Big 12: Mark Clayton

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper has two Big 12 players -- Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson and Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro -- potentially going in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.

Fellow expert Todd McShay has the same two as Kiper and also is optimistic about the chances of West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Tavon Austin.

So let’s split the difference and label the potential Big 12 first-round picks as an optimistic three, with Johnson being the only absolute first-round lock.

Those three would represent the fewest Big 12 players taken in the first round of the NFL draft since 2008. Even if four went, the Big 12 still would have the fewest since 2008.

That year, only Kansas -- yep, the Jayhawks -- managed a first-rounder, Aqib Talib to Tampa Bay with the 20th pick. In the four drafts that followed, the Big 12 has always put at least five players into the first round, including the first four overall picks in 2010.

How well this year’s group of first-round picks will fare might not be known for years. What is known, though, is how well Big 12 players have done when they are selected in the first round. With that in mind, here is a ranking -- from worst to best -- of the Big 12’s best first-round draft classes over the past 10 years.

2008: It’s all about quantity, and a little bit of quality. In 2008, the Big 12 only produced one first-round pick, Talib. He has not produced dramatic returns in the NFL. In the past two years, he has only started nine games. He was somewhat productive for Tampa Bay in the previous three seasons, starting 41 games and playing in 53. But, again, he was the only Big 12 player taken in the first round in 2008.

2006: Vince Young is working out at Texas’ pro day at the end of March. Enough said. Davin Joseph and Michael Huff have been solid producers. But when the No. 3 overall pick is out of the league and having to work out at his alma mater's pro day, it means it was a bad year for the Big 12 in the first round of the NFL draft.

2004: Tommie Harris and Marcus Tubbs, the two defensive tackles taken in the first round, were productive for a few years, with Harris selected to Pro Bowls in 2005, '06 and ’07 before he was beset by injuries. Tubbs lasted four seasons in the NFL. Roy Williams had 5,715 receiving yards but never lived up to the hype he generated coming out of Texas. Rashaun Woods played only two years and had seven career catches.

2005: The lack of numbers might be what hurts this group the most. Cedric Benson, Jammal Brown, Derrick Johnson, Mark Clayton and Fabian Washington all proved they could play at the NFL level. Benson has had three 1,000-yard-plus seasons. Johnson is one of the top linebackers in the game. Brown remains a solid option on the offensive line. Clayton played seven NFL seasons; Washington played six. But there were only five guys selected and that isn't enough to push 2005 to the top of the list.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
Andy Clayton King/Getty ImagesThe Big 12's 2007 draft class wasn't huge, but did feature 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson.
2009: Every Big 12 player selected in the first round in 2009 has produced and appears to be poised to continue to do so. Only Jason Smith didn’t have a start last year. But the offensive lineman still played in all 16 games for the New York Jets. Michael Crabtree, Brian Orakpo, Josh Freeman, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Pettigrew and Ziggy Hood are all starters for their respective teams.

2007: It wasn’t the biggest group, but it did include Adrian Peterson, so there could be some quibbling that maybe 2007 should be higher in the rankings. Throw in Aaron Ross and Michael Griffin and the debate could get even more heated. Adam Carriker was also taken this year. He started his career strong but suffered an injury and only played in two games last season.

2003: Kevin Williams has been the standout of this group. The defensive tackle has started every game but four in his 10-year career. Terence Newman has been effective as a defensive back, first in Dallas and last season in Cincinnati. Tyler Brayton played at least 15 games on the defensive line in a nine-year career. Ty Warren played eight solid seasons for New England but tailed off last season with Denver. Andre Woolfolk lasted four seasons, mostly as a reserve.

2011: Von Miller, who was the highest pick among Big 12 players this year, has proved to be the top player so far. Aldon Smith is not far behind. Add in Prince Amukamara, Phillip Taylor, who when healthy is a starter at defensive tackle, a somewhat productive Blaine Gabbert and Nate Solder as well as reliable backups Danny Watkins and Jimmy Smith and this proved to be a successful year for Big 12 first-round selections.

2012: Three quarterbacks, and all were not only starters as rookies but also made huge differences for their respective squads. Clearly, Robert Griffin III made the most dramatic impact, but Ryan Tannehill, with the Dolphins, and Brandon Weeden, with Cleveland, were both solid. Kendall Wright and Justin Blackmon each had 64 catches, for Tennessee and Jacksonville, respectively. Blackmon was targeted more (133 to 104) and had 200 more receiving yards.

2010: This list maybe doesn’t have the star power and is not littered with offensive playmakers, but six of the nine players picked were selected for the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl: Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Ndamukong Suh, Earl Thomas, Russell Okung and Jermaine Gresham. And the other three players -- Dez Bryant, Sam Bradford and Sean Weatherspoon -- were vital pieces for their respective teams.

Feldman: Former Sooners impacting Africa

May, 17, 2011
A group of former Oklahoma players founded the group, "Pros for Africa" and colleague Bruce Feldman profiled the group, which provides water, food, medicine, schools and other humanitarian needs to the war torn continent, specifically Northern Uganda.

The non-profit organization is based in Oklahoma City, and was founded by Roy Williams, Adrian Peterson, Tommie Harris and Mark Clayton.

You'll need ESPN Insider to read the full story, but the group recently took a larger contingent of pro players to Africa, which included another former Sooner, Gerald McCoy, who just finished his rookie season with Tampa Bay.

Says Williams:
"It is so sad," he said. "There are kids everywhere. When you driving along the road to go to Gulu (Uganda), you see kids sharing watering holes with livestock. People always ask, 'Why do you have to go to Africa?' Well, until you see what it's really like over there, you don't realize how huge the need is. If you see how bad they are living, you'll think our homeless here in the States are living in luxury. They can put their hand out and people may give them money. They can go to a Salvation Army and someone will give them food. They can go to a shelter and have a roof over the heads. In Africa, it's so sad. Those are ever-lasting memories.

"I was just looking at some of the pictures we have with the kids. In spite of all the hardships that they go through, they still smile. We complain about a car cutting us off or traffic, where we honk our horns, but come on now. We worry about petty stuff. They have huge problems over there and they don't even complain about anything."

The group raised over $100,000 in 2010, and recently joined up with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which fitted over 2,000 hearing aids for the nation, where hearing loss due to what would likely be a routine ear infection elsewhere is common.
"I tell people all of the time when I speak to kids: It's not about how much money you have in the bank or what kind car you drive. Life is about the kind of impact you have on other people's lives while you're here. I ask them, 'What kind of legacy are you going to leave when you're dead and gone?' I want my legacy to live on through these young kids and women that we're helping so they can bless somebody else."

Good stuff from the former Sooner star most known for his "Superman" play in the Red River Rivalry. Check it out.

For more information on how you can help, check out the Pros for Africa website.

The Big 12 and NFL draft history

April, 27, 2011
For just the second time ever, the first round of the NFL draft will be the only part of the draft's first day, set for primetime on Thursday night.

This year, the Big 12 could have as many as five first-round picks, and five players from the league are in New York for the draft.

So, let's take a look back. Since the first NFL draft of the Big 12 era, who has the most first-rounders?

Texas: 16
Oklahoma: 12
Oklahoma State: 6
Missouri: 4
Kansas State: 3
Texas A&M: 2
  • 2003: DT Ty Warren, 13th overall, New England Patriots
  • 2003: DB Sammy Davis, 30th overall, San Diego Chargers
Texas Tech: 1
Kansas: 1
  • 2008: CB Aqib Talib, 20th overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baylor: 1
Iowa State: none since 1973 (George Amundson)

A few thoughts and observations:
  • I doubt many would be surprised that this list is also a reasonably accurate reflection of overall success since the Big 12's inception in 1996. Obviously, Texas and Oklahoma have dominated. Since 2000, Texas has the nation's fourth-most first-rounders. Oklahoma is No. 6. Their success has paralleled that, along with recruiting rankings.
  • In that same breath, it's impossible to look at this list and not once again be impressed with what Mike Leach did. He obviously has the reputation as an overachiever, but looking big picture, he was able to do it with one first-round pick. Nobody beat Texas and Oklahoma more and Leach helped put together what is still the Big 12's longest bowl streak.
  • Texas' consistency sticks out, too. Since just 2001, Texas has had two first-rounders in six different seasons. If you've got two first-rounders on your team, you're probably going to be pretty good. The Longhorns, if you haven't noticed, have been. Those two first-rounders in six seasons are more or as many as half the league has in the history of the Big 12. What else you should note? Texas is unlikely to have a first rounder this year, and after Aaron Williams is drafted, Sam Acho probably will be the next to go, which won't be until the third or fourth round.
  • Oklahoma State and Missouri's rise over the past three seasons has paid off in the NFL draft. Missouri had three first-rounders in the last two seasons and figures to add two more this year after having just one in the 12-year history of the league before 2009. That's quite a streak, and even more proof of what Gary Pinkel has built at Missouri. One more piece of evidence? Despite losing those two first-rounders, Missouri should be back in the preseason polls next year after losing two of its top players. That's definitely something new in Columbia. The Cowboys figure to add more soon with Justin Blackmon at least. As long as Pinkel and Gundy are at the helm for their respective programs, expect them to continue to rise.
  • Don't be surprised by Texas A&M's swoon following R.C. Slocum's departure. From 1990-1998, the Aggies won nine games every season but one. From 1990-96, the Aggies had eight first-round picks. Since 1998? Two seasons with at least nine wins and just two first-round picks.
  • More evidence you can't underestimate the importance of having first-round picks? None for Baylor in the history of the Big 12 before Art Briles. In just three years, Briles may have three if the Bears add two more this year with Phil Taylor and Danny Watkins. Taylor and Watkins both came from unlikely sources. Taylor was a Penn State transfer and Watkins a juco transfer that formerly worked as a fireman in Canada.

Mailbag: Bowls redrawn, NFL Draft forecast

December, 10, 2010
Joe in Omaha, NE asks: If you were in charge of matching a team (reguardless of conference) to all the big 12's bowl eligible teams, which matchups would you want to see?

David Ubben: Interesting question. Most of the Big 12 matchups are snoozers, but Texas A&M and LSU and Missouri and Iowa are decent. So is Baylor and Illinois.

As for the rest, let me see these games (all picked within reason, so no Nebraska-Stanford, aka Luck vs. the Blackshirts. Sorry.):

Oklahoma vs. Ohio State: The Buckeyes took home a BCS bowl last year, but both teams could still use a bump in their street cred. Beating Oklahoma, even if it's not an SEC team, could do it for Jim Tressel. Texas and Ohio State played a couple classic games, including a Fiesta Bowl, this decade. Limas Sweed, anyone? What a catch in the 'Shoe. Quan Cosby, too, in that Fiesta Bowl.

I bet this would be a great game. Like OSU, Oklahoma could use the prestige boost. A win over UConn would be nice for the Sooners, but a win over a four-loss team won't completely satisfy the folks who think Bob Stoops has lost his "Big Game Bob" moniker. The Sooners played a better team last year (No. 19 Stanford, also with four losses) in the Sun Bowl. Plus, if the Sooners lose this year, it's an absolute disaster.

Nebraska vs. South Carolina: The Head Ball Coach against the Blackshirts? Yes, please. I'd like to see the good version of Stephen Garcia show up against the best secondary in the country, and we could see some high-quality football. Oklahoma's Landry Jones played as well as anyone against them and put up great numbers, but I'd like to see them take on Garcia, Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore. That could be a great matchup.

Texas Tech vs. Miami. Because...obviously. Most awkward bowl game ever? Not that he'll leave, but would that be the first time a coach has ever coached against his future team in a bowl game? Might be. If Tuberville actually left, he probably wouldn't coach this game, but remember people, we're operating in an ideal world. And in my ideal world, these things happen.

Joe Guilliams in St. Louis, MO asks: DU,What's happening with Gabbert next year? Is he coming back and if so will he start over James Franklin? Thanks, JG

DU: I'd expect Gabbert to come back this year. I imagine he feels like he left a lot on the table and Missouri should have a pretty good team in 2011, especially if he returns. (And, he won't have to see Nebraska's secondary anymore!)

He could still get a lot better, but it wouldn't surprise me if he made the leap this year. He's obviously a smart, coachable player and with his arm strength at every bit of 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, he'll make a lot of money in the league eventually.

Also, anyone who thinks James Franklin should be playing over Gabbert is out of their mind. He worked really well in the way Missouri used him this year, as a bit of a spot runner a la freshman year Tim Tebow, but nobody on that team is going to be able to run the entire offense as well as Gabbert, no matter how much Franklin improves next year.

Jeff in Memphis,TN asks: No disrespect to the Oklahoma State kicker,but how was the Nebraska kicker not even on the list. I watched the Big 12 title game and was amazed. Please enlighten this confused southerner.

Migu in Columbia, Missouri asks: What happened to the Mackey Award? I thought my man Michael Egnew was the sure bet to get it--I mean, isn't Egnew the top in most statistics for a tight end? Or is the selection process for the award getting ridiculous to the point that statistics doesn't matter anymore?

DU: I figured there would be a lot of questions about this, and there were. I threw these questions in here to refer you back to my thoughts on the issue from earlier today.

Bob Powell in Nazareth, PA asks: I live on East Coast and get no inside scoop anymore. What are the chances Broyles sticks around for Natl Title run?? How high in first round do you think he will go if he comes out?? How fast is he really?? Is he another Mark Clayton - which is pretty damn good. Thanks.

DU: I wouldn't rule out Broyles staying, but I think he'll leave, and it'd probably be a good call. I mentioned it earlier in the week, but he's learned a lot about the game. He's been a contributor for three years in this league. He's seen about everything defenses can throw at him. There's little issue about legacy; he owns eight of the nine major receiving records at Oklahoma. The only one he's missing is the single-game record for touchdowns, but he's had a three-touchdown game and the record is four. He's the best receiver in Oklahoma history, period.

He's fast, but he's quicker than he is fast. For an undersized guy like him, that's a big deal. Also a big deal are his hands. They're some of the best in the game. He had one dropped pass this year, and Landry Jones said in midseason that before that drop, he hadn't dropped a ball since the third game of the year in 2009, against Tulsa.

As a receiver under six-foot, he's not going to be a guy that teams will draft in the early first round, like a Calvin Johnson or Michael Crabtree, but he'll have a solid NFL career. He made a brief appearance on Mel Kiper's Big Board earlier this year, but if he impresses in pre-draft workouts, he could probably be a late first rounder, but I'd be surprised if he dropped out of the second round. Other than his size, all of his measurables should be good, and though he's not 6-foot-3, he can still go up and get a jump ball from time to time.

Kanye West (Phoenix) writes: Yo, Dan Bailey, I'm really happy for you, and I'mma let you finish, but Alex Henery is one of the greatest college kickers of all-time! Of all-time!

DU: A strong, strong candidate for best e-mail of the season. I want to drop a "Yup, these are my readers" so hard right now, you don't even know.

Lunch links: Former Husker makes amends

April, 15, 2010

McCoy on display at OU pro day

March, 9, 2010
NORMAN, Okla. -- Gerald McCoy was measured at 6-foot-4 and 298 pounds, but participated only in brief position-specific drills. He said on Tuesday he'll wait to improve his underwhelming 23 reps on the 225-pound bench press until March 25, when former teammate Sam Bradford will show off his surgically reconstructed throwing shoulder for NFL scouts.

McCoy added that the low number surprised him because he began at 25 reps, before he started working out specifically for the combine.

"Everybody said it was just nerves," McCoy said. "Because you don't start training and then go down. You don't do that. Especially when you're seeing yourself increase every week."

McCoy said he'll take some time off from training before returning to Norman for pro day, part deux.

Also of note, cornerback Dominique Franks improved his 40-yard dash time to 4.47, significantly faster than his disappointing time at the combine. Fellow cornerback Brian Jackson showed off a 38-inch vertical jump, the best of the day.

Former teammates and likely first-round picks offensive lineman Trent Williams and tight end Jermaine Greshamn opted out of most of the drills on Tuesday. Williams improved his 20-yard shuttle time to 4.40, but neither tried to improve his 40 time. Gresham measured at 6-foot-5 3/8 and 259 pounds. Williams measured 6-foot-4 1/2 and 314 pounds.

A few other notes:
  • St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, whose team holds the No. 1 pick in next month's draft, was in attendance. He had a lengthy conversation with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. Plenty of the conversation likely revolved around McCoy and Bradford, two players St. Louis could draft with the first pick.
  • Lots of current and former Sooners came to Oklahoma's indoor facility for pro day. The Baltimore Ravens' Mark Clayton showed, as did fullback J.D. Runnels, who most last saw as a Bengal on the last season of the HBO show "Hard Knocks," which chronicles one NFL team's training camp each August. Current Sooners who were in attendance included quarterback Landry Jones, receiver Ryan Broyles and defensive end Jeremy Beal.

Oklahoma's all-decade team

January, 20, 2010
Oklahoma was the dominant program of the last decade in the Big 12, leading the conference with six titles, seven conference title-game appearances and four BCS title-game appearances.

All of those accomplishments are a testament to Bob Stoops, one of two conference coaches to direct his team throughout the decade.

Setting the Sooners’ all-decade team was difficult. The choice at wide receiver next to Mark Clayton was extremely difficult. Malcolm Kelly, Juaquin Iglesias or Ryan Broyles all would have been good choices. I went with Broyles because of his proficiency despite constant double-team defenses this season when he produced 89 receptions.

And at quarterback, I went with Sam Bradford over Jason White in a tough positional choice between two Heisman Trophy winners.

Here’s my choice for Oklahoma’s all-decade team.


QB: Sam Bradford

RB: Adrian Peterson

RB: Quentin Griffin

WR: Mark Clayton

WR: Ryan Broyles

TE: Jermaine Gresham

OL: Jammal Brown

OL: Trent Williams

OL: Davin Joseph

OL: Phil Loadholt

C: Vince Carter


DL: Dan Cody

DL: Tommie Harris

DL: Gerald McCoy

DL: Jeremy Beal

LB: Teddy Lehman

LB: Rocky Calmus

LB: Curtis Lofton

DB: Derrick Strait

DB: Roy Williams

DB: Andre Woolfolk

DB: Brandon Everage

K: Garrett Hartley

P: Jeff Ferguson

Ret: Ryan Broyles

Offensive player of the decade: QB Sam Bradford. He became the first quarterback in Big 12 history to lead his team to back-to-back titles, capping his sophomore season by throwing for 50 touchdowns and earning the Heisman Trophy. His final season in college didn’t go as expected, but he still leaves school as a player who will be immortalized with a statue at Owen Field in the not-too-distant future.

Defensive player of the decade: S Roy Williams. He was such a natural that Bob Stoops created a position “the Roy” especially for his talents. He set the standard as a physical run-stuffing safety and sealed his legacy with the hit on Chris Simms that sealed the 2001 victory over Texas.

Coach of the decade: Bob Stoops. The only coach of the decade for the Sooners had more unprecedented early success than any coach in Big 12 history, winning the national championship in his second season and claiming a record six conference championships. They aren’t calling him “Big Game Bob” as much as before, but Stoops still ranks among the most pivotal figures in Big 12 history.

Most memorable moment of the decade: On a misty night at Pro Player Stadium, the Sooners’ defense turned in a masterful performance to claim the 2001 Orange Bowl and bring home the 2000 national championship. Josh Heupel managed to direct the offense despite a sore elbow and the Oklahoma defense would have pitched a shutout in a 13-2 triumph over Florida State except for a special-teams safety in the final minute of play.

'05 Texas team was best Big 12 team of the decade

January, 20, 2010
The Big 12 had two national championship teams and five others that played in the BCS title game in the decade.

The two championship teams were the best of the conference's last 10 years. Some of the other BCS title participants were good, but not necessarily among the very best teams during the conference's recent history.

Here's how I rank the Big 12's top 10 teams over the last decade.

1. 2005 Texas: A star-studded team paced by All-Americans Michael Huff, Jonathan Scott, Rodrique Wright and Vince Young ran off 13 straight victories, capping the season with a BCS title-game victory over USC. The team averaged 50.2 points per game en route to a then-NCAA record 652 total points, earning Texas’ first undisputed national championship since 1969. It was the greatest team that Mack Brown ever coached and arguably the best team in the rich football history of Texas.

2. 2000 Oklahoma: Bob Stoops claimed a national championship in his second season coaching the Trojans behind Josh Heupel, who finished second in the Heisman race that season. All-Americans Heupel, linebacker Rocky Calmus and J.T. Thatcher helped the Sooners notch the first undefeated season and national championship in Big 12 history. After winning three of their final four regular-season games by less than five points, the Sooners dominated Florida State in a 13-2 triumph in the Orange Bowl for the national championship.

3. 2008 Oklahoma: Sam Bradford won the Heisman Trophy with this team, which overcame a midseason loss to Texas and still claimed the Big 12 title in a 12-2 season that was marred by a 24-14 loss to Florida in the national championship game. The Sooners rolled-up a record 702 points as Bradford passed for 50 touchdowns, Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray each rushed for 1,000 yards and Juaquin Iglesias topped 1,000 yards receiving. The Sooners scored 35 points in each regular-season game and finished the regular season with five straight games of at least 60 points before the BCS title-game loss.

4. 2004 Oklahoma: The Sooners charged to 12 straight victories before a dropping a 55-19 decision to USC in the Orange Bowl for the national title. Freshman running back Adrian Peterson rushed for an NCAA freshman record 1,925 yards to finish second in the Heisman. Jason White claimed the Heisman the previous season and his numbers were down with Peterson's arrival, but he still passed for 3,205 yards and 35 touchdowns. This group had strength in the trenches with All-Americans like Vince Carter, Dan Cody, Jammal Brown and Mark Clayton as it claimed Bob Stoops’ third Big 12 title.

5. 2009 Texas: After streaking to a school-record 13-0 mark through the Big 12 title game, the Longhorns dropped a 37-21 decision to Alabama in the national title game in a contest that changed when Colt McCoy was hurt on the fifth play of the game. McCoy became the winningest quarterback in NCAA history during this season, repeatedly hooking up with favorite target Jordan Shipley, who snagged a school-record 116 receptions, 1,485 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Longhorns led the nation in rush defense, and All-American safety Earl Thomas tied a school record with eight interceptions. Lamarr Houston and Sergio Kindle also added playmaking abilities to the defense.

6. 2004 Texas: The Longhorns overcame a midseason 12-0 loss to Oklahoma to finish the season with seven straight victories in a season capped by a dramatic 38-37 victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl. The Longhorns ranked second nationally in rushing offense and seventh in total offense as Young gradually found his confidence as a passer late in the season. Cedric Benson rushed for 1,834 yards and 19 touchdowns, and Young chipped in with 1,079 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. This team showed a knack for comebacks, overcoming an early 35-7 deficit against Oklahoma State and also coming from behind in an early-season victory at Arkansas.

7. 2007 Oklahoma: Bradford led the first of two consecutive Big 12 championships on a team that enabled the Sooners to become the first Big 12 school to win back-to-back titles. The Sooners dropped road games to Colorado and Texas Tech but still overcame Missouri in the Big 12 title game behind a huge defensive effort keyed by Big 12 defensive player of the year Rufus Alexander. Bradford led the nation in passing efficiency, but the Sooners' bowl struggles continued in an embarrassing 48-28 loss to West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.

8. 2003 Kansas State: Don’t let the Wildcats’ 11-4 record fool you. After an early three-game losing streak to Marshall, Texas and Oklahoma State (by a combined margin of 15 points), Bill Snyder’s team won its final seven regular-season games by a combined margin of 271-66. That streak was culminated by a stunning 35-7 upset victory over Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game -- the last victory by a North Division team in the title game. The Wildcats ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing, scoring, total defense, scoring defense and pass defense as Darren Sproles rushed for 1,986 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Wildcats dropped a 35-28 Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State in a game they fell into an early 21-0 deficit and had a chance to tie on the final play of the game after a frantic comeback directed by Ell Roberson.

9. 2007 Missouri: Chase Daniel led Missouri into the Big 12 title game for the first time in school history, taking the team to No. 1 nationally heading into the conference championship game. The Tigers lost twice to Oklahoma during a 12-2 season that was capped by 38-7 beatdown over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. Tony Temple made that game memorable by rushing for a record 281 yards and four TDs that pushed Missouri to No. 4 nationally at the end of the season. A star-studded collection of talent including Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman, Martin Rucker and Sean Weatherspoon helped the Tigers rank among the top-10 teams nationally in passing, total offense and scoring and 11th in turnover margin.

10. 2007 Kansas: The Jayhawks earned Mark Mangino the national coach of the year award by running to an 11-0 start before losing to Missouri in the regular-season finale. The Jayhawks rebounded for a 24-21 victory over Virginia Tech in their first BCS bowl appearance in school history, finishing a 12-1 season that set a school record for victories. Todd Reesing passed for 33 touchdowns to highlight a high-powered offense that scored 76 points against Nebraska and scored at least 43 points in eight games. The Jayhawks were a balanced team that ranked second nationally in scoring offense, fourth in scoring defense and in the top 10 nationally in eight different team statistics. Anthony Collins and Aqib Talib earned consensus All-America honors.

Wyatt reportedly headed back to KU coaching position

December, 24, 2009
Several Kansas newspapers are reporting that Southern Mississippi offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt is set to join Turner Gill's staff at Kansas as a new receivers coach.

Wyatt coached at Kansas from 1997-2000 on Terry Allen's staff before leaving for a position at Oklahoma State. He later coached at Oklahoma where he was credited for developing standout receivers like Mark Clayton and recruiting Adrian Peterson.

His hiring is important as it adds another experienced coach to a staff already dotted with former head coaches like Chuck Long and Carl Torbush.

Wyatt's offense at Southern Mississippi was one of the most prolific in school history. The Golden Eagles ranked 20th nationally in total offense and broke 36 school records. Southern Mississippi finished 7-5 in 2009, losing to Middle Tennessee State in the New Orleans Bowl.

Wyatt also adds another experienced recruiter in the Big 12 area to Kansas.

Gill mentioned recruiting four times among his top seven priorities last week when he was hired. So it's understandable that Wyatt fits that profile exactly, as well as bringing him an experienced coach who has helped develop a prolific offense in recent seasons.

Gill's staff is expected to be completed early next week, the Kansas City Star reported.

Williams' deflection is No. 3 Big 12 memory

July, 8, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Superman's leap: Roy Williams' tipped pass leads to OU's game-clinching 

Date: Oct. 6, 2001
Place: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
Score: Oklahoma 14, Texas 3

Bob Stoops warned Roy Williams not to leave his feet.

Fortunately for the Sooners, Williams didn't listen. His well-timed jump led to arguably the biggest defensive play in Big 12 history and the clinching moment of one of Stoops' most memorable and satisfying victories.

With Texas at its own 3-yard line, the Sooners' blitzing safety came up with the biggest of plays. His leap enabled him to hit the elbow of Texas quarterback Chris Simms, deflecting his attempted pass. The ball squirted into the hands of surprised Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman, who returned it 2 yards for a clinching touchdown with 2:01 left, capping a masterful defensive performance.

The Sooners claimed the victory in the annual rivalry, which had added importance in 2001 because both teams were ranked in the top five coming into the game for the first time since 1984.

And both played strongly in a memorable defensive slugfest that was won by Williams' heroics and a gritty relief performance by Oklahoma backup quarterback Jason White, who replaced injured starter Nate Hybl in the second quarter.

White made the most of his coming-out party, finishing by completing 16 of 23 passes for 108 yards. And he was just as effective as a scrambler, rushing for a team-high 38 yards on 12 carries.

Oklahoma tailback Quentin Griffin, who gashed the Longhorns for six touchdowns in a memorable 2000 performance, accounted for the game's lone offensive touchdown. The diminutive tailback took an option pitch from White and scooted 2 yards for a touchdown around left end to give the Sooners an early 7-0 lead, capping an 11-play, 61-yard scoring drive.

Texas struck back when Dusty Mangum converted on a 27-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in the first half to pull the Longhorns within 7-3 at the break.

And that's how the score remained for most of the rest of the game as both teams' defenses alternated coming up with big plays.

Simms was terrorized by a blitzing Oklahoma defense which produced four interceptions, including three in the fourth quarter. He was also sacked five times, including three by speedy Oklahoma defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson.

The Longhorns appeared to have grabbed momentum late in the third quarter after Duncan shanked a 24-yard attempt and the Sooners failed on three straight plays inside the Texas 5-yard line.

The Longhorns were turned away on their deepest fourth-quarter possession at the Oklahoma 34 when Simms was intercepted by Antonio Perkins in the Sooners' end zone. Simms was aiming for Sloan Thomas on a post pattern.

Oklahoma then took the ensuing drive for nearly six-and-a-half minutes as they marched to the Texas 27. But Stoops eschewed another field goal attempt by Tim Duncan, who had missed two earlier, in favor of a pooch punt from Duncan.

The strategy worked perfectly as confused Texas defensive back Nathan Vasher fielded the kick and was immediately stopped at his own 3.

With all of their timeouts remaining, Texas coach Mack Brown said after the game that his team planned to win the game on the ensuing drive.

But Williams and his leap took care of that on the next play, icing a dramatic victory that still resonates as one of the best defensive performances in the Stoops era.

They said it, part I:  "To keep them out of the end zone, to have five sacks, force four interceptions. ... It's just amazing," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on his team's big defensive effort.

They said it, part II: "Roy made a great play on the quarterback. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman on his interception caused by Roy Williams' "Superman" leap.

They said it, part III: ''We were so close. We knew it was going to be a dog fight. Nothing fooled us. We got exactly what we expected.'' Texas quarterback Chris Simms on his team's disappointment after the loss.

They said it, part IV: ''It was two great defenses and two offenses trying to scratch them. It was a great football game. Both teams played as hard as they could," Texas coach Mack Brown on the bitter defensive struggle.

They said it, part V: "It was like two Mack trucks running into each other for 3 hours and 15 minutes," Brown on the physical nature of the game.

They said it, part VI: "Jason showed great leadership and toughness. He executed exceptionally well today coming off the bench. He had a solid game all around," Stoops on White's relief effort.

Factoids: The victory extended Oklahoma's winning streak to 18 games and marked the Sooners' second-straight victory over Texas ... White had thrown six passes in his career before this game, including four in the 2001 season ... Simms completed 24 of 42 passes for 198 yards ... The victory stretched Stoops' record against top 10 opponents to 8-0 at the start of his career at Oklahoma ... Texas was limited to 27 yards rushing on 25 carries ... Texas controlled Quentin Griffin, who was limited to 27 yards on 16 carries ... Mark Clayton led the Sooners in receiving with six grabs for 65 yards ... Texas wide receiver Roy Williams produced five receptions for 64 yards and B.J. Johnson added five catches for 23 yards ... Simms threw interceptions on three-straight fourth-quarter possessions to enable the Sooners to wrap up the victory. It was the lowest number of points for Texas since the infamous 66-3 loss to UCLA in 1997.

The upshot: The victory appeared to put the Sooners in the driver's seat for the South Division title. But they lost twice in the final five regular-season games, including a tough 16-13 regular-season home loss to Oklahoma State that cost them a berth in the Big 12 title game.

Instead, Oklahoma produced a gritty 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl to finish off an 11-2 season that saw them finish sixth in the final Associated Press poll.

Texas responded with a six-game winning streak that catapulted them into the Big 12 title game after Oklahoma's two late losses. But the Longhorns dropped a disappointing 39-37 defeat to Colorado in the conference championship game -- Mack Brown's second Big 12 title-game loss.

The Longhorns went on to defeat Washington, 47-43, in the Holiday Bowl to cap an 11-2 record. They were fifth in the final 2001 AP poll.

The countdown:

4. Davison's dramatic grab keeps Cornhuskers' national title hopes alive.
5. Bamboozled again and again and again. Boise's gadget plays doom Oklahoma.
6. Yes, Sirr. Parker's dramatic catches lead A&M to first Big 12 title
7. Crouch's TD catch cements Heisman bid, beats Oklahoma
8. Sproles and Roberson stun top-ranked OU, leading KSU to its first Big 12 title.
9. Emotional A&M victory brings closure after Bonfire tragedy.
10. Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then backs it up.
11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms" in Colorado's first Big 12 title.
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks NCAA career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

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

April, 29, 2009

Posted by'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.


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

Former Big 12 players still in the NFL playoffs

January, 16, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

I'll admit that I don't watch nearly as much NFL as I do college football. Sundays typically are my busiest day during the season and I'm usually fortunate if I can watch a quarter of any regular season NFL game.

But after the bowls are over, I can watch the playoffs with a critical eye. The NFL playoffs are a great spectacle and Sunday's two championship games are one of the four or five best days of sports of the year. Not quite as good as national championship day or New Year's Day to be sure, but still six hours of entertaining football to be savored.

I particularly like to catch up with some of the former players I used to cover during their Big 12 careers. And with free agency drastically altering rosters, it's tough to follow all of the player movement.

I took a quick look at the rosters of the four remaining teams, looking for former Big 12 players and how they are involved on their teams.

Here's a look at each remaining NFL team with Big 12 players and their uniform numbers noted.

Philadelphia Eagles

Arizona Cardinals

  • LB Monty Beisel, Kansas State (52) -- Second-string at middle linebacker
  • CB Ralph Brown, Nebraska (20) -- Second-string at left cornerback
  • C Lyle Sendlein, Texas (63) -- Starter
  • DE Antonio Smith, Oklahoma State (94) -- Starter at left defensive end

Baltimore Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers

From humble start, Iglesias blossoms into top OU receiver

January, 5, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

MIAMI -- Early in his career, Oklahoma wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias wasn't sure he belonged with the Sooners.

  Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
  Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias is looking to end his career on a high-note with a BCS Championship Game win over Florida.

Recruited almost as an afterthought after a high-school career where he was known primarily for his basketball and track accomplishments, Iglesias struggled early to get the concepts of the Sooners' passing game down after his arrival.

"I didn't think I would play at all when I first got there," Iglesias said. "Going from catching a lot of balls in high school to not playing is hard. I was trying to prepare myself for that transformation after I was here for a few weeks."

But instead of moping, Iglesias redoubled his efforts on the practice, catching his coaches' attention by doing the little things.

From those humble origins, Iglesias has developed into one of the most prolific receivers in Oklahoma history. And he's never forgotten how far he has come from those early days when he felt fortunate to even be playing with the Sooners.

Iglesias will conclude his career Thursday night playing in the biggest football game of the season as the Sooners meet Florida in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game.

"The difference between back then and now is like night and day," Iglesias said Monday as he soaked up the atmosphere at Dolphin Stadium during a team media function. "I was sure I was never going to play for the few months I was here. Now, playing in a stadium like this in a game like this is something you dream about.

"A lot of kids play this game and never get a chance like I'm getting. I'm playing for them and for my family."

The Big 12's deep collection of receiving talent has caused Iglesias to sometimes become lost in the shuffle. Especially this season, when the conference was the home to all three Biletnikoff Award finalists -- Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, Missouri's Jeremy Maclin and Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant.

But Iglesias was nearly as proficient this season, producing 69 receptions for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns. It was the second-most catches in Oklahoma history as Iglesias became only the third Sooner to top 1,000 yards. He holds two of the top three seasons in Sooner history for receptions, trailing only Mark Clayton's record of 221 catches from 2001-04.

When Manny Johnson went down early in the Kansas game with an elbow injury, Iglesias stepped up to produce a school single-game record 12 receptions for 191 yards.

His development has mirrored the growth of quarterback Sam Bradford. The two players often worked during the summer and after practice the last two seasons to work on their timing running hundreds of his pass patterns.

That work has allowed them to bond in a connection that Bradford said is closer than he shares with any other teammate.

"I do have confidence in Juaquin and I definitely know where he's going to be on every play," Bradford said. "If something is funky and I'm not sure what's going on with the defense, most of the time I just look for him."

Oklahoma's collection of receiving threats has kept opposing defenses honest all season. The Sooners feature a deep cast with six receivers with at least 27 catches this season. Five of those players have averaged at least 15 yards per catch.

"I very rarely ever see double coverage," Iglesias said. "Having all those players helps us out a lot. It's good to have a lot of people so they have to worry about a lot of things."

But Iglesias' development has particularly thrilled the Sooners' coaches over the years. They outrecruited UTEP for him as no other Big 12 players were interested after a limited football career at Killeen (Texas) High School. He was more widely known after averaging 17 points per game in basketball and being an accomplished runner in the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays.

The Sooners got interested in him late in recruiting and have seen him transformed once he came to college because of his work ethic.

"I kid with the Price Brothers at UTEP (former UTEP assistant coach Eric Price and current UTEP assistant Aaron Price) about Juaquin," Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. "They say 'There's that guy you stole from us.' Not that Juaquin wasn't a good player, but he was falling through the cracks. We got lucky and found a guy who has really helped us."

Iglesias will also inherit another role in Thursday's game as he becomes the Sooners' primary kickoff returner after the injury to DeMarco Murray. Iglesias set a school record with 826 kickoff return yards last season, but saw Murray inherit the featured return role this season.

"I'm really excited about getting my chance at that again," Iglesias said. "It's always fun when you have the ball in your hands."

Even if he wasn't sure he'd ever get that opportunity earlier in his college career.

Surprises have dotted previous Oct. 11 Texas-OU games

October, 11, 2008

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Previous Oct. 11 games in the Texas-OU series have provided several surprising results over the years. Here are a couple of the more memorable moments on previous games on this date.

Oct. 11, 1958: No. 16 Texas 15, No. 2 Oklahoma 14 -- Backup Texas quarterback Bobby Lackey came off the bench to throw a game-tying fourth-down touchdown pass to Bill Bryant to lead the Longhorns to the upset victory. Lackey then tacked on the game-winning extra point and added a clinching interception at his own 28-yard line that sealed the triumph. Texas had completed only eight passes in its previous three games, but beat that total between Vince Matthews and Bryant in this single game.

Oct. 11, 2003: No. 1 Oklahoma 65, No. 11 Texas 13 -- The Sooners' victory wasn't a surprise but the margin of victory was. Jason White rifled four touchdown passes and passed for 290 yards to help the Sooners cruise to the largest victory margin in the history of the series. The Sooners tormented Texas quarterbacks Vince Young and Chance Mock during a run of six-straight turnovers midway through that blew the game open. Mark Clayton grabbed eight passes for 190 yards and a touchdown and Renaldo Works rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns to pace Oklahoma's offensive burst.

Broyles waited a long time for his Sooner debut

September, 8, 2008

Posted by's Tim Griffin

As he watched the replay of his first collegiate game, Ryan Broyles said he had a surreal feeling of how far he had come during the last 13 months.

After sitting out for the first 15 games of his career for various transgressions, the redshirt freshman wide receiver was ready when he got his opportunity. He made the most of his chance with seven receptions for 141 yards in the best debut by a freshman receiver in Oklahoma history, sparking the Sooners' 52-26 triumph over Cincinnati.

It was a long time coming for the Norman native who attended nearby Norman High School and often watched games at Owen Field during his childhood. His favorite players were Mark Clayton and Andre Woolfolk.

He wavered between Oklahoma State and OU before decided to join the Sooners.

Broyles was expected to be the only true freshman to play for the Sooners last season but, a day before the season opener against North Texas, he was arrested on a complaint of stealing gas. This led to his suspension by coach Bob Stoops.

During that time, Broyles continued to work out with the team but was unable to play with the Sooners on Saturdays. He most often watched those games from a couch in his apartment.

He also missed the Sooners opener against Chattanooga for an undisclosed violation of team rules before his chance finally came against Cincinnati in the Sooners' second game.

"That was the toughest part, knowing I could help them out, but not being able to play," Broyles said. "I had been playing football since the second grade. Not being able to suit up was most difficult of all."

After his big game on Saturday, he returned to the same couch to watch a replay of the game with his friends and family.

"God always has a plan for us and that's how I look at it," Broyles said. "I just tried to hold on with a lot of strength and wait for my opportunity. And when it came I wouldn't say I was surprised, but just blessed."