Big 12: Keenan Clayton

Oklahoma spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
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2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters: Offense (9), Defense(4) P/K (2)

Top returners: QB Landry Jones, RB DeMarco Murray, LB Travis Lewis, S Quinton Carter, WR Ryan Broyles, DE Jeremy Beal, DE Frank Alexander

Key losses: DT Gerald McCoy, OL Trent Williams, QB Sam Bradford, RB Chris Brown, DE Auston English, OL Brian Simmons, OL Brody Eldridge


2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Chris Brown (774 yards)

Passing: Landry Jones* (3,198 yards)

Receiving: Ryan Broyles* (1,120 yards)

Tackles: Travis Lewis* (108)

Sacks: Jeremy Beal* (11)

Interceptions: Brian Jackson (4)

Three spring answers

1. O-line no longer offensive. Coach Bob Stoops tabbed his offensive and defensive lines as two of the most improved units on the team, a big difference from a year ago when Stoops called out his offensive linemen for not working hard enough. Part of the problem last season was injuries, and right guard Eric Mensik was lost for six weeks with an MCL injury, but even without their three best blockers from a season ago, the line is further ahead as a unit than they were last spring.

2. Young talent rising. Plenty of young players didn’t get on the field in 2009, for various reasons, whether it be injury, more experienced talent, or still being in high school. But linebackers Tom Wort and Ronnell Lewis, along with cornerback Demontre Hurst and receiver Kenny Stills could be big parts of Oklahoma’s 2010 team. Lewis will help replace one of the linebacker positions vacated by Ryan Reynolds and Keenan Clayon, but moved around in the spring. Wort is a likely starter as well after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Hurst will help replace one of the corner positions vacated by Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson. And Stills could start for a receiving corps that struggled in 2009.

3. Lewis takes the reins. Oklahoma’s defense won’t be short on talent, headlined by defensive ends Jeremy Beal and Frank Alexander. But junior linebacker Travis Lewis, the team’s leading tackler as a sophomore, is ready to take over as the voice of the team, talking plenty of trash before the spring game and backing it up with his play, helping his team pitch a shutout. Gerald McCoy was the heart of the defense last season. This year, it’s Travis Lewis.

Three fall questions

1. Can the Sooners stay healthy? The theme for last season was injuries everywhere for the Sooners. Stoops says confidently he isn’t changing a thing, and it’s the right move. But it won’t stop fans—and maybe a couple of coaches—from cringing every time a player goes down awkwardly. Injuries turned the Sooners from a national title contender into an eight-win team a year ago, and another year of getting beat up could add to the frustration.

2. How much better will Landry Jones be? Jones played well when forced into action early by Sam Bradford’s injured shoulder. He played poorly in games against Texas and Nebraska, but finished the season with a career-high 418 yards and three touchdowns against Stanford. Jones is loaded with potential, and Stoops is optimistic at how Jones will look after a full spring and fall as starter.

3. Do the Sooners have a kicker? Jimmy Stevens lost his job to walk-on Patrick O’Hara late last season, but the two combined were just 1-of-8 from beyond 40 yards last season. A rainy spring game did little to settle the spring debate, and a couple misses on reasonable kicks by whoever wins the job in the fall could lead to another switch.

Sorting out the draft for the Big 12

April, 26, 2010
4/26/10
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The Big 12 had 30 players drafted over the weekend, fifth most among the major six conferences.


Here's a look at who went where when:

First round (9):
1. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma (St. Louis)

2. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska (Detroit)

3. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma (Tampa Bay)

4. Trent Williams, OL, Oklahoma (Washington)

6. Russell Okung, OL, Oklahoma State (Seattle)

14. Earl Thomas, DB, Texas (Seattle)

19. Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri (Atlanta)

21. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma (Cincinnati)

24. Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State (Dallas)

Second round (2):

43. Sergio Kindle, DE, Texas (Baltimore)

44. Lamarr Houston, DT, Texas (Oakland)

Third round (3):
80. J.D. Walton, C, Baylor (Denver)

84. Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas (Cincinnati)

85. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas (Cleveland)

Fourth round (4):

110. Darrell Stuckey, FS, Kansas (San Diego)

115. Phillip Dillard, LB, Nebraska (New York Giants)

121. Keenan Clayton, LB, Oklahoma (Philadelphia)

131. Roddrick Muckelroy, LB, Texas (Cincinnati)

Fifth round (6):

135. Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma (Atlanta)

137. Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State (Denver)

141. Joshua Moore, DB, Kansas State (Chicago)

160. Larry Asante, SS, Nebraska (Cleveland)

162. Brody Eldridge, TE, Oklahoma (Indianapolis)

165. Kerry Meier, WR, Kansas (Atlanta)

Sixth round (4):

191. Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Kansas (Cincinnati)

196. Jamar Wall, CB, Texas Tech (Dallas)

198. David Gettis, WR, Baylor (Carolina)

202. Jordan Pugh, DB, Texas A&M (Carolina)

Seventh round (2):

228. Reggie Stephens, OL, Iowa State (Cincinnati)

250. Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State (New England)

When you arrange those by team, Oklahoma comes out on top, with seven selections.
1. Oklahoma (7)

2. Texas (6)

3. Oklahoma State (4)

T-4. Nebraska (3)

T-4. Kansas (3)

6. Baylor (2)

T-7. Iowa State (1)

T-7. Kansas State (1)

T-7. Missouri (1)

T-7. Texas Tech (1)

T-7. Texas A&M (1)

12. Colorado (0)

OU linebackers, still shifting, hope for spring showcase

March, 16, 2010
3/16/10
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NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma probably won't be able to replace fifth-year senior Ryan Reynolds' experience or leadership at middle linebacker. Keenan Clayton's speed (4.57 40-yard dash), as a safety-turned-linebacker won't come, either.

Now, the young players stepping into starting roles will try to showcase their irreplaceable attributes.

Junior Travis Lewis is the only returning starter, but defensive coordinator Brent Venables can't even guarantee that spot isn't up for grabs. Lewis was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year as a freshman, but had 109 tackles in 2009, 35 fewer than his total in 2008.

[+] EnlargeTravis Lewis
WD/Icon SMIJunior Travis Lewis is Oklahoma's only returning starting linebacker.
"I don’t necessarily have anybody [as a starter]. Maybe Travis," Venables said. "You’ve got to earn it on the field."

Ronnell Lewis, who you might remember from earlier today, is the headliner among a crop of linebackers fighting for playing time this spring. Redshirt freshman Tom Wort, No. 85 on the 2009 ESPNU 150, is returning from a torn ACL suffered last fall and isn't quite at 100 percent yet. Junior Austin Box is the most likely to get in the mix immediately, and has started six games in his first two seasons. Sophomore Daniel Franklin and another converted safety, Joseph Ibiloye, will battle for reps this spring while still working some at safety. Sophomore Jaydan Bird, a 6-foot-1, 227-pounder, could also find playing time with an impressive spring.

But where any of them end up playing is as big of a mystery as who's playing.

"We got guys playing everywhere," Venables said. "Box playing all three. Franklin all three; Ronnell's playing two, plus pass rush. Ibiloye has played Will and Sam [both outside linebacker positions]. Trying to see who it’s easy for and trying to develop depth. Try to get guys ready to play."

For Ronnell Lewis, who most likely figures to play inside, that's just fine. Of course, he hopes to start, but where he is on the field and the depth chart isn't of prime concern.

"Special teams, defense, coming in on defense, it doesn’t matter where I am," he said.

Reserved Lewis shooting for starter

March, 16, 2010
3/16/10
8:30
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NORMAN, Okla. -- Ronnell Lewis probably could have danced to celebrate his special teams dominance of Stanford in the Sun Bowl -- twice leveling kick returners and making everyone who watched wince. He could have done it again when he slammed Cardinal fullback Owen Marecic to the turf after an incomplete pass later in the game.

[+] EnlargeRonnell Lewis
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMILewis is looking for a starting role this season.
He didn’t. Didn’t do it after plowing full-speed into Kansas receiver Dezmon Briscoe’s chest on a return earlier in the season, either. That hit, Lewis’ favorite as a Sooner, forced Briscoe briefly to the sidelines while the Jayhawk offense took the field.

No one would have blamed him for pumping a fist or screaming at his opponent lying below him. But he backed off, and even a parade of helmet slaps and playful shoulder shoves from teammates could barely slow his retreat to the huddle or sideline, each time itching to do it again.

“I go out there and hit and that’s all the talking I do,” Lewis said. “I’m no trash talker.”

Lewis, a sophomore, could get a lot more chances to do his talking in 2010, with two linebacker spots vacated by Ryan Reynolds and Keenan Clayton. Lewis is working at both inside and outside linebacker this spring, and could permanently assume one of those spots this fall.

“He’ll be a big part of what we’re doing,” said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. “We’d be fools not to include him.”

Lewis’ persona, one Venables labels “mature” and “low maintenance,” stems from his roots in Dewar, Okla., the 919-person town where Lewis played eight-man football until his senior season, when the team upgraded to the 11-man game. Lewis treks 100 miles west virtually every weekend, back to the people he grew up around and a son he’s helping grow up.

“He doesn’t have a real big social network,” Venables said. “When he’s not doing school or football, that’s where he is.”

His family, friends and Dewar natives don’t recognize him as “The Hammer,” the nickname Lewis’ hits earned him and one he calls just “all right.” But when he is recognized in Norman or Oklahoma City, the country kid in him takes over, the one who wouldn’t dare be rude to a stranger, provided they weren’t trying to return a kickoff.

“All I can do is tip my hat and say, ‘Thanks,’” he said. “That was then. This is now. I’m looking forward to next season.”

For Lewis, it would be tough not to want 2010 to arrive quickly. It could be the one that establishes him as another great Oklahoma linebacker.

“He’s helped us by picking things up a lot better,” Venables said. “We talked about that today -- what it’s like sitting in the meeting room today versus last spring, and he’ll continue that development and making those leaps and bounds of improvement mentally. That will transition to physical play, to be more sure of himself and be more consistent.”

Getting a chance to showcase that improvement will mean a spring and fall spent proving he’s the one who should be sitting atop one of the depth chart spots at linebacker for a talented corps which also features the more experienced juniors Travis Lewis and Austin Box, as well as sophomores Jaydan Bird and Daniel Franklin.

“It’s one thing to go out there on special teams … and occasionally get out there when you’re ahead by three touchdowns,” Venables said. “It’s another thing to prepare and invest and play at a high level. It takes a lot -- it takes a huge commitment and the discipline to do it with consistency every day. It is a process. If anywhere along the line guys don’t invest in the process, you’ll get exposed.”

If that preparation goes as Venables hopes it does, and 2010 is a season of success for the sophomore linebacker, Lewis won’t be the one letting everyone know it.
It was a busy weekend at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, and several former Big 12 stars found themselves in the spotlight during the extensive evaluations.

Here's a quick look at the Big 12's top performers in the combine events (more events follow today and Tuesday):

40-Yard Dash

  • Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, third among quarterbacks (4.71 seconds)
  • Colt McCoy, Texas, fifth among quarterbacks (4.79)
  • Brandon Banks, Kansas State, fifth among wide receivers (4.43)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, second among offensive linemen (4.88)
Bench Press

  • Keith Toston, Oklahoma State, tied for fourth among running backs (22 reps)
  • Jordan Shipley, Texas, tied for eighth among wide receivers (16 reps)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, tied for eighth among tight ends (20 reps)
  • Russell Okung, Oklahoma State, second among offensive linemen (38 reps)
  • Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, tied for sixth among defensive linemen (32 reps)
  • Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri, second among linebackers (34 reps)
  • Keenan Clayton, Oklahoma, tied for fifth among linebackers (27 reps)
Vertical Jump

  • Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, second among quarterbacks (35 inches)
  • Chris Brown, Oklahoma, tied for 10th among running backs (36 inches)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, fifth among tight ends (35 inches)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, first among offensive linemen (34.5 inches)
Broad Jump

  • Colt McCoy, Texas, tied for third among quarterbacks (9 feet, 6 inches)
  • Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, tied for fifth among quarterbacks (9 feet, 2 inches)
  • David Gettis, Baylor, third among wide receivers (10 feet, 4 inches)
  • Jared Perry, Missouri, ninth among wide receivers (10 feet, 1 inch)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, tied for fifth among tight ends (9 feet, 5 inches)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, tied for second among offensive linemen (9 feet, 5 inches)
3-Cone Drill

  • Jared Perry, Missouri, fifth among wide receivers (6.75 seconds)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, fifth among tight ends (7.07 seconds)
  • J.D. Walton, Baylor, tied for ninth among offensive linemen (7.60 seconds)
20-Yard Shuttle

  • Riar Geer, Colorado, second among tight ends (4.29 seconds)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, fifth among offensive linemen (4.63 seconds)
  • J.D. Walton, Baylor, tied for 10th among offensive linemen (4.69 seconds)
60-Yard Shuttle

  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, fourth among tight ends (11.88 seconds)

NFL combine list dotted by Big 12 players

February, 3, 2010
2/03/10
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The NFL has released its final list of late additions to its annual pre-draft player combine, which will take place in Indianapolis from Feb. 24 to March 2.

The Big 12 is well represented on the list of invited players, with every team but Iowa State and Texas A&M having at least one representative.

Here's the final list. The late invitations, typically from underclassmen who declared for the draft, are listed in bold.

BAYLOR (2)

WR David Gettis

C J.D. Walton

COLORADO (1)

TE Riar Geer

KANSAS (3)

WR Dezmon Briscoe

WR Kerry Meier

S Darrell Stuckey

KANSAS STATE (3)

WR Brandon Banks

TE Jeron Mastrud

CB Joshua Moore

MISSOURI (4)

WR Danario Alexander

G Kurtis Gregory

WR Jared Perry

LB Sean Weatherspoon

NEBRASKA (4)

S Larry Asante

LB Phillip Dillard

C Jacob Hickman

DT Ndamukong Suh

OKLAHOMA (9)

QB Sam Bradford

RB Chris Brown

OLB Keenan Clayton

TE Brody Eldridge

CB Dominique Franks

TE Jermaine Gresham

CB Brian Jackson

DT Gerald McCoy

T Trent Williams

OKLAHOMA STATE (6)

S Lucien Antoine

WR Dez Bryant

CB Perrish Cox

T Russell Okung

QB Zac Robinson

RB Keith Toston

TEXAS (7)

DT Lamarr Houston

DE Sergio Kindle

QB Colt McCoy

LB Roddrick Muckelroy

WR Jordan Shipley

S Earl Thomas

T Adam Ulatoski

TEXAS TECH (2)

G Brandon Carter

CB Jamar Wall

Sun Bowl will be Reynolds' last OU game

December, 22, 2009
12/22/09
12:11
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Oklahoma linebacker Ryan Reynolds won't be back next season after the NCAA denied him a chance at a sixth season of eligibility.

Reynolds has battled injuries throughout his career, including three major knee surgeries while playing for the Sooners.

It will mean the Dec. 31 Brut Sun Bowl game against Stanford will be his final one for the Sooners.

Reynolds received a perfect grade from Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables for his work against Baylor last season. He sustained a season-ending knee injury the following week against Texas that kept him from returning.

He won back his starting job this season and started 11 games before missing the Oklahoma State game with a hamstring injury sustained against Texas Tech. He had 67 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

Even after his injuries, Oklahoma coaches loved his techniques and the stability he brought to the Sooners' defense. That will be a big loss for them as they rebuild for the 2010 season.

T'hey hoped to build around him again during the 2010 season. It means that Austin Box and Ronnell Lewis will challenge for the starting position at middle linebacker. The Sooners also will lose starting strongside linebacker Keenan Clayton, but will return Travis Lewis at the weakside position.

These Big 12 position groups are stacked with talent

May, 28, 2009
5/28/09
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Some Big 12 position groups are clearly above others as far as raw talent and athleticism. Here's a look at some of the most dominant in the conference.

Oklahoma's front seven: The Sooners go two-deep in talent in the defensive line and linebackers. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy anchors the defensive front and is an Outland Trophy candidate. Adrian Taylor and Cordero Moore also are capable players. The Sooners have the best collection of defensive ends in college football with Frank Alexander, Jeremy Beal, R.J. Washington and Auston English. Travis Lewis could develop into one of the finest linebackers in Oklahoma history and Mike Balogun, Brandon Crow and Keenan Clayton all are expected to contribute. If heady team leader Ryan Reynolds comes back from his knee injury, this group could rival any in the country -- if it doesn't already.

Texas' secondary: After producing only six interceptions last season, Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp ratcheted up competition among defensive backs. The results were seen in the spring, when the group was the best defensive backfield group I saw in the conference. Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown have emerged as starters at the corners with Curtis Brown and Deon Beasley providing backup. Safeties Blake Gideon and Christian Scott both are emerging, but the key player might be sophomore safety Earl Thomas, who played the nickel position with tenacity and abandon. It's not a stretch to say that two Thorpe Award winners could emerge out of this group in the next several years.

Colorado's running backs: The Buffaloes seemingly have a back for every situation with the deepest backfield in the conference. Darrell Scott appears intent on making a comeback after a disappointing freshman season. Rodney Stewart looks recovered from a broken leg sustained last season that kept him from rushing for 1,000 yards. Sophomore Brian Lockridge appears to be the fastest back and 215-pound Demetrius Sumler is the biggest back with the best inside running ability among the group. This group will serve as the backbone for the Buffaloes' hopes of returning to a bowl game and perhaps their dark horse challenge for the Big 12 North title.

Kansas' wide receivers: Dezmon Briscoe missed all of spring practice for an undisclosed violation of team rules, but is back to serve as one of the nation's most explosive deep talents. Coach Mark Mangino hopes to be able to permanently switch Kerry Meier to receiver for his senior season after a breakout season in 2008. Meier and Briscoe were two of the nation's top-15 receivers last season when they combined for 189 catches, 2,452 yards and 23 touchdown grabs. And Wilson emerged as quarterback Todd Reesing's go-to receiver in the spring when Briscoe was gone, notching six catches in the spring game. Add Rod Harris, Tertavian Ingram and Raimond Pendleton and it might be among the most potent pass-catching groups in the nation.

Nebraska's running backs: With unproven Zac Lee starting at quarterback, look for Shawn Watson to lean heavily on a pair of talented returning backs. Quentin Castille trimmed about 20 pounds to get into better shape and leading returning rusher Roy Helu Jr. boosted his weight by 24 pounds to become a more powerful rusher between the tackles. Together, it wouldn't be a stretch that the two backs could combine for 2,000 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns if both can stay healthy.

Iowa State's running backs: With new offensive coordinator Tom Herman taking over with a spread offensive attack, a talented array of running backs still will have frequent opportunities to contribute. Leading returning rusher Alexander Robinson could be poised to become one of the most underrated rusher/receiver combination backs in the conference. But Robinson will have to fight for playing time with a stacked group that also includes bruising redshirt freshman Jeremiah Schwartz and heralded University of Florida transfer Bo Williams. Herman will be able to utilize all three backs in a variety of roles.

Missouri's defensive ends: The Tigers appeared loaded before spring practice with Brian Coulter and Jacquies Smith back, but redshirt freshman Aldon Smith has developed into an immediate contributor. Converted offensive tackle Brad Madison and redshirt Marcus Marlbrough also had strong springs, leading Gary Pinkel to say it was his best group of defensive ends he's ever had at Missouri.

Texas Tech's wide receivers: Even after losing two-time Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree and Eric Morris, the Red Raiders developed several potential playmakers during the spring. Edward Britton appeared to have crawled out of Mike Leach's doghouse with strong late production. New quarterback Taylor Potts should have many productive targets including Detron Lewis, Tramain Swindall, Lyle Leong, walk-on flanker Adam Torres, 6-foot-7 Adrian Reese and redshirt freshmen Austin Zouzalik and Eric Ward. The Red Raiders won't have two players grab the majority of balls like Crabtree and Morris did in recent seasons. Instead, they will feature a more balanced attack featuring eight to 10 receivers capable of thriving in a tag-team approach.

Bradford claims top spot in Big 12's player rankings

May, 2, 2009
5/02/09
5:11
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 1

Now, we're finally at the top player.

After counting down the Big 12's best over the last 39 days, is there any real question who the conference's ultimate player is?

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford's career has been memorable over his first two seasons. He's already become the only player in Big 12 history to lead his team to back-to-back championships.

After winning the Heisman Trophy last season, most draft observers thought he would declare for the draft, collect his millions in a pro contract and leave college behind.

The Sooners' disappointing losses in back-to-back BCS losses have stung Bradford and brought him back for more this season.

Whether his draft status will be affected is debatable. He'll be playing behind a green offensive line that will feature four new starters and he'll be throwing to a new group of wide receivers.

It likely will give him a different perspective after his first two seasons.

But if it pays off with a national championship, it will all be worth it for him.

Player: Sam Bradford
Team: Oklahoma
Position: Quarterback
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 218 pounds; Jr.; Oklahoma City, Okla. (Putnam City North)

Why he was picked: Bradford had a superlative season in winning his Heisman last season, leading the nation in touchdown passes (50) and passing efficiency (180.84). He also set the school record for single-game passing yards with 468 against Kansas and set the school career record for touchdown passes (86) Other honors he received last season included the Davey O'Brien Award, the Sammy Baugh Trophy, the Chic Harley Award and the Associated Press and Sporting News' first-team All-American. His numbers bordered on the amazing at times last season as he threw five TD passes in four different games and notched 11 300-yard passing games. But most importantly, he's led the Sooners to Big 12 championships in both of his seasons as a starter.

What 2009 will hold: Bradford unabashedly says his return was influenced by the Sooners' BCS national title game loss to Florida. He'll have a chance to become the first back-to-back Heisman Trophy winner since Archie Griffin in 1974-75. But he'll be doing it with a completely different supporting cast as the Sooners break in two new starting wide receivers and four new offensive linemen. It will give Bradford a chance to expand his leadership roles and perhaps show other facets of his game. He rarely has been pressured in Big 12 games and that will likely change this season behind the rebuilt line. He'll also have a chance to show off his arm in a different way with the new receivers. It wouldn't be a surprise if his statistics fall off a little this season - both because of the flux among his pass catchers and the return of two potent running weapons like DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown. But if the Sooners claim the national title, Bradford won't be complaining.

The countdown:

2. Texas QB Colt McCoy
3. Oklahoma State WR-KR Dez Bryant
4. Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham
5. Baylor QB Robert Griffin
6. Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
7. Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy
8. Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter
9. Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis
10. Kansas QB Todd Reesing
11. Oklahoma RB-KR DeMarco Murray
12. Oklahoma State T Russell Okung
13. Texas DE-LB Sergio Kindle
14. Oklahoma T Trent Williams
15. Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
16. Baylor LB Joe Pawelek
17. Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
18. Texas WR-KR Jordan Shipley
19. Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
20. Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr.
21. Texas Tech DT Colby Whitlock
22. Kansas WR-KR Dezmon Briscoe
23. Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal
24. Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
25. Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
26. Kansas QB-WR Kerry Meier
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State LB Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR-KR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB-KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Chris Hall
38. Texas Tech DE-DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp

No. 2 McCoy back for his shot at undisputed title

May, 1, 2009
5/01/09
8:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 2

Colt McCoy already has recorded nearly every meaningful passing statistic in Texas football history.

But he's still missing the ultimate reward as he searches for his first trip to the Big 12 championship game and the Longhorns' first undisputed South title under him.

McCoy didn't miss by much last season and has come back to school determined for additional team success. Most of his key weapons return, providing him and his team with their best chance to make a title-game berth since Vince Young directed them there in 2005.

If he has another big season, McCoy could be poised to become the first Texas quarterback in history to win the Heisman Trophy.

Something tells me he would much rather win the Big 12 title than worry about any individual awards -- including the Heisman.

Player: Colt McCoy
Team: Texas
Position: Quarterback
Vitals: 6-foot-3, 210 pounds; Sr.; Tuscola, Texas (Jim Ned H.S.)

Why he was picked: McCoy is a three-time Texas Most Valuable Player who already has won more games than any quarterback in school history. He set the NCAA FBS single-season completion percentage record last season (76.7 percent), bettering Daunte Culpepper's previous record. McCoy also is an elusive runner who led the Longhorns with 561 rushing yards -- most by any Texas quarterback other than Vince Young in the last 20 years. McCoy passed for 3,859 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2008, producing a passing rating of 173.8 that was third in the NCAA. He finished second in the Heisman behind Sam Bradford and punctuated his season by claiming Most Valuable Player honors in the Fiesta Bowl - his third bowl MVP in as many tries. McCoy ranks second in FBS history with three bowl victories as a starting quarterback.

What 2009 will hold: McCoy returns with a better supporting cast this season. That alone will help him as he aims to lead the Longhorns to their first undisputed Big 12 South title with him as a starter. Similar production as earlier in his career and a team title should also catapult him into strong contention for most major national awards.

McCoy's Heisman chances and his team's title hopes should improve if he's not counted on as being the team's primary ball-carrier. And the return of a talented receiving corps should boost his production as a passer with continued improvement.

McCoy is already statistically the greatest quarterback in Texas history. But winning a national title will boost him into mention with quarterbacks like Young and James Street. It's the only item missing from the resume of one of the greatest players in Texas history.

The countdown:

3. Oklahoma State WR-KR Dez Bryant
4. Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham
5. Baylor QB Robert Griffin
6. Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
7. Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy
8. Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter
9. Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis
10. Kansas QB Todd Reesing
11. Oklahoma RB-KR DeMarco Murray
12. Oklahoma State T Russell Okung
13. Texas DE-LB Sergio Kindle
14. Oklahoma T Trent Williams
15. Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
16. Baylor LB Joe Pawelek
17. Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
18. Texas WR-KR Jordan Shipley
19. Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
20. Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr.
21. Texas Tech DT Colby Whitlock
22. Kansas WR-KR Dezmon Briscoe
23. Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal
24. Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
25. Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
26. Kansas QB-WR Kerry Meier
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State LB Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR-KR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB-KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Chris
Hall
38. Texas Tech DE-DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp

No. 3 Bryant back for chance at Biletnikoff Award

April, 30, 2009
4/30/09
5:49
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 3

Dez Bryant is poised to become the Big 12's most explosive player after emerging as a consensus All-America receiver and the Big 12's special teams player of the year last season.

How productive?

Consider that Bryant averaged more on his punt returns (33 returns for a 17.9 yard-per-punt average) than he did as a receiver (87 catches for a 17.0 yard-per-catch average).

Another big season could only help boost the sizzle in one of the nation's most explosive offenses.

Bryant needs only to boost his consistency to become a player who conceivably could develop into perhaps the nation's top receiver.

Although rival defenses likely will be keying on in him in every game, Bryant could become the Big 12's third-straight Biletnikoff Award winner with continued growth and development.

Player: Dez Bryant
Team: Oklahoma State
Position: Wide receiver/kick returner
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 215 pounds; Jr.; Lufkin, Texas.

Why he was picked: Bryant had one of the most productive receiving seasons in OSU history, ranking second nationally with 19 touchdown receptions and 9.69 points per game and third nationally with 113.9 receiving yards per game and 17.94 yards per punt return. In the process, he set a school record with 19 touchdown receptions. His 128 points were second in school history, trailing only Barry Sanders' 234 points tallied in his memorable 1988 Heisman Trophy-winning season. Bryant has produced eight 100-yard receiving games in his career, including six last season. His explosiveness is highlighted by two 200-yard receiving games and 22 receptions of at least 20 yards last season.

What 2009 will hold: There could be some concern as Bryant recovers from post-season surgery that repaired a small tear on his left knee that kept him out of spring practice. But Bryant should be ready to go by the season and likely will pick up where he left off last season when he snagged a Holiday Bowl-record 13 receptions in barely three quarters against Oregon.

If he makes a diligent effort to become a more disciplined, consistent route runner and receiver, it could be possible that he could produce 100 catches, 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns. It will be interesting to see if he keeps returning punts or if Coach Mike Gundy deems him too valuable to play on special teams. A big effort will be critical from Bryant if the Cowboys have any legitimate hope of claiming their first Big 12 South title.



The countdown:

4. Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham
5. Baylor QB Robert Griffin
6. Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
7. Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy
8. Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter
9. Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis
10. Kansas QB Todd Reesing
11. Oklahoma RB-KR DeMarco Murray
12. Oklahoma State T Russell Okung
13. Texas DE-LB Sergio Kindle
14. Oklahoma T Trent Williams
15. Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
16. Baylor LB Joe Pawelek
17. Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
18. Texas WR-KR Jordan Shipley
19. Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
20. Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr.
21. Texas Tech DT Colby Whitlock
22. Kansas WR-KR Dezmon Briscoe
23. Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal
24. Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
25. Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
26. Kansas QB-WR Kerry Meier
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State LB Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR-KR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB-KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Chris Hall
38. Texas Tech DE-DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp

OU TE Gresham ranks as No. 4 player in Big 12

April, 29, 2009
4/29/09
5:54
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 4

Jermaine Gresham made the most of his first full season as a starter, developing into one of the nation's top tight ends.

Gresham

And that strong debut may only be the beginning for the Oklahoma senior, who could be poised to become Oklahoma's top receiver this season.

Gresham was projected to be a high first-round draft pick if he had declared for the NFL draft earlier this year. Instead, he chose to return along with Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy and Trent Williams to challenge for another national championship.

The four players are all expected to be first-round draft picks next season if they remain healthy. Playing in another BCS title game would be the fulfillment of why they all returned to school.

Player: Jermaine Gresham
Team: Oklahoma
Position: Tight end
Vitals: 6-foot-6, 261 pounds; Sr.; Ardmore, Okla.

Why he was picked: Gresham was a finalist for the Mackey Award and earned All-American honors after producing 66 receptions and a team-best 14 touchdown grabs last season. His 950 yards were the most in a season by an Oklahoma tight end and his receptions ranked second all-time for an Oklahoma tight end. Gresham has produced 26 touchdown grabs in his career, five behind school career leader Mark Clayton. Gresham really came on late last season, producing 25 receptions in the final three games of the season. He caught multiple touchdowns in five games last season and had at least one touchdown in nine games.

What 2009 will hold: As productive as Gresham was last season, he could emerge as an even bigger offensive weapon because of Oklahoma's questions at wide receiver. Considering that, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that Gresham could produce 80 catches and 1,000 receiving yards if he remains healthy. If he can post those numbers, he would go down in history as perhaps the greatest player at his position in school history and a legitimate contender for national honors. Improved blocking will make pro scouts take notice and make him a potential pick at the top of the first round of next year's draft.

The countdown:

5. Baylor QB Robert Griffin
6. Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
7. Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy
8. Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter
9. Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis
10. Kansas QB Todd Reesing
11. Oklahoma RB-KR DeMarco Murray
12. Oklahoma State T Russell Okung
13. Texas DE-LB Sergio Kindle
14. Oklahoma T Trent Williams
15. Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
16. Baylor LB Joe Pawelek
17. Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
18. Texas WR-KR Jordan Shipley
19. Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
20. Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr.
21. Texas Tech DT Colby Whitlock
22. Kansas WR-KR Dezmon Briscoe
23. Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal
24. Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
25. Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
26. Kansas QB-WR Kerry Meier
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State LB Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR-KR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB-KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Chris Hall
38. Texas Tech DE-DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Bran
don Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp

Scintillating Griffin ranks as Big 12's fifth-best player

April, 28, 2009
4/28/09
8:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 5

It's hard to fathom the development of Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin in such a short period of time.

Griffin, who turned 19 in February, had one of the most memorable freshman seasons in Big 12 history. He made the Baylor program relevant  and was one of the conference's most exciting players from his opening start. 

But his next step this season will be an even bigger challenge. He'll be counted to help carry the Bears in contention for a bowl berth for the first time since the Big 12 was formed.

Considering all of the other talent-laden programs in the Big 12 South Division, it will be a huge test for the Bears. 

Look for Griffin should be up for the quest -- particularly if he keeps building on his fantastic early start.

Player: Robert Griffin
Team: Baylor
Position: Quarterback
Vitals: 6-foot-3, 210 pounds; So.; Copperas Cove, Texas

Why he was picked: As the nation's youngest starting quarterback in 2008, Griffin developed into one of the nation's most explosive players. Griffin picked up a multitude of newcomer of the year awards, including two national first-team Freshman All-America selections. Griffin established an FBS record by throwing 209 passes without an interception to start his career, passing for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns and three interceptions. He was also a breakaway threat as a runner, setting school records for rushing yards by a quarterback (843) and rushing touchdowns (13). Griffin ranked fifth nationally among quarterbacks in rushing yards (70.3 yards per game) and second in rushing touchdowns.

What 2009 will hold: A bigger, stronger Griffin will be counted to improve on his huge freshman season. A similar leap forward might be enough to catapult Baylor into bowl contention for the first time since 1994 - longest drought in the Big 12 and tied for the longest among teams in BCS-affiliated conferences. Griffin must improve his abilities to get his teammates involved, which is traditionally one of the hardest parts of the maturation process of a young quarterback. If Griffin can improve his running and passing skills, Griffin could be poised to become the greatest player at his position before leaving school.

The countdown:

6. Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
7. Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy
8. Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter
9. Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis
10. Kansas QB Todd Reesing
11. Oklahoma RB-KR DeMarco Murray
12. Oklahoma State T Russell Okung
13. Texas DE-LB Sergio Kindle
14. Oklahoma T Trent Williams
15. Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
16. Baylor LB Joe Pawelek
17. Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
18. Texas WR-KR Jordan Shipley
19. Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
20. Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr.
21. Texas Tech DT Colby Whitlock
22. Kansas WR-KR Dezmon Briscoe
23. Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal
24. Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
25. Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
26. Kansas QB-WR Kerry Meier
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State LB Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR-KR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB-KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Ch
ris Hall
38. Texas Tech DE-DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp

Multi-faceted 'Big Suh' checks in as sixth-best Big 12 player

April, 27, 2009
4/27/09
8:07
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 6

Ndamukong Suh has been transformed under Bo Pelini's defense.

After being a huge disappointment while playing under former coordinator Kevin Cosgrove's defense earlier in his career, Suh blossomed into one of the most dominant defensive players in the country last season.

Maybe it was being healthy. Or maybe it was his comfort in the new defensive philosophy. But Suh was a legitimate beast - particularly during the second half of the season when he led the Cornhuskers to a share of the Big 12 North title.

If he improves on that performance, he could develop into the kind of player who earns mention for national awards and All-America honors.

As well as likely leading the Cornhuskers to the North Division title.

Player: Ndamukong Suh
Team: Nebraska
Position: Defensive tackle
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 300 pounds; Sr.; Portland, Ore. (Grant)

Why he was picked: Suh is the anchor of the Nebraska defense, providing the Cornhuskers with a unique combination of size and strength. He can dominate the game, while providing unusual production for a player from his position. Known as "Big Suh" by Pelini, he lived up to that billing by producing a team-leading 76 tackles - the first defensive lineman to lead Nebraska in tackles since 1973. He also produced team-leading totals of 19 tackles for losses, 7½ sacks and seven quarterback hurries. Suh also is a productive short-yardage blocking back and even snagged a 2-yard TD reception to key the Cornhuskers' victory over Kansas.

What 2009 will hold: Suh's dramatic transformation after earlier career disappointments helped spur the Cornhuskers' Gator Bowl victory over Clemson as he became a Nebraska defensive linchpin with one of the most productive seasons in school history. If he makes a similar jump this season, Suh could merit legitimate mention as one of the greatest players in Nebraska history. Another big season will likely have the Cornhuskers in the hunt for their first Big 12 championship game appearance since 2006. And if he remains productive and healthy, he could be in line for a lot of money as a high first-round draft pick in the 2010 NFL draft.



The countdown:

7. Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy
8. Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter
9. Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis
10. Kansas QB Todd Reesing
11. Oklahoma RB-KR DeMarco Murray
12. Oklahoma State T Russell Okung
13. Texas DE-LB Sergio Kindle
14. Oklahoma T Trent Williams
15. Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
16. Baylor LB Joe Pawelek
17. Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
18. Texas WR-KR Jordan Shipley
19. Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
20. Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr.
21. Texas Tech DT Colby Whitlock
22. Kansas WR-KR Dezmon Briscoe
23. Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal
24. Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
25. Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
26. Kansas QB-WR Kerry Meier
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State LB Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR-KR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB-KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Chris Hall
38. Texas Tech DE-DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp

OU DT Gerald McCoy checks in as Big 12's No. 7  player

April, 26, 2009
4/26/09
1:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

McCoy
No. 7

Gerald McCoy is the steadying influence who serves as the linchpin of the Oklahoma defense during both his years as a starter.

McCoy had a chance to make millions in the NFL draft, but opted to return to school for a shot at a national championship. He'll be the key player on Brent Venables' unit that returns nine starters and has a chance to develop into one of the best in school history.

If the Sooners challenge for their unprecedented fourth-straight Big 12 title, McCoy's work in the middle of the defense will be vitally important in getting them there.

Player: Gerald McCoy
Team: Oklahoma
Position: Defensive tackle
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 295 pounds; Jr.; Oklahoma City (Southeast)

Why he was picked: McCoy was the most productive lineman on Oklahoma's defense last season, leading the Sooners' interior linemen with 30 tackles. He ranked second on the team with 6.5 sacks, including a career-high two sacks against Texas. He was a first-team All-American selection by the Sporting News and a second-team All-American picked by the Associated Press. McCoy has been known for his knack of playing at his best in the biggest games. That was typified by his play in pass coverage in the BCS championship game, leading to his first career interception. Produced 16 unassisted tackles, including 11 for losses.

What 2009 will hold: McCoy already has talked about trying to help the Sooners develop into one of the best defenses in Big 12 history. With his production as the stimulus, the Sooners could get there. And if he progresses like he did last season, he could develop into a legitimate national honors candidate. Again, his value won't necessarily be reflected in raw statistics because he will likely face double-team blocking in almost every game.

The countdown:

8. Oklahoma State RB Kendall Hunter
9. Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis
10. Kansas QB Todd Reesing
11. Oklahoma RB-KR DeMarco Murray
12. Oklahoma State T Russell Okung
13. Texas DE-LB Sergio Kindle
14. Oklahoma T Trent Williams
15. Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon
16. Baylor LB Joe Pawelek
17. Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
18. Texas WR-KR Jordan Shipley
19. Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
20. Nebraska I-back Roy Helu Jr.
21. Texas Tech DT Colby Whitlock
22. Kansas WR-KR Dezmon Briscoe
23. Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal
24. Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
25. Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
26. Kansas QB-WR Kerry Meier
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State LB Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR-KR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB-KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Chris Hall
38. Texas Tech DE-DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp

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