you probably would say the experience factor and the maturity factor combined would probably give us a little reason to believe we’re a little better."

How much better? We'll find out Saturday.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 4

September, 25, 2011
9/25/11
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Time to look back on a solid night of football in the Big 12, which still has just two nonconference losses. K-State getting it done at Miami.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
AP Photo/Rod AydelotteRobert Griffin III completed 29-of-33 for 338 yards and 5 touchdowns against Rice.
1. Don't sell your Texas A&M stock. Yeah, that second half was awful in the Aggies' loss to Oklahoma State. No, I don't know why Christine Michael got one carry in the second half after running for 58 yards on five carries in the first half. But make no mistake, Texas A&M is still a good team with another huge game waiting next week at Cowboys Stadium. Arkansas has beaten Texas A&M in the first two years of their renewed rivalry, but the Aggies didn't do anything on Saturday to convince me they can't end that streak in the metroplex next Saturday. I'm still on board with Texas A&M as a 10-win team.

2. K-State's defense may evolve into a force this season. They're not there yet, but look out. The Wildcats were probably the slowest defense in the Big 12 last season, but it's amazing what the addition of Arthur Brown, Nigel Malone and the maturation of playmaker David Garrett will do for growth from year-to-year. I'm not jumping on board the K-State bandwagon yet, but I said before the season this team had a lot of potential. Bill Snyder looks like he's squeezing it out of them so far.

3. Oklahoma State may end up 12-0. Don't look now, but the Cowboys don't have the challenges ahead of them that Texas A&M might have had if they'd won Saturday's game. Trips to Texas and Missouri await, but Oklahoma State is better than those teams. Take care of business and don't turn it over? You win. The same is true of their trip to Texas Tech. Could Saturday's win have set up a showdown of unbeatens in Stillwater on Dec. 3? I'm not betting against it...

4. Robert Griffin III? Come on, man. Don't hurt 'em. Goodness. I mean, this has to be unprecedented efficiency, doesn't it? I'm no quarterback historian, but find me another quarterback who managed to get through his nonconference schedule with more touchdown passes than incompletions. I've mentioned it on the blog ad nauseum the past two weeks, but ... read that again. I don't care who you're playing. I'm in awe thus far, and his rushing totals have been good too. Is he the best player in the league?

5. Texas Tech may be in very serious trouble. The Red Raiders were uninspiring against a bad Nevada team, but Darrin Moore looked like a player who could take the Red Raiders and make then an 8-9 win team, if not more. But now? Moore looks like he's out for awhile, and the defense has been uninspired. Texas Tech still has two weeks before its first legitimate test, but Kansas is in Lawrence with two weeks to prepare and its a noon kickoff. Look out...

Big 12 predictions: Week 3

September, 15, 2011
9/15/11
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Holy cow. So, before we get to this week's picks, there's an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.

Last week was by far the worst week I've ever had picking games. So, on paper, it's ugly. I have no idea what I'm talking about, right?

Well, here's my defense: Sure, I missed four games, but all I have to say is all four of those games were decided in the final minutes, including two in overtime. Missouri missed a kick to win the game in regulation before losing in overtime. Iowa State converted two fourth downs late before knocking off Iowa in triple overtime. Texas erased a double-digit deficit in the second half to win by a point and Kansas mounted a late drive to win the game in the final seconds.

They all could have gone the other way. But last week, every single game went against my picks. Thanks, guys.

On to this week's embarrassment:

Last week: 1-4 (.200)

Overall: 10-5 (.667)

FRIDAY

Iowa State 27, Connecticut 20: Connecticut has a big offensive line, but no big-time back with Jordan Todman gone to the NFL. Iowa State's defensive line needs to play well, but the ISU linebackers will be called upon. Fortunately for the Cyclones, that's their biggest strength. ISU won't play many more teams that lack the ability to sling it like UConn does.

SATURDAY

Georgia Tech 34, Kansas 28: Can Kansas keep the good times rolling? I'm not quite sold on the Jayhawks just yet, but this game will be close. Expect somewhere between 10-15 passes in this game.

No. 23 Texas 17, UCLA 14: This will not be pretty, but it will be physical. If you love zone reads, watch every second of this. If you value precise, accurate passing, look away. Here's guessing Malcolm Brown cements his status as Texas' lead back in this game.

Texas Tech 48, New Mexico 17: I'm excited to see what Darrin Moore does in his followup to the opener, but the Red Raiders won't run into many problems with a weak Lobos squad.

Missouri 34, Western Illinois 10: Missouri played two underrated teams to begin its season, but the Leathernecks shouldn't be quite the same challenge. The focus for the Tigers should be getting and staying healthy.

No. 19 Baylor 41, Stephen F. Austin 14: Wins are better to look at for two weeks than losses. Baylor learned this well after notching the Big 12's best win so far this season when it beat TCU in Week 1. The Bears are back, and continue their season with a win over another in-state opponent.

No. 9 Texas A&M 51, Idaho 7: The Aggies' offense can do it all, more so than any other offense in the Big 12. The Vandals' offense isn't one that's going to make the Wrecking Crew struggle, either.

Kansas State 27, Kent State 10: The Wildcats' defense is better, and it will have to be. If Kansas State wins games this year, it won't be by outscoring teams. Last year, this team was third in the Big 12 in scoring. Expect that to drop, but the defense is much faster. David Garrett, Arthur Brown & Co. get it done against the Golden Flashes.

No. 1 Oklahoma 34, No. 5 Florida State 30: This is my pick of the week. Come back later today for a video of me explaining my pick.

No. 8 Oklahoma State 51, Tulsa 27: We might find a defense this year that can slow down the Cowboys' offense (next week, maybe?) but it's not going to be Tulsa. And simply put, without Damaris Johnson, Tulsa won't be able to keep up. Easy pick here.

Ranking the Top 25 Big 12 players: No. 14

August, 10, 2011
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The official list of the Big 12's top 25 players is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we're revealing the list day by day here on the blog. Here's a refresher on my exact criteria.

No. 14: David Garrett, CB, Kansas State

2010 numbers: Made 92 tackles (68 solo), 15 tackles for loss, three sacks and intercepted one pass. He also recovered a fumble, forced a fumble and broke up nine passes.

Most recent ranking: Garrett was unranked in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Garrett: The former juco transfer quietly had a huge year in his first year on the field in 2010 after joining the team midway through fall camp, and might be the best player in the Big 12 that few of the league's fans know much about.

Outside of Daniel Thomas, the man they call "Rat" was the best player on the Wildcats team last year. He led the nation in tackles for loss among defensive backs, and was the biggest playmaker on a defense that struggled for most of the year.

Additionally, he might be one of the league's hardest hitters, despite checking in at just 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds. There's no doubt that pound-for-pound, he packs the most pop.

His coverage skills will have to improve for him to climb on this list, but he'll be everywhere for Kansas State's defense again in 2011.

The rest of the list:

Mailbag: Aggies/SEC, underrating, new QBs

July, 22, 2011
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Thanks for all the emails, everyone. Short day today. Have a good weekend, and we'll see you live Monday morning from Big 12 Media Days. Get excited.

Justin in Forney, Texas, asked: DU, Why are we seeing A&M back in the news with the SEC? While I understand their frustration with the Longhorn Network, I do not see their recruiting increasing by moving to the SEC. Is this going to be a recurring issue each summer?

David Ubben: Yeah, my stance has basically remained the same since A&M's flirtations with the SEC started up more than a year ago. Texas A&M's decision-makers understand the risk in moving to the SEC, as well as the historical repercussions, saying goodbye to long-standing traditions with so many of the other schools in Texas.

Fans see opportunity for the program to grow in the SEC, and it's not impossible, but I feel it's much, much more likely that Texas A&M doesn't win in the SEC at the level it's won in the Big 12, which is already to say, not a ton. I see them on par with what Arkansas is now. Once in awhile, you may see them in the championship game, but if they're going to win a conference title, it's going to be once every 10-20 years. Programs like Alabama, LSU, Florida and rising powers like Auburn, not to mention sleeping powers like Georgia and Tennessee, won't make good new roommates if the Aggies want to win.

The recruiting advantages are overstated. The majority of players growing up in Texas dream of becoming Longhorns and beating the SEC, not going and playing in the SEC. Sure, when they get older, some of them realize schools like OU and Texas A&M are a better fit, but I absolutely, 100 percent disagree that "playing in the SEC" is a big draw for kids in Texas, and something that would help the Aggies recruiting substantially. It might be for a few guys, but it's not a game-changer, and the more difficult schedule would negate, if not overtake those advantages.

So, no. I don't think we'll see this every summer. Once this issue with the Longhorn Network is settled, I think the Big 12 will be back on solid footing. It will be glued together by the billion-dollar deal from Fox that it signed earlier this offseason, and looking forward to making even more money in 2014-15 when it negotiates a new deal for first-tier rights.


Eric in Manhattan, Kan., asked: Why does David Garrett always seem to get the shaft? He is all of 5'8" and under 180 lbs, but he hits like a 230 lb linebacker. I've seen him on multiple occasion level running backs and not be scared to take on a fullback. Then on player and awards lists he's never mentioned, even though last year he had the most tackles for the Cats.

DU: Well, I think the biggest factor was a) Kansas State didn't win enough games to get a lot of attention last season and b) their team wasn't very fun to watch.

Big 12 fans, for better or worse, have come to love the spread game and like watching teams ring up points. Kansas State scored plenty last season (third-most in the Big 12, in fact), but it wasn't a very fun team to watch. More than anything else, I point to those two factors more than any one thing about Garrett himself. It's an exposure issue.

Anyone who saw him play appreciated him, but for as much of a great football player as he is, his coverage does leave a bit to be desired, and for a cornerback, that's a big deal. You'd probably hear guys like Prince Amukamara, Alfonzo Dennard, and Jamell Fleming be appreciated a lot more, because they specialize more in coverage. If Garrett does move around and play some more safety or nickel back, he'd probably get some more notice.

It's unfair, but that's just how it is. You can't really change what people want to see or notice.


Denny Hinds in Waterloo, Iowa, asked: Tiller or Jantz in your opinion? I like jantz.

DU: I can't help but look back and think of Taylor Martinez when I think of Steele Jantz. Did Martinez have his shortcomings as a quarterback? Obviously, yes. But he wasn't significantly worse than Cody Green or Zac Lee as a passer, and his ability to run provided an absolute advantage and a new facet to the offense that no one else on the roster can provide.

For that reason, I think you'll see Jantz win the job. Tiller was very unimpressive when he got chances last season, and it's hard to believe Jantz is a worse passer. But his speed changes what Iowa State can do on offense, and it's worth putting him out there versus Tiller, unless Tiller is a substantially better passer.

For now, I don't believe he is. So, Jantz it is.


Andy in St. Louis asked: Last season, Missouri had a good rushing attack. It was strength and very effective at times, but it was still only solid. Do you think that with all returning running backs, 4 returning o-lineman, and a more run-oriented QB Mizzou's run game can make the jump to elite?

DU: It's got a pretty good chance to do it. Their running backs are great, especially when you add up their production. Any coach would love to have a 1,557-yard rusher with 19 touchdowns. And all four guys averaged more than 5.2 yards per carry! That's crazy. Missouri will benefit from not having to face a team like Nebraska, a speedy defense with instinctive defensive backs and linebackers capable of shutting down the Tigers slow-developing running game that usually starts 5-7 yards in the backfield.

Nebraska really abused Missouri's offense, but the Tigers had a lot of success against just about everyone else. I'd argue Missouri was pretty close to elite in 2010. Even though the style of its running game doesn't exactly strike fear into defenses, you can't argue with the effectiveness with the running backs. Blaine Gabbert actually had 13 more carries than any running back, but only gained 232 yards on his 112 carries, dragging down the team's average into the middle of the Big 12.


Seth Doege in Lubbock, Texas, asked: Should I attempt to do the "Teach Me How To Doege" dance after I score my first TD this year?

DU: YES.


John in Broken Arrow, Okla., asked: Ubbs, if Blackmon and Weeden have another year like last year where would you rank them as far as QB-WR tandems in Big XII history?

DU: Interesting question. If Justin Blackmon repeats and wins the Biletnikoff with equal or better numbers than he had in 2010, I think you'd have to put them at least on the level -- probably higher -- than Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree.

They won't have the longevity of the success Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley ever had, but Shipley never had a season like Blackmon had last season. Blackmon put together one of the all-time great seasons in college football history. It's been repeated ad nauseum, but I'm not sure people fully appreciate how difficult it is to account for 100 yards and a touchdown in every single game. No one had ever done that before. We might never see it again.

If nothing else, that might put Blackmon over the top.
We'll move on to the cornerbacks today in our position rankings across the Big 12.

Here's what we've covered so far:
This group? Well, it's not very good. And considering the crazy depth in the Big 12 at receiver, it could be a long season for cornerbacks in this league. I love the upside of many of the Big 12 corners -- namely the guys at Missouri and Texas Tech (especially working with Chad Glasgow's 4-2-5 in Lubbock). Texas could also develop fast in its new defense, but outside of Texas A&M and Oklahoma, I don't see any Big 12 teams that should be completely comfortable with their cornerbacks.

Of course, for fans who love points, this could be a welcome development. For secondary coaches and defensive coordinators? Not so much.

[+] EnlargeJamell Fleming
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireJamell Fleming returns as the Big 12's top cornerback.
1. Oklahoma -- Jamell Fleming is the Big 12's top returner at the position and gives the Sooners a huge boost after being reinstated last week. Fleming had withdrawn from the university because of academic problems following the season. Aaron Colvin moved to safety during the offseason, but Fleming will still have to beat out Gabe Lynn in fall camp to start opposite Demontre Hurst. Julian Wilson also adds depth.

2. Texas A&M -- Fleming's return pushed the Sooners over A&M as having the Big 12's best group of corners. But Coryell Judie and Terrence Frederick could both challenge for first team All-Big 12 honors at the position. They are ahead of reserves Dustin Harris and Lionel Smith, who will get plenty of time on the field.

3. Missouri -- Missouri loses starters Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland, but the coaches consider Kip Edwards a returning starter because of how much he played last season. Edwards could join E.J. Gaines in eventually becoming better than both Gettis and Rutland. Trey Hobson and Robert Steeples will get time in the rotation, too.

4. Oklahoma State -- OSU has to replace the Big 12's interception leader Andrew McGee , but Brodrick Brown's development should continue. He's likely a dark horse to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors after the season. The Cowboys didn't release a post-spring depth chart, but don't be surprised if return specialist Justin Gilbert edges out Devin Hedgepeth for the starting spot before the opener. Andrae May has earned playing time on special teams in both of his first two seasons on campus, but could be counted on for a much bigger role this year as the fourth corner.

5. Texas -- The Longhorns are fairly decimated at corner after losing three to the NFL in one offseason. Curtis and Chykie Brown joined Aaron Williams for one of the most talented sets of corners we've seen in this league, but now, secondary coach Duane Akina will have to replace them. Texas' depth chart is still as in flux as any in college football, but I'd be surprised if Carrington Byndom didn't emerge with a starting spot. True freshman Quandre Diggs might swipe the other, but A.J. White will be on the field, too.

6. Texas Tech -- The Red Raiders are likely to ascend this list by season's end, but for now, find themselves at No. 6. Injuries were costly for the defense last season, but Tre Porter and Derrick Mays should be much better, and Tech fans can be encouraged by the upside in Jarvis Phillips, Jeremy Reynolds and Eugene Neboh.

7. Iowa State -- This group might be a bit underrated, but with Iowa State's defensive problems last season, it's a bit hard to tell. Jeremy Reeves and Leonard Johnson return with loads of experience, and Anthony Young is a great additional piece as the third corner. Matthew Thomas should be in the rotation, too.

8. Baylor -- The Bears return both starters. Chance Casey has 15 career starts to Tyler Stephenson's four, but the Bears secondary struggled last season, especially the corners. Tuswani Copeland should be on the field under new coordinator Phil Bennett, whose work is cut out for him at this spot.

9. Kansas -- Kansas loses Chris Harris from last season's team, but Isiah Barfield is a playmaker at the position. Greg Brown, Tyler Patmon and Anthony Davis fill out the group.

10. Kansas State -- The Wildcats have a huge talent in David Garrett, who led the team in tackles last season and was the nation's leader in tackles for loss, but he's still just one player at a position that needs lots of depth in this league. Also, his coverage leaves a bit to be desired. For now, K-State doesn't look like it has that necessary depth. Terrance Sweeney and Stephen Harrison are gone, but the Wildcats need to find more talents at the position in fall camp. Watch for Thomas Ferguson to emerge as the other starter.

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