Big 12: Tanner Hawkinson

Kansas Jayhawks spring wrap

May, 1, 2013
2012 record: 1-11
2012 Big 12 record: 0-9
Returning starters: Offense: 5; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners: RB James Sims, RB Tony Pierson, LB Ben Heeney, LB Jake Love

Key losses: OL Tanner Hawkinson, DL Toben Opurum, DB Bradley McDougald, WR Kale Pick, QB Dayne Crist, DB Lubbock Smith

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Passing: Dayne Crist (1,313 yards)
Rushing: James Sims* (1,013 yards)
Receiving: Kale Pick (390 yards)
Tackles: Ben Heeney (112)
Sacks: Kevin Young* (2)
Interceptions: Bradley McDougald, Tyler Patmon (3)

Spring answers

1. No questions at quarterback. As expected, there's not much of a quarterback competition this spring. Michael Cummings stepped in last season and earned a few starts after Dayne Crist struggled, throwing nine interceptions to just four touchdowns, but BYU transfer Jake Heaps has claimed the job this spring. He had to redshirt last season after transferring, but dominated on the scout team. The former blue-chip recruit started two seasons at BYU before transferring.

2. Big growth at linebacker. Kansas needs improvement everywhere, so anywhere it happens is a welcome development. Defensively, linebacker should be a clear strength for a KU defense that improved last year but still struggled. Linebackers Ben Heeney and Jake Love had strong springs and looked much improved. Heeney already played well last season, but he may be a serious All-Big 12 first-team talent next season considering the amount of talent at the position that's left the league since 2012.

3. Defensive playmakers emerging. Kansas brought in tons of junior college talent this offseason, but a few have already stood out in the spring. Defensive back Dexter McDonald left the team and went to junior college last season, but he's back and making an impact, and defensive lineman Ty McKinney stood out during the spring, along with defensive back Cassius Sendish, one of the nation's best juco players at Arizona Western a year ago.

Fall questions

1. Will the streak end? This is by far the most important question of Kansas' 2013 season. The current Big 12 losing streak stands at 21 games, and odds favor it ending before too long. If we're still talking about a 30-game losing streak in Big 12 play this time next year, coach Charlie Weis will be on very, very thin ice. KU came close in losses to Texas Tech and Texas last season, but a win is a win. The Jayhawks haven't experienced that in Big 12 play since a 2010 win against Colorado, and haven't beaten a current Big 12 team since beating Iowa State in the 2009 conference opener.

2. Is Jake Heaps really any different from Dayne Crist? Optimism is high around Heaps after KU's other transfer quarterback, Crist, flamed out last season and lost his starting job to a freshman. Heaps has better weapons than Crist, highlighted by Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay, but KU's offense is short on depth at the offensive skill positons, and the offensive line has to prove it can block for him and create holes for the running game to soften up defenses. We'll see how well Heaps ultimately does.

3. Can Kansas find offensive weapons? McCay is a big upgrade, but you can't hide from the fact this team went 12 games last season without a touchdown catch from a receiver. That's simply not good enough in the Big 12 and not a problem one receiver can solve. Tony Pierson and James Sims offer a great 1-2 punch in the running game, but will other receivers like Tre Parmalee or Andrew Turzilli step up?

Lunch links: Gronk Mania at K-State

April, 30, 2013
Everybody knows you don't mess with Asik.

Lunch links: NFL draft links galore

April, 29, 2013
Today's links: Sponsored by Steph Curry's Heat Checks.
The NFL scouting combine is the biggest annual showcase of future football stars before the NFL draft, where players who have entered the draft get measured, run through drills and show scouts and coaches what they can do without any pads on.

This year, a record 333 players have been invited, and the Big 12 landed 30 invitations.

Draft stock can swing wildly during the week, with the main event -- the 40 time -- often serving as the catalyst for that stock. Call it silly, and in some ways it is, but it's the reality of the process. Here's who's headed to Indianapolis from the Big 12:
Pretty good set of players there. You can see them when the combine kicks off Feb. 20.

Offseason to-do list: Kansas Jayhawks

February, 6, 2013
Each season, there's lots of turnover and change for every college program. What do the Big 12 teams need to do before next fall? Let's continue our look with the Jayhawks in Lawrence.

1. Sort out who's who among the new faces. Kansas is bringing in almost 20 junior college transfers, and many of them will be enrolling early. KU needs those guys to contribute early, but who's it going to be? Some will meet expectations. Some will fall short. Some will exceed them. That last group is the most important, and KU needs to exercise a keen eye in evaluation this spring and get a feel for how its depth chart will look in the fall and who needs a high percentage of reps late in spring and heading into fall camp. This team is going to look a lot different, but assessing this talent once it joins the team will be huge for the Jayhawks this offseason.

2. Find some playmakers for Jake Heaps. I wouldn't completely rule out Michael Cummings, but KU has already invested in the former superstar recruit and BYU transfer. Heaps is KU's guy heading into this season, but KU loses its leading receiver, Kale Pick, and its next-most productive receiver is a running back, Tony Pierson, who didn't top 200 yards rushing. Kansas' receivers caught a grand total of zero touchdown passes a year ago. Running backs caught four and tight ends caught three. That cannot fly in 2013. You can't win in the Big 12 like that. Dayne Crist didn't have the best year, but for Heaps to succeed, KU has got to find some serviceable receivers.

3. Fix up the offensive line and keep the running game rolling. Kansas has quietly had a really strong offensive line, even throughout these lean years under Turner Gill and Charlie Weis thus far. Three starters from last year's line, though, are gone. Left tackle and four-year starter Tanner Hawkinson is gone, along with guard Duane Zlatnik and center Trevor Marrongelli. If KU can keep this running game productive, the passing game will have a chance to blossom and the road to Big 12 relevance will be a whole lot easier. If the running game slows and James Sims and Pierson can't help balance the offense, don't expect Heaps to do much better next year than Crist.

More offseason to-do lists:
The Big 12 will have eight players competing in the annual East-West Shrine game, one of a handful of games that serve as showcases for NFL scouts. Here they are:
Klein, of course, made waves when reports leaked that the Senior Bowl wouldn't be inviting him, but he'll get an opportunity to get in front of scouts at the Shrine Game, which takes place on Jan. 19 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

It'll be interesting to see what positions he gets work with, too.

We'll see what Doege can do for his NFL stock as well. More Big 12 players could be invited. We'll keep you posted.

All-Big 12 Underrated Team: Offense

December, 26, 2012
Every year, we crown an All-Big 12 team here at, but we also like to give some recognization to guys who don't get enough credit for just how good they really are. These are their stories.

QB: Nick Florence, Baylor

When was the last time the nation's leader in total offense struggled to even sniff a nod on an All-Big 12 team? The Big 12 quarterback pool is deep this year, but Florence deserves plenty of recognition for a huge season, even if it featured a few too many interceptions. He led the league in passing yards, too.

RB: Damien Williams, Oklahoma

Williams' home-run hitting was much needed for the Sooners, whose season may have looked very different without some huge runs from Williams in wins over UTEP and TCU. Not to mention his 95-yard highlight against Texas, which didn't necessarily change the outcome but provided an unforgettable moment.

RB: James Sims, Kansas

Sims just might be the best back in the Big 12 and didn't even receive a first-team nod from the league's coaches. KU has zero help or support by way of a passing game for Sims. Everybody in the stadium knows he's getting the ball, and yet, he remained productive this season, his best yet.

FB: Braden Wilson, Kansas State

Wilson's a quiet member of one of the league's best rushing attacks. How has Kansas State had Collin Klein and John Hubert each over 895 yards rushing in each of the past two seasons? Ask Bill Snyder to talk about Wilson some time. He'll stop about 45 minutes later.

WR: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State

Stewart doesn't get the same respect as elite receivers in the Big 12 like Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey or Terrance Williams, but he's really not all that far off. OSU throws it around to a lot of different receivers, but Stewart racked up 96 receptions this season. Only two other receivers in the league had more.

WR: Eric Ward, Texas Tech

Ward doesn't get the respect from media, fans or even defenses as other guys on his team, but he's been the most consistent receiver for the past two years for Ward. He led the Red Raiders in receiving last year and did it again this year with 974 yards and 11 scores. Look for him to hit 1,000 yards in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

WR: Tevin Reese, Baylor

Reese is one of the league's most dangerous deep threats, and that alone puts him on this list. He's got eight touchdown catches this season, and averaged 50.8 yards on those eight scores. Ridiculous.

OL: Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas

Hawkinson's calling card is his consistency. Not many guys have played four seasons without missing a game, but Hawkinson racked up 48 starts in four bowl-less seasons for the Jayhawks. He's been consistently one of the league's better linemen. There are more talented guys, but he's been solid and doesn't get the recognition because of KU's struggles.

OL: Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

My lasting memory of Johnson was an impactful one: He completely erased Devonte Fields from the season-ending, Big 12 title share-clinching win in Fort Worth over TCU. Fields, arguably the league's best pass rusher, made just two tackles and none for loss. Johnson has one of the most unbelievable stories in the league, transforming from junior college quarterback into Big 12 offensive tackle (with stops at tight end and defensive end along the way), but he's been solid for the Sooners this season.

OL: Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech

Clark had a big impact on the Red Raiders' line in his first year as a freshman starter after redshirting in 2011. He was as good as any freshman lineman in the league, and his profile's going to rise quickly next season and beyond. He's got NFL written all over him.

OL: Mason Walters, Texas

Walters might actually be the best offensive player on Texas' entire team. Guys like Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray might have more potential or get more pub, but he's been unbelievably solid since earning a starting spot as a freshman. He's started 37 consecutive games for the Longhorns.

OL: Ivory Wade, Baylor

Wade has a decent case as the Big 12's best center, but got surpassed this season by guys like B.J. Finney at Kansas State and Joe Madsen in West Virginia. Regardless, all Wade did was have a really solid season alongside stud Cyril Richardson blocking for the nation's No. 1 offense.

The Big 12's Super Seniors of 2012

December, 20, 2012
This week, we're taking a look at guys who have invested four or five years into their respective programs, and earned a spot as one of the greats after providing some big-time senior leadership.

[+] EnlargeNick Florence
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesNick Florence has stepped up when called upon during his career at Baylor.
Nick Florence, QB, Baylor: Florence is a great story of what college football is all about. When Baylor needed him, he stepped in and was ready to play as a true freshman in 2009 when Robert Griffin III tore his ACL. Then, when Griffin went down in 2011 with a concussion, Florence stepped in and tossed two long touchdown passes to help beat Texas Tech and preserve a 10-win season and a Heisman Trophy for RG III. With that game, though, he sacrificed his redshirt. Did he complain once? Nope. He gave it up when his team needed it, and this year he was honored as a member of the NFF Scholar-Athlete class, nominated for the Campbell Trophy, commonly known as the Academic Heisman.

Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State: Knott's got my nod as the toughest player in the entire Big 12, but a serious shoulder injury that required surgery finally kept him off the field. He's been a three-year starter for the Cyclones, but even opponents recognized the kind of player and teammate he was. Texas coach Mack Brown sent a personalized letter to Knott after his season ended. Knott broke his arm in spring practice and less than 24 hours later was back on the practice field encouraging his teammates. He's the same guy who dislocated his shoulder three times against Baylor last year and had a career game anyway. This year, he knew his shoulder needed surgery, but suited up one last time at home and helped beat the Bears and end his career in the right way.

Tanner Hawkinson, OL, Kansas: Hawkinson's seen a lot in his four years at KU. He's been under three different coaches and never got to play in a bowl game, but he's still remained one of the most consistent talents in the Big 12 and may have an NFL future to show for it. He started a school-record 48 games in four years along the Jayhawks' offensive line, and even helped recruit quarterback Dayne Crist to transfer to KU this year. More players like Hawkinson will help KU get back into Big 12 respectability and the postseason.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: What else is there to say about Klein? He's put K-State on his back the past two seasons and helped Kansas State win its first Big 12 title since 2003 and notch 21 wins in two seasons. This year, he'll get to finish his career in the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon, and a win would basically seal the deal for the 2012 team as the greatest in Kansas State history. Klein began his career with a position move to receiver, earned spot duty alongside Carson Coffman in 2010, but showed he was more than ready to lead the team in 2011. He was better than anyone could have ever guessed, and his leadership on and off the field endeared himself to his teammates.

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Jones' career began with a panic. A 2009 season began with national championship aspirations and a returning Heisman winner at quarterback in Sam Bradford. Jones was supposed to be in the background with a clipboard and a headset, learning from Bradford. Before halftime of the season opener at Cowboys Stadium, a banged-up Bradford led Jones right to center stage. He didn't win that game, but he's won a whole bunch since, including a pair of Big 12 titles. He's had up and downs in his career and made his share of mistakes on the field, but he'll leave the Sooners as a guy who matured greatly over his final three years and likely will have thrown for more passing yards than all but two quarterbacks in the history of FBS football.

Keep an eye out for Part II later this week.'s 2012 All-Big 12 team

December, 10, 2012
Congrats to all these guys for turning in fantastic seasons. Naturally, there will be some snubs and some things that need to be explained. Check the blog later today for more thoughts.

Without further ado, here's the All-Big 12 team from


QB: Collin Klein, Kansas State
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
RB: James Sims, Kansas
FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma
WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
WR: Terrance Williams, Baylor
WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
TE: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
C: Joe Madsen, West Virginia
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech


DL: Devonte Fields, TCU
DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State
DL: Calvin Barnett, Oklahoma State
DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB: Jason Verrett, TCU
CB: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
S: Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma


PK: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
PR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Honorable mention: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia; Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma; Anthony Cantele, K, Kansas State; Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas; Justin Brown, PR, Oklahoma; Tanner Hawkinson, OL, Kansas; Jake McDonough, DL, Iowa State; Lane Johnson, OL, Oklahoma; John Hubert, RB, Kansas State; Travis Tannahill, TE, Kansas State; Durrell Givens, S, Iowa State; Cody Davis, S, Texas Tech

Big 12 did you know: Week 12

November, 16, 2012
We're back again with facts and tidbits from our ESPN Stats & Information team and various sports information departments around the Big 12.

We love you. You make your readers the smartest folk at their tailgates.

Let's get to it!

Did you know ...
  • Since the end of the 2003 season, Big 12 teams have been No. 1 in the BCS on eight occasions, including K-State this week.
  • Those teams are just 2-5 in their next game.
  • One of those teams (Texas, Oct. 23, 2005) won its next game and still fell out of the No. 1 spot.
  • Saturday will be one day short of the one-year anniversary of Iowa State's upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State, a loss that knocked the Cowboys out of the BCS title game.
  • Kansas State leads the nation in average starting field position, at their own 41. K-State opponents average at their own 27. That plus-14 differential is 5 yards greater than any team in the country.
  • Collin Klein accounts for 65.7 percent of his team's yardage. Last year, Robert Griffin III accounted for 65.6 for Baylor.
  • Klein also accounts for 66 percent of his team's touchdowns. RG3 accounted for 61 percent.
  • Baylor had 24 turnovers as a team, and 11 by RG3 last year. Kansas State has six turnovers, and three by Klein.
  • Klein completed 44 percent of his throws longer than 20 yards last year for four touchdowns and two interceptions. This year, he's completing 60 percent with seven scores and no picks.
  • Klein has completed 24 of those throws to three different receivers. All three have at least seven catches longer than 20 yards downfield.
  • Baylor's Nick Florence has thrown 15 touchdown passes longer than 20 yards this season. That number leads the FBS.
  • Florence, though, is completing just 44 percent of his throws longer than 20 yards, with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions.
  • Last week's loss to Oklahoma was the first game this season in which Florence didn't complete a touchdown pass longer than 20 yards downfield.
  • With a victory on Saturday, Oklahoma will have at least eight wins for the 13th consecutive season.
  • Tavon Austin's 684 yards after the catch lead the Big 12.
  • Oklahoma and West Virginia have never met in Morgantown.
  • Texas Tech's collective 1,770 yards after the catch lead AQ teams this season.
  • Geno Smith completed 72.4 percent of his passes longer than 15 yards in his first four games. He had nine touchdowns and no interceptions over that span.
  • Since, he's completed 16.3 percent with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
  • Smith averaged 432 passing yards a game in September. Since then, he's averaging just 262.6.
  • Oklahoma's Blake Bell has 20 touchdowns on 29 rushes in goal-to-go situations since the beginning of last season. That's the highest touchdown percentage (69 percent) of any player with at least 10 attempts.
  • Oklahoma State has 51 completions of 20 yards or longer this year, the second-most in FBS.
  • Texas Tech has given up just 19 such completions, the fewest in the Big 12 and fifth-fewest in FBS.
  • Oklahoma State's three-game winning streak versus Tech is its longest in the series since winning four consecutive games from 1942-45.
  • Texas Tech (minus-5) and Oklahoma State (minua-8) are a combined minus-13 in turnover margin, the two worst marks in the Big 12.
  • Oklahoma State was plus-21 in that stat last season.
  • Oklahoma State has won 10 of 11 games against teams from Texas, with the one loss coming this season to Texas on a controversial touchdown in the final minute.
  • Kansas leads its all-time series against Iowa State, 49-36-6.
  • Kansas offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson will set a school record if he makes his 47th start on Saturday.
  • Paul Rhoads is already the first coach in Iowa State history to reach bowl games in two of his first three seasons.
  • Until the Oklahoma game this season, Rhoads had never coached a game without linebacker Jake Knott on the field.
  • Iowa State safety Durrell Givens has five fumble recoveries and three interceptions. That ties him for the national lead in takeaways.

Big 12 did you know: Week 10

November, 2, 2012
Time for another round of fun facts across the Big 12 that should come into play this week. As always, these come courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info and various sports information departments around the Big 12.

Thanks for all you do. We love you. You make our readers the smartest folks at their tailgates. Let's get to it!

Did you know ...
  • Kansas State is first nationally in drive starting position, at its own 40.
  • The nation's top five teams in that stat have just three combined losses.
  • Kansas State is tied for second nationally with 3.6 penalties a game.
  • Kansas State is tied for fourth nationally converting 54 percent of its third downs.
  • Kansas State has yet to give up a point off one of its turnovers, the best mark in the FBS.
  • K-State kick returner Tyler Lockett ranks eighth nationally with 29.7 yards per return. Five of his 12 returns have been longer than 30 yards.
  • On throws 20 yards or longer last year, Collin Klein completed 44 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and two interceptions.
  • This year, he's completing 60 percent of those same throws with seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
  • On those throws last year against Oklahoma State, Klein was 2-of-6 for 56 yards and an interception.
  • Oklahoma State's Wes Lunt has completed just 5-of-18 (27.8 percent) of his passes longer than 20 yards this season. J.W. Walsh completed 47.4 percent of those passes this season.
  • Lunt was 1-of-4 for 38 yards last week against TCU on throws longer than 20 yards.
  • Kansas State's offense has just 86 drives this season, the second-fewest in FBS.
  • Kansas State's offense is fifth nationally in scoring, however. It has scored touchdowns on 42 of those drives.
  • It ranks first nationally in drives per touchdowns (2.2), plays per touchdowns (12), and touchdown percentage (48.8).
  • Over the past two seasons, Collin Klein leads the FBS with 45 rushes for first downs on third down, including 12 on third downs with longer than five yards to go.
  • Collin Klein averages 9.1 yards a carry on zone read plays this year, compared to 5.2 last season.
  • Lunt's completion percentage against the blitz (50) is 16 percentage points lower than when defenses drop at least seven defenders into coverage.
  • Klein, meanwhile, has completed 16 of 20 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns against the blitz in his past two games.
  • Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle has 479 yards after contact this year, the third-most among backs from AQ conferences.
  • Randle, though, averages three yards a carry after contact, a higher rate than the two backs ahead of him, Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell.
  • Seth Doege has 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions on throws longer than 15 yards. That's the best ratio in the FBS.
  • He's completing 51 percent of his throws longer than 15 yards, the fifth-best mark nationally.
  • Texas' defense gave up 15 throws longer than 25 yards all last season.
  • The Longhorns have already given up 18 of the same completions this year.
  • Johnathan Gray didn't have a single carry longer than 20 yards in his first four games. He has three in his last four games.
  • His yards after contact per rush is up to 2.3 yards a carry vs. 1.6 in the first four games.
  • David Ash completed 55.6 percent of his passes longer than 15 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions through the season's first five games.
  • He's completed 23.5 percent of those passes in the past three games with no touchdowns and three interceptions.
  • In those three games, Ash is 3-of-6 when targeting Mike Davis on throws longer than 15 yards. He's 1-of-11 when targeting the rest of the team on those throws.
  • Seth Doege is completing 79.1 percent of his passes in the red zone, the second-highest percentage in the FBS. Last year against Texas, he was 5-of-7 with two touchdowns in the red zone.
  • Landry Jones completed 49 percent of his throws longer than 15 yards last year. This season, he's down to 39 percent.
  • Oklahoma averaged just 2.4 yards per carry against Notre Dame, the worst mark of the season. They also averaged just 1.2 yards per carry before contact, the worst mark of the season.
  • Texas' offense has 21 touchdown drives longer than 75 yards this season, the most in the FBS.
  • In his first four games, Geno Smith completed 72.4 percent of his throws longer than 15 yards with nine touchdowns and no interceptions.
  • In his past three games, Smith has completed 3 of 27 (11 percent) of those throws with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
  • West Virginia averaged 220 yards after the catch in its first five games, all wins.
  • It's averaging just 119 yards after the catch in its last two games, both losses.
  • Both of Smith's interceptions this season have come on throws targeting receivers other than Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
  • TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin completed all 13 of his pass attempts on third down against Baylor. He's just 9-of-25 since in losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
  • Baylor has 14 touchdown drives in under a minute this season. Against Iowa State last week, the Bears had just one.
  • Nick Florence has three of the top six games in Baylor history in single-game passing yards.
  • Steele Jantz tied the school record for completions (36) and touchdown passes (5) last week against Baylor.
  • Iowa State ran 102 plays last week, tying a school record and racking up 557 yards of offense, the most since 2008 against Kansas State.
  • James Sims' streak of four consecutive 100-yard games is the most in KU history since Tony Sands all the way back in 1991.
  • KU tackle Tanner Hawkinson has 44 consecutive starts, the most for a Jayhawk since 2000.
  • KU threw seven passes last week, the fewest in a game since 1992.
  • KU has already surpassed last year's interception total (8) with nine picks this season.
Not everybody gets their just deserts in college football, but it's time to do my part to change that. Sometimes, it's the team they play for. Sometimes, it's an underappreciated position. Other times, it's a combination of several things. Either way, here are the Big 12's most underrated players heading into 2012.

Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor: Reese is undersized at 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, sure. Who cares? He's productive, and should only be more so without Kendall Wright in Waco this season. Reese will likely be the second option behind Terrance Williams, but the speedster at inside receiver managed to rack up 877 receiving yards, eighth-most in school history, as the third option for RG3 last season.

[+] EnlargeTrey Millard
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireKeep an eye out for Sooners fullback Trey Millard this season.
Toben Opurum, DE/LB, Kansas: Opurum used to be a running back, but he's learned his new position well, playing the "Buck" spot last year for the Jayhawks. Opurum's a high-motor type of player, and ranked 10th in the Big 12 last season with 10.5 tackles for loss and made four sacks.

Trey Millard, FB/TE, Oklahoma: Millard is a jack of all trades for the Sooners, and played three positions last year. He's invaluable for the Sooners, and may be even more so this season. Look for him to grab some touches at tailback this season, probably in short yardage situations that require a power back.

Alex Elkins, LB, Oklahoma State: Elkins was second on the team with 90 stops, including five tackles for loss. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder is a solid tackler, but too often, the former walk-on who didn't play football until junior college gets written off as one of the league's top linebackers.

James White, RB, Iowa State: White looked like a non-factor last season, but after Shontrelle Johnson went down with a neck injury, White ascended to starter status. He finished with 743 yards and eight scores, including the game-winner against Iowa in triple overtime.

Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech: Doege's offense put up big numbers last year, but he didn't have much of a chance to win big last season. Doege's name never comes up among the league's best passers, but despite having no running game and tons of injuries on the offensive line, Doege topped 4,000 yards and threw for 28 touchdowns with just 10 picks. If Tech starts winning (which wasn't much of Doege's fault in 2011), his name might come up in the debate for the Big 12's best passer.

Jaxon Shipley, WR, Texas: Shipley's instincts and great hands are two things you simply can't coach. Now, he'll only get better as a sophomore, and his numbers will balloon if his quarterback improves and Shipley can stay healthy. Even with the revolving door at QB last year and an injury that caused him to miss three games, he finished with 607 yards and three scores on 44 catches.

K.J. Morton, CB, Baylor: Baylor's defense caught big criticism last year, but Morton was a big bright spot late in the season. The Bears were +10 in turnover margin over the last six games, and Morton was a big reason why. All four of his interceptions came in the final three games of the regular season. Now, he's got to improve his coverage skills.

Tanner Hawkinson, OT, Kansas: Hawkinson's been a constant in a turbulent period for Kansas football, starting 36 consecutive games in Lawrence under two different coaches. Expect the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder to make it 48 starts for three coaches after this year. Hawkinson was a Freshman All-American, but Kansas' struggles have kept him from getting his proper due in the years since. That's a shame. He's a big talent with a bright future.

John Hubert, RB, Kansas State: You know about Collin Klein, but it seems like nobody's paying attention to Hubert, who just so happens to be the Big 12's No. 3 returning rusher with 970 yards on just 200 carries.

Eric Ward, WR, Texas Tech: Texas Tech's 2011 season was rough, but Ward emerged as the most consistent target for a receiving corps racked by injuries. It wasn't fun last year, but now, the Red Raiders have some serious depth, and Ward gets no attention, despite catching 84 balls for 800 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Lunch links: Media days final wrapup

July, 25, 2012
Media days come and gone. What was your favorite quote/moment of the week?

Player rosters set for Big 12 Media Days

July, 10, 2012
Big 12 Media Days are set for the Westin Galleria on July 23-24, but we now know who'll be attending from each Big 12 team.

Here's the list:


Should be fun. I'll have some more thoughts on this on Wednesday.

Projecting the top prospects in 2013

May, 10, 2012
NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. broke down his top-five prospects at each position among juniors and seniors entering the 2013 draft.

You'll need ESPN Insider to see both (here are the juniorsInsider) (and here are the seniorsInsider), but here's a taste of what you can find among the seniors.

Offensive tackles
Inside linebackers