Big 12: Quinn Mecham

Six from Big 12 earn top academic honor

March, 7, 2012
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Sixty athletes from the Big 12 were awarded the Dr. Gerald Lage Award, the highest honor for academics in the Big 12.

Of those, six were football players.

From the Big 12:
In order to be eligible for the accolade, student-athletes must have lettered at least once in their career while maintaining residence at their institution for at least one academic year. The honoree, which can only be recognized once, should have 100 hours of earned credit with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.80 at the time of the nomination.

Here's who was awarded the honor:
Well done, guys. Here's the full list of athletes.

Big 12 recruiting needs in 2012

January, 24, 2012
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Signing day is coming fast. Next Wednesday, the next round of players will sign up for their respective programs and start what could be storied careers.

Here's what each team across the Big 12 needs. You'll find Texas A&M and Mizzou on the SEC blog and West Virginia on the Big East Blog.

BAYLOR

Quarterback: This one's pretty simple. Robert Griffin III is taking his talents to the NFL early. Nick Florence is waiting to take over, and the Bears have Bryce Petty behind him, but more reinforcements at quarterback are needed. Dual-threat quarterbacks, ideally.

Defensive tackle: Baylor already was one of the nation's worst teams (102nd nationally) at stopping the run. Now it'll need to replace both its interior linemen, Nicolas Jean-Baptiste and Tracy Robertson.

Offensive linemen: Baylor's offensive line, meanwhile, has been solid. It loses junior college transfer and two-year starter Robert T. Griffin, as well as All-Big 12 center Philip Blake. John Jones, a reserve guard, also has exhausted his eligibility.

IOWA STATE

Receiver: This has been a weak spot for the team for several years, and its top overall talent, Darius Reynolds, is gone. Darius Darks is, too. Aaron Horne and Josh Lenz will be the team's best weapons in 2012, but the pair of shifty slot guys will be seniors. This position needs reinforcements.

Defensive back: The DBs have been a quiet strength for ISU, especially in 2011. Cornerback Leonard Johnson and safety Ter'Ran Benton both have exhausted their eligibility, though, and defensive backs coach Bobby Elliott left for Notre Dame. You'll see plenty of new faces in the Cyclones' secondary next year.

Defensive line: Experienced starters Stephen Ruempolhamer and Jacob Lattimer are both gone, and Iowa State has struggled to stop the run consistently the past few seasons.

KANSAS

Quarterback: Kansas landed high-profile transfers Dayne Crist (Notre Dame) and Jake Heaps (BYU), but this is still a huge position of need. Last year's starter, Jordan Webb, left the team. Quinn Mecham is out of eligibility. Heaps is sitting out his NCAA-mandated year after transferring. Crist is the starter, but he badly needs a backup, especially if Brock Berglund's transfer appeal allows him to leave.

Wide receiver: Kansas lacks a big threat at this position. It needs a talent upgrade in a big way. Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay is joining the team, but he's no guarantee to a) be granted immediate eligibility or b) become an impact player.

Defensive tackle: Kansas is thin here, too. Richard Johnson, Patrick Dorsey and Michael Martinovich are gone, and Kansas couldn't stop much of anything on defense. Some push up front could help make everything look better. A late addition to the 2012 class from a junior college seems like a no-brainer. The Jayhawks need physically mature players to contribute immediately.

KANSAS STATE

Offensive line: K-State's offensive line was much better in 2011 and could be again in 2012. It needs help replacing All-Big 12 lineman Clyde Aufner, though. Starter Colten Freeze is also gone.

Defensive line: Kansas State is bringing back about as many starters as anyone in the Big 12, but the biggest losses are along the defensive line. Kick-blocking specialist (five in 2011) Ralph Guidry is gone, along with tackle Ray Kibble. Juco transfer Jordan Voelker exploded onto the scene this year, but he's gone, too.

Defensive backs: Cornerback David Garrett leaves a huge hole behind. Tysyn Hartman may not be as talented as teammate Ty Zimmerman, but his experience leaves a big hole. Zimmerman will have to mentor a younger safety in the near future.

OKLAHOMA

Receiver: The Sooners are thin here in a big way. That was obvious late in the season when Ryan Broyles' storied college career ended a few weeks early with a knee injury. The team also lost Justin McCay (transfer) to Kansas. Jaz Reynolds and Kenny Stills are the likely top two targets, but they need help.

Tight end: This position inspired a bit of panic at the end of the season. Seniors James Hanna and Trent Ratterree are gone. Austin Haywood wasn't allowed back on the team, and two more tight ends left the team for various reasons. That left the Sooners suddenly without a scholarship player at the position returning in 2012.

Offensive line: Starting tackle Donald Stephenson must be replaced, as will guard Stephen Good, who moved in and out of the starting lineup throughout his career. The Sooners bring back a lot of talent and aren't dying for depth there, but those two will leave holes. Three more offensive line starters will be seniors in 2012.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Offensive line: The Cowboys need a whole lot of help here to fill in behind young players stepping into the starting lineup. Starters Levy Adcock, Nick Martinez and Grant Garner are gone. Backup center Casey LaBrue is gone, too. Those are two All-Big 12 linemen who leave big shoes to be filled.

Receiver: Justin Blackmon surprised no one by leaving a year early, and Josh Cooper leaves with perhaps the most underrated career of any receiver in school history. In OSU's offense, there's always room for depth here. Nine receivers had at least 19 catches in 2011. Blackmon and Cooper combined for 192, though.

Defensive ends: The pass rush was solid for Oklahoma State this year, but both starters, Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones, are gone. Replacing both is a necessity.

TEXAS

Receiver: Texas lacks a true game-changer at the position, though Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis may develop into that role in 2012. Former blue-chip recruit Darius White left for Missouri, too.

Quarterback: David Ash and Case McCoy didn't show a ton of potential at quarterback this year, though Ash may grow with an offseason to prepare as starter. Garrett Gilbert got a big chunk of the work in the spring, summer 7-on-7 and fall preseason camp. Even if Ash does grow, the Longhorns need reinforcements at the position.

Linebacker: Two senior impact players are gone. Texas is left trying to replace Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson, though Jordan Hicks may mature into a star in 2012.

TCU

Offensive line: TCU's offensive line is headed for some major turnover. OT Robert Deck, OG Kyle Dooley and OG Spencer Thompson are gone. Two more starters, OG Blaize Foltz and C James Fry, will be seniors in 2012.

Defensive linemen: TCU isn't losing a lot at this spot, but Ross Forrest and D.J. Yendrey will be seniors in 2012. The Horned Frogs would be well-served to prepare, and offer some depth next year.

Specialists: TCU will have to break in a pair of new starters on special teams next season. Kicker Ross Evans and punter Anson Kelton have exhausted their eligibility.

TEXAS TECH

Receiver: The Red Raiders' offense requires a lot of depth here. Tramain Swindall is the only loss at the position, but three more (Alex Torres, Cornelius Douglas, Darrin Moore) will be seniors. Douglas moved to cornerback this year after the team was racked with injury, but we'll see whether he moves back this offseason.

Offensive line: Tech has a huge need here. Four players won't be returning in 2012. Lonnie Edwards, Mickey Okafor and center Justin Keown must be replaced.

Defensive linemen: Tech's Donald Langley and Scott Smith are both out of eligibility, and juco transfer Leon Mackey will be a senior.

Longhorns alone on QB indecision

November, 30, 2011
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Texas made it official this week, removing the "or" between David Ash and Case McCoy's names on the depth chart.

[+] EnlargeCase McCoy
Brett Davis/US PresswireTexas has decided on Case McCoy as their quarterback after a season of shuffling at the position.
McCoy, after completing 16 of 27 passes for 110 yards and running 25 yards on seven carries in a 27-25 win over Texas A&M, took over the No. 1 spot. McCoy started and played most of the game, but the Longhorns have had a revolving door at quarterback all season.

Garrett Gilbert began the season as starter after winning the offseason quarterback battle. He was benched midway through the season's second game and eventually transferred to SMU after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Since then, Ash and McCoy have split the starter role. Ash, a true freshman, has had significantly more playing time until a string of five games midseason where he had no touchdowns and six interceptions.

McCoy threw the ball 16 times (the same number as Ash) against Kansas State, tied for his highest total this season before throwing it 27 times against Texas A&M. Ash didn't have a pass attempt, but entered the game on a handful of plays.

McCoy has yet to throw an interception this season.

Looking around the league, the trend at Texas is troubling. The Longhorns are the only team doing the quarterback shuffle.

Here's how the rest of the league has handled their quarterback situation.

  • Baylor: Robert Griffin III started all 11 games, replaced in the second half on Saturday by Nick Florence after suffering concussion-like symptoms. Will return this week versus Texas.
  • Iowa State: Started Steele Jantz for the season's first seven games, benched early for Jared Barnett in a loss to Texas A&M. Barnett started the next four games, winning three, including an upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State.
  • Kansas: Jordan Webb started all 12 games. Quinn Mecham threw 18 passes.
  • Kansas State: Collin Klein started 11 games and will start this week, rushing for 1,013 yards and 25 touchdowns, and throwing for 1,587 yards, 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
  • Missouri: James Franklin started all 12 games, throwing for 2,740 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and rushing for 839 yards and 13 scores.
  • Oklahoma: Landry Jones started all 12 games, but the Sooners rotate in freshman Blake Bell in short yardage situations in the "BellDozer" formation. Bell has nine rushing touchdowns in four games.
  • Oklahoma State: Brandon Weeden started all 12 games, ceding to Clint Chelf often in blowout wins.
  • Texas A&M: Ryan Tannehill started all 12 games.
  • Texas Tech: Seth Doege started all 12 games, though backup Jacob Karam threw a 43-yard touchdown pass on a trick play this week.

Not a good sign when the Big 12's best recruiting school can't settle on a player at the game's most important position, especially when every other team in the league hasn't had any troubles in that area.

Two preseason Big 12 QB battles end

August, 22, 2011
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Head coach Paul Rhoads' iteration of The Decision arrived over the weekend, and All-Name first-team starter Steele Jantz has earned the starting gig on another team: Iowa State.

Jantz, with a spring and half of preseason camp under his belt, beat out Jerome Tiller for the Cyclones' starting job. Tiller, who earned some spot duty behind Austen Arnaud the past two seasons, is academically ineligible this season, so Jared Barnett will be Iowa State's backup.

Regarding Jantz, you might remember I've been driving that bus (see here) for awhile now (see here, also), so my response is pretty simple: Good call, Rhoads.

Jantz has big-time speed, and the Cyclones just got more fun to watch. I suggest you tune in. Iowa State opens its season agains Northern Iowa on Sept. 3.


Kansas coach Turner Gill gave the nod to sophomore Jordan Webb as the Jayhawks' starter in Week 1.

The Jayhawks' situation at quarterback was much less muddled, and every indication had been that Webb distanced himself from backup Quinn Mecham over the summer.

Webb has supposedly made big strides, but we'll see just how big this fall. The Jayhawks need them to be gargantuan after struggling with the league's worst pass offense a season ago.

Webb should be supported by a solid running game and more speed at his skill positions and on defense.

Gill also sounds like he's set on Webb for a long while.

"I told them both that this isn’t an issue of this person is gonna be taken out quickly," Gill told the Kansas City Star. "I told (Webb), ‘Don’t sit back and think about what happened last year.’ There’s a whole lot different with our football team last year to this year. There’s no situation where Jordan’s gonna have a chance to lose his job at any time soon."
Today is all about the quarterback at ESPN.com, but it's time to introduce you to each of the Big 12's passers.

Best in class: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

Weeden is everything you want in a quarterback. He's a good decision-maker with a huge arm that's about as accurate as they come in the college game. He led the Big 12 with 8.4 yards per attempt in 2010, his first year as a starter, and helped Oklahoma State win a school-record 11 games.

Sorest postgame arm: Landry Jones, Oklahoma

Jones is a close, close second in the Big 12 and wouldn't surprise anyone by surpassing Weeden, but Jones threw 617 passes in 2010, more than any quarterback in the nation. Part of that number is the high volume of short passes in Oklahoma's offense that it views as an extension of the running game, but Jones piled up big numbers with those throws, leading the Big 12 with 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. Without workhorse DeMarco Murray in the fold this season, don't look for those pass attempts to dip much, if at all.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireBaylor quarterback Robert Griffin III completed 67 percent of his 454 passes in 2010.
Most misperceived: Robert Griffin III, Baylor

Griffin has a well-deserved rep as a dual-threat quarterback, but he also completed 67 percent of his 454 passes in 2010, good for eighth in the nation and second in the Big 12 behind Taylor Potts by one-tenth of a percentage point. Griffin can still giddy-up after knee surgery in 2009, but he's a much more mature passer than he gets credit for, and he's got one of the league's best receiving corps to help him out.

Most pressure: Garrett Gilbert, Texas

I'm going all-in with Gilbert as the Longhorns' opening-day starter against Rice, but Gilbert better perform and do it early, because if not, the hook that never arrived in 2010 will do exactly that, giving Case McCoy, Connor Wood or David Ash a chance. Gilbert's 10 touchdowns to 17 interceptions in 2010 were eye-popping, but he'll try to improve on that in a new offense under Bryan Harsin from Boise State.

Most indecision: Iowa State

The Cyclones have an open gig after three-year starter Austen Arnaud left, but the job sounds like it's still wide open between junior Jerome Tiller, who played some during a few of Arnaud's injuries the past two seasons, and juco transfer Steele Jantz. Coach Paul Rhoads says Jared Barnett is still a factor in the race, but Iowa State plans to officially name its starter on Aug. 20, exactly two weeks before its season opener.

Best story: Seth Doege, Texas Tech

Doege grew up in West Texas and dreamed of becoming the next great passer in red and black. As soon as Texas Tech began recruiting him, he committed, but missed his final two seasons of high school football with knee injuries. The Red Raiders stuck with him during two frustrating runs of rehab while others took a pass, and five years after his last season as full-time starter, the junior is finally getting his shot to do what he wanted to do since well before high school.

Smartest quarterback: Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

Tannehill has just six starts under his belt, but they were memorable last season, helping rescue the Aggies from a 3-3 start, including an 0-2 start in conference play. The Aggies ended up co-Big 12 South champions, earning a berth in the Cotton Bowl. But Tannehill did it all despite missing parts of spring practice for labs for his biology major, which he hopes to use to eventually attend medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon. Tannehill graduated in May with a 3.59 GPA, and ask any of his teammates who the smartest guy on the team is. There's no contest.

Best supporting cast: James Franklin, Missouri

Franklin will fill the void left behind by Blaine Gabbert, but he'll do it with the most help of any first-year starter in the league, and any first-year starter Gary Pinkel has ever prepared. The Tigers return one of the league's best defenses, four offensive linemen, and every single receiver from last season's team. He also returned four running backs, but one of the reserves, Marcus Murphy, will likely redshirt after needing shoulder surgery. Still, the Tigers are ready-made contenders if Franklin can get the job done.

Biggest passer: Collin Klein, Kansas State

Klein used his legs to earn a solid chunk of playing time in 2010, but the 6-foot-5, 233-pounder (see him in real life here) will have to be more than just hard to tackle for the Wildcats to get back to the postseason in 2011 after reaching the Pinstripe Bowl in 2010. That was their first bowl appearance since 2006, but Klein has a lot to prove after throwing just 18 passes last season, compared to his 76 carries for 432 yards and six scores. Making matters more difficult: Workhorse back Daniel Thomas, who had a Big 12-high 595 carries over the past two seasons and led the league in rushing both years, is in the NFL now.

Most work to do: Jordan Webb, Kansas

The Jayhawks were the Big 12's worst passing team in 2010, failing to reach 2,000 yards, and Texas was the league's only other team to throw more interceptions than touchdowns. Webb earned the most time, and seized control of the starting job ahead of Quinn Mecham over the summer, but he completed just 56 percent of his passes last season, better than only Colorado's Cody Hawkins.
Today is all about the QBs here at ESPN.com, and here's a look at each of the quarterback races in the Big 12.

IOWA STATE

[+] EnlargeJerome Tiller
Nelson Chenault/US PresswireJerome Tiller is expected to open as Iowa State's starting QB.
The safe bet: Jerome Tiller. Tiller, a junior, has filled in for Austen Arnaud much of the past two seasons, but struggled late last season after Arnaud suffered a season-ending knee injury. Tiller quarterbacked a win at Nebraska in 2009, but didn't look much improved in the game time he earned in 2010.

The wild card: Steele Jantz. Jantz is a speedy transfer from junior college in California who also arrived at Iowa State with his top receiver from the City College of San Francisco, Aaron Horne. Jantz will have to keep learning the offense, but can he inject life into the offense with his legs like Taylor Martinez did for Nebraska? Iowa State's version of The Decision is set for Aug. 20. Who will be taking their talents under center at Jack Trice Stadium? Give me the underdog in this race.

The dark horse: Jared Barnett. James Capello, a fourth contender, transferred, but Paul Rhoads says Barnett still has a chance. Can he make enough noise in fall camp to make that a reality?

KANSAS

The heavy favorite: Jordan Webb. Webb started seven games as a redshirt freshman in 2010, and appeared to take control during the summer, but he struggled last season. He should learn from experience, too. Last year's opening-day starter, Kale Pick, is now a receiver. Webb will almost certainly get the call for the season opener, but if he doesn't improve, that could change fast.

The underdog: Quinn Mecham. Mecham started four of the final five games for the Jayhawks, but the senior and junior college transfer might not be the best long-term option for Kansas. Webb learning on the go could pay off in the future, while any lessons Mecham learns will be out the door after the season. Mecham as the backup might be a better role for the team's greater good.

The wild cards: Brock Berglund and Michael Cummings, a pair of true freshmen. Cummings enters with a bit less talent but much less baggage. Berglund was a blue-chip recruit from Colorado, but legal issues stemming from an April assault charge have him spending much more time back home than anticipated. Berglund also missed summer voluntary workouts because of the charge and went back to Colorado before spring practice began, despite enrolling at Kansas in January, a semester earlier than the rest of the freshman class. Expect a redshirt for one of the two, but the two quarterbacks in front of them haven't exactly set the bar high. If the favorites struggle, don't be surprised to see Cummings or Berglund get a chance.

KANSAS STATE

The heavy favorite: Collin Klein. Coach Bill Snyder has already given Klein the status as Day 1 starter, but the Wildcats have played two quarterbacks before under Snyder, and Klein's backups could benefit from a similar strategy this season. The only rumors surrounding Klein are those of vast development during the summer, but he'll have to prove it during fall camp and early in the season to get a stranglehold on the job.

The hype man: Justin Tuggle. Tuggle replaced Cam Newton at Blinn Junior College and transferred to Kansas State before spring practice after originally playing for Boston College out of high school. Tuggle sounded like a strong contender entering spring practice, but didn't make it happen. We'll see if his status changes during fall camp.

The backup plan: Sammuel Lamur. Lamur was the No. 3 quarterback last season, and took over the No. 2 spot on the depth chart ahead of Tuggle during the spring. We haven't seen much of Lamur during his career, but this might be the year.

TEXAS

The favorite: Garrett Gilbert. Gilbert, despite his struggles in 2010, never got pulled and started all 12 games for the Longhorns. He looked unimpressive in the spring game, but indications from his teammates are that he's embodied the leadership aspect of the job, something coach Mack Brown covets. That might earn Gilbert the job, but if he doesn't look like a vastly different player this season, he'll lose it.

The wild card: Case McCoy. McCoy, the younger brother of that other McCoy kid you might have heard of, has taken on a bit of a fan-favorite role after his performance in the spring game, when he outplayed Gilbert. Despite his good numbers in the spring game, however, he looked uncomfortable and must make up for his lack of experience to oust Gilbert for the reins of the offense.

The mystery man: Connor Wood. Wood is a former high school All-American, but redshirted in 2010 and played sparingly in the spring game. Outside of a few snaps in spring, no one outside the locker room has had much of a chance to see Wood play, but if he starts making noise during fall camp, you'll hear it.

The young gun: David Ash. Coaches lauding true freshman quarterbacks in the spring is rare, but Ash arrived in Austin early and got a lot of compliments from the new Longhorns coaches. He's the long shot in this race, and Brown apologized to him for not getting him enough snaps in the spring game, but the coaches indicate he's still alive in the race.
We wrapped up our position rankings by team on Thursday, but today, we'll start ranking the 10 best players at each position. Obviously, the quarterback rankings won't look vastly different, but we'll get plenty of variance in the other positions.

This is a good group this year. There's a big dropoff after the first four, but plenty of others could join that group by season's end.

Also, I picked each team's representative according to who I picked to win the job in fall camp.

So, without further ado, let's get it on.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Weeden
Chuck Cook/US PresswireOklahoma State's Brandon Weeden seems destined to deliver dominant statistics again this season.
1. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State -- We've been over this several times, but Weeden and Jones' numbers are extremely similar when you factor in Oklahoma's deep love for the bubble screen, and heading into this season, I lean toward Weeden because he's less likely to make a back-breaking mistake. Jones threw for almost 500 more yards, but Weeden had 106 fewer attempts, and averaged nearly a full yard more (8.4 vs. 7.6) per attempt than Jones.

2. Landry Jones, Oklahoma -- That said, my bet is on Jones taking the No. 1 spot from Weeden by season's end. We'll see a much more confident Jones this season, further development in his naturally quiet personality. I expect that to manifest on the field and Jones has enough talent around him to mount a serious Heisman campaign, as well as come close to or exceed his 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns last season. It won't be for a lack of confidence. Jones threw the ball more than any quarterback in the nation last season.

3. Robert Griffin III, Baylor -- Griffin made big strides as a passer in 2010, and I'd expect that to continue this season, especially with the likely emergence of Josh Gordon as a big target with more experience. People peg Griffin, a junior, as a dual-threat quarterback, and there's no denying his speed, but if you took that away from him, he'd still be No. 3 on this list after throwing for 3,501 yards and completing 67 percent of his passes, the highest percentage of any returning quarterback in the Big 12.

4. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M -- Tannehill will try to avoid the Texas A&M senior quarterback curse this season, but you have to love his chances with the way he played in the Aggies' final seven games of 2010, including a 5-1 record in his six starts. Tannehill, like Griffin, has the luxury of returning almost his entire receiving corps. Just nine receptions from last season's team won't return in 2011.

5. Seth Doege, Texas Tech -- The risk with Doege is significantly less than the risk that comes with James Franklin at Missouri. To me, it boils down to experience. Doege has been in the program for three seasons already, and he'll finally get his chance to start in his fourth fall on campus vs. Franklin in his second. He might not have the support at the skill positions that Franklin has, but he'll have five returning starters on the offensive line and an offense that's provided success for a lot of quarterbacks before him, even more than Missouri's.

6. James Franklin, Missouri -- Franklin, a sophomore, has a bit more upside than Doege, but I'd expect Franklin to learn a lot more during 2011 than Doege will. Franklin's thrown 14 passes at Missouri, but he might surpass that in the first half against Miami (OH) in the opener. Tyler Gabbert's departure after spring didn't help the Tigers' depth, but here's guessing it did wonders for Franklin's suspect self-confidence.

7. Collin Klein, Kansas State -- Klein was a big, versatile piece of Kansas State's offense last season, integral in a satisfying 39-14 stomping of Texas in Manhattan. He'll need to develop more as a passer to be the complete quarterback Kansas State needs, but for now, it looks like he'll hold off Justin Tuggle and Sammuel Lamur to win the job officially.

8. Garrett Gilbert, Texas -- Gilbert's potential is clear, but it feels like time and quality receivers are necessary for him to start making good on that potential. He might not have either this season. I expect him to be better, but his leash will be much, much shorter if he beats out Case McCoy and Connor Wood in fall camp. He made it through 2010 without being benched, but if he shows any of the same struggles in 2011, he won't get far before McCoy or Wood get a chance, or even freshman David Ash.

9. Steele Jantz, Iowa State -- Jantz's speed is something Iowa State hasn't had from a quarterback since Seneca Wallace, and that playmaking ability can put pressure on defenses and allow Iowa State's backs to make plays and receivers see less blanketing coverage. I'll pick him over the more experienced Jerome Tiller up in Ames, and he'll love playing with former juco teammate Aaron Horne at receiver.

10. Jordan Webb, Kansas -- Webb sounds like he's distancing himself from Quinn Mecham this summer, but he still has a long way to go before he proves he's a quarterback that can get Kansas into the postseason. The position is more important in the Big 12 than in perhaps any other league in college football, and until Kansas improves there, losing seasons will continue.

Lunch links: Missouri QB taking reins

July, 20, 2011
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Sad day on Tuesday for the folks at Sara Lee.

We'll kick off our look today at the position rankings for each team in the Big 12 before looping back around to rank the top 10 at every position in the Big 12.

We'll start at the most obvious position: Quarterback, a position that I'd argue is more important in the Big 12 than in any other conference.

Depth will be a huge factor in these rankings, though at quarterback, it's the toughest to gauge, considering how little we see of backup quarterbacks.

Here's how each Big 12 team ranks at the quarterback position:

[+] EnlargeLandry Jones
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireLandry Jones leads the Big 12's deepest and best group of quarterbacks.
1. Oklahoma

Oklahoma learned the hard way in 2009 about the importance of the backup quarterback, but even in his limited experience, Drew Allen has impressed Bob Stoops after narrowly losing out on the backup job behind Sam Bradford in 2009. Landry Jones is a great one, and with his opportunities, has become a Heisman Trophy favorite. Could Allen have done the same if he had beaten out Jones in 2009? Blake Bell, the nation's No. 3 quarterback in the 2010 class, will likely be Oklahoma's No. 3 in 2011.

2. Oklahoma State

Brandon Weeden's profile spiked when he led the Cowboys to a comeback win over Colorado on a Thursday night game in 2009. He took over as the starter shortly after, but going into that game Weeden was a third-stringer. Alex Cate transferred after it became evident that Weeden would be the starter in 2010, and behind Weeden is Clint Chelf and two solid recruits: Johnny Deaton and J.W. Walsh, who was the nation's No. 10 QB (just outside the ESPNU 150) in 2011 and enrolled early.

3. Texas A&M

Ryan Tannehill is entrenched at the starting spot, with a lot of youth behind him. Matt Joeckel and Jameill Showers will try to hold off incoming freshman Johnny Manziel for the No. 2 spot this fall. Manziel was impressive during the spring, and will contend for the starting job in 2012, but he'll likely redshirt unless he wins the backup job.

4. Texas Tech

Seth Doege looks ready to grab the reins for two seasons, barring injury. Jacob Karam is probably ready to start in the Big 12 right now, he's just not as good as Doege. Behind them are two promising prospects with upside and development to do: Scotty Young and Michael Brewer. The Red Raiders are the last of the Big 12 teams who have truly solid depth at quarterback.

5. Baylor

Robert Griffin III will probably hold every school record for quarterbacks by the time he leaves Waco, but the Bears need to find a true replacement behind him. Nick Florence filled in well in 2009 when Griffin missed the final nine games with a knee injury, but he's a junior like Griffin and their eligibility will expire simultaneously. Redshirt freshman Bryce Petty and 2012 commit Jared Johnson could battle for the spot in 2013.

6. Missouri

The Tigers depth took a hit after Tyler Gabbert's transfer following spring practice, but expectations are high for sophomore James Franklin, who got a bit of experience in 2010 behind Blaine Gabbert. Senior Jimmy Costello quit the team after last season to focus on an impending fall enlistment in the Army, but rejoined after the Gabbert brothers' departures from Columbia. He's likely to be the backup, with Ashton Glaser and walk-on Ryan Howerton filling out the rest of the quarterback spots. Corbin Berkstresser, a 6-foot-3, 218-pound quarterback from Kansas City that ESPN ranked No. 43 at his position, will arrive in the fall, too.

7. Texas

How long until we see a quarterback make the kind of plays Garrett Gilbert made against Alabama in the national championship? Those kinds of long scores were rare last year, but the Longhorns will have a competition this fall that sounds like it's pretty open heading into camp. If Gilbert wins, he'll likely have a much shorter leash in 2011 than he did in 2010, before Case McCoy or Connor Wood gets a crack, and dark horse true freshman David Ash could make things interesting, too.

8. Kansas State

Collin Klein made a nice move toward winning the job with a strong spring game performance. But coach Bill Snyder says he still didn't see a ton of separation between Klein and his backups, Sammuel Lamur and Boston College transfer Justin Tuggle, who spent last year replacing Cam Newton at Blinn College in Texas.

9. Iowa State

James Capello transferred after the spring, but Iowa State's race has likely boiled down to two men: Jerome Tiller and Steele Jantz. Jantz, a juco transfer, is the wild card and Tiller will need to show that his struggles in spot duty last season were temporary. He didn't show the progress you'd expect from a maturing player when he played for an injured Austen Arnaud in a few games early and late in 2010. Jared Barnett is still battling in Ames, but him winning the job would be a huge upset.

10. Kansas

The Jayhawks could use a couple more years of Todd Reesing. The Jayhawks saw a huge drop off at the quarterback position in 2010, as Jordan Webb, Quinn Mecham and Kale Pick all got time under center. Kansas will likely run its offense through a strong group of running backs, but unless newcomer Brock Berglund shows potential and proves he's the best of the group, expect Kansas to remain near the bottom of the Big 12 by the end of 2011.

Kansas spring wrap

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
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KANSAS

2010 overall record: 3-9

2010 conference record: 1-7

Returning starters: Offense (8), Defense (6) P/K (0)

Top returners: RB James Sims, WR Daymond Patterson, QB Jordan Webb, LB Steven Johnson, OL Tanner Hawkinson, DB Isiah Barfield, LB Huldon Tharp

Key losses: CB Chris Harris, LB Justin Springer, DL Jake Laptad, LB Drew Dudley, S Olaitan Oguntodu, WR Johnathan Wilson

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: James Sims* (742 yards)

Passing: Jordan Webb (1,195 yards)

Receiving: Daymond Patterson* (487 yards)

Tackles: Steven Johnson (95)

Sacks: Jake Laptad (4.5)

Interceptions: Tyler Patmon*, Isiah Barfield* (2)

Three spring answers

1. Sudden strength up front. Pat Lewandowski redshirted last season, and former running back Toben Opurum tried to learn the intricacies of the defensive line. This spring though? Both were standouts and could be impact players up front for a Jayhawks defense that needs it badly. Kansas may have a couple solid athletes who underwent position changes at the back of the defense, too. Former receivers Keeston Terry and Bradley McDougald look like the Jayhawks' starting safeties.

2. Lightning to Sims' thunder. Leading rusher Sims returns and figures to log plenty of carries, but freshman Darrian Miller showed a burst that no other Jayhawks running back had previously. He enrolled early and started making plays immediately, which should land him on the field next season.

3. Add another receiver to the mix. Kale Pick is another Jayhawks player who dealt with a position change last year. He had little impact as a receiver after making the switch from quarterback, but he showed great hands all spring and led the team in receptions at the spring game. He looks like he’s got a natural understanding of the position and is following in the footsteps of another Jayhawks great: Kerry Meier.

Three fall questions

1. Can they be competitive? No amount of scrimmaging will give Kansas the answer to this question. The Jayhawks were blown out often last year, losing five games by more than 20 points. Is the program back to being one that can at least flirt with more than three wins in 2011? Kansas must show progress.

2. Who’s the QB? Webb has the edge ahead of Quinn Mecham after the spring, but the wild card shows up to campus this fall. Brock Berglund, the top prospect in Colorado, enrolled early before heading back home before practice began. He plans to be back this fall and could throw a wrench into the quarterback competition if he grasps the offense quickly.

3. Is Tharp back to 100 percent? Linebacker Tharp showed the makings of an All-Big 12 talent as a freshman in 2009. A leg injury kept him off the field in 2010, and he was limited this spring. Once he’s back on the field next fall, can he continue his development and look at least like his old self?

Big 12 spring game recap: Kansas

May, 2, 2011
5/02/11
11:00
AM ET
What happened:

  • Three quarterbacks got pretty even time, but Jordan Webb completed 8-of-14 passes for 108 yards and a score. Quinn Mecham completed 6-of-11 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked four times.
  • Webb also led all rushers with 39 yards on three carries. James Sims had 11 yards on five carries and Darrian Miller had 23 yards on four carries.
  • Kale Pick led all receivers with four catches for 38 yards.
  • The game's biggest highlight: a 53-yard touchdown pass from Mecham.
  • The Blue team beat White, 17-6.
  • A crowd of 6,000 showed up.
What we learned:
  • Great to see defensive end D.J. Marshall get back on the field after battling Hodgkin's lymphoma. The fans recognized the significance of the moment, too. He received a standing ovation and had a pair of tackles for loss, including a sack.
  • The quarterback competition is headed into the fall, and the Jayhawks will add two quarterbacks in preseason camp, Brock Berglund and Michael Cummings. For now, though, Webb's spring performance gives him the leg up. "If I had to give an edge right now, I would give it to Jordan Webb," Gill told reporters after the game.
  • Kansas might have found a big strength on the defensive line. Pat Lewandowski had a huge spring, and former running back Toben Opurum looks like he's coming into his own at defensive end. Both had great days, albeit against backup linemen, but those two still have a lot of room to get better. The skill-position talent isn't there yet for Kansas, and if it's going to win games next season, it'll have to do it by winning the line of scrimmage. Opurum had a sack, as did John Williams. "I think Toben is going to be a guy to be reckoned with in the Big 12," Gill said. "I think he's going to be a guy people are going to be talking about as time goes along." If that ends up happening, Gill's going to look like a genius. Find me another guy that went from a team's leading rusher to an All-Big 12 defensive lineman. Gutsy move that looks like it's paying off for Kansas, which has plenty of quality running backs.
  • The same goes for Pick, who had a great spring, and I'd bet is good for 30-50 catches next season. That'll probably be second-most on the team, behind Daymond Patterson.
  • Nice day for Darrian Miller to cap the freshman's great spring. He's going to be fun to watch and a nice complement to James Sims' more powerful running style. He gives them a home-run threat no other backs on the roster have really shown. He'll make an impact next season.
  • Patterson, the team's leading receiver, sat as a precaution after suffering an injury this spring, but I'd be surprised if he didn't lead the team in receiving once again.
  • Keeston Terry and Bradley McDougald both had great springs and look like they've locked down starting spots at safety. McDougald had a couple nice hits on Saturday, a bit of a surprise for a former receiver. Terry came to campus as a receiver, too, but now both will be in the secondary. Combined with Opurum's move, it's clear that Gill's going to do things quite a bit differently than Mark Mangino, if that wasn't already quite obvious.
They said it:

"It’s up for grabs. I can say today Jordan has been a little more consistent. We’ll go into fall camp, go up to an appropriate time for us to announce who is best to start."

- Coach Turner Gill, on the Jayhawks' quarterback battle.

More Big 12 spring game recaps:

Talking Big 12 stability, celebration rule, etc.

April, 19, 2011
4/19/11
5:00
PM ET
Thanks for all the questions once again today. Great chat. Here's the full transcript if you missed it. Didn't get your question in? Drop yours in my mailbag.

And a few highlights:

Dan in Philly asked: who's the best offensive lineman in the league?

David Ubben: Nate Solder has been that guy for a couple years, but since he left, I'd probably go with Levy Adcock at Oklahoma State. Luke Joeckel at A&M should be a good one, though. He's definitely on his way to a nice career.


Ben in Kansas asked: David, all this talk about how stable the big 12 is now that the new contract never seems to address the in the increased inequality both within conference and eventually between conferences (the bottom of the big ten/SEC will continue to make more than the bottom of the big 12.) The argument that all these teams need to do is win to make more money is inherently flawed because each year in the Big 12 it becomes tougher and tougher for the bottom teams to beat the top 2. Look at the situation now where Texas's assistant coaches are payed almost on par with some head coaches. This can only lead to a lopsided conference that will get overlooked in the championship games in the future.

DU: I'm not sure about that. People want to talk about inequality, but it's not that much of a difference. I've said it tons of times. The importance of unequal revenue sharing is way, way overstated. And it's not like teams like Iowa State, Kansas State or Baylor have terrible facilities that aren't good enough to compete. Equal revenue sharing doesn't seem to help Kentucky football in the SEC or Indiana football in the Big Ten. The people that want to equate equal revenue sharing with parity are using faulty logic. Get the right coach in place, start recruiting well and you start winning games.


Brendan in Lawrence asked: I'm an optimist, I'm also a KU football fan. With some key O-line players returning and recent additions, is it safe to say at least one of our RB's will have a good season? Also, why isn't there much talk about QB recruit Michael Cummings being in the running when he gets here? It's not like Webb or Mecham have set the bar very high.. Is Berglund that much better than everyone else that he very well could come into Lawrence this fall as a freshman and take over? I'm expecting a much better performance this year (I'm a realist, though), and another step closer to relevance.

DU: Yeah, I think James Sims will have a good year. I'm excited to see Darrian Miller, though. He's got a lot of buzz. As for the QB situation, there's a lot of talk about Berglund. He's going to be a bit behind the others when he starts practice this fall, but the feeling is his upside is far superior to anyone else currently on the roster.


Steve in Moore, OK asked: Based on your interview with Kevin Sweeney, how confident are you the conference will thrive (survive)?

DU: I'm pretty confident, but it seems pretty lonely over here on this side of the fence. I'll be examining that issue a lot more in the coming week or so. It's fascinating to me... and I hope others.


Andrew in College Station asked: When the Big 12 signed it deal with FOX, they left money on the table so 3rd tier rights could be pursued individually or collectively. How much more could the conference have gotten if they gave FOX 2nd and 3rd tier? And do you think most schools will be able to get that money back selling 3rd tier rights on their own? It seems unlikely since ESPN doesn't really seem interested in paying Baylor or Iowa State 20 million dollars for them like Texas.

DU: My sense is it wasn't very much. The Big 12 seemed confident the money schools could get from a concerted effort to monetize those rights would be greater than what they would get from Fox, who would be more focused on maximizing what they got out of the second-tier rights. Now, schools have a lot of motivation to put some work into marketing and monetizing those third-tier rights. It's an interesting approach.


Kevin in Reno, Nev. asked: After OU-FSU, is TAMU-Arkansas the biggest OOC game for the Big XII?

DU: That's my pick. Missouri-ASU should be pretty good, too. Probably two top 25 teams there.


LonghornDaniel in Cypress, Texas asked: how come the big 12 can't get TCU?

DU: For the 1,000,000th time, you've phrased that question wrong. The question is, why can't TCU get in the Big 12? The answer is they offer nothing new to the Big 12, have poor facilities, no alumni base and wouldn't bring in enough money to warrant what they would get in conference revenues by being given membership.


Amy in Oklahoma asked: With as much grief as the Big 12 officials have garnered, especially over the last season, how often do you foresee the new excessive celebration penalty being used? It's just a matter of time before a major game is decided by one of these calls. When that happens and the chaos ensues, do you think they'll revisit the rule?

DU: Sweet sassy, this rule isn't even on the field yet, and I can't tell you how much I already hate it. Terrible, terrible, terrible. Who even decided this was a good idea? Since when has college football been plagued by excessive celebrations? Call me when guys start whipping out Sharpies to sign balls or make cell phone calls from the end zone. Sheesh. Pointless, and a controversy waiting to happen.
Quarterback play in the Big 12 is more important than in any other conference, and there's plenty of turnover (what about turnovers?) at the position this year.

So, with a nod to our friends at the SEC Blog, here's how it shakes out in the Big 12. Players with no career starts were omitted from the list. As were players with past starts who enter the season as sure backups or have moved positions. (i.e. Baylor's Nick Florence and Kansas' Kale Pick).

Missouri is the only team in the Big 12 without a quarterback on the roster that has started a game.

1. Robert Griffin III, junior, Baylor - 28 starts

2. Landry Jones, junior, Oklahoma - 24 starts

3. Brandon Weeden, senior, Oklahoma State - 13 starts

4. Garrett Gilbert, junior, Texas - 12 starts

5. Jordan Webb, sophomore, Kansas - seven starts

6. Ryan Tannehill, senior, Texas A&M - six starts

7. Quinn Mecham, senior, Kansas - four starts

8. Jerome Tiller, junior, Iowa State - three starts

9. Collin Klein, junior, Kansas State - two starts

10. Seth Doege, junior, Texas Tech - one start

Of course, players like Tiller, Klein, Mecham and Webb have competitions to win before they become starters, but let's re-order that list by winning percentage. Here's what they did with those starts:

1. Seth Doege, Texas Tech: 1-0, 1.000

2. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: 11-2, .846

3. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M: 5-1, .833

4. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: 19-5, .792

5. Collin Klein, Kansas State: 1-1, .500

6. Robert Griffin III, Baylor: 13-15, .464

7. Garrett Gilbert, Texas: 5-7, .412

8. Jerome Tiller, Iowa State: 1-2, .333

9. Jordan Webb, Kansas: 2-5, .285

10. Quinn Mecham: 1-3, .250

Spring superlatives: Kansas

March, 31, 2011
3/31/11
1:30
PM ET
Today: The third in our series looking at the strongest and weakest position for each team in the Big 12: The Kansas Jayhawks.

Strongest position: Running back

Key returnees: James Sims, Deshaun Sands

Key losses: Angus Quigley

Analysis: It's a little hard to believe considering Kansas' top running back in 2009, Toben Opurum, plays defensive end now, but the position was a strength in Turner Gill's first year. It should be again in Year 2, only slightly more so than linebacker. To be frank, Kansas wasn't very good at much in 2010, and its 3-9 record showed it. However, the Jayhawks should have great, great depth at the position and a possible 1,000-yard rusher in Sims leading the way. Sims (never forget, Big 12's best headshot) took over as the primary ballcarrier after rushing for 101 yards against Georgia Tech in the Jayhawks' signature win of 2010. He topped 100 yards two more times last season and scored four touchdowns in Kansas' lone conference win of the season, a 52-45 victory against Colorado that featured 35 consecutive Kansas points in the fourth quarter. His 10 scores led the team, and there are several running backs with potential behind him. Sands could get some carries, but two of the Jayhawks' best recruits of the past two classes have been running backs. Brandon Bourbon and Darrian Miller should compete for playing time as well. Dreamius Smith could be a factor, and as the bruiser of the group, Sims could be complemented well in the Kansas running game with a speedier, shifty change-of-pace back.

Weakest position: Quarterback

Key returnees: Jordan Webb, Quinn Mecham

Key losses: None

Analysis: The Jayhawks had a glaring weakness at quarterback in 2010, and it's the biggest area that must improve if Kansas is going to get back to a) being competitive and/or b) winning games consistently in the Big 12.

Consider this: Despite suffering eight of its nine losses by double digits last season, the Jayhawks threw the ball just 353 times. Only Nebraska, with its impressive running trio, threw it fewer times last season. That says plenty about the confidence the Jayhawks have in their passers. It's not surprising that Kansas threw the second-fewest touchdown passes (Texas), had the second lowest completion percentage (Iowa State), threw for the fewest yards and yet threw the third-most interceptions (14) in the league. Not a good combination.

Webb and Mecham don't have many great receiving options, but Daymond Patterson, Chris Omigie and tight end Tim Biere will have to become more consistent targets for the Jayhawks next season. They were shuffled in and out last season. This spring, hopes were high for incoming freshman Brock Berglund, the top player in Colorado, who enrolled early and planned to take part in spring practice, which begins on Friday in Lawrence. Citing personal reasons, however, Berglund went back to Colorado shortly after enrolling and plans to re-enter the university in the fall. That puts a damper on the hopes of Jayhawks fans hoping to see him start the season opener in the fall, but considering Mecham and Webb's struggles last season, it's likely that Berglund will, at the very least, get an opportunity to prove himself in a game next season.

More spring superlatives:
Kansas announced on Wednesday that incoming freshman quarterback Brock Berglund, one of the Jayhawks' top recruits, would not be enrolling early as planned.

"Brock Berglund has decided to change to modified class scheduling this semester," Kansas coach Turner Gill said in a release. "This change will allow him to still be eligible this fall. Due to personal circumstances we have decided it is in his best interest to come in the summer with the rest of the outstanding 2011 recruiting class. Brock is committed to being a student-athlete at the University of Kansas."

The good news is it still sounds like Berglund is ready to come to Kansas and not experiencing buyer's remorse after signing his letter of intent last month.

But for Kansas fans hoping to see Berglund beat out Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham for the starting quarterback job next fall, it's looking extremely doubtful, at least for the season opener. Webb and Mecham did what they could, but neither showed flashes of being a game-changing quarterback during the 2010 season.

Kansas fans hoped Berglund, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound dual-threat quarterback could be the playmaker, or at least show flashes of becoming one, as a freshman. He'll miss 15 practices, and for a freshman, getting those in would be integral if he was going to become a rare true freshman starter. Kansas officials did, however, tell the Lawrence-Journal World that Berglund would be eligible to join the team in the middle of spring practices if his personal matter cleared up.

Even if he doesn't join them in spring, and waits until the summer before coming to Lawrence from Colorado, he'll get his chance in the fall. But for now, expect Webb and Mecham to enter fall camp a step ahead of their younger competition.

Kansas begins spring practice on April 1 and concludes with the spring game on April 30.

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