Big 12: Josh Furman

Oklahoma State at TCU primer

October, 15, 2014
Oct 15
4:00
PM ET
A year ago, then-No. 21 Oklahoma State held on late for a 24-10 victory over TCU in Stillwater. Plenty has changed for the Horned Frogs since then, especially for Trevone Boykin.

He struggled against Oklahoma State a year ago, throwing three interceptions, but is as improved a player for No. 12 TCU as there is in the conference. The No. 15 Pokes, meanwhile, are right back where they were a year ago: out to prove they belong in the Big 12 title discussion.

Who has the edge in this top-25 showdown in Fort Worth? Brandon Chatmon and Max Olson break down the matchup.

[+] EnlargeDaxx Garman
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiDaxx Garman has led Oklahoma State to five consecutive victories since a loss to Florida State in the opener.
How Oklahoma State can control the game: The Cowboys need to somehow find a running game and the balance that would bring to the offense, even though it won’t be easy against TCU’s defensive interior, led by Chucky Hunter. The Horned Frogs will look to stop the run and harass Oklahoma State quarterback Daxx Garman into mistakes. Garman will need to show calmness in the pocket and make good decisions, because more than one turnover could doom the Cowboys chances of a road win. But a solid running game and an active defense would put Oklahoma State on the road to its sixth straight win. -- Chatmon

How TCU can control the game: One thing that gets easily forgotten about TCU's performance in the 61-58 loss to Baylor after all those points: The Frogs took an early 14-0 lead and held on to it for most of the first quarter. Had they not had to punt on their next two drives after those scores, they could have made it a three-score game and blown the game open, perhaps changing Baylor's game plan. Another fast start would definitely help this week, as would some defensive takeaways. TCU also has to play much smarter in coverage, because Garman likes to throw just as many deep balls as Petty does. -- Olson

Oklahoma State’s X-factor: Tyreek Hill has the ability to change games with his explosive big-play ability, but Josh Furman is emerging as a difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball for Mike Gundy’s team. The Michigan transfer could become a key asset against TCU as a former safety who lines up at linebacker in Oklahoma State's defense. Furman’s ability to have an impact on the game against the run or pass could be critical against Boykin and TCU’s offense, and he has the ability to spy on Boykin, if needed, on Saturday. A great game from Furman would be a terrific place to start for the Cowboys. -- Chatmon

TCU's X-factor: He doesn't get much credit for making this offense go, but B.J. Catalon quietly continues to get it done. He's accounted for eight touchdowns on the year -- six rushing, one receiving and his kick-return TD against Baylor -- and could be on pace for 1,000 total yards by season's end. He does an invaluable job of taking pressure off Boykin, which will be necessary this week. -- Olson

What a win would mean for Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were playing possum. Or at least that’s what it looked like. The Cowboys haven’t been dominant but have been undefeated, going 5-0 since a season-opening loss to Florida State. A road victory over TCU would remind the Big 12 that the Cowboys are going to have their say in the conference title race and give plenty of confidence to an inexperienced roster. -- Chatmon

What a win would mean for TCU: Not only would knocking off the Pokes wipe out the bitter taste of TCU's fourth-quarter collapse in Waco, it would provide another legitimate achievement in what's becoming a respectable College Football Playoff resume. Had TCU held on against Baylor, we'd be talking about them as one of the nation's best this week. The Horned Frogs can begin to push their way back into that discussion with a convincing victory Saturday. -- Olson

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 3

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
9:00
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Here's our weekly recognition of the finest performances in the Big 12. Lots of tough choices as usual, and a lot of first-time honorees this week. These guys got our attention:

K Cole Netten, Iowa State, and Josh Lambert, West Virginia: College kickers! We mean that in a good way this time. Lambert lifted West Virginia to a 40-37 victory with a 47-yard game-winner at Maryland. Netten, after Kirk Ferentz kindly iced a miss with a timeout, hit a 42-yarder on the road to steal the Cy-Hawk Trophy from Iowa, 20-17. Difficult kicks, clutch results, huge wins for their respective teams.

WR Kevin White, West Virginia: He's played at an All-Big 12 level in each of West Virginia's first three games. This time, White went for 216 receiving yards, including a 44-yard TD, on 13 catches in the last-second win at Maryland. He's surpassed nine catches and 100 yards in every game this season.

CB Julian Wilson, Oklahoma: As far as icing on the cake goes, it's hard to beat a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown to secure a 34-10 victory over Tennessee. Wilson grabbed a ball deflected by Jordan Evans and took it all the way to make a statement for the Sooners' defense.

LB Paul Dawson, TCU: Dawson was all over the place in a 30-7 win over Minnesota, racking up 15 tackles (nine solo), four tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. Josh Doctson had a heck of a day too, with one of the prettiest touchdown catches you'll see in the Big 12 this season. But we've got to tip our caps to a dynamite day from Dawson.

WR Lynx Hawthorne, Baylor: Sorry, Bryce Petty and KD Cannon. You'll get yours some other day. Hawthorne, a sophomore who caught two passes last year, is getting more run with all those Baylor receivers sidelined and making the most of it. He hauled in seven passes in Baylor's 63-21 victory over Buffalo on Friday for 123 yards and the first two touchdowns of his career, further confirming the belief that the Bears could not get much deeper at the receiver position.

LB Josh Furman, Oklahoma State: Why not give love to the defenders this week? The Michigan transfer shined with six tackles, two sacks and a pass breakup to help the Cowboys romp to a 43-13 win over a UTSA squad that had proven it can play. Honorable-mention props to Daxx Garman for a nice showing in his first career start.
» More team previews: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Previewing the 2014 season for the Oklahoma State Cowboys:

Key returners: CB Kevin Peterson, DT James Castleman, RB Desmond Roland, WR Jhajuan Seales

Key losses: CB Justin Gilbert, WR Josh Stewart, QB Clint Chelf, DT Calvin Barnett

Most important 2014 games: Aug. 30 vs. Florida State (in Arlington, Texas); Nov. 22 at Baylor; Dec. 6 at Oklahoma

Projected win percentage: 63.4 percent

Over/under Vegas odds: 7.5 wins

[+] EnlargeKevin Peterson
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiThe Cowboys will rely more heavily on Kevin Peterson in the defensive backfield with the departure of Justin Gilbert.
Instant impact newcomers: HB/WR Tyreek Hill, LB/S Josh Furman. Hill, as the Big 12’s Preseason Newcomer of the Year, brings plenty of hype along with his track speed and big-play ability. Furman, a graduate transfer from Michigan, brings much-needed experience as a defender with the versatility to play multiple roles for the Cowboys.

High point from 2013: The Cowboys hammered Big 12 champion Baylor at home 49-17 to put themselves on the doorstep of a second Big 12 title in three seasons. OSU’s defense shut down a record-setting Bears offense, making Bryce Petty look human on a chilly November night in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Low point from 2013: The following week the Cowboys watched Oklahoma come into Boone Pickens Stadium and take away their Big 12 title hopes with a late upset victory. It was easily one of the most disappointing defeats under Mike Gundy.

All eyes on me: The quarterback battle could extend deep into the season, like it has for the past two years in Stillwater. People tend to forget just how productive J.W. Walsh has been during his time under center for the Cowboys. He’s 6-2 as a starter and only Baylor’s Bryce Petty (86.7) and Texas Tech’s Davis Webb (79.7) have better adjusted QBRs than Walsh’s 77.8 during the past two seasons. But former walk-on Daxx Garman, who is expected to play against Florida State in the opener, has the ability to push past Walsh on the depth chart and emerge as the main triggerman for Mike Yurcich’s offense.

Keep an eye on: DE Emmanuel Ogbah, WR James Washington. After a solid redshirt freshman campaign, Ogbah has the chance to emerge as an impact defender for OSU’s defense this fall. Defensive line is the deepest position on OSU’s defense and Ogbah could make it even deeper if he forces his way into the starting lineup and begins to fulfill his potential. Much like Ogbah, Washington plays the deepest position on his side of the ball. Nonetheless there’s plenty of buzz around the true freshman and he could make an immediate impact.

They said it: “They're still very young. We've got a number of players that have a lot of experience and understanding, and then there's a gap. Then, we have more players that are talented, but don't have any experience. It's really the best definition of where we're at right now as a defense.” -- Gundy on OSU’s inexperienced defense

Big 12 weekend takeaways

August, 4, 2014
Aug 4
9:45
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Over the weekend, six of the Big 12 schools opened fall camps and opened up their coaches and players to the media.

Here are some of my takeaways from the weekend:

Texas Tech could have its run-stuffer

Due to injuries and a lack of depth, Texas Tech struggled to stop the run all last season and finished ninth in the league in run defense. With defensive interior linemen Dartwan Bush and Kerry Hyder gone from last year’s club, Texas Tech desperately needed to add an impact player up front during the offseason to stabilize its porous run defense.

The Red Raiders, however, might have found such a player in mammoth junior college noseguard Rika Levi, whose size and strength has been generating plenty of buzz in Lubbock this summer. Levi was also the talk of Tech’s media day on Sunday.

“He’s a guy that the strength staff really, really likes,” defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt said. “He’s a voice in the weight room, he’s a voice in the locker room and he’s a voice on the field pushing guys.”

According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Levi arrived on campus weighing 362, but he has since slimmed down 14 pounds, which could be crucial to keeping him on the field.

“I think in his career, he’s been maybe as high as 390,” Wallerstedt told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “If we can get him into the low-340 range, you may have a guy that can play not just first and second down, but could help us all three downs.”

One of Tech’s biggest needs going into this season was a three-down run stuffer. The Red Raiders just might have found their man.

Boykin not giving up QB job without a fight

It remains unclear whether Trevone Boykin will be at quarterback or wide receiver this season. But Boykin, who is in the best shape of his life according to coach Gary Patterson, has done everything within his power to prove he should be TCU’s starting quarterback.

“From just working out, eating right, living right, watching film, staying out of trouble, leading guys on and off the field, being in front of the summer workouts -- stuff that quarterbacks are supposed to do, but that not necessarily all of them do,” he said during TCU’s media day on Sunday, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Some people lead by example, and some are more vocal. I’ve tried to become both.”

Co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie said the Horned Frogs would like to settle in on one quarterback. And Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel has more experience operating the offense Cumbie and co-coordinator Doug Meacham are installing.

Joeckel, however, has a fight on his hands.

West Virginia’s freshman trio impressing

While they’ve struggled on the field their first two years in the Big 12, the Mountaineers have been rolling on the recruiting trail. In its most recent signing class, West Virginia landed three elite prospects in defensive back Dravon Henry, quarterback William Crest and running back Donte Thomas-Williams who have all impressed since arriving in Morgantown.

Henry figures to push for a starting role at free safety, just like cornerback Daryl Worley did as a true freshman last year.

“He's ahead of the curve for a true freshman, that's for sure,” Dana Holgorsen said during West Virginia’s camp-opening news conference.

The backfield is crowded for Thomas-Williams, but the “sky is the limit” for him, position coach JaJuan Seider noted after getting a glimpse of him in practice.

Crest is still adjusting to the speed of the college game, but the talent is undeniable.

“He's big, he's fast, he's strong, and he's got a good arm,” Holgorsen said. “There's a reason we recruited him for three years.”

All three freshmen have the potential to emerge into cornerstone pieces for the Mountaineers in time.

Oklahoma embracing defensive status

With the return of tackle Jordan Phillips from injury and the addition of promising redshirt freshmen Matt Romar and Charles Walker to the rotation, the Sooners should be deep and athletic up front. The entire linebacking corps returns, headlined by pass-rushing menace Eric Striker. And while the secondary has questions, Zack Sanchez is one of the top returning corners in the league.

Coach Bob Stoops said the returning experience has made a huge difference in how the Sooners have approached this preseason defensively.

"There's no comparison. A year ago on these first three days we were just implementing a basic 3-4 defense,” he said. “Now our guys have had a whole year in it and they understand with each play how we want to play against that particular play. We have our different wrinkles to blitz one way or another to try and screw up blocking schemes. All that together is a big deal. A year ago you're just figuring out all that. We've had a long time to study and work it, and our players now are comfortable with it and we're comfortable with if somebody's doing a certain thing, here are our wrinkles to take care of it and all the kids know how we want to handle it as opposed to a year ago figuring all that out."

"We have a chance to be pretty good, yeah.”

Senior transfer could boost Cowboys

The Oklahoma State defense got a boost last year from senior transfer cornerback Tyler Patmon. The Cowboys are banking on getting another boost from another senior transfer in safety Josh Furman, who arrived in Stillwater by way of Michigan.

“He’s a bigger safety and we’ll play him at our star linebacker position,” defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said Saturday. “We brought him in, that was the goal, to get him ready to play that position.”

The “star” is essentially Oklahoma State’s nickelback spot, where the Cowboys have a giant void due to Shaun Lewis’ graduation.

"He's going to fit in perfectly,” safety Tre Flowers said. “He's going to keep working and he's going to help the team out."

Strong will be relying on freshmen

Texas coach Charlie Strong confirmed on Sunday the dismissal of five players and the suspension of three others. That will leave the Longhorns with 10 fewer scholarship players than the NCAA’s 85-man limit. And will leave Strong reliant on incoming freshmen to replenish some of the depth.

Two spots freshmen will have the opportunity to earn time will be at running back and receiver. Through the dismissals and suspensions, the Longhorns lost five players from those offensive skill spots.

“A freshman can handle the skill positions,” Strong countered. “It’s all about speed and athletic ability. You can get those guys out there and they can get up to speed.”

The Longhorns still have veteran cogs at the offensive skill positions in Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Jaxon Shipley. But it appears the depth at running back and receiver will be supplied by freshmen this season.
Since last week, we’ve been examining the strongest and weakest positions for each team in the Big 12 going into the fall.

We pick up the series with the Oklahoma State Cowboys:

Strongest position: Wide receiver

[+] EnlargeMarcell Ateman
AP Photo/Brody SchmidtSophomore wideout Marcell Ateman could start for the Cowboys in 2014.
Oklahoma State doesn’t have an All-American like Justin Blackmon or Dez Bryant in its receiving corps. But the Cowboys do boast one of the deepest pass-catching units in the Big 12, if not the country.

Oklahoma State brings back six different receivers who have caught at least 14 passes in a season, headlined by Jhajuan Seales. As a freshman starter, Seales hauled in 39 receptions for 571 yards and three touchdowns. With Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore both gone, Seales will likely take over as the go-to target for quarterback J.W. Walsh.

The Cowboys, however, have several other up-and-coming receivers to complement Seales.

Marcell Ateman, who caught 22 passes as a true freshman last season, is the favorite to start on the outside opposite Seales. Brandon Sheperd (223 receiving yards) and David Glidden (15 catches) were also key parts of the rotation as redshirt freshman last season.

Oklahoma State will also be welcoming a pair of key parts from the 2012 receiving corps back to the lineup. Blake Webb and Austin Hays made starts as true freshmen two years ago, but they were sidelined by injuries for almost the entire 2013 season.

Hays, who was the favorite target of Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight at San Antonio Reagan High, has the versatility to play on the outside or in the slot. Webb, who also runs track, was the star of Oklahoma State’s “Orange Blitz” spring scrimmage, reeling in two bombs downfield.

On top of Webb and Hays, the Cowboys will be adding two more intriguing weapons to the fray.

Tyreek Hill, who was the No. 4 juco prospect in the country, stole the show in Stillwater this spring with his tantalizing speed. Hill will play running back, but the plan is to use him in the slot at times next season, as well.

Ra’Shaad Samples, another blazer, could be a factor in the slot as well. The top recruit from Oklahoma State’s 2013 signing class, Samples redshirted last season to get stronger.

Samples and sophomore C.J. Curry round out a nine-man rotation that won’t include a single senior in 2014, which is a scary future proposition for the defensive backfields of the conference.

Weakest position: Linebacker

The backbone of Oklahoma State’s stellar 2013 defense was the linebacker corps. Both Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey were three-year starters, and both earned first-team All-Big 12 recognition (Lewis from the coaches, Lavey from the media).

But Lewis and Lavey have both graduated, leaving a massive void in the middle of coordinator Glenn Spencer’s defense.

Spencer will be counting on junior Ryan Simmons to fill some of that void. Simmons, who was the third starting linebacker last season, has moved back inside to fill Lavey’s role. Simmons has All-Big 12 potential and will bring plenty of athleticism to middle linebacker.

Elsewhere, the Cowboys will be leaning heavily on transfers.

Juco transfer Devante Averette enrolled early, had a solid spring and should help solidify the weak side in place of Simmons along with Seth Jacobs and Kris Catlin.

Juco transfer D'Nerius Antoine and Michigan transfer Josh Furman will team up to man the “star” linebacker. Furman brings much needed experience to the group, having appeared in 32 games over his career with the Wolverines.

This is a unit that has the potential to rapidly improve in 2014. But it’s also one with many unknowns going into the season.
With spring ball done, we’re re-examining and re-ranking the positional situations of every Big 12 team, continuing Tuesday with linebackers. These outlooks will look different in August. But here’s how we see them post-spring:

1. Oklahoma (pre-spring ranking: 1): While the future of inside linebacker Frank Shannon remains unclear, the Sooners have a tailor-made replacement in Jordan Evans ready to go. Shannon was OU’s leading tackler a year ago, but Evans was the defensive MVP of the spring game in his place. Blitzing outside linebacker Eric Striker had a huge spring coming off his three-sack performance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. And the Sooners had another blitzing linebacker in juco transfer Devante Bond emerge in March, which could give them flexibility to move Striker around. Dominique Alexander, the reigning Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, solidifies OU’s perch atop this positional ranking, even with Shannon’s future in limbo.

2. Texas (2): Steve Edmond sparked controversy with his Baylor comments, but he also impressed coach Charlie Strong this spring with his knack for making tackles. Edmond and Dalton Santos team up to give the Longhorns a reliable combination on the inside. Athletic sophomore Timothy Cole took advantage of his opportunities with the first-team defense during the spring but should fall back into a spot role once Jordan Hicks returns this summer from a second consecutive season-ending injury. This will be a good group of linebackers, but Hicks playing up to his five-star potential is what could make it great.

3. West Virginia (3): After struggling at the “Spur” linebacker spot in 2013, Isaiah Bruce moved back inside this spring, where he starred as a freshman All-American two years ago. Bruce said he didn’t feel as comfortable playing outside and that showed, as he didn’t record a sack last season despite playing off the edge. Taking over in the Spur is converted safety K.J. Dillon, who was as impressive as any West Virginia defender this spring. With the ability to drop back in coverage, attack the run and rush the quarterback, Dillon seems to be a much better fit at the Spur. If he continues to progress at his new spot and Bruce gets back to his old self playing alongside tackling machine Nick Kwiatkoski inside, the Mountaineers will be stout at the second level.

4. Kansas (5): If the Jayhawks finally climb out of the Big 12 cellar for the first time in six years, it will be on the back of Ben Heeney and a Kansas defense that returns nine starters. One of those nine returners is Heeney’s linebacker wingman, Jake Love, who delivered a strong spring game with a scrimmage-high 10 tackles. The Jayhawks have several weaknesses, but the tackling of their linebackers is not one of them.

5. TCU (6): They get overshadowed by the units in front of and behind them, but linebackers Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallet simply fulfill what’s asked of them. The Horned Frogs were surprisingly solid at linebacker last year. They should be even better in 2014.

6. Texas Tech (7): The Red Raiders received a huge boost in the spring from Kenny Williams, who made a seamless -- and voluntary -- position switch from running back to the “Raider” linebacker position. With honorable mention All-Big 12 pick Pete Robertson on the other outside spot and veterans Sam Eguavoen and Micah Awe and Utah transfer V.J. Fehoko manning the middle, the Red Raiders have a solid foundation. Ex-Ohio State linebacker Mike Mitchell, who attended Tech’s spring game, could give the unit another boost in the summer. He was an ESPN 300 recruit last year and could be eligible immediately at his next school.

7. Kansas State (8): Coach Bill Snyder seemed to be reasonably pleased with returners Jonathan Truman and Will Davis, who have locked up two of the linebacker spots. If D'Vonta Derricott, who was in the ESPN Junior College 50 and had offers from Miami, Wisconsin, Arizona State and a host of Big 12 programs, can make an impact at the third linebacker spot, the Wildcats could quickly solidify their biggest question spot defensively.

8. Baylor (4): Middle linebacker Bryce Hager will be fine once he finally recovers from a groin injury. That means Aiavion Edwards, who exited spring as the starter on the weak side, will be the key as the Bears attempt to overcome the graduation of All-Big 12 performer Eddie Lackey. Baylor, though, still has big expectations for juco transfer Grant Campbell, even though he finished spring as a backup on the depth chart. After a shaky first few practices, Campbell began to come on late in spring drills.

9. Oklahoma State (9): The Cowboys picked up a valuable transfer during the spring in former Michigan safety Josh Furman, who will be eligible immediately after getting his degree. Furman isn’t a star, but he has plenty of experience and could be a real asset teamed with juco transfer D'Nerius Antoine at Oklahoma State’s “Star” linebacker spot. On the weak side, fellow juco transfer Devante Averette really shined before suffering some mild injuries at the end of spring ball. The Cowboys will be even better there if 2012 four-star signee Seth Jacobs emerges.

10. Iowa State (10): The Cyclones remain in transition mode at linebacker while working to replace the production of departed All-Big 12 performer Jeremiah George. Redshirt freshman and former QB Alton Meeks was one of the defensive surprises of the spring; he currently sits atop the depth chart at middle linebacker. The other big defensive surprise was walk-on senior Drake Ferch, who beat out returning starter Jared Brackens on the strong side. Jevohn Miller is the third starting linebacker, but he figures to be a placeholder on the weak side until Luke Knott returns from last year’s season-ending hip injury.
Over the next two weeks, we’ll be analyzing the depth charts of every Big 12 team coming out of the spring, continuing Wednesday with Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have yet to release an official depth chart, so this is only a projection:

OFFENSE (projected starters in bold)

QB: J.W. Walsh (Jr.), Daxx Garman (Jr.) OR Mason Rudolph (Fr.)

Walsh lost the job to Clint Chelf last season, but he all but reclaimed it with a steady spring. Coach Mike Gundy said the competition would continue into the fall, but barring injury, it’s only a matter of time before Walsh is named the starter for the opener against Florida State.

[+] EnlargeTyreek Hill
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiExpectations are high for newcomer Tyreek Hill.
RB: Desmond Roland (Sr.) OR Tyreek Hill (Jr.), Rennie Childs (So.)

FB: Jeremy Seaton (Jr.), Teddy Johnson (Sr.)

The Cowboys added what figures to be the favorite to be named preseason Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year in Hill, who was dynamic in the spring despite splitting duties with the track team. With Roland back to grind out yards between the tackles and Hill a threat to go the distance whenever he touches the ball, the Cowboys have the opportunity to create problems for opposing defenses when they play on the field at the same time, which should happen a lot next year. Childs, who rushed for 189 yards as a freshman, adds depth to the position, while Seaton is a solid lead-blocking fullback who can also catch passes out of the backfield.

WR: Jhajuan Seales (So.), C.J. Curry (So.)

WR: Marcell Ateman (So.), Brandon Sheperd (Jr.)

IR: Austin Hays (So.), Ra’Shaad Samples (RFr.)

IR: Blake Webb (So.), David Glidden (Jr.)

TE/FB: Blake Jarwin (So.), Jordan Frazier (Fr.)

From Rashaun Woods to Justin Blackmon, the Cowboys have often had the luxury of a superstar wideout to throw the ball up to. The strength of his group, however, will be in its number. Seales, who had 39 catches as a freshman last season, headlines this unit, but Ateman, Hays, Webb, Glidden and Sheperd have all played in big games before. Hill will also boost this group whenever he moves from running back to the slot. Samples was banged up most of the spring, but he’ll also eventually bring speed to the rotation.

LT: Devin Davis (So.), Brandon Garrett (Sr.), Michael Wilson (So.)

LG: Chris Grisbhy (Sr.), Zachary Hargrove (Jr.)

C: Paul Lewis (So.), Jaxson Salinas (RFr.)

RG: Zac Veatch (So.), Colby Hegwood (Jr.)

RT: Daniel Koenig (Sr.), Zachary Crabtree (RFr.)

The Cowboys have some major questions up front that won’t be answered until the fall. Davis missed all of last year after tearing his ACL in the preseason, and still wasn’t cleared in the spring. Garrett’s leg was broken in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, and he too is still working his way back. On top of that, longtime position coach Joe Wickline is now at Texas. If Davis and Garrett return to 100 percent, Lewis is able to successfully man his new position at center and new offensive line coach Bob Connelly builds on Wickline’s success, the Cowboys could field yet another banner offensive line. Of course, that is a lot of "ifs."

DEFENSE

DE: Jimmy Bean (Jr.), Trace Clark (Jr.)

DT: James Castleman (Sr.), Vincent Taylor (RFr.) OR Vili Leveni (RFr.)

DT: Ofa Hautau (Sr.), Ben Hughes (RFr.) OR Eric Davis (So.)

DE: Sam Wren (Sr.), Emmanuel Ogbah (So.)

Even though the Cowboys graduated all-conference tackle Calvin Barnett, this should be the strength of the defense. Castleman is capable of performing at an All-Big 12 level, and Wren, Bean and Ogbah can get to the quarterback. Oklahoma State will be even stronger along the defensive line if former four-star signees Hughes and Taylor emerge in their second years on campus.

MLB: Ryan Simmons (Jr.), Dominic Ramacher (So.) OR Demarcus Sherod (So.)

WLB: Devante Averette (Jr.) OR Kris Catlin (Jr.) OR Seth Jacobs (So.)

Simmons moved inside this spring after flanking All-Big 12 veterans Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis last season. Simmons will be the new leader of this unit. The Cowboys also seemed pleased with the development of Averette and Catlin during the spring. Oklahoma State signed a very highly touted linebacking class in February, but chances are, those freshmen won’t be ready to contribute until at least 2015.

NB: D’Nerius Antoine (Jr.) OR Josh Furman (Sr.)

CB: Kevin Peterson (Jr.), Darius Curry (RFr.) OR Taylor Lewis (RFr.)

CB: Ashton Lampkin (Jr.), Miketavius Jones (Jr.)

FS: Jordan Sterns (So.), Larry Stephens (Sr.) OR Jerel Morrow (RFr.)

SS: Deric Robertson (So.), Tre Flowers (RFr.)

Like with so many other teams in the Big 12, Oklahoma State’s secondary is an uncertainty. Peterson, who is one of the top budding cover men in the league, will anchor the group as its lone returning starter. The Cowboys should be in good hands at the other corner with Lampkin, who has appeared in every game his first two years and had a pick-six in Oklahoma State’s “Orange Blitz” scrimmage. Safety is a complete unknown as Robertson and Sterns have little experience. The Cowboys could get some much-needed help from Furman, who transferred in from Michigan during the offseason and will be eligible immediately.

McDonald dumps Illini for Missouri offer

December, 23, 2009
12/23/09
9:58
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The holidays might be fast approaching, but recruiting time never really stops for college coaches.

Some Big 12 coaches got some presents under their trees recently and others got lumps of coal in their stockings.

Tom Luginbill, the esteemed national recruiting director for ESPN's Scouts Inc., provides a daily dose of Big 12-related recruiting information.

You can get all of this and more in real time by checking out ESPN.com's On the Trail, which is one of the best parts of the Insider benefits.

S Dexter McDonald

Kansas City, MO
Rockhurst H.S.
Scouts Grade: 79
Position Rank: 28

Rockhurst defensive back Dexter McDonald dumps Illini for Missouri

A three-star 6-foot-2, 190-pound cornerback, Dexter McDonald of Rockhurst (Kansas City, Mo.) has pledged to sign with the Tigers' recruiting Class of 2010 after decommitting from Illinois. McDonald holds other offers from Kansas and Iowa State.

ESPN's Bill Conley added: "Talented defensive back Dexter McDonald ended his love affair with Illinois and switched to Missouri. The Tigers are putting together and excellent group of skilled athletes in a class that is nearly maxed out. It will be interesting to see if this commitment stays solid since it is only his second official visit and there is six weeks to go till signing day."

"McDonald is a defensive back with speed, quickness and range. He is a versatile defender that is sound in both zone as well as man to man coverage. McDonald is also solid in run support but pass defense is his forte."

Missouri now has 24 pledges.

DE Dartwan Bush

Clute, TX
Brazoswood H.S.
Scouts Grade: 77
Position Rank: 65

Brazoswood HS (Brazoswood, Texas) defensive end Dartwan Bush has committed to Texas Tech for the Class of 2010.

The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Bush chose the Red Raiders over offers from Baylor, Colorado, Houston, Iowa State, New Mexico State, North Texas and Wyoming.

A three-star prospect, he logged 81 tackles, 30 for loss, and 15 sacks during his senior season.

QB Jordan Rodgers

Chico, CA
Butte College (CA)


Vanderbilt has signed Jordan Rodgers, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound quarterback from Butte CC, Calif., for the Class of 2010. Originally from Pleasant Valley (Chico, Calif.), he was also offered by Kansas, Western Kentucky, Arkansas State and Washington State.

His older brother, Aaron, is the starting quarterback for the NFL Green Bay Packers. Aaron also played at Butte before he transferred to California.

"The coaches told me their main goal was to bring in a junior college quarterback who could bridge the gap between the older and younger guys," Rodgers told the Tennessean. "Obviously, with my playing experience, I'm going to be able to come in and compete."

"I know with Vanderbilt being such a prestigious academic school, junior college players traditionally fall through the cracks because of grades," he continued. "I was a qualifier out of high school. I choose junior college because I really needed to grow. My grades have stayed really good and I think that helped out with the whole process."

Jordan passed for 2,219 yards and 18 touchdowns during the 2009 season.

DT Kirifi Taula

Anaheim, CA
Servite H.S.
Scouts Grade: 79
Position Rank: 25

Four-star 6-foot-4, 275-pound Kirifi Taula, a defensive lineman from Servite (Anaheim, Calif.), has committed to Arizona for the Class of 2010.

Among his many offers were Arizona State, Nebraska, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State and Utah.

He told ESPN's Greg Biggins: "I was getting worn down and tired of it so I decided to follow my heart and committed to Arizona. I really liked Arizona a lot and my family felt a connection to. There were just so many pluses with going to Arizona and I really didn't think I needed to do the visits."

ESPN's Craig Haubert elaborated on the move: "As the Wildcats try and build off their strong 2009 campaign they just added a good defensive tackle prospect in Taula."

"From a good program in California, Taula could use some more bulk, but he has a good frame and also a good motor. He can be explosive out of his stance and has one of the best bull rushes in the class."

"Arizona had a good defensive line this season, but youth is needed as the main contributors were upperclassmen. Taula is a prospect with the ability to develop into a player that can be as productive as some of the players he will be coming in to replace."

Arizona now has 20 pledges.

QB Jacoby Walker

Houston, TX
Westfield H.S.
Scouts Grade: 75
Position Rank: 77

Three-star quarterback Jacoby Walker (Houston/Westfield) has decommitted from Utah and is now on board with Arkansas, ESPN's Gerry Hamilton reports.

Walker initially committed to Kansas but switched to Utah following the Jayhawks' coaching change.

Other programs including Houston, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Syracuse have also offered.

OLB Josh Furman

Millersville, MD
Old Mill Senior H.S.
Scouts Grade: 78
Position Rank: 38

Old Mill (Millersville (Md.) outside linebacker Josh Furman has announced for Michigan over Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-3, 194-pound prospect is expected to play safety/linebacker for the Wolverines.

"I was thinking real hard about the playing time, academics and the atmosphere and that was everything I wanted to be in, so that's why I chose Michigan," Furman told the Detroit Free Press.

Among other schools were Illinois, Maryland, Oklahoma, Miami-Florida, North Carolina, Purdue and West Virginia.

He rushed for 2,200 yards and 31 touchdowns while also racking up 50 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions as a senior.

Furman is Michigan's 24th commitment in the Class of 2010.

DE Greg Hickman

Tampa, FL
Tampa Bay Tech Senior High
Scouts Grade: 40

Greg Hickman, a 6-foot-1, 255-pound defensive lineman from Bay Tech (Tampa, Fla.,), has chosen Florida International.

Iowa State, Purdue, South Florida and Marshall had also made Class of 2010 offers.

S Michael Coley

Hyattsville, MD
DeMatha Catholic H.S.
Scouts Grade: 78
Position Rank: 45

Three-star safety Michael Coley (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha) committed to sign with California during Monday night's Crab Bowl, ESPN affiliate Web site BearInsider.com reports. He visited Cal on Dec. 11th.

"I had a very nice visit," said Coley. "The campus was nice. The players and the coaches get along well and the players themselves get along really well. They have great facilities, too. Overall, it was just a great visit."

Maryland, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Kansas State, Connecticut, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Iowa and New Mexico also offered.

"The academics mean a lot to me, too," Coley said. "Getting a degree from the University of California -it's one of the top academic programs in the country. After football, a degree from Cal will help me be set financially for my future."

As a senior, he registered 65 tackles, 20 passes defended, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

CB Louis Young

Olney, MD
Our Lady of Good Counsel H.S.
Scouts Grade: 78
Position Rank: 26

Three-star cornerback Louis Young of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), has made his commitment to Stanford after taking an official visit to Boston College.

The 6-foot, 190-pound prospect was also still considering Virginia and West Virginia.

Several other programs including Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Iowa, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Rutgers, Illinois, N.C. State, Wisconsin and Syracuse also offered.

QB Andrew Manley

Wahiawa, HI
Leilehua H.S.
Scouts Grade: 78
Position Rank: 27

Sleeper quarterback Andrew Manley (Wahiawa, Hawaii/Leilehua) committed to sign with New Mexico State Monday night, ESPN's Greg Biggins reports.

"I've never been to New Mexico but I liked what the coaches were telling me and decided to commit," Manley said. "I actually told the coaches on Sunday and I'm very excited about my decision."

Luginbill stated: "It is about time that someone takes notice of Manley and his talents. We have been very surprised that no BCS level or really any non-BCS level schools have shown a serious interest and credit the New Mexico State coaching staff for gaining this commit. Manley has good size, good arm strength and nice upside and he is a winner. These are the types of prospects that you can rebuild a program with and Walker is doing just that."

Hawaii extended an early offer to the three-star signal-caller. Washington, Baylor and Idaho were also showing interest.

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