Big 12: Tim Barnes

Offering insight into the Big 12 O-lines

August, 18, 2011
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The Rimington Trophy, given annually to college football's top center, is starting up its own blog soon, and asked yours truly for a little insight into the Big 12 offensive lines.

Here's what I had to say:

What is the overall strength of the offensive lines in the Big 12?

It's good, but not great. Oklahoma State is the league's best, and Baylor is really underrated on a national scale. I've got the Bears as the second best line in the league, closely followed by Texas A&M and Missouri, who both return four starters from good lines in 2010.

Which team in the Big 12 you think will be most impacted by the loss of last year’s senior center?

Probably Missouri. They look like they're going to put Travis Ruth, an experienced junior, in Tim Barnes' slot, but Barnes was a three-year starter and an All-Big 12 talent. His knowledge and ability to adapt is going to be tough to replace. (Post-script: That loss could be even more difficult to rebound from after losing All-Big 12 left tackle Elvis Fisher for the season with a torn patellar tendon.)

Are there any up and coming first year centers you think may exceed expectations?

It's a little early. We haven't heard a lot of these guys get a ton of credit from the coaching staffs, so we'll see.

What team in the Big 12 poses the biggest defensive threat to an offensive line?

Missouri, definitely. Their defensive line is loaded. It's deep and has the most top-end talent. If newly eligible Sheldon Richardson is the real deal, too? Offensive lines better look out.

Who do you think will emerge as the best center in the conference?

I think it'll be a close race between Ben Habern at Oklahoma, Grant Garner at Oklahoma State and Philip Blake at Baylor.

Lunch links: What about AggieVision?

July, 21, 2011
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Here we go again ...
We'll move on to the cornerbacks today in our position rankings across the Big 12.

Here's what we've covered so far:
This group is subject to more change during the season than perhaps any other position. You never quite know how chemistry will develop, and in these rankings, you really have to rely heavily on experience, similar to quarterbacks. It's not the only factor, but you have to acknowledge that it's a major one.

So, here's how I rank them:

[+] EnlargeLevy Adcock
AP Photo/Brody SchmidtOklahoma State's Levy Adcock, 73, is among the Big 12's best returning offensive linemen.
1. Oklahoma State: This is a no-brainer. The Cowboys broke in four new starters last season, but became a big reason why OSU's offense was one of college football's best. Despite throwing 532 passes, third-most in the Big 12, the group surrendered just 10 sacks. All five starters return, too. Running back Kendall Hunter also rushed for more than 1,500 yards. Right tackle Levy Adcock headlines the unit as the league's best overall lineman.

2. Baylor: The Bears might be a bit of a surprise here, but Baylor's strong skill-position talents wouldn't look nearly as good without this group, which lost a first-round pick at left tackle in Danny Watkins. However, Philip Blake is one of the league's best centers and four starters return from a line that helped Baylor finish second in the Big 12 last season in yards per carry, just behind Nebraska but nearly a half-yard more than Oklahoma State, the third-place team.

3. Missouri: The Tigers suffered a big loss in center Tim Barnes, a three-year starter and the offensive line's leader, but they return four starters from last season line and have the most career starts on the line of any team in the Big 12, with 105, which ranks 11th nationally.

4. Texas A&M: A&M's rising sophomore tackles, Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, had to learn on the go last season, but their development should be fun to watch this season on an offensive line blocking for the Big 12's best overall collection of skill-position talents. The line returns four starters, replacing only center Matt Allen.

5. Oklahoma: The Sooners' goal-line problems last season cost them a game at Texas A&M, but this line was very solid the rest of the season and has plenty of upside. Likely starter Jarvis Jones won't be available until perhaps October, so the Sooners will turn to touted redshirt freshman Daryl Williams at right tackle in the interim. Center Ben Habern and tackle Tyler Evans add a lot of experience.

6. Texas Tech: Tech boasts one of the Big 12's best guards in Lonnie Edwards, but don't be surprised if Mickey Okafor grabs the Big 12's first-team spot at right tackle by season's end. The Red Raiders return all five starters, and will have to play well to support new faces at every skill position on offense.

7. Kansas: Four of the Jayhawks' starters are juniors and another is a senior, and for all of KU's struggles last season, it did have some success running the ball in spots, even though its 1,615 total rush yards were the fewest in the Big 12. James Sims (742 yards, 9 TDs) returns and KU adds a possible home-run threat in Darrian Miller, but the offensive line returns 97 total starts, 15th-most in college football and second-most in the Big 12. That has to pay off eventually, if not this season.

8. Iowa State: The Cyclones boast the league's best left tackle, Kelechi Osemele, but center Ben Lamaak is gone and ISU might turn to redshirt freshman Tom Farniok as his replacement. Brayden Burris is solid at right tackle, but sophomore Ethan Tuftee, who has very little experience (just five appearances total), enters fall camp as the starter at right guard.

9. Texas: No, I don't know how this happens. But it's hard to deny. Run blocking has been a struggle for Texas, and new position coach Stacy Searels will have to change that for the Longhorns, who have kept quiet about any real depth-chart developments throughout the spring and into fall camp. Tray Allen's health is a concern, but Mason Walters played well in 2010 and David Snow has a lot of experience at center with 19 starts and 39 appearances. If this group can't ascend in these rankings during the season, Texas' turnaround from last season 5-7 campaign will not happen. Texas, though, has the fewest career starts in the Big 12, with 36, which ranks 105th nationally.

10. Kansas State: Kansas State has had the Big 12's leading rusher the past two seasons, but he's gone and so are three offensive linemen, including the unit's best blocker, guard Zach Kendall. Center Wade Weibert and guard Kenneth Mayfield also are gone, leaving gaps in the interior. Senior Zach Hanson joins Manese Foketi and Clyde Aufner on a unit that returns just 42 career starts, second-fewest in the Big 12 and 97th-most in college football.

Assessing the contenders: Missouri

July, 14, 2011
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Heading into the season, I see five teams in the Big 12 with a realistic chance to win the league. I'll be breaking them down in order (which won't be the same as my post-spring power rankings) of their chances to leave the season with the Big 12 title.

No. 1 on the list was the favorite: Oklahoma.

No. 2 was Texas A&M.

Oklahoma State came in at No. 3.

Why the Tigers will win the Big 12

1. Experience. Missouri returns 105 starts on the offensive line, losing only center Tim Barnes. That's the most in the Big 12 and 11th most in the nation on an offensive line that was fantastic in 2010. Just less than 80 percent of its total lettermen return, eighth-most in college football. That's a lot of guys who have been around, and the Tigers knocked over a big wall last year when they toppled the Sooners. Eliminate Mizzou's curious road hiccup at Texas Tech, and the Tigers would have been back in the Big 12 title game instead of sharing the Big 12 North with Nebraska after a third 10-win season in four years.

2. Dave Steckel. The Tigers' defense has steadily improved under Steckel, who previously coached linebackers under Matt Eberflus. Missouri had its best defense under Gary Pinkel last year, and that could continue this year with a great mix of experience and upside at linebacker, with Will Ebner and Zaviar Gooden set to knock around a few folks. Missouri's defense is noticeably tougher under Steckel, and though the Tigers must replace Aldon Smith and both starting corners, don't expect it to take a big jump back. Though Kip Edwards and E.J. Gaines lack the experience of Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland, they may prove to be better corners very soon.

3. The defensive line. And what's the best way to negate inexperience at corner? How about the Big 12's best defensive line. Brad Madison is arguably the Big 12's best returning pass-rusher, and his counterpart at defensive end, Jacquies Smith, is one of the better ends in the Big 12, too. Missouri also has the best depth of any defensive line, with Michael Sam and Kony Ealy itching to spell Madison and Smith. At defensive tackle, Terrell Resonno could be poised for a breakout year, and blue-chip recruit Sheldon Richardson, if/when he actually makes it to campus, should join Dominique Hamilton at the opposite tackle spot, making sure Missouri's front four are not to be trifled.

Why the Tigers won't win the Big 12

1. The quarterback has never started a game. Sometimes, it's just this simple. James Franklin may blossom into a star at Missouri, but as a first-year starter, he's bound to have a few bad nights. Can Missouri survive them? Its Big 12 title hopes depend on it. If Blaine Gabbert had stayed, Missouri would likely be a top-15 or top-10 team and join Texas A&M and OSU as the chief contenders to knock off Oklahoma. Instead, the Tigers are relegated to a dark horse/wild-card role that depends heavily on how Franklin performs in his first year. The one advantage he has is after Tyler Gabbert's post-spring transfer, fall camp will be more about cementing his role as starter than winning it. Franklin walked in as a true freshman last spring and eventually won the No. 2 job behind Blaine Gabbert. That says a lot, and he earned some playing time last year, but his sophomore season won't be anything like 2010, when he threw all of 14 passes.

2. The passing game is limited. NFL teams knew Blaine Gabbert had a cannon, but he didn't get very many chances to showcase it to college fans last year, and Franklin may be forced to do the same. T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew are a great duo with some of the best hands in the league and a great sense of space, but without a deep threat to keep defenses honest, their production declined late in the season. Danario Alexander and Jeremy Maclin were able to stretch the field for guys like Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker in the past, but Moe and Egnew won't come close to 2010's production if the Tigers can't find someone to haul in a few passes over the top of the secondary.

3. Trips to Norman and College Station are on the schedule. I hear you, Missouri fans. I was there for the destruction of Texas A&M at Kyle Field last year. But that was a very different Texas A&M team than you'll be facing this time around. And the return trip may not be quite as enjoyable. Jerrod Johnson struggled against the Tigers, but the 30-9 loss was his penultimate start and Ryan Tannehill is driving the bus now. Also, don't count on this one being an 11 a.m. kickoff. I'd plan for prime time, and Kyle Field is a very different place at 8 p.m. than at lunch time. Ask Nebraska. Missouri knocked off Oklahoma last year, too, but don't think the Sooners have forgotten the fourth-quarter meltdown in Columbia. Oklahoma gets both of its losses in 2010 -- Missouri and Texas A&M -- in Norman this year, where it carries a 36-game home winning streak, the nation's longest, into 2011.

Missouri spring wrap

May, 6, 2011
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MISSOURI

2010 overall record: 10-3

2010 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters: Offense (9), Defense (6) P/K (2)

Top returners: DE Brad Madison, WR T.J. Moe, TE Michael Egnew, RB De’Vion Moore, LB Zaviar Gooden, S Kenji Jackson, LB Will Ebner

Key losses: QB Blaine Gabbert, DE Aldon Smith, LB Andrew Gachkar, CB Kevin Rutland, CB Carl Gettis, C Tim Barnes

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: De’Vion Moore* (517 yards)

Passing: Blaine Gabbert (3,186 yards)

Receiving: T.J. Moe (1,045 yards)

Tackles: Andrew Gachkar, Zaviar Gooden* (84)

Sacks: Brad Madison* (7.5)

Interceptions: Kevin Rutland (3)

Three spring answers

1. Primary concern? Not the secondary. Missouri lost both starting corners, Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland, from last year’s team, but the secondary could be even better in 2011. Kip Edwards played extensively last year and the coaching staff considers him a returning starter. E.J. Gaines, just a sophomore, could be in for a solid year, too. Don’t expect a big dropoff from the Tigers’ secondary.

2. The next Aldon Smith? Missouri already has a solid duo at defensive end with Jacquies Smith and Brad Madison, but the Tigers found another this spring. Kony Ealy, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound redshirt freshman, was unblockable for stretches during the spring and should find a spot in the rotation of a loaded Missouri defensive line next fall.

3. Tigers find a center. Three-year starting center Tim Barnes is gone, and the search for his replacement was on this spring. Missouri’s reserve centers struggled with snaps at times, but Travis Ruth won the job over Justin Britt after the spring. I wouldn’t expect that to change in the fall.

Three fall questions

1. Is the new QB ready? James Franklin will enter fall as the starter, but Tyler Gabbert is right there with him. The Tigers didn’t settle much this spring, but most agree that this is the best team surrounding the quarterback maybe ever under Gary Pinkel. Once the Tigers figure out who’s starting, can he keep up with what should be a solid team?

2. Paging Sheldon Richardson. The defensive tackle is one of the most highly recruited prospects in Missouri history, and has already signed with the Tigers twice, snubbing USC the second time. He was scheduled to arrive this spring, but he hasn’t officially qualified yet. He’s expected to arrive in June, but if we’ve learned one thing throughout this saga, it’s nothing is a given. If he does eventually arrive, will he be the impact player that his athletic, 6-foot-4, 295-pound frame suggests he could be?

3. Can the offense stretch the field? Missouri’s two top receivers, T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew, are possession receivers that don’t often beat defenses deep. Defenders keyed in on them late in the season, and their production waned a bit. Can Missouri find a player like Danario Alexander or Jeremy Maclin this year to stretch the field and open up more space for Egnew, Moe and the running game?
It's a different year this time around. Most of the guys on this list would already be signed to a team -- albeit with brief contracts -- and ready to work toward a future in the NFL.

But this year, if you're not already aware, NFL teams had to turn out the lights after the draft reached its completion on Saturday evening. Players drafted can't have contact with their new teams, and teams aren't allowed to make offseason moves.

That means no signing of undrafted rookies, creating uncertain futures for these guys. Undrafted guys have plenty of value -- for example, last year's leading rusher among rookies, LeGarrette Blount of Oregon, went undrafted -- and here are a few guys looking for their shot in the future once the lockout ends. (It'll end eventually, right?)

Here are the Big 12 players that were productive in college and would be in camps, but thanks to the lockout, now have their futures on hold.

Tim Barnes, C, Missouri

Barnes was the first-team All-Big 12 center in 2010, but extended a streak of four consecutive Missouri centers to earn that honor and go undrafted. Barnes had more athleticism than his predecessors, but it wasn't enough to get drafted. You won't find a much more knowledgeable center, but a lot of that knowledge might not transfer well to the next level.

Kevin Rutland, CB, Missouri

Rutland was one of the Tigers' team captains last season, but his overall position skills weren't on the level of the cornerbacks drafted ahead of him.

David Sims, S, Iowa State

Sims has great speed at 204 pounds, but his 5-foot-9 frame isn't ideal for a safety. His past didn't help him, either. He enrolled at Oklahoma originally, but didn't qualify and went to junior college. After winning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in 2009, he was suspended for the season opener in 2010 and stripped of team captain status after racking up charges on a Des Moines woman's debit card.

Orie Lemon, LB, Oklahoma State

Lemon was what you'd want in a linebacker mentally and physically when he was healthy, but his torn ACL last season hurt his draft stock. He's a big hitter, too, but at 242 pounds, NFL teams didn't love his speed.

Dan Bailey, K, Oklahoma State

Simply put, kickers don't get drafted too often. Bailey, who won the Lou Groza Award last season as the nation's best kicker, should get his shot at some point.

Colby Whitlock, DT, Texas Tech

Whitlock has great size at more than 300 pounds, but his lack of speed concerned NFL teams, who also weren't in love with his pass-rushing ability or overall athletic ability. I've been a fan of Whitlock's technique during his time in Lubbock, but measurables are more apt to get you selected.

Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M

Not a snub, per se, as it was pretty obvious that Johnson struggled in the events leading up to the draft, especially at the Senior Bowl. But Johnson likely would find a shot somewhere, and it's still shocking to see a player with Johnson's resume go undrafted. Coach Mike Sherman knows the kind of football mind Johnson has, though, and can sell his NFL connections on it. There's no question he'll end up in a camp once the option is available.

Author's note: This is post No. 7,000 on the Big 12 blog. Thanks to all of you who helped make the first 6,999 happen.

Breaking down the offensive draft boards

April, 27, 2011
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You've surely seen plenty of mock drafts and draft boards by position by now, but those are all put together by mashing together players' total skill sets.

So what would happen if you broke down those skill sets and re-ranked players in the draft? Todd McShay did exactly that for every draftable offensive player.

Here's a look at what he had to say.

Quarterbacks Insider
  • Missouri's Blaine Gabbert was No. 3 in intelligence and decision-making, behind Greg McElroy of Alabama and TCU's Andy Dalton.
  • Gabbert was No. 1 in throwing accuracy.
  • He's the Big 12's only draftable quarterback, according to McShay, and ranked No. 1 overall on his positional draft board.
Running backs Insider
  • McShay ranked DeMarco Murray as the No. 1 running back in the draft, according to receiving skill.
  • Murray was also No. 1 in pass blocking. Kansas State's Daniel Thomas was No. 2.
  • Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter is the Big 12's top back on his positional draft board. Hunter ranks No. 4. Thomas is No. 5. Murray ranked 10th.
Offensive line Insider
  • Baylor's Danny Watkins ranked No. 2 in pass blocking among draftable guards.
  • Watkins also ranked No. 2 in run blocking among guards.
  • He ranked No. 1 in "toughness" among guards.
  • Watkins was the No. 6 overall offensive line prospect available. Texas' Kyle Hix was his No. 42 available and Missouri's Tim Barnes was No. 50.

Big 12 weekend scrimmage roundup

April, 11, 2011
4/11/11
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Time to catch up with a few on-field happenings over the weekend...

Missouri quarterback competition heats up

For most of the spring, the only big mover in Missouri's competition has been Tyler Gabbert. He used the first few weeks of spring to move from the No. 3 quarterback to co-No.1 before taking over the No. 1 spot heading into Saturday's scrimmage.

James Franklin, however, looked like he made a move in Saturday's scrimmage. The competition is close enough that it's highly unlikely that Missouri will have an official starter at the end of spring, but Franklin and Gabbert appear to have made it a two-man race ahead of Ashton Glaser.

Here's how it shook out on Saturday:
  • Franklin: 19-30, 222 yards, TD, INT; 4 carries, 27 yards, TD
  • Gabbert: 14-26, 103 yards, INT

Franklin was the day's leading rusher.

Gabbert's interception was returned 32 yards for a score by new corner E.J. Gaines, and that's exactly the kind of play that can knock you down a peg in competitions like these. All mistakes are not created equal.

Gaines' pick, though, was indicative of a big day for the defense, which won the scrimmage by adding two more touchdowns on an interception and a fumble return and had four interceptions on the day. Defensive end Brad Madison had two of the team's six sacks.

Kony Ealy, who's earned plenty of buzz this spring as a likely contributor at defensive end alongside Madison and Jacquies Smith, had a sack, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal.

With just one more week for Missouri until Saturday's spring game, it's clear the quarterback position is even more muddled, so don't expect a true starter to emerge until late in fall camp.

Missouri fans have reason to worry about the center spot, though. New starter Travis Ruth, replacing All-Big 12 performer Tim Barnes, had a nice day, but the backups had a difficult time snapping the ball. One of the defensive touchdowns, a 40-yard return by Marcus Malbrough, came off a bad snap.

Young running back steals show for Kansas

Could James Sims have company at the head of the pack among Kansas' running backs? It would seem so.

The practice was closed to fans and the media, but the early enrolling freshman from Kansas City scored four touchdowns, including one run that sounded like a sight to see.

From the team's report on the website:
Miller scored four touchdowns, including a run where he seemed to be surrounded by the defense, but spun out of it and ran to daylight.

But alas, coach Turner Gill brings the video goods via his Twitter account!

That's a heck of a run. I always love seeing quarterbacks hustle to make blocks, too, even if they don't get there.

"[Darrian] definitely had some good runs today and he showed that he has good vision and direction, and showed a good burst of speed," Gill said.

The Jayhawks are pretty deep at running back, with Sims and Darrien Miller being joined by DeShaun Sands, Brandon Bourbon, Rell Lewis and fellow freshmen Dreamius Smith and Anthony Pierson.

I'd still expect Sims to get the bulk of the carries, but Miller is clearly making a case early in his career that he'll be a factor as well.
Missouri's first official scrimmage of the spring was on Saturday, and who was the first quarterback to take snaps?

Redshirt freshman Tyler Gabbert.

All three Missouri quarterbacks wore orange jerseys signifying they could each bit hit above the waist, so the race is close, but Gabbert made the most of his opportunity, turning in the best day among the three passers.

Here's how they finished:
Franklin's day featured a forgettable interception returned 40 yards by Zaviar Gooden (Told you folks to keep an eye on him last week) and Gabbert's biggest highlight was a 64-yard touchdown pass to L'Damian Washington. Franklin's score was a toss across his body to Brandon Gerau in the back corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score.

Washington added a second touchdown and had 83 yards on four catches to lead all receivers.

Franklin obviously wasn't happy with his performance, but this was what it was: A spring scrimmage. By all accounts, Gabbert was the most impressive passer on Saturday, but there's a long way to go before Missouri's season opener in September.

Defensive ends Jacquies Smith and Kony Ealy, who has earned a good amount of buzz early in spring camp after redshirting in 2010, both had sacks in the scrimmage.

Defensive end Brad Madison added a pair of hurries.

The Tigers also left with at least one big concern. All-Big 12 center Tim Barnes is gone, and Travis Ruth and Justin Britt are competing to replace him.

But in Saturday's scrimmage, there were numerous botched snaps, including one on the opening drive that Gabbert was forced to dive on.

"It's very tough on the QBs," coach Gary Pinkel told reporters after the scrimmage. "You've got the QBs battling out there, and the snaps are all over the place. That's very difficult. Obviously, we've got to fix it."

Opening spring camp: Missouri

March, 8, 2011
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Schedule: Practice opens today, and continues through the spring game on April 16. Practices between now and then are open to fans and media.

What’s new: Not much, really. There will be a quarterback derby, but we'll get to that in a bit. Missouri returns nine starters on offense and six on defense and didn't have a coaching change in the offseason. There will be new faces in the secondary, but Gary Pinkel has established a solid foundation for his program around his quarterback and there shouldn't be much concern about a down year in 2011 with a new passer.

On the mend: Linebacker Donovan Bonner missed all of 2010 with a knee injury, but he looked like a budding star before the injury. He's back this spring and should get a chance to get back to where he was in fall camp.

Key battle: There's plenty to see at quarterback. Pinkel says sophomore James Franklin will enter spring practice as the starter, but Ashton Glaser and Tyler Gabbert will push for the starting gig. This is definitely new territory for the Tigers, who haven't had any real uncertainty about their starting quarterback since Brad Smith took over as the starter in 2002. Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert were clear heir apparents, but a quarterback competition should add some new intrigue to the offseason in Columbia.

New faces: Receiver Wesley Leftwich will take part in camp, alongside offensive lineman Michael Boddie and defensive lineman Gerrand Johnson.

Breaking out: When defensive end and likely first-round pick Aldon Smith suffered a broken leg last year, backup defensive end Brad Madison flourished. He had three sacks against Texas A&M and finished with 7.5 sacks to lead the team and with Smith gone. Madison's road to becoming a household name across the conference could begin this spring.

Question marks: Secondary troubles have been a constant for Missouri's defenses over the past decade. Until last year, anyway. The secondary became a strength, but it did it with a pair of experienced, senior corners, Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland. Now, promising young players E.J. Gaines and Kip Edwards look ready to replace them, but will the excellence on the back line continue under third-year defensive coordinator Dave Steckel, or was last year an anomaly?

Big shoes to fill: All-Big 12 center Tim Barnes is gone, and Justin Britt and Travis Ruth will compete to take his place. Barnes was responsible for a lot of organization for the offense before the snap, not to mention his blocking and snapping talents. A weakness there would throw a kink into Missouri's offense. The Tigers need a solid talent to emerge, and that could happen this spring. The good news is the other four offensive linemen return.

Don’t forget about: The running backs. Missouri split carries between four backs last season, with none receiving more than 100 carries. Pinkel says he wants one to emerge and separate themselves, and if I'm guessing, I'd put my money on sophomore Henry Josey. He's the shiftiest of the four backs, and in Missouri's offense, a scat back can be a big asset. He may not get the goal-line carries (look for De'Vion Moore to take that duty), but he could get the Tigers down there.

All eyes on: Quarterback James Franklin. It sounds like he has a lead to start the spring, but the job isn't his yet. Missouri fans would like to see him (or someone, anyway) grab a firm hold on the job by the end of spring practice and impress them heading into fall camp. Uncertainty may not be the best option for Missouri's offense next fall, but if no one separates themselves, it might be a necessity.
The official list of the Big 12's top 25 players is locked in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we're revealing the list day-by-day here on the blog. Here's a refresher on my exact criteria.

[+] EnlargeTim Barnes
John Rieger/US PresswireMissouri center Tim Barnes helped the Tigers offense pile up more than 5,300 yards.
No. 24: Tim Barnes, C, Missouri

2010 numbers: Helped Missouri's offense pile up more than 5,300 yards of offense as a third-year starter at center.

Most recent ranking: Barnes was ranked No. 21 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Barnes: Barnes continued his consistent play as the center of Missouri's offensive line, and was a big reason why the Tigers notched one of their biggest wins in program history, a 36-27 win over Oklahoma. Also, for an offense like Missouri's that runs nearly every play out of the shotgun, never underestimate the importance of an experienced snapper. Just ask Florida. Barnes was also named first team All-Big 12 by the coaches, media and ESPN.com. Don't worry all that much about Barnes dropping a couple spots from the preseason to postseason. It was more about the large number of budding offensive stars rising up the list than it was about anything Barnes did poorly to fall.

The rest of the list:

  • No. 25: Lyle Leong, WR, Texas Tech

Re-ranking the Big 12's best players

February, 11, 2011
2/11/11
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Oh, yes. It's that time again.

I made my first go-around this summer, and it was definitely a fun experience that inspired tons of discussion. Perhaps my favorite moment: The group of you (much, much larger than I ever expected) who felt the need to fill my inbox with angry e-mails after I jokingly teased in July that Garrett Gilbert would be No. 1 on my list that was "heavily weighted toward players' actual accomplishments in their college careers." Oh, you readers.

Now, it's time to do the whole project all over again, starting Monday.

We're ranking the top 25 players in the Big 12. This list, however, is based solely on their performances during the 2010 season. I composed my preliminary list on Thursday, but it's nowhere near finished.

One quick note: This is one of the last cases in which Nebraska and Colorado will remain on the Big 12 blog. Since their players did play in the Big 12 in 2010, they're going to be included on this list.

Here's what my top 25 looked like before the season:
  • No. 1: Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M
  • No. 2: Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State
  • No. 3: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
  • No. 4: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
  • No. 5: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
  • No. 6: Nate Solder, LT, Colorado
  • No. 7: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
  • No. 8: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
  • No. 9: Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
  • No. 10: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
  • No. 11: Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma
  • No. 12: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
  • No. 13: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
  • No. 14: Alexander Robinson, RB, Iowa State
  • No. 15: Sam Acho, DE, Texas
  • No. 16: Roy Helu, Jr., RB, Nebraska
  • No. 17: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
  • No. 18: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
  • No. 19: Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
  • No. 20: Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M
  • No. 21: Tim Barnes, C, Missouri
  • No. 22: Brian Duncan, LB, Texas Tech
  • No. 23: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
  • No. 24: Tanner Hawkinson, OT, Kansas
  • No. 25: Blake Gideon, S, Texas

As I'm sure you can tell, plenty of guys dropped off the early draft of the postseason list. Plenty of others will be crashing the party pretty high on the list.

Others made big moves up or down. I'm interested to hear your input before we get this thing kicked off.

So, who deserves to go where?

Big 12 talent headed to the NFL combine

February, 4, 2011
2/04/11
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The NFL released its list of invitations to the scouting combine late this month, and plenty of Big 12 players should be taking part.

Here's who got invitations:
That's a pretty solid (and lengthy) list. Add it up, and it's 36 players from 11 of 12 Big 12 schools, excluding Kansas. It's a little surprising that Missouri center Tim Barnes wasn't on the list. It's possible it was a mistake, but the first-team All-Big 12er and Rimington Trophy watch lister was named as one of the top centers in the draft last spring by Mel Kiper. Barnes had also earned some favorable reviews at the NFLPA Bowl this week.

It was good to see Aggies quarterback Jerrod Johnson get a shot to show scouts if he's regained any more strength in his arm, too.

Here's how it ranks by team, as well.

1. Nebraska - 9
2. Oklahoma State - 5
2. Texas - 5
4. Oklahoma - 4
5. Colorado - 3
5. Missouri - 3
7. Baylor - 2
7. Texas A&M - 2
9. Iowa State - 1
9. Kansas State - 1
9. Texas Tech - 1

The 2010 All-Big 12 team ... as recruits

January, 27, 2011
1/27/11
11:00
AM ET
We're now less than a week away from signing day. Any national recruiting class is littered with five-stars who don't quite meet their potential, and two-star recruits who turn into first-round picks.

Analyzing the recruiting game isn't perfect, but it's not worthless, either.

Looking back is always interesting, so here's how my All-Big 12 team from 2010 looked as recruits on signing day.

OFFENSE

QB: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State -- walk-on, returned to OSU after minor league baseball career
RB: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State -- No. 73 running back, three stars
RB: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State -- signed with K-State out of junior college, ranked No. 35 overall JUCO recruit, four stars
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State -- No. 139 receiver, three stars
WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma -- No. 58 athlete, four stars
TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri -- not ranked as receiver, two stars
C: Tim Barnes, Missouri -- No. 18 offensive guard, three stars
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State -- unranked JUCO prospect
OL: Nate Solder, Colorado -- No. 35 tight end, three stars
OL: Ricky Henry, Nebraska -- No. 53 offensive guard, three stars
OL: Danny Watkins, Baylor -- No. 39 overall JUCO recruit, four stars

DEFENSE

DE: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma -- No. 11 defensive end, No. 137 overall prospect, four stars
DT: Jared Crick, Nebraska -- No. 86 defensive end, three stars
DT: Lucas Patterson, Texas A&M -- No. 10 offensive guard, three stars
DE: Sam Acho, Texas -- No. 14 defensive end, No. 114 overall prospect, four stars
LB: Von Miller, Texas A&M -- No. 37 defensive end, three stars
LB: Lavonte David, Nebraska -- No. 7 overall JUCO recruit, four stars
LB: Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State -- No. 40 outside linebacker, three stars
CB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska -- No. 31 running back, three stars
CB: Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska -- No. 44 cornerback, three stars
S: Quinton Carter, Oklahoma -- No. 39 safety, three stars
S: Byron Landor, Baylor -- No. 48 safety, three stars in high school, No. 100 overall JUCO recruit

SPECIALISTS

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State -- unranked
K: Alex Henery, Nebraska -- walk-on, unranked
KR: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M -- No. 28 overall JUCO recruit, four stars
PR: Niles Paul, Nebraska -- No. 49 receiver, three stars

ESPN.com's All-Senior Big 12 team

January, 25, 2011
1/25/11
1:15
PM ET
Inspired by our friends at the Big Ten and SEC blogs, we'll put together a long-overdue team composed of the league's best seniors.

We made a team full of freshmen, so why skimp on the old guys? Well, we won't.

My All-Big 12 team featured 16 seniors, and they're all on the team below, but plenty of other guys put together distinguished careers and 2010 seasons that deserve recognition.

Their careers may be over, but you can bet all these players will live on in school lore for quite some time. Here goes:

OFFENSE

QB: Taylor Potts, Texas Tech
RB: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
RB: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
WR: Lyle Leong, Texas Tech
WR: Detron Lewis, Texas Tech
WR: Aubrey Quarles, Kansas State
C: Tim Barnes, Missouri
T: Nate Solder, Colorado
T: Danny Watkins, Baylor
G: Keith Williams, Nebraska
G: Ricky Henry, Nebraska

DEFENSE

DL: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma
DL: Lucas Patterson, Texas A&M
DL: Sam Acho, Texas
DL/LB: Brian Duncan, Texas Tech
LB: Von Miller, Texas A&M
LB: Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State
LB: Michael Hodges, Texas A&M
CB: Andrew McGee, Oklahoma State
CB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
S: Quinton Carter, Oklahoma
S: Byron Landor, Baylor

SPECIALISTS

K: Alex Henery, Nebraska
P: Derek Epperson, Baylor
Returns: Niles Paul, Nebraska

Selections by school: Nebraska (5), Texas Tech (4), Oklahoma State (3), Texas A&M (3) Baylor (3), Kansas State (2), Oklahoma (2), Texas (1), Missouri (1), Colorado (1)

A few thoughts:
  • It was kind of slim pickings at receiver, but only because the Big 12's top five and 11 of its top 15 receivers will be coming back in 2011. Colorado's Scotty McKnight only narrowly missed the team. I'd say he's probably a more talented receiver than Quarles, but Quarles' production was there in 2010. McKnight's, after adding freshman Paul Richardson to the mix, took a bit of a dive in his senior year.
  • That's a heck of a defense. All 11 guys weren't very far off from making the regular All-Big 12 team. The same is true of the offensive line.
  • Potts' year was a lot better than a few Texas Tech folks would have you believe, but he didn't have a lot of competition to make the cut on this squad. His own teammate, Steven Sheffield, was probably the only guy who could keep him from this squad. The only other Big 12 starters this year were Iowa State's Austen Arnaud, Kansas State's Carson Coffman and Colorado's Cody Hawkins.
  • It's a solid group at running back, too. Thomas and Hunter were the same two guys on my All-Big 12 team, getting the nod just over Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray, Nebraska's Roy Helu Jr. and Baylor's Jay Finley. Definitely a great year for Big 12 running backs, especially the seniors.

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