Big 12: Josh Gordon

Colleague Mel Kiper Jr. named his All-NFL Rookie team this weekInsider, and if you've followed this blog very long, you'll recognize a few of the names on the team.

You'll need Insider to see it all, but it was a solid year for the Big 12 rookies at the next level. Headliner Robert Griffin III was edged out by Andrew Luck for the QB spot, but the Big 12 grabbed two of the three wide receiver spots.

Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon had one of them, and if you want to count him for Baylor, Josh Gordon grabbed another after a great rookie season with the Cleveland Browns, featuring 50 grabs for 805 yards. Blackmon tied for the rookie lead with 64 catches and led the class with 865 receiving yards, despite playing for the passing-deficient Jacksonville Jaguars. Impressive stuff.

Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele started all 16 games this year for the Ravens and earned a spot on the All-Rookie offensive line at right guard, the last spot for the Big 12.

It's no surprise that the league's only honorees were on offense, and two came at receiver, which has been the league's strongest position other than quarterback for the past few years. Nebraska's Lavonte David spent some time in the Big 12, and the Husker alum turned Buccaneer also cracked the team after making a big impact as a juco transfer back in 2011.

Lunch links: Recruiting's darker side

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
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NCAA release date! Best day of the college football summer, folks.

Lunch links: Money talks

July, 9, 2012
7/09/12
12:00
PM ET
Am I the only one here watching Food Network Star? Consider me firmly #TeamJustin.

Mailbag: BU's rise, OSU-Bama, K-State

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
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Once again, thanks for all the questions this week. Here's where you can send yours.

Marty in Dallas asks: Ubbs, are we in the Golden Age of Baylor athletics or what. If I had told you at the start of the football season that Baylor would defeat BOTH Texas and OU, have a player win the Heisman and that, as of the first part of January, the Bears would finish ranked HIGHER than A&M, Texas, Missouri, and OU in football, would be a unanimous choice as the top ranked women's basketball team and have an undefeated Men's basketball team that was higher ranked than Duke, Louisville, UConn, Kansas, or Michigan State, you would have asked what I was smoking. To put it in perspective, since losing to Ok State in October, Baylor's football, men's basketball, and women's basketball is 38-0. Do you think the the Baptists have made a deal with the devil?

David Ubben: Ha, I don't think the devil's involved here, but it really is an amazing time at Baylor. Ultimately, it boils down to great recruiting in all three sports. Every sport has a player that can change a team. You know about RG3, but the women's team has Brittney Griner and the men's team has Perry Jones III, who'll probably be something close to a top-10 pick if he comes out and enters the draft next year.

That's the root of all this. Art Briles, Kim Mulkey and Scott Drew have brought some amazing talent to Waco. The result has been this crazy run.

Griffin cracked a joke about it at his goodbye press conference this week, too.

"Maybe we can create a new record on ESPN of miscellaneous facts," he said. Maybe so. But that 38-0 record since Nov. 1 has to be something close to unprecedented.


Ramiro Hernandez in Waco, Texas, asked: Do you think Baylor will collapse without RG3,Terrence Ganaway,and Kendall Wright.Sic'Em BEARS!!!!!

DU: No, I don't. Griffin was so good this year, it maybe too often overshadowed how much talent was around him. Baylor's receivers were as good as any group in the country this year. Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese will make the transition much easier for the new quarterback, who'll almost certainly be Nick Florence. All this despite losing Josh Gordon, and NFL-caliber receiver, before the season. He transferred to Utah after being suspended.

Baylor also has one of the nation's top running backs, Lache Seastrunk, waiting to get his shot next year. It didn't work out for him at Oregon, but he's a nice fit in Baylor's offense, and he should get some touches alongside Jarred Salubi and Glasco Martin.

The Bears still have a lot of talent, and you've got to think the defense will only get better. Baylor looks like probably a 6-7 win team next year with some upside. Briles has built a really good program. Griffin just took it to heights few others could.


David in Austin, Texas, asked: With the Texas' hiring of Manny Diaz, entry of TCU, resurgence of Kansas State, and the return of Mike Stoops is it possible the Big 12 might be on the first (of many) steps to being a defensive or at least balanced conference?

DU: No, I don't think so. One, with the amount of plays these hurry-up offenses run, I think there's a pretty low ceiling at just how much "defense" can be happening in this league. Teams are going to get their yardage.

Diaz had a great first year, and he may only grow. Everybody knows Texas won't be lacking for talent on the defensive side of the ball. They're loaded. Diaz's defensive schemes won't be faced by any physical limitations.

As for Stoops, we'll see. He's a great coach, but it's been a long time since he was at Oklahoma. There's no guarantee he steps in and is amazing. He may be. I think OU will at least see some improvement, but on a conference scale, that's still just two guys. I don't see much of a trend.


Joshua Papp in Cape Coral, Fla., asked: So in one of your recent articles you said Okie State should of had a shot at LSU. Then you started naming the qualitites that were "overlooked". You and I can agree that the BCS Championship is for the two BEST teams. Well, after going on about how Okie State deserved a shot you went and said that Alabama IS a better team than Okie State. So therefore, your saying they belonged in the championship. So, the rest of the article was pointless..or am I wrong?

DU: I don't know why this is so hard to understand. I've gotten e-mails about this for the past month since I've made the argument. I'll explain one more time.

If Alabama and Oklahoma State played, I think the Crimson Tide would win. If they played 10 times, I think the Tide would probably win 6-7 times.

But before the championship game, Oklahoma State's BCS resume was better and it wasn't really all that close. Alabama got in on the strength of the SEC (a conference whose depth is deceptively shallow) and its program tradition.

It just depends on what you value, which is why I don't think we saw a grand injustice this year. The only thing that frustrated me was having to watch that awful, awful game on Monday. Both of those teams deserved a shot, but I think a) Alabama already had their shot (and at home!) and didn't take advantage and b) it was unfair to make LSU play them again.

Alabama got in, so we're having this conversation. OSU deserved to get in based on what it did over the 13-game season. They're right.

If OSU had gotten in, Alabama would be sitting here complaining about how they'd beat OSU. They'd be right. I don't know why it's so hard to understand that both of those teams deserved to play LSU.

I mostly wanted to see OSU because I was fundamentally opposed to a rematch both philosophically (bowls are meant to match up opposing conferences) and as a college football admirer, I wanted to see contrasting styles go head to head, not two essentially identical teams slam into each other for three hours.


Josh in Salina, Kan., asked: You said in a post that K-State can't duplicate their success they had in close games... You need to search for some crow recipes online. So you can have tasty crow when you eat it. Don't tell a Snyder coached team it can't do something.

DU: Easy there, John Locke. Do what you must, Josh, but I subscribe to the law of averages. And it says, definitively, that K-State's not going to win eight of nine close games in 2012.

I do think K-State will be a be a better team that doesn't have to be in close games against bad to mediocre teams (hey there, Eastern Kentucky and Miami), so I like the Wildcats chances to do big things next year. They'll do well in close games armed with the confidence and knowledge they can win games in tight spots, but next year, we won't see them win eight of nine games in that scenario. I promise you that.


Reggie C. in Austin, Texas, asked: No way you replace a star receiver like Dez. J Blackmon says hello! No way you replace Blackmon. Michael Harrison says hello! I"m definitely concerned about the QB spot although I fully expect competent numbers, leadership takes time. Be very careful writing off the Cowboys as a middle of the pack Big 12 team next fall. Keep up the good work!

DU: You bring up valid points, Reggie. At OSU, I think it's pretty simple. The pieces are there at running back and receiver. This team's only going to be as good as its quarterback. That's how the offense is designed, even though they'll have two fantastic running backs returning in Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith.

Zac Robinson left, but he was replaced with a mature, NFL-bound quarterback who happened to walk-on. The QB spot is the right place to place your concern. Watch very closely as Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt go head to head.

Kendall Wright is answering the bell

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
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WACO, Texas -- On Wednesday in the blog, I put Baylor receiver Kendall Wright "On the Spot."

The reason? TCU's secondary, albeit young, is tough. Baylor is missing its second-best receiver, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Josh Gordon, who transferred to Utah after being suspended indefinitely in July following a violation of team rules.

Last year, Wright had just two catches for 10 yards in the 45-10 loss.

If Baylor had any chance to pull the upset, Wright needed to play well. So far, he has.

The senior, who has led the Bears in receiving in all three of his seasons on campus, has five catches for 85 yards and a touchdown through the first quarter. He just hauled in his second touchdown of the night -- a 28-yarder over the middle, to put Baylor up 21-16.

That was the 200th reception of his career.

Earlier, he hauled in a gorgeous deep ball down the right sideline for a 35-yard score.

He also threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams on a trick play.

Baylor needed him.

They're getting him.

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 1

September, 1, 2011
9/01/11
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Here are ten things I'm keeping an eye on in Week 1 of Big 12 football.

1. Garrett Gilbert. Everything else aside, Gilbert is ultimately the one guy who will decide how far Texas gets this season. Or, at least whoever Texas' quarterback is by midseason. Gilbert needs to play well to a) make sure he's that guy and b) help Texas rebound from last year's debacle.

[+] EnlargeGarrett Gilbert
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireThe success of Texas' season likely rides on the shoulders of Garrett Gilbert ... or his replacement.
2. Does Baylor have a second go-to receiver? Josh Gordon is a huge loss. Everything pointed to a breakout year for the big receiver, but who's going to emerge as Robert Griffin III's other top target. Baylor has talent at the position, but it's going to help if one receiver makes his presence clear. Terrance Williams? Tevin Reese? Lanear Sampson? Bueller?

3. Oklahoma's safeties. Javon Harris and Aaron Colvin have a ton of potential, but they've got a tough test in Week 1. Last year, Oklahoma broke in two brand new corners against Utah State and nearly was upset on its home field. G.J. Kinne is a stud, and with both of last year's safeties in the NFL, are Harris and Colvin up for the task?

4. Weeden2Blackmon. Here's the deal: This game won't be close. But I love watching these two play. And they're going to be putting up some big highlights for the first time in eight months. Football! Finally!

5. James Franklin's arm. We've seen Franklin run plenty as a freshman playing behind Blaine Gabbert. But Missouri will go about as far as Franklin's arm will take them. His teammates have been impressed with what he's down through the air in the offseason. Will he validate them in the opener?

6. Steele Jantz's legs. Nobody outside Ames has really seen Jantz, a transfer from a California junior college, do much. But he won the starting job over the more experienced Jerome Tiller (before he was ruled academically ineligible for the season) and has Cyclones fans excited. Is he the dynamic playmaker Iowa State's offense has been missing?

7. Kansas State's running backs. Bill Snyder called it the closest competition on the team. The WIldcats have three co-starters, and third on the list is the Big 12 transfer with the most hype: Bryce Brown. Will he establish himself as the clear replacement for Daniel Thomas, who led the Big 12 in rushing the past two seasons?

8. Kansas' point total. Kansas simply needs to show it can execute. It did it against New Mexico State last year and briefly against Colorado, but this is largely the same team from last year, with a handful of new faces added. How much better is the offense? Good enough to compete in the Big 12? Because the Jayhawks weren't close in 2010.

9. Texas A&M's linebackers. Most of the attention is paid to quarterback Kyle Padron, but the Mustangs' 230-pound, rumbling running back Zach Line is no joke, either. He had at least 94 yards rushing in six of the past seven games in 2010, and the Aggies have a big hole at middle linebacker that Jonathan Stewart will try to fill.

10. Texas Tech's playcalling. Tommy Tuberville wants a new commitment to the running game, but where will that show up? The Red Raiders have what I think will be a good QB, but lots of unanswered questions at receiver next to a deep stable of running backs and a good offensive line. I'm also excited to see what freshman tight end Jace Amaro can do.

Lunch links: Big 12 marketing campaign

August, 25, 2011
8/25/11
12:00
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What's hot, DJ Roomba?

Talking Ags/SEC, B12 future ... and football!

August, 16, 2011
8/16/11
4:30
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Enjoyed having fun with you all in today's chat. Here's the full transcript. The world would be a better place if folks took themselves a bit less seriously. Just a note before we hit the highlights.

Didn't get your question answered? Here's the link to my mailbag. Use it.

Kipp in Austin asked: Why are Aggie fans ignoring the on-field implications of Texas A&M going to the SEC?

David Ubben: I don't think they are. I think A&M fans and the media in general just see the future in the SEC playing out differently. However, a word to the A&M faithful: Believing the entire world is against you is no way to go through life.

Mike in New Orleans asked: How will Josh Gordon's (WR) departure affect Baylor's team receiving options?

DU: Big hit. Big, big hit. I've been a big advocate for Gordon's talents all offseason, and he was due for a big year. He's an NFL-type talent with size you can't reproduce. Baylor's receiving corps is deep, but no question, they needed Gordon. Not good. (Post-chat note: I do think Baylor has had the advantage of knowing they would be without Gordon this year for a while. Just my two cents.)

W in Anaheim, Calif., asked: Assuming TAMU leaves for the SEC, K-State's AD Currie suggested the remaining Big XII members move proactively. Do you envision the remaining Big XII schools coming together to push Texas out and bring in some new schools to refill the ranks?

DU: Ha. No. The Big 12 should (futilely, but necessarily) try and talk Notre Dame and Arkansas into coming. Mostly just due diligence. But BYU is the first realistic option. If I had to guess, I think it will rebuff the Big 12's advances and the league would end up adding Houston out of necessity.

Francisco in Ogden, Utah asked: BYU to the Big 12?

DU: I think most of the fans across the Big 12 would wholeheartedly support that. (Post-chat note: Assuming Texas A&M leaves for the SEC.)

Charlie in Manhattan, Kansas asked: If the Big XII collapses and K-State goes to the MWC (as some have suggested), how would K-State fare?

DU: Better than Texas A&M in the SEC.

Dustin in Fort Worth asked: Hi David. Big fan of your blog and I really enjoy the good work you produce. My question is this: If/when A&M moves to the SEC, do you think that the annual rivalry game with TU will still be around (taking into consideration both school's feelings on the change)?

DU: At this point, I think it has to. A&M has made their feelings on the matter crystal clear, and I'm not sure Texas wants to weather the PR disaster that would be ending that series with A&M. The Aggies clearly want it to continue, and have put the pressure on Texas to oblige if A&M leaves.

SoonerSonics in Seattle asked: Exactly how would A&M benefit by going to the SEC?

DU: Well, the theory is that it could outrecruit Texas, be a title contender in the SEC and eventually emerge as the top program in Texas. This, of course, is debatable. Unless you ask the Aggies. To suggest that this might not happen is proof that you're a soulless windbag sent to earth solely to hold down Texas A&M's football program.

Joe in Houston asked: Do you think adding Houston to the Big 12 is a realistic possibility? I thought the NCAA already ruled out high schools being televised on conference and team networks.

DU: Question of the day. Touche, Joe.

Peter in Paris, Texas, asked: What sort of timeline are we looking at for an A&M move to the SEC?

DU: I think the Ags would like to do it tomorrow. The SEC is taking a bit more of a deliberate approach, it would seem. My guess is it's decided one way or another by the end of the month, but it's possible it goes longer.

EA Sports in Austin asked: Did NCAA 12 spark all of this conference realignment? If so when can we see the institution of more WRs at QB and a plethora of scrambling rollouts?

DU: Runner-up for question of the day. Awesome.
Baylor junior receiver Josh Gordon has left the Bears program after being suspended indefinitely before preseason camp began, coach Art Briles confirmed Tuesday.

"Circumstances have unfolded for Josh that require him to pursue his collegiate degree and athletic career at a different university. I'm appreciative of the efforts he has made the past two seasons for this football program."

Gordon, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound target, was the Bears' second-leading receiver in 2010, catching 42 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns, including a 94-yard score in the conference opener against Kansas that stands as the longest play in school history.

Gordon was arrested last October after being found in a car that had marijuana inside at a Taco Bell near the Baylor campus.

Gordon, who led the Big 12 with 17 yards per reception, is reportedly considering a transfer to Utah.

"I have no idea right now," Briles said at Big 12 media days last month when asked if he'd be getting Gordon back in the 2011 season. "You all are a lot smarter than I am. Somebody can give you the definition of 'indefinitely.' I think it might mean this afternoon. It might mean 10 years from now. I don't know. I know we're going to move forward, we're going to play and we're going to be good."
Every year, good players become great. Here are a few fresh faces to keep an eye on in 2011.

Mike Davis, WR, Texas: Davis emerged as one of the Longhorns top targets as a true freshman, catching 47 passes for 478 yards and a team-leading two touchdowns. That was in a struggling offense. Texas, one would figure with a renewed purpose and new coordinator, could only improve on offense in 2011. That, combined with Davis' experience from last year and the offseason, could mean a huge year.

[+] EnlargeMike Davis
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesMike Davis caught 47 passes for 478 yards and two touchdowns as a Texas freshman.
Josh Gordon, WR, Baylor: Gordon, for now, remains suspended indefinitely, but there's no denying his potential once that suspension ends. Gordon, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is built exactly like Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller, and could be due for a similar jump after catching 42 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns, leading the Big 12 with an average of 17 yards per catch.

Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M: Joeckel struggled at times early in the season, but was one of the catalysts leading the way for Ryan Tannehill and Cyrus Gray's rise late in the season as a young Texas A&M line jelled. The Aggies return four starters from last year's line that improved late in the year, but Joeckel has the highest ceiling among the five starters.

Ronnell Lewis, DE, Oklahoma: Lewis has unbelievable raw physical skills, but he has yet to turn that potential into hard production, in part because he had an All-American ahead of him on the depth chart. For now, his eligibility for 2010 is still in question, but his 37 tackles and 3.5 sacks will surely grow with more time on the field -- if he gets it.

Shaun Lewis, LB, Oklahoma State: Lewis was borderline great in 2010, but he may blossom into a full-blown star in 2011, possibly on a national level. Oklahoma State's defense has a chance to be much better in 2011 than in 2010, and if that happens, he'll join safety Markelle Martin as the two biggest reasons why.

Eric Stephens, RB, Texas Tech: Stephens will step into a starting role and with a new quarterback and new receivers, Stephens could benefit from an emphasis on the running game and an offensive line that returns all five starters. Stephens rushed for 668 yards and a team-leading six scores on just 127 carries last year. With Baron Batch's 177 carries headed to the NFL, could Stephens be the Red Raiders first 1,000-yard rusher in a long while?
Moving on in our rankings of the top 10 at each position in the Big 12 entering 2011.

Here are the top 10s you've missed so far:
There's no question that receiver is the strongest position for the Big 12, which has the most talent at the position of any conference in America. Considering the lack of elite talents on the defensive line and at cornerback in this league, look for these guys to put up big numbers this season.

[+] EnlargeJustin Blackmon
Chuck Cook/US PresswireOklahoma State's Justin Blackmon enters the season as arguably the best receiver in the nation.
1. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: Blackmon's big year met a big finish, earning him the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. He'll be the favorite again this year thanks to his quarterback's decision to return. Last season he had 111 catches for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns. His touchdown and yardage numbers led the nation in 2010, and he also topped our ranking of the Big 12's top 25 players in 2010.

2. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma: Broyles lost his spot as the Big 12's top receiver, but he's still a Biletnikoff finalist and my pick as the nation's No. 2 receiver, right behind Blackmon. Broyles led the nation with 131 catches a season ago, turning them into 1,620 yards and 14 scores as a valuable piece of the Sooners' passing game, long and short. Broyles (5-foot-10, 188 pounds) doesn't have Blackmon's size (6-foot-1, 215 pounds), but what he lacks in the ability to muscle up defenders, he possesses in a feel for space and precision route-running.

3. Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M: Fuller might get more attention if he played in another league, but he's sadly a bit overlooked in the Big 12 behind Broyles and Blackmon, doomed to difficulty earning All-Big 12 first-team honors, despite being the first Texas A&M receiver to ever record a 1,000-yard season and staking a solid claim as one of college football's top five receivers. Look for Fuller to top his 1,066 yards, 72 catches and 12 scores this year.

4. T.J. Moe, Missouri: This fourth spot is close, but I went with Moe, who lacks the physical speed and strength of Kendall Wright, but has perhaps unrivaled sense for space among any receiver in the Big 12, save Broyles. Just 19 attempts separated Missouri and Baylor's passing offenses, but Moe caught 14 more passes than Wright and accounted for almost 100 more yards, catching just one fewer touchdown. You could make a case for Wright at No. 4, but I'm going with Moe for now.

5. Kendall Wright, Baylor: He's the top target for Robert Griffin III, and if Josh Gordon's suspension carries through the season opener, the Bears will need a big game from the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder to beat TCU. He's topped 50 catches and 600 yards in each of the past three seasons with constant improvement, but 2011 might be the year he finally tops the 1,000-yard mark.

6. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma: Stills is one of two sophomores on this list, and no other freshman receivers in 2010 really came close to his production. Stills showed lots of promise in spring and fall camp after enrolling early, and finished with 786 yards and five touchdowns on 61 catches, entrenching himself as the Sooners' No. 2 target and the heir apparent to Broyles, who will be a senior in 2011. Much bigger things should be ahead for Stills.

7. Ryan Swope, Texas A&M: Swope proved a huge complement to Fuller, hauling in some of the biggest catches of the season for the Aggies, including touchdowns against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. He finished with 825 yards and four touchdowns on 72 receptions, and should be poised for similar production in a similar role this season.

8. Josh Cooper, Oklahoma State: Cooper gets overlooked with the amount of talent in the Big 12, but he was a huge part of Oklahoma State's passing game last season, catching 68 passes for 736 yards and five touchdowns. He might have to hold off teammate Hubert Anyiam for touches in 2011 to remain on this list, but for now, Cooper gets some recognition for a job well done that not enough people saw.

9. Alex Torres, Texas Tech: Torres' numbers (39 rec, 481 yards, 3 TD) took a tumble in 2010, but I give him the benefit of the doubt and keep him on this list after battling through a frustrating back injury for the majority of his sophomore season. He's got tons of promise, and as long as he stays healthy, should get plenty of opportunities as a junior in 2011 after the Red Raiders lost both of their top two receivers from last season's team.

10. Mike Davis, Texas: Davis needs help from his offensive line and especially his quarterback (whoever it ends up being), but he was impressive enough to become one of the Longhorns' top receivers as just a freshman, catching 47 passes for 478 yards and a pair of touchdowns. If Texas' offense improves, look for Davis' numbers to skyrocket and flirt with 1,000 yards.

Just missed: Josh Gordon, Baylor; Jerrell Jackson, Missouri
Josh Gordon is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver somehow flying under the radar across the conference and definitely on the national scale, but that looked like something that could change early in 2011.

For now, though, those hopes are on hold.

[+] EnlargeBaylor's Josh Gordon
Brett Davis/US PRESSWIREBaylor suspended receiver Josh Gordon indefinitely for a violation of team rules.
Gordon, who colleague Mel Kiper had as college football's No. 3 receiver prospect among juniors, has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

"Josh has been suspended from our program for team rules violations," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "This disciplinary action, as all past and future actions, will be handled internally."

Briles won't be commenting on it at media days later today, where Baylor is scheduled to step to the microphone, but for Gordon, this isn't a good sign.

Last October, he was arrested at a Taco Bell near campus after being found passed out, and police found marijuana in the car.

Safe to say this is strike two for one of the league's most promising players. For Baylor, it could put a damper on their early season plans, too.

Gordon didn't miss any game time last year for the arrest, and was on the field a week later. This time around, it's hard to imagine him suiting up for the season opener against TCU, a Top 25 team that beat the Bears 45-10 last year.

Gordon is a huge piece, literally and figuratively, for the Bears offense, and if he's not on the field, Baylor's upset chances take a huge hit.

Though, considering Gordon's history, Briles' reputation could take a hit if Gordon is on the field. Not a fun situation to be in for either party.

Baylor has one of the league's best and deepest receiving corps, but Gordon is the second target behind Kendall Wright and caught 42 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns. He led the Big 12 in yards per reception last year, with an astounding 17 yards per catch as the deep threat that helps make room for Wright to operate in space against defenses.

We'll see if he gets a chance to build on his numbers from last year in the Bears' season opener on Sept. 2, a Friday night game against the Horned Frogs on ESPN.

Looking into the Big 12's NFL Draft future

July, 13, 2011
7/13/11
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Colleague Mel Kiper Jr. recently put together his top-five juniors and seniors at each position. You'll recognize plenty of the Big 12 talents on his list. Here's where they landed:

SENIORS

Quarterbacks
Running backs
Fullbacks
Receivers
Tight ends
Offensive tackles:
  • No. 1: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
  • No. 3: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
Outside linebackers:
  • No. 2: Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
  • No. 4: Keenan Robinson, Texas
Safeties
  • No. 4: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State

A few thoughts:
  • I'm not the only one who keeps seeing the lopsided talents at the top on offense versus defense, right? Believe me when I tell you this, folks: Prepare for puntos mucho in the Big 12 this season.
  • I wouldn't be too surprised to see Fuller above Broyles on this list. Broyles is obviously a better college receiver, but he may find his size (5-foot-11, 187 pounds) to be a challenge at the next level, and NFL teams won't have the same concerns over the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Fuller. I see them both having solid, lengthy, productive NFL careers, but Fuller is slightly less risky. Also, against NFL corners, Fuller's size offers a bigger target for quarterbacks and a better red zone option.
  • Look at the offensive players who did make the list: Big 12 players were No. 1 at four positions and three positions had two Big 12 prospects in the top five. Not a bad senior class.

Now, the younger guys who will be draft-eligible after this season (not including sophomores with a redshirt season.)

JUNIORS

Quarterbacks
Fullbacks
Receivers
Centers
  • No. 3: Ben Habern, Oklahoma
Defensive ends
  • No. 5: Brad Madison, Missouri
Outside linebackers
  • No. 1: Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
  • No. 3: Zaviar Gooden, Missouri
Punters
  • No. 2: Ryan Doerr, Kansas State
  • No. 3: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State

Some more thoughts:
  • I haven't really asked around about what NFL scouts think of Baylor's Griffin III, but this is the first time I've seen him show up on a list like this from our draft gurus, Kiper or McShay. Perhaps unfairly, Griffin's athleticism prompts some fans around the league to label him as a scrambler, but anyone who watched Baylor for any extended period of time last season got a clear look at how much he's grown as a passer from his freshman year in 2008 to last year's sophomore season following his 2009 knee injury. I'd expect it to continue, but could Griffin have a decision to make by the end of the season? He's told me he plans to stay for four years, but once the money starts to become more and more real, he wouldn't be the first guy to change his mind.
  • As for receivers, well, Alshon Jeffery over Blackmon? Strongly disagree, both as a college receiver and in regard to their potential pro careers.
  • Got 40 minutes to spare? Ask Bill Snyder what he thinks of Wilson sometime. You could probably keep him going for a few days. Players like Wilson are what Snyder is all about.
  • Very surprised to see Gordon on this list this early. I love his athleticism and his ceiling is absolutely sky high, but his production to this point hasn't been there. Don't be surprised if that changes in 2011, but I hadn't seen his name thrown out on a list like this before.

Previewing Week 1: Baylor

June, 30, 2011
6/30/11
2:45
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You're counting down the days, I'm sure. We're so close, and yet so far from the season's opening weekend. I can't wait for it, and I'm sure every player in the Big 12 can't either. So, despite being a bit far off, we'll take a look at each team's opener, inspired by our friends over at the Big Ten Blog.

We'll start this series at the top of the alphabet.

Baylor Bears

Week 1 Opponent: Texas Christian

Coach: Gary Patterson (98-28, 12th season)

2010 record: 13-0 (8-0, Mountain West)

Returning starters: 10 (four offense, four defense, two specialists)

About the Horned Frogs: I didn't feel great about Baylor's chances to actually beat TCU last year in Fort Worth, but I thought it had a good chance to make things interesting. After the first quarter, it was 21-0.

This year, I think the same, but the Bears should have a much better shot of pulling the upset.

TCU loses more talent from last year's team than any team in the country except Auburn, which brings back just seven starters. That heavy turnover, plus playing in the season opener at home versus the third game of the year on the road last year, should favor the Bears, who will play host at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.

TCU must replace NFL-bound quarterback Andy Dalton, three offensive linemen and standout receiver Jeremy Kerley. Linebacker Tank Carder and his gratuitous arm bands are back, but both safeties must be replaced. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III loves to go vertical to Josh Gordon and Kendall Wright, so look for him to do it, and the Horned Frogs' secondary coach, Chad Glasgow, is now at Texas Tech.

TCU should start the season somewhere in the top 20, but Baylor will have a great opportunity to notch an attention-grabbing win with a Friday night kickoff on national TV. The game will be broadcast at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Random factoid: TCU leads the series between the former Southwest Conference foes, 50-49-7. Baylor can even it up with a win.

Totally unscientific percentage chance Baylor wins: 42 percent. Baylor has lots of experience, especially on offense, and it's hard to imagine the defense being much worse than it was last year, especially against Dalton and the Horned Frogs' offense, which did anything it wanted to the Bears' D.

Will the player turnover be enough to offset TCU's advantages in overall talent and depth?
The Big 12 might be weak at the top of the running back heap, but it's definitely not at receiver. The conference has at least three of the top five receivers in the country, and the top two. They highlight a very strong group of receivers across the league, and I continue our position rankings with receivers today.

Remember that depth plays a big part of these rankings. We'll be ranking the top 10 individuals at each position later on before the season begins.

Other position rankings: 1. Oklahoma

[+] EnlargeRyan Broyles
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMIRyan Broyles finished the 2010 season with 131 catches for 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Sooners have the nation's No. 2 receiver, Ryan Broyles, but found a handful of others to surround him in 2010 and should have a couple more in 2011. Sophomore Kenny Stills broke Broyles' freshman receiving record and looks like a budding star. Dejuan Miller came on strong before a season-ending knee injury, but he's back. The Sooners lose Cameron Kenney, but Trey Franks had a strong freshman campaign, and freshmen Justin McCay (redshirt) and Trey Metoyer could provide even more playmakers.

2. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys boast the returning Biletnikoff Award winner and 2011 favorite, Justin Blackmon, with a great group around him, too. Slot machine Josh Cooper returns for his senior year, and fellow senior Hubert Anyiam (the team's leading receiver in 2009) is hoping to return to form after being slowed by an ankle injury in 2010. Isaiah Anderson is a shifty speedster, while Michael Harrison and Tracy Moore offer a more aerial approach to receiving.

3. Texas A&M

The Aggies have the Big 12's No. 3 receiver, Jeff Fuller, who is arguably one of the top-five in the college game. But they also have the Big 12's most experienced receiving unit, with guys who won't be surprised by anything they see in Big 12 play. Juniors Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu are the team's second and third options, but fellow juniors Kenric McNeal and Brandal Jackson could be bigger pieces of the offense in 2011. Tight end Nehemiah Hicks should see his profile rise in his coming sophomore year.

4. Baylor

Top target Kendall Wright will likely end his career as the Bears' leading receiver for all four of his seasons on the field, and 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior Josh Gordon looks like the new Jeff Fuller. Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson and Tevin Reese round out the Bears' top five, who all had at least 40 catches last season, and all return.

5. Missouri

Missouri still lacks a proven big-play threat, but has two pass-catchers who have some of the best hands in the game. Receiver T.J. Moe and tight end Michael Egnew won't drop many passes, and combined to catch 182 for 1,807 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson bring a lot of experience and both had at least 39 catches last season. If Marcus Lucas or Rolandis Woodland can become a consistent downfield threat, Missouri will rise up these rankings by season's end.

6. Texas Tech

Tech's top two receivers, Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis, must be replaced, but the Red Raiders have a few solid candidates to do it. Junior Alex Torres will likely lead the group, but fellow junior Austin Zouzalik and seniors Jacoby Franks and Tramain Swindall will be counted on for more production. Dark horse/juco newcomer Marcus Kennard could blossom into a household name across the Big 12 by season's end.

7. Texas

Sophomore Mike Davis and redshirt freshman Darius White are loaded with potential, but two of the team's top three receivers (James Kirkendoll, John Chiles) are gone, and no Texas receiver caught more than two touchdowns last season. Malcolm Williams and Marquise Goodwin are as different as two receivers could be, but both need to break out to help whoever becomes the Longhorns quarterback next fall.

8. Kansas State

Brodrick Smith will be back this season after breaking his leg in a loss to Nebraska. But two of the team's top three receivers are gone, leaving converted quarterback Chris Harper as the leading returner, though Smith might have held that title if he'd stayed healthy. Sophomore speedster Tramaine Thompson can make plays if he gets the ball with some space.

9. Iowa State

The Cyclones will be breaking in a new quarterback this season and they will need a playmaker to step up. Tight end Collin Franklin led team in receiving last season but he is now gone. Darius Reynolds looks like a possible candidate to fill the role, although incoming slot receiver Aaron Horne might rack up a few catches in space. Darius Darks and Josh Lenz should earn some more targets too.

10. Kansas

Converted defensive back Daymond Patterson is the team's top receiver, but the team's No. 3 receiver junior Bradley McDougald, moved to safety in the middle of the season. Tight end Tim Biere is one of the Big 12's best and led the team with four touchdowns last season. Chris Omigie and D.J. Beshears have some potential, and converted quarterback Christian Matthews keeps showing up in spring games. But all three, along with the rest of the group, would benefit from some consistency at the quarterback spot.

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