At this time last year, Baylor's Taylor Young was an unknown linebacker who earned praise as a redshirt freshman and created a buzz during spring drills. Months later, Young finished as the second-leading tackler on BU's Big 12 title team.
Several Big 12 freshmen could have a similar story 12 months from now after starring during spring drills. Here's a look at 10 freshmen who were spring stars around the Big 12.
WR Ishmael Zamora, Baylor: The former ESPN 300 member brings an immediate size upgrade to the Bears' receiving corps at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. Yet he has terrific speed, as well. Zamora is one reason Art Briles' squad could have a better group of receivers in 2015 than it did a year ago. With Corey Coleman, Jay Lee and KD Cannon garnering the attention, Zamora might make defenders pay in one-on-one situations.
HB Mike Warren, Iowa State: It would be a surprise if Warren doesn’t make an impact during his redshirt freshman campaign. The Cyclones must find a running game, and Warren could help provide one. The 6-foot, 196-pound running back is a slasher with good speed and vision who could help an offense that averaged 3.7 yards per carry in 2014.
WR Tyler Patrick, Kansas: David Beaty’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time for Patrick. KU’s new offense needs receivers and Patrick is a terrific fit. His performance in the spring game (four receptions, 43 yards) showed he can be a serviceable piece in Kansas' offense. He appears to have cemented a spot in the offense in 2015.
QB Alex Delton, Kansas State: Delton was supposed to be an outsider in the quarterback derby to replace Jake Waters. Instead, Delton enters the summer right in the mix for the Wildcats after seeing time with the first team in their spring game. Bill Snyder doesn’t tend to single out or overwhelm his players with praise, yet he has compared the early enrollee to former KSU standout Ell Roberson.
WR/TE Mark Andrews, Oklahoma: Andrews created quite the buzz during OU’s spring, using his combination of size and athleticism to cause havoc as an inside receiving threat. Former Texas Tech standout and current Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield likened him to Jace Amaro, while others in the program have used his name in the same sentence as Jermaine Gresham. Andrews is well on his way to locking down a spot in Lincoln Riley’s offense this fall.
DE Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State: He’s not going to force himself into the starting lineup with Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean sitting ahead of him on the depth chart. Yet Brailford could force his way onto the field nonetheless. The former ESPN 300 member had a sack in the spring game and looks like he could provide another quality option at defensive end for the Cowboys.
LB Malik Jefferson, Texas: Other Longhorns newcomers, such as quarterback Jerrod Heard, tackle Connor Williams and safety John Bonney, got strong consideration here, since Jefferson is a well-known name. Yet, the early enrollee is living up to the hype that joined him when he stepped on campus as Charlie Strong's prized recruit of the Class of 2015. Jefferson’s forced fumble in UT’s spring game was a glimpse of his game-changing potential.
LB Mike Freeze, TCU: An early enrollee, Freeze climbed his way to the top of TCU’s depth chart by the end of the spring. The Horned Frogs need to replace Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallett’s productivity, and Freeze could be the guy. He missed his senior year of high school due to injury, but the layoff didn’t seem to impact him this spring, as he secured a role in Gary Patterson’s defense.
DT Breiden Fehoko, Texas Tech: The centerpiece of the Red Raiders’ Class of 2015, Fehoko should be a solid contributor on defense this fall. Tech needs help along the defensive interior, and Fehoko enrolled early to prove he is ready to make an impact. That’s exactly what he accomplished this spring.
LT Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia: He hasn’t even secured a starting spot yet, but the Mountaineers have high hopes for Cajeste, who could become a star in gold and blue by the time his career is over. Expect him to become a significant part of WVU’s offensive line in the near future.