Big 12: Jacquies Smith

Independence Bowl: Three keys for Mizzou

December, 26, 2011
Time to look at three keys for Mizzou in its matchup with North Carolina in the V100 AdvoCare Independence Bowl.

1. Maintain offensive balance. Missouri's been remarkably balanced all season long. The Tigers have 2,835 yards rushing and 2,834 yards passing. That's how it has to be for them. James Franklin isn't a passer precise enough to park in the pocket and fire 50 passes a game. He has to keep the defense off balance and aware of his running ability. His importance skyrocketed after Henry Josey's injury, but he's capable of getting it done.

2. Limit big plays. The Tar Heels are right in the middle of the pack in the ACC when it comes to big plays, but outside of Texas, Missouri has been the Big 12's best team at limiting plays from scrimmage longer than 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards. That should continue, and if it does, Missouri should be fine. Neither team has a huge advantage in this one, but the Tigers should win if they play like their usual selves. Fact is, 7-5 and 5-4 in the Big 12 is a lot more impressive than North Carolina's marks of 7-5 and 3-5 in the ACC.

3. Try to shake Bryn Renner. Not literally, though that would be a good sign for Missouri's defensive line. Renner's thrown multiple interceptions in four games this season, and gone without a interception in six games. It's pretty clear which side of Renner Missouri would like to see. Missouri's defensive line hasn't quite lived up to lofty expectations, but this is an opportunity for top pass-rushers Jacquies Smith and Brad Madison to have a huge impact on the game.

The Big 12's Super Seniors of 2011

December, 15, 2011
We honored the freshmen in the Big 12 earlier this week, but what about the old guys?

These guys have played at their programs for four or five years each, and earned a spot as one of the greats after providing some big-time senior leadership. Here's each Big 12 team's Super Senior of 2011.

Baylor: Kendall Wright, WR -- How many players lead a program at receiver for four consecutive years? Talk about a rarity. Wright did it emphatically this season, catching 101 passes for 1,572 yards, second-most nationally and the most in the Big 12. Wright got better every season, even in 2009 when Robert Griffin III missed the last nine games with a torn ACL. RG3 was the guy collecting the Heisman, so Wright's value sometimes got lost.

Iowa State: Kelechi Osemele, OT -- Osemele has been a mainstay on the Cyclones' offensive line, helping the program reach two bowl games in three years. He started each of those three seasons, and half of his redshirt freshman year in 2008. He'll carry on Iowa State's reputation into the NFL next year, but he's been valuable to an underrated offensive line.

Kansas: Steven Johnson, LB -- Johnson was a Pennsylvania kid who wanted a chance. Mark Mangino gave it to him, first letting him walk on and then giving him a scholarship. He's been around for two coaching changes now, but he's done after a huge year in 2011, where he led the Big 12 in tackles, with 119. It's been a dark period in Kansas' recent history, but Johnson's been the brightest spot.

Kansas State: Tysyn Hartman, S -- Hartman's a great personification of the "student-athlete," earning a finalist nod for the Campbell Trophy, which is essentially the academic Heisman. He's also been a four-year starter and helped bring about change this season under Bill Snyder, who led the Wildcats to a 10-2 record. Hartman made 62 tackles and intercepted three passes this year.

Missouri: Jacquies Smith, DE/Kenji Jackson, S -- Smith and Jackson were both major contributors for four seasons and shared captain duties for the Tigers this season. Smith's been big on the defensive line for all four seasons, and both have played through injuries. Smith dislocated an elbow this year and Jackson fought through a knee injury last year, as well as a hamstring injury in camp. Jackson made 71 tackles and picked off three passes, while Smith bullrushed his way into All-Big 12 honors with eight tackles for loss and five sacks, as well as four forced fumbles.

We'll review part two later.

Season recap: Missouri

December, 7, 2011

Record: 7-5 (5-4)

The Big 12 is a quarterbacks league and The Big Question for Mizzou was simple: Did it have one? It had two until Tyler Gabbert transferred, but James Franklin proved in 2011 that the answer was yes. He progressed as a passer throughout the season and never lost sight of his ability to run, either, rescuing Missouri from a 3-4 start to win four of the team's final five games and reach a bowl game.

The Tigers won seven games, the fewest since the 2005 season, but that's telling of the program's progress. All five losses were quality, and the Tigers might be the best five-loss team in America. Take that for what it's worth, but No. 3 Oklahoma State was the only team to beat Mizzou at home. It's other losses came to Oklahoma, Arizona State, Baylor and Kansas State, all on the road. Not bad at all. The defense was a bit underwhelming, but the Tigers were playing their best football late in the season, and won a dramatic game against Texas Tech in the home finale without coach Gary Pinkel, who was suspended for the game after a drunk driving arrest. The Tigers handled that crisis as well as possible, being up front about the mistakes made and handing Pinkel a stiff punishment that included financial penalties exceeding $300,000. It didn't prove to be a huge distraction for the team, and though the Tigers would have liked to leave for the SEC with more impact, the bar is not high in the Big 12 for teams with first-year starters at quarterback.

Offensive MVP: Henry Josey, running back. Josey suffered a serious knee injury, tearing his left MCL, ACL and patellar tendon, but he was still the Big 12's leading rusher for almost three full weeks after his season was over and the Big 12 continued on. He averaged an outlandish 8.06 yards per carry and finished with 1,168 yards, despite having just the 12th-most carries in the Big 12. Not bad for a guy who started the season as the team's No. 3 back.

Defensive MVP: E.J. Gaines, cornerback. No clear winner here. Missouri could point to a handful of places, but I went with the team's truly most outstanding season. Gaines intercepted three passes, but he broke up 16 more. The next most on Missouri's team: four. In a passer's league like the Big 12, that's pretty amazing. So, with apologies to Andrew Wilson, Zaviar Gooden, Luke Lambert, Brad Madison and Jacquies Smith, I'm going with Gaines.

Turning point: The overtime win over Texas A&M. You could see in the Tigers' emotion after the win how much it meant. Dropping to 3-5 would have been a huge hit and put a lot of pressure on the team down the stretch. Franklin highlighted the day with a certified "Beast Mode" run, bouncing off tacklers for a 20-yard touchdown run early on, but the win featured a 14-point second-half comeback and keyed off a 4-1 finish for the Tigers. The only loss came on the road to Baylor by three points.

What’s next: For now, it's a brief jaunt into SEC country -- Shreveport for the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl -- before a permanent stay next season. The Tigers will bring back a ton of experience on offense, though three of the top six tacklers on defense will be gone. The program's already altered its recruiting strategy, assigning two coaches to recruit Florida and another in Atlanta. Maintaining recruiting ties to Texas as much as possible is important for the program's future, and a cross-divisional rivalry with Texas A&M -- Missouri will visit the Aggies every other year, vs. once every six years for the other SEC West teams--should help a bit. The Tigers should contend for the SEC East title next year, but their recruiting will determine longterm success in their new home.

Lunch links: Red River contradiction

September, 20, 2011
Well ... I did it again!

-- Marshall Eriksen

Missouri dealing with the cost of injuries

September, 12, 2011
After Missouri's first drive against Arizona State, all De'Vion Moore could do was watch from the sideline with his ankle wrapped in ice.

The Tigers were down another starter -- they entered Friday night's game without six -- and a backfield with four ready running backs was reduced to one.

Two offensive linemen were sidelined, including starting center Travis Ruth with a sprained knee. All-Big 12 left tackle Elvis Fisher will miss the season after injuring his patellar tendon in fall camp.

Senior linebacker Will Ebner also missed the game after suffering a high-ankle sprain against Miami (Ohio), right before Jacquies Smith went out with a dislocated elbow. Kendial Lawrence also suffered a broken fibula, and Jerrell Jackson dressed for Friday's loss but didn't play because of a hamstring injury.

"This is my 21st year as a head coach, and I’ve been fortunate enough not to be in this situation. But we handle it around here," said coach Gary Pinkel. "Obviously, we’re a different football team than we were August 1st."

It might be a team forced to do some unconventional things in the near future to adjust. Receiver T.J. Moe gets some touches in Missouri's running game with jet sweeps and direct snaps, but that role might be a bigger one with 190-pound Henry Josey the last man left standing with any experience in the backfield.

"We’ve discussed that we can do some things with T.J. Obviously, he can do a lot of things," Pinkel said. "We’ll put plays in for him, hopefully from a preparation standpoint, just a backup."

Moe joked after Friday's loss that he could line up at running back, but Pinkel says more work will be available for 250-pound walk-on fullback Jared Culver, as well as freshman back Greg White.

"Big game, a big arena, he has not carried the football once. I did not want to [play White]. Bottom line," Pinkel said.

Missouri hosts FCS opponent Western Illinois on Saturday after suffering the Big 12's only loss through two weeks of play.

"We’re not going to have excuses. Players understand that people have got to step it up," Pinkel said. "We live with reality. The kiss of death to me is feeling sorry for ourselves or for anybody within our organization. We don’t do that here."

Big 12 Stock Watch: Week 2

September, 7, 2011
Let's take a little look around the markets across the Big 12 after one week of games.

Rising: All of Baylor's everything

With Friday night's win over No. 14 TCU, Baylor jumped from a team that didn't receive a single vote in either poll to begin the season, to No. 20 in the media poll and No. 26 in the coaches poll. Who says moving games to Friday nights is a bad idea? It paid off huge for Baylor. After the win, quarterback Robert Griffin III made the short trip up I-35 to Cowboys Stadium for an appearance on "College GameDay" Saturday morning. The Bears were also named the Fiesta Bowl's national team of the week. Is there a hotter team after Week 1? And how much of that fire would be doused if the Bears had played on Saturday afternoon?

Falling: Missouri's outlook

Maybe more than it should, but the Tigers were unimpressive offensively, even if the blame for it fell too heavily on first-time starter James Franklin's shoulders at quarterback. But the fact remains: Missouri's offense isn't very explosive, and won't be more explosive with the loss of its biggest home-run hitter, Kendial Lawrence. Lawrence raced for a 71-yard touchdown against Texas Tech last year. He broke his fibula on Saturday, and the Tigers will be without defensive end Jacquies Smith, linebacker Will Ebner, left tackle Elvis Fisher, center Travis Ruth and wide receiver Jerrell Jackson when they play Arizona State on Friday. All were starters.

Rising: Darrin Moore

I'm not going to use the "M-C" word about the Texas Tech senior who was a junior college transfer, but was Saturday night the beginning of something huge? I wouldn't rule it out. How many players in the country can rack up 12 catches, 221 yards and a touchdown against anyone? Yeah, it was against Texas State, but Justin Blackmon had eight catches for 125 yards and three touchdowns against Washington State last year. At 6-foot-4, and 214 pounds, keep an eye on Moore.

Falling: Skepticism around Texas' return to prominence

Count me among those that is starting to become a believer. I don't think BYU will be as good as I thought they'd be this offseason, but I'm starting to come around on the Longhorns this year. I thought they'd have more success running the ball than most people thought, but the emergence of Jaxon Shipley is a huge deal for them, and gives Garrett Gilbert even more help. So, here's my pledge, Texas: Beat BYU, and you're in my top 25. Blow them out? In my top 20.

More bad news for Missouri

September, 6, 2011
Missouri can add one more player to its list of injuries.

Running back Kendial Lawrence will miss at least four weeks with a broken fibula suffered in Saturday's win over Miami (Ohio).

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel announced the news on a pair of Kansas City radio stations on Tuesday.

Lawrence ran nine times for just 10 yards in the Tigers' opener, but won the starting job over three other backs in preseason camp.

He was listed as even with De'Vion Moore and Henry Josey on the latest depth chart, and those two will likely carry the load in Friday's game at Arizona State.

Lawrence is the latest in a long line of key players injured for the Tigers, which began with another running back this preseason when Marcus Murphy was ruled out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Senior All-Big 12 left tackle Elvis Fisher will miss the season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, and a knee injury will keep starting center Travis Ruth out of Friday's game.

In the win over Miami, senior linebacker Will Ebner suffered a high ankle sprain and senior defensive end Jacquies Smith suffered a dislocated elbow. Both are out for Friday's game.

Big 12 players on and off the field this week

September, 6, 2011
Lots of personnel news across the Big 12 on Monday.

Missouri loses two more

Missouri is already playing without senior left tackle and captain Elvis Fisher, who will miss the season with a torn patellar tendon. So far this season, the Tigers are dealing with more injuries than any team in the Big 12.

Starting senior linebacker Will Ebner will miss Friday's game against Arizona State with a high ankle sprain, Gary Pinkel announced on Monday. He sprained the ankle in the first half of Saturday's win over Miami (OH) and did not return.

Defensive end Jacquies Smith will also miss Friday's game after dislocating his elbow in Saturday's game.

The Tigers already were playing without center Travis Ruth, and he won't make his return on Friday.

Marquise Goodwin in

Texas receiver Goodwin missed the spring and looked like he'd miss the first part of fall camp to compete on the track.

So, he decided to redshirt and return to the team in 2012. Until Monday, that is, when Goodwin announced he'd be returning to the team and be in practice on Tuesday.

"Words can't even explain how I excited I am right now to be getting back on the football field," Goodwin said in a release. "When I was overseas, I was missing football, the guys and being a part of the team so much. I thought about how they were getting ready for the season, working hard and pulling together, but it really hit me when I was in the airport on my way back from Seoul."

Goodwin caught 31 passes for 324 yards and a touchdown as a sophomore in 2010.

Tech starter out with 'deflated lung'

Defensive end Leon Mackey was one of the most hyped newcomers on Texas Tech's team, but he made just four tackles before being injured in Saturday's win over Texas State. On Monday, coach Tommy Tuberville announced the injury was a "deflated lung," suffered on a big hit.

The injury forced him to spend 24 hours in the hospital.

"It's up in the air how long he'll be out," Tuberville told reporters Monday. "Probably several weeks, maybe more."

Missouri doesn't look pretty, but wins

September, 3, 2011
Miami (Ohio) isn't a big-name opponent, but it is a quality opponent that won 10 games a year ago.

The RedHawks were a solid starting point for Missouri, which won its season opener on Faurot Field, 17-6.

James Franklin's debut was the big draw, and while he wasn't brilliant, he showed promise and did enough for the Tigers to win.

He finished 17-of-26 for 129 yards and a touchdown, while also running for a team-high 72 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Miami's only score came on Franklin's worst play of the day, an ugly interception on the sideline that handed the ball over on the Tigers' 14-yard line.

He didn't look wholly confident, but he made plays. And most importantly, he got the win. He's got a defense behind him that will allow him to make mistakes like his interception today, but also, don't forget this: It was the first start of his career.

He'll improve. That's what college football players do.

He threw the ball much better in the second half, highlighted by a nice throw downfield on a 28-yard pass to T.J. Moe and a pretty 10-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Lucas.

He'll have to be better on Friday night when Missouri travels to play Arizona State, but for now, Missouri can consider his debut a success.

Two big things to watch, though: the health of starting defensive end Jacquies Smith and linebacker Will Ebner. Ebner reportedly has a high ankle sprain, which can linger for extended periods of time.

Smith appeared to suffer a serious arm injury, but no update on his status was provided after he was helped into the locker room.

It wasn't perfect. It was nowhere near pretty. But it's a win, and Gary Pinkel has produced a lot of those at Missouri of late.

Big MU mistake puts Miami on the board

September, 3, 2011
James Franklin hadn't made many big plays in today's game against Miami (Ohio), but he hadn't made any big mistakes, either.

Until the second half, anyway.

Franklin forced a pass to the sidelines and threw his first interception of the season. Miami's Dayonne Nunley picked it off and returned it five yards to the Missouri 14-yard line.

Three plays later, the RedHawks cut Missouri's lead to 10-6 in the third quarter after a missed extra-point attempt.

Additionally, Missouri defensive end Jacquies Smith was helped off the field by trainers on the touchdown play. There's no word on his status, but he's a senior and one of the team's best pass-rushers. He left the field and headed to the locker room. The Tigers' defensive line is deep and the best in the league, so look for hyped redshirt freshman Kony Ealy to get some playing time later in the game.

Franklin though, in a tight game, can't afford many more mistakes like that.

Big 12 puts four on Hendricks Award list

August, 10, 2011
The Hendricks Award, given annually to college football's top defensive end, has released its watch list.

Here are the Big 12 players that made the cut:
  • Frank Alexander, Oklahoma
  • Brandon Harold, Kansas State
  • Alex Okafor, Texas
  • Jacquies Smith, Missouri

Brian Orakpo of Texas is the only Big 12 player to ever win the award, which began in 2002.

I'm no fan of this watch list, however.

Harold makes it, despite having left his team, skipping summer workouts and currently not practicing. He may not be back.

Okafor and Smith are both more experienced, but likely will not be the best defensive ends on their own team.

Jackson Jeffcoat at Texas and Brad Madison at Missouri would both be better selections, and it feels like they've been snubbed on the list.

What do you think?

ESPN Preseason Power Poll: No. 24 Mizzou

August, 8, 2011

We'll be rolling out our preseason poll this week with five teams each day, kicking things off today.

Missouri is the first Big 12 team to debut in the poll, checking in at No. 24. Our poll was put together based upon ballots submitted by 25 college football analysts, columnists and reporters, including yours truly.

After our poll is finished this week, I'll unveil my personal top 25 ballot on the blog.

Missouri: Quarterback proficiency has allowed Missouri to surge as one of the nation's most consistent programs. And it has allowed Gary Pinkel to feel a sense of security. Brad Smith was explosive. Chase Daniel was accurate. And Blaine Gabbert was rocket-armed. This season, the Tigers will rely on sophomore James Franklin, a mobile, touch passer whose decision-making and leadership will be tested in early-season road games at Arizona State and Oklahoma. Franklin will lean on slot dynamo T.J. Moe and a defense keyed by bookend pass-rushers Jacquies Smith and Brad Madison, who totaled 13 sacks in 2010. The Tigers have won 40 games in the past four seasons, 10th nationally. But there's no division title for Missouri to chase this year, only the likes of the Sooners in the reconfigured Big 12. -- Joe Schad, ESPN reporter

Lunch links: Supersized Media Days Links

July, 26, 2011
Too much?
We've tackled every other spot, and now we'll wrap up out Big 12 position rankings with the defensive lines across the Big 12.

Here are the rest of the position rankings.
Now that we've finished ranking the complete units, we'll start ranking the top 10 at each position very soon leading into the 2011 season.

This is a decent position for the Big 12 this season, and the top half of the league should feel pretty good about their group. There aren't many studs in this group, but there are a whole lot of solid players.

Brad Madison
AP Photo/Pat SullivanMissouri has one of the Big 12's best pass rushers in Brad Madison.
1. Missouri -- Missouri has the Big 12's best returning pass rusher and a Defensive Player of the Year contender in Brad Madison, but its depth is what lands it on top of the list. Jacquies Smith is solid at the opposite defensive end spot, and Michael Sam and Kony Ealy provide great depth at DE. Dominique Hamilton's absence last season hurt after breaking his ankle against Oklahoma, but he's back, alongside Terrell Resonno. Sheldon Richardson, who may be transferring from junior college, is a wildcard that could be anywhere between a complete game changer, irrelevant or absent.

2. Oklahoma -- Oklahoma's defensive tackles are somewhat suspect, but the defensive end combo of Ronnell Lewis (provided he is eligible come fall camp) and Frank Alexander is on par with the best in the Big 12. Both were preseason All-Big 12 selections, but Jamarkus McFarland needs to make good on his potential. Stacy McGee and Casey Walker should both get time at the other tackle spot.

3. Texas -- Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is loaded with potential as the nation's former No. 1 recruit. He had a big impact early last season before being slowed by an ankle injury. Alex Okafor moved outside from defensive tackle just before spring and had five sacks in the spring game. Inside, Kheeston Randall is an All-Big 12 favorite, but Ashton Dorsey had a strong spring and could help out with Reggie Wilson opposite Randall.

4. Texas A&M -- The Aggies have one of the best linemen in the league in Tony Jerod-Eddie, but Jonathan Mathis, Eddie Brown Jr. and Ben Bass have a lot to prove around him after the loss of Lucas Patterson, who was outstanding in 2010.

5. Texas Tech -- Sam Fehoko has moved to defensive end from middle linebacker, and should provide some good speed to the front line. Scott Smith looked on his way to an All-Big 12 campaign last season, but was suspended for the remainder of the season by coach Tommy Tuberville and has yet to be officially reinstated. For now, Dartwan Bush and Aundrey Barr will help out at defensive end, outside of Donald Langley, Kerry Hyder and Pearlie Graves. The Red Raiders did snatch a big pickup from departed UNC signee Delvon Simmons, a defensive tackle that could have an impact immediately.

6. Oklahoma State -- Defensive line is the biggest weak spot for the Cowboys, who have a decent set of ends in Jamie Blatnick and former heralded recruit Richetti Jones, but an even bigger question mark at defensive tackle where Christian Littlehead and Nigel Nicholas enter fall camp as starters.

7. Kansas -- Top rusher turned defensive end Toben Opurum came on strong late last season and should be one of the most exciting Jayhawks to watch in 2011, but the rest of the line leaves a bit to be desired. Keba Agostino has the other starting spot at defensive end ahead of Pat Lewandowski, who had a great spring. Patrick Dorsey and John Williams enter fall camp as starters at defensive tackles.

8. Kansas State -- K-State recruited this position hard in its 2011 class. For now, defensive end Brandon Harold will try to bounce back from a disappointing 2010 after a promising 2009. Lance Dunbar and Taylor Martinez think this group is ranked too high, but Meshak Williams could start opposite Harold, while Ray Kibble and Raphael Guidry should be the tackles inside.

9. Baylor -- Tevin Elliott was limited this spring because of offseason shoulder surgery, and Terrance Lloyd exited spring practice as the starter, but I'd expect Elliott to regain the spot by the time the season arrives. Phil Taylor, a first-round pick, is a big loss, but Gary Mason Jr. will try to fill his spot next to Nicolas Jean-Baptiste.

10. Iowa State -- Having a pair of linebackers combine for 241 tackles is a good and bad thing. They've got outstanding linebackers, but the defensive line was the Big 12's worst last season for a unit that ranked 10th in rush defense and had just 11 sacks. That was the fewest sacks in the Big 12 and more than just three teams in all of college football. The good news is all four starters return, but for now, this is where the Cyclones start. Stephen Ruempolhamer has some promise, but Cleyon Laing, Jake McDonough and ends Patrick Neal and Roosevelt Maggitt have a lot to prove. Jacob Lattimer ran into offseason trouble, but re-appeared atop the depth chart released by the Cyclones on Wednesday.
A week from today, college football will feel oh-so-close. The Big 12 will kick off its media days, slimmed down to two days with its new 10-team configuration, instead of 12 teams over three days like it's been in the past.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireBaylor's Robert Griffin III will be attending Big 12 media days after missing last year's event.
I'll be there for every second of the action, with plenty of stories and videos, just like last year. Here's a look at what we had for you every day at media days last year.

You can expect more of that, and here's who we'll be dealing with here in Dallas.

Monday, July 25

Oklahoma State
  • Jacquies Smith, DE
  • Kenji Jackson, S
  • Elvis Fisher, OL
  • T.J. Moe, WR
  • Emmanuel Acho, LB
  • Keenan Robinson, LB
  • Blake Gideon, S
  • Fozzy Whittaker, RB
Texas A&M
Tuesday, July 26

  • Steven Johnson, LB
  • Tim Biere, TE
  • Jeremiah Hatch, OL
Iowa State
Kansas State
Texas Tech

I've got a lot of thoughts about this lineup:
  • Texas' quarterbacks haven't spoken to the media since the Thanksgiving Day loss to Texas A&M, and that streak won't end next week. Not that it necessarily should, at least not at this event. For better or worse, bringing a quarterback to media days implies a certain amount of confidence in said player, and every indication we got during the spring is that this race is wide open. Last year, Texas Tech brought both Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts, and Mack Brown raised eyebrows when he brought his first-year starter, Garrett Gilbert, to media days before fall camp and before his first-ever start. He won't be making a return trip in 2011.
  • Kansas State's contingent is rather telling. If Bill Snyder was trying to temper the hype surrounding Arthur Brown, he wouldn't bring the transfer who has never played a game for Kansas State to Dallas. But Brown is coming, and his brother, running back Bryce Brown, isn't. That's plenty telling. As is Collin Klein's presence. It's not like Kansas State is starved for marketable talents. Cornerback David Garrett would fit in nicely, but he won't be coming. It's not explicit, but Klein will enter fall camp with the lead in the quarterback race, but Snyder has to feel good about him at this point. Bryce Brown's role on this team is still a bit unclear with Robert Rose and John Hubert still competing with him for carries, but I'm still feeling very good about making Arthur Brown my pick for Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Except for Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege, he's the only player in the entire league to come to Big 12 Media Days without at least a season of starting experience, and Doege at least has one start on his resume.
  • Serious, serious star power in Oklahoma and Oklahoma State's crews. Some of the biggest names in college football will be heading down to Dallas from just up north across the state line. Landry Jones will be making his first trip this year, as will Justin Blackmon. Weeden, Lewis and Broyles all attended in 2010. Another good bunch from A&M this year, too.
  • Glad to see Iowa State bring Kelechi Osemele to Dallas. He's a quiet star in this league who's been one of its best linemen for a couple seasons now. He'll finally get a bit more exposure in his first trip to media days. I'm a little surprised to see ISU bring Darius Darks, though, instead of Darius Reynolds, who Paul Rhoads went out of his way to praise this spring. That said, Darks is a solid choice as a co-captain and a contributor for three seasons heading into 2011, vs. Reynolds, a high-profile juco transfer who only emerged as a major contributor in 2010 after a quiet 2009.
  • Baylor's Robert Griffin III is back on Baylor's wagon after sitting out last year's media days to give the cameras and notepads a chance to get to know his teammates (and avoid about 4,000 questions about his knee, which was clearly fine last season).