Big 12: Nick LaMantia
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Every team is green someplace. Here are the specific areas of the most inexperience for each Big 12 team.
Baylor offensive tackle: The Bears need to break in two new starters after losing Jason Smith and Dan Gay.
Colorado defensive line: Help is needed along the defensive front where the Buffaloes lose starting defensive end Maurice Lucas, starting defensive tackle George Hypolite and starting nose tackle Brandon Nicolas.
Iowa State defensive line: Coach Paul Rhoads desperately wants somebody to emerge on the defensive line where the Cyclones lose starting defensive tackle Michael Tate, starting defensive end Kurtis Taylor and top backup defensive back Travis Ferguson.
Kansas linebackers: Even as Mark Mangino is contemplating going to a two-linebacker base defense because of the Big 12's spread offenses, he still needs to find those two players. The Jayhawks lose starters James Holt, Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen at the position from last season.
Kansas State quarterback: Josh Freeman departed for the NFL early, leaving Carson Coffman and junior college transfer Daniel Thomas to compete for the starting job. It's not a pleasant introduction back to football for returning KSU coach Bill Snyder.
Missouri skill-position players: The Tigers need a quick infusion of playmakers after losing quarterback Chase Daniel, wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman. All of them arguably were the greatest players at their respective positions in Missouri history. Blake Gabbert will receive first look at quarterback and Andrew Jones will work at tight end. It could take several players to fill in for what Maclin did.
Nebraska quarterback: It will be tough for the Cornhuskers to replace all that Joe Ganz did for them, both as a playmaker and a leader at quarterback. Zac Lee will get the first shot, along with freshman Cody Green and redshirt freshman Kody Spano. Maybe the Cornhuskers really could use former Miami quarterback Robert Marve next season.
Oklahoma offensive line: The departure of starting center Jon Cooper, tackle Phil Loadholt and guards Duke Robinson and Brandon Walker means that Sam Bradford will have an inexperienced group protecting him next season. Trent Williams moves to left tackle and Bob Stoops likes his incoming talent, if not its early work habits.
Oklahoma State defensive tackles: The Cowboys ranked last in the conference in sacks last season and lost starting defensive tackles Tonga Tea and Jeray Chatham. It will mean that new defensive coordinator Bill Young will need somebody to step up in the trenches to help shore up that weakness.
Texas defensive line: The major question dogging the Longhorns' national title hopes will be rebuilding a defensive front that loses All-American defensive end Brian Orakpo, defensive tackle Roy Miller, defensive tackle Aaron Lewis and defensive end Henry Melton from last season.
Texas Tech offensive line: New quarterback Taylor Potts will be relying on a retooled offensive line protecting his blind side after left tackle Rylan Reed, left guard Louis Vasquez and center Stephen Hamby all departed from last year.
Texas A&M running backs: The Aggies' offensive backfield will need to restock players: Michael Goodson left school early to declare for the NFL draft and fullbacks Jorvorskie Lane and Nick LaMantia are gone. Look for Cyrus Gray to get most of the work this spring with heralded freshman Bradley Stephens arriving in the summer.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Texas A&M running back Jorvorskie Lane's questionable status because of a lingering neck injury will be a big matter of concern until he returns to practice.
And it could be an even bigger matter for the Aggies if he doesn't respond quickly to treatment -- mainly because of the Aggies' lack of depth at the position.
Lane, a 6-foot, 285-pound senior, sustained a stinger in practice Aug. 13 and hasn't seen action in contact drills since then. A&M coach Mike Sherman said that Lane has had trouble coping with headaches and still hasn't been cleared to play for the Aggies' opener Saturday night against Arkansas State.
Lane rushed for 780 yards and 16 TDs to lead all Aggie running backs last season. But he lost his position at tailback soon after Sherman arrived and had been ticketed to a position change to fullback with the emergence of Mike Goodson as the Aggies' primary ball-carrier.
Obviously, any neck injury for Lane would be a big problem, particularly where blocking would be such an integral part of his regular work. And his blocking would be vitally important for an A&M offense that returns only one starter along its interior line.
Sherman has been pleased with how Lane has accepted the position change. He had pushed him to lose weight and boost his pass-catching skills as a potential ticket for professional football as well as helping the Aggies this season.
Backup Nick LaMantia, who served as the team's 12th man special teams player last season, would start at fullback if Lane isn't ready. And LaMantia, a converted linebacker who moved to fullback last year because of A&M's lack of depth at the position, has been slowed with a sprained ankle at recent practices.
Sherman told reporters Monday that LaMantia should be ready for the Arkansas State game.