Big 12: Nick Demien

Finding a Big 12 All-Future Team

June, 8, 2011
6/08/11
10:30
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I've mentioned this in the past, but a few Mailbag questions warrant a post all its own. This is one of those posts.

We'll have a Mailbag later today, by the way, so if you'd like to get your two cents in, here's your chance.

David in Austin, Texas asked: Let's say you were the head coach of Ubbeniversity, which sophmores and incoming freshmen would you "recruit" to each position based on the spring games, hype, and single seasons? Bonus: Without taking more 3 players from a single school.

Now, let's not get confused. I named my Big 12 All-Freshman team last year, but those were players who had accomplished something on the field after one season. This team is predicting the future. There are plenty of incoming freshmen who could prove better than their older competition, and other freshmen who have the skill and hype, but lack the opportunity that others got.

So, here we go.

Getting those bonus points might prove difficult, but here's who I'd take:

OFFENSE

QB: James Franklin, Missouri
RB: Malcolm Brown, Texas
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
WR: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
WR: Tevin Reese, Baylor
WR: Mike Davis, Texas
FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma
OL: Nick Demien, Missouri
OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL: Trey Hopkins, Texas
OL: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

DEFENSE

DL: Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
DL: Kony Ealy, Missouri
DL: Tevin Elliot, Baylor
DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
LB: Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State
LB: Corey Nelson, Oklahoma
LB: Jordan Hicks, Texas
CB: Quandre Diggs, Texas
CB: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
S: Ahmad Dixon, Baylor

Well, I couldn't get those bonus points, despite my best efforts, but here's a few thoughts:
  • Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Texas Tech weren't represented in this group, but Kansas State's Ty Zimmerman nearly made it at safety, and Kansas running back James Sims was on my All-Freshman team last year. Additionally, I nearly added a tight end spot, and probably would have put Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro in it, but I went with a fullback spot, and Trey Millard's value to the Sooners won't be understated any time Bob Stoops talks about him. He touted Millard's perhaps more than any other freshman on his team, and his play made it pretty obvious why.
  • Though this year's crop of Big 12 running backs looks weak, I was surprised to realize just how many good young running backs nearly made this list. Very, very soon, I think the Big 12 could be loaded at the position. Oklahoma's Brandon Williams and Roy Finch just missed the list, as well as Kansas' Darrian Miller and James Sims, Iowa State's Shontrelle Johnson and Texas Tech's Ronnie Daniels. That's a lot of good running backs.
  • Not a good group of young quarterbacks in the league. Franklin leads what is a pretty questionable group. Granted, young quarterbacks who haven't gotten real playing time are always a risk, but anyone have a pick to throw him off? Blake Bell? Case McCoy? Jameill Showers? J.W. Walsh? Scotty Young? Michael Brewer?
  • The biggest unknowns on my team: Ealy, Hopkins, Demien and Diggs.

Mizzou lands ESPNU 150 OL

May, 24, 2010
5/24/10
2:47
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Last season, ESPN ranked offensive linemen Nick Demien and Mitch Morse as Missouri's top two recruits. Now, Missouri's first offensive lineman commit of 2011 holds the same distinction.

Taylor Chappell, an offensive tackle from Canadian, Texas, is on the Watch List for the ESPNU 150 and committed to the Tigers over the weekend, giving Missouri its ninth commitment for its 2011 recruiting class. His arrival gives Missouri's 2011 class its first ESPNU 150 Watch Lister and Chappell takes over as Missouri's top incoming recruit.

At 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, Chappell fits the bill of the slimmer, quicker linemen common to the spread offense that's become Missouri's signature.

He also had offers from Texas Tech, UCLA, Kentucky, Houston, Kansas and Arizona.

The Revolving Door: Missouri

April, 15, 2010
4/15/10
10:00
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Here, we'll take a look at a couple of key players going, staying and coming for each team in the Big 12.

Going:

Sean Weatherspoon, LB

Weatherspoon, a possible first-round pick in next week's draft, was the unquestioned leader of the Missouri defense as a senior. His 111 tackles were second most in the Big 12, despite dropping from 155 as a junior and 127 as a sophomore. Missouri loses only a couple of starters from an eight-win team in 2009, but the hole Weatherspoon leaves behind is the largest, because he anchored the defense physically, emotionally and mentally.

Danario Alexander, WR

The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder spent three injury-prone seasons trying to become a major contributor to the Tigers offense. His senior season, he finally did it, and stayed healthy throughout the season. His 113 receptions were third most nationally, and his 1,781 receiving yards were more than any other receiver in college football. That's thanks to a big finish to his regular season, when he caught over 10 passes in each of the final four games, surpassing 200 receiving yards in three of those games.


Staying:

Blaine Gabbert, QB

Gabbert begins his second season as starter with a chance to stake his claim as the conference's top quarterback. He loses Alexander, his top target, but he'll be throwing to a couple of experienced receivers in Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson, along with relative newcomers T.J. Moe and Rolandis Woodland. Look for tight end Michael Egnew to reignite the tight end tradition at Missouri this season, too. Gabbert threw for 3,593 yards and 24 touchdowns on a bum ankle for most of conference play. If he stays healthy this season, both of those numbers could grow.

Aldon Smith, DE

NCAA Clearinghouse issues kept Smith from playing as a true freshman, but last season, he delivered on legends of him dominating the first-team offense throughout his redshirt season. Smith had 11.5 sacks, good for fourth in the Big 12, and 19 tackles for loss, earning Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors.


Coming:

Tyler Gabbert, QB

Gabbert, like his brother, decommitted from Nebraska with and made his way to Columbia. The 6-foot, 190-pound Ballwin, Mo., native won't get a shot to play until his brother is gone, but he enrolled early as the nation's No. 56 quarterback, along with fellow 2010 signee James Franklin (No. 60 QB) and either could prove to be the future of the position for the Tigers.

Nick Demien, OL

Demien, a 6-foot-5, 295-pound freshman, isn't likely to play early, but with 18 starters returning, few of the incoming freshmen will get chances to be major contributors. Demien, the nation's No. 17 offensive tackle prospect and the top overall prospect in Missouri, could provide depth on the line for the Tigers, and will likely be over 300 pounds by the time he comes to campus. When he does, he'll be coming back from an ACL injury.


More Revolving Door:

Big 12 mailbag: Recruits should spur Missouri's rushing attack

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
5:56
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I couldn’t leave for a weekend without checking the e-mails and seeing some of the questions that the readers had for me this week.

Here are some of the best ones I received over the last several days:

L. Edgar from St. Louis, Mo., writes: Many fans and almost all the media have said that the weakness in Missouri coach Gary Pinkel's program is the lack of a running game. There is evidence to support this view: when they get ahead they are unable to take time off the clock and they are not that effective in the red zone. To me, it looks as if this recruiting class ignored that need. Do you agree?

Tim Griffin: While it might have looked like Pinkel didn’t put a lot of importance in attracting backs, I really like the signing of Greg White of DeQueen, Ark. He’s a different kind of back than the Tigers have had in recent seasons. In fact, the 215-pounder might be considered Missouri’s first true power back since Zack Abron left school. I think he can emerge into a key contributor for the Tigers if he can stay healthy.

And I also think that the addition of two mammoth bookend offensive tackles like Nick Demien and Mitch Morse bodes well for the future of Missouri’s interior line play. It’s been lacking in the last couple of seasons and might be as big a reason for the Tigers’ red-zone problems as anything else. I think these additions will help address the problems that have been there for the Tigers in recent seasons.

Jason Lewis from Kansas City, Mo., writes: Tim, I know recruiting is subjective but I'm wondering why you ranked Nebraska as the seventh-best class in the Big 12. You ranked them behind Baylor, when Nebraska's class was ranked 23rd overall and Baylor's was ranked 39th overall by Rivals. Can you explain your ranking for the Huskers? Thanks.

Tim Griffin: Jason, those were not my rankings but those of ESPNU’s talent evaluators. But I think I can speak for them that the biggest question is the lack of offensive skill players and the inability to land Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who instead accepted the offer at UCLA.

Nebraska desperately needs those big-time receivers to consistently challenge Texas and Oklahoma.

And I know I’ve heard from many Nebraska fans who claim they don’t need Odighizuwa because Bo and Carl Pelini will develop a lesser recruit into as good a player as Odighizuwa would have been.

But remember, he’s a special five-star talent. It always hurts when you lose a chance to get those difference makers. And for anybody to say that the Cornhuskers couldn't have used him don't understand the reality of how the big defensive end could have developed after working with the Pelinis.

Mike Wehling from Lincoln, Neb., writes: Tim, great job with the blog. It remains the main reason why I go to ESPN.com. What teams do you think will win the Big 12 North and South for next season?

Tim Griffin: Mike, I’ll have my definitive early answers sometime next week, but for now I’ve got Nebraska winning the Big 12 North and either Oklahoma or Texas winning the South. I’m leaning to the Sooners now, but could change my mind between now and Wednesday when the pick will be released.

The major reason I give Nebraska the edge is all of the weapons returning from this season’s team, along with the framework of a strong defense. I know that Nebraska will miss Ndamukong Suh, starting safeties Matt O'Hanlon and Larry Asante and linebacker Phillip Dillard, but I’m thinking another year of work with the Pelinis could turn Jared Crick into a monster. And I also like some of the Cornhuskers' returning defensive talent.

And I’m leaning to Oklahoma because they will have an experienced quarterback in Landry Jones with multiple starts. Texas loses Colt McCoy, but will have the inexperienced Garrett Gilbert back. I’m still working over who I think will be the best heading into spring practice and I’ll have an answer next week.

Bear Brown from Denton, Texas, writes: What do you think the Texas Tech fans should do about this whole post-Leach thing? I believe since he's not coming back we should just try to move on. Thanks!

Tim Griffin: That’s why new coach Tommy Tuberville wasted little time connecting with Tech alumni across the state of Texas as soon as the recruiting period was over. The day after National Signing Day, Tuberville was pressing the flesh in both Dallas and Houston to reassure Tech fans that drastic change won’t be resulting in the Red Raiders' program after the controversial firing of Mike Leach.

It will be interesting to see how Tech fans handle the switch. The fact is that both Oklahoma and Texas probably will be down a little next season in the Big 12 South. Tuberville has some nice offensive weapons and I’m convinced he’ll have a strong defense with the Red Raiders some day. But whether that comes next year or not will likely determine if they can challenge for the South Division title.

Tuberville has his work cut out to make Tech fans forget about Leach, the most important figure in Tech football in the last 40 years. But Tuberville is an outstanding coach who had an Auburn team on the brink of a national championship. He was able to consistently compete in the SEC. I'm thinking he'll be able to duplicate that success at Tech, too.

Steve Shoemaker of Las Cruces, N.M., writes: Tim, I loved your post earlier today about the Pro Football Hall of Fame and potential Big 12 players joining in the future. I’ve got two who I think are absolute locks. How about guard Will Shields of Nebraska and punter Shane Lechler of Texas A&M? Both of them were on the NFL’s All-Decade that was released earlier this week. I think what both players have accomplished during their pro careers should make them strong candidates.

Tim Griffin: Steve, I agree with you on both players. I think Shields will end up being one of the great offensive linemen of the NFL’s recent history. It’s hard to argue with his credentials of having made a Pro Bowl in 12 consecutive seasons and nine All-Pro teams. His work with the Kansas City Chiefs was a big reason why that franchise was so successful in the early part of this decade.

And Lechler might go down as the greatest punter in NFL history. His current career average of 47.3 yards per kick after the 2009 season is nearly a yard per kick more than the second-place NFL career punter, Glenn Dobbs. His 51.1 yard-per-kick average in 2009 was the second-highest season total in NFL history and trailed only Sammy Baugh's 51.4 average in 1940.

So it’s safe to say that Lechler’s place in Canton one day looks pretty secure if he can keep his punting average consistently high as its been during the first 10 seasons of his NFL career.

Thanks again for all of the good questions. Enjoy the Super Bowl and will check back again next week.

Missouri recruiting capsule

February, 4, 2010
2/04/10
11:45
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Missouri Tigers

Total class: 23

ESPN 150: 0

By position: OT 3, WR 3, S 3, CB 3, RB 2, QB 2, ATH 2, DE 2, TE 1, DT 1, ILB 1.

By state: Texas 9, Missouri 6, Kansas 1, Michigan 1, Arkansas 1, Iowa 1, Oklahoma 1, Florida 1, Illinois 1, North Carolina 1.

Already enrolled in school: 4.

The big ones: Bookend OTs Nick Demien and Mitch Morse both could develop into standout pass-blockers with proper seasoning and development. Demien is a four-star recruit who is the No. 17 offensive tackle in the class. And Morse is the No. 19 tackle in the nation. DE Kony Ealy is a rangy, 6-foot-5, 230-pound pass-rusher who is ranked No. 49 among defensive ends and shows plenty of room for growth. He could blossom into a pass-rushing beast.

Sleeper: Darvin Ruise is a converted high school quarterback who likely will be a running back, receiver or a returner because of his athletic ability. Missouri coaches love his explosive speed and running ability with the ball.

Needs met: The Tigers added three receivers and a couple of athletes who could help bridge the loss of Danario Alexander and Jared Perry. Running back Greg White would appear to have a shot at eventually breaking into the logjam at the position. And Gary Pinkel appears to have addressed next season’s loss in the secondary with quantity as the Tigers attracted three safeties and three cornerbacks.

Analysis: This is the best recruiting class that Pinkel has attracted in his 10 seasons at Missouri. Surprisingly, he almost admitted it at his news conference on Wednesday. It’s a class of depth that answered almost every need for the Tigers, with heavy emphasis at wide receiver and the secondary. The Tigers had the best class in the North Division and should have the personnel to keep them in the mix for the Big 12 North title for the next few years.

What Gary Pinkel said: "I think the consistency of winning in our program and the great results we're having academically make Missouri a place a lot of kids look at now rather than five or six years ago. … “In our evaluation system, this is significantly a higher level of total recruits than we’ve had since we’ve been here. I don't know about anybody else's system, but that's the way ours reads, and we're excited about that."

Scouts Inc. grade/rankings: B-minus, fifth in Big 12.

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