Big 12: Zach Kendall

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.

The Revolving Door: Kansas State

May, 26, 2011
5/26/11
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I've done it. You've done it.

"Hey, is that guy still around?"

Even with two fewer teams, it's hard to keep track. Our next series, which we did last year, too, takes a look at two key players for every team in the league who are taking their talents elsewhere, returning to campus, or arriving to try to write a legacy of their own.

So really, this series isn't so much for the fans of the teams in the posts, but more for everyone else. It wouldn't be a bad idea to bookmark these.

Next up: Kansas State

Going:

Daniel Thomas, RB

Thomas came to Kansas State from junior college and joins a line of juco players turned FBS stars under coach Bill Snyder. The 6-foot-2, 228-pound back bounced off defenders and led the Big 12 in both carries and rushing yards in his two years in the league, finishing with 2,850 career rushing yards. He battled a shoulder injury his junior year, but played through it and his efforts paid off as a senior when he helped carry the Wildcats back to a bowl game for the first time since 2006. He was drafted by Miami in the second round.

Considering Kansas State's struggles throwing the ball during his time there, Thomas' production is even more staggering. Defenses knew he was coming, and he ran over and through them anyway.

Zach Kendall, OL

And how did Thomas do it? Kendall and the offensive line, which loses three starters from last year's team, were the biggest reason. Kendall, a 6-foot-2, 317-pounder, took over as the starting guard midway through the 2008 season and remained a constant on the line for the next two and a half seasons, taking over as one of the team captains in 2010 and earning All-Big 12 honors.

Staying:

David Garrett, CB

Garrett was a rarity last season, the Big 12's only cornerback to lead his team in tackles. That's not a great sign for the defense as a whole, but there's no denying Garrett is one of the team's best playmakers. A 5-foot-8, 175-pound junior college transfer made 92 tackles, including 68 solo stops. He's undersized, but the Big 12 is thin at cornerback. Don't be surprised if Garrett lands on the All-Big 12 first team next year.

Brodrick Smith, WR

Smith transferred from Minnesota and finally got on the field last year, jumping out to a nice start, catching 12 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns in his first three games, providing a much-needed target for Carson Coffman. But late in the game against Nebraska, Smith suffered an ugly broken leg that ended his season. He'll be back on the field again this year with a breakout season in mind.

Coming:

Ian Seau, DE

Seau comes from a rather obvious bloodline that bodes well for his football future. His uncle is veteran NFL linebacker Junior Seau. The Wildcats' top recruit from the 2011 class will get to campus this summer and try to crash the rotation on a defensive line that loses two starters from last year's team. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Carlsbad, Calif., native may end up moving to linebacker, but for now, he's the nation's No. 18 defensive end.

Lamonte Clark, DT

Kansas State was pretty deliberate about its efforts to beef up the defensive line in this year's class. The top five signees from this February were all defensive linemen, and Clark is the biggest, by far. The Washington, D.C., native weighs in at 310 pounds, and stands 6-foot-4. There aren't many defensive linemen in this league that tip three bills on the scale, and Kansas State would certainly like to see him become a force up front.

Click here for more from The Revolving Door.

Kansas State spring wrap

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
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KANSAS STATE

2010 overall record: 7-6

2010 conference record: 3-5

Returning starters: Offense (5), Defense (6) P/K (1)

Top returners: QB Collin Klein, CB David Garrett, S Tysyn Hartman, LB Alex Hrebec, S Ty Zimmerman, WR Brodrick Smith

Key losses: RB Daniel Thomas, WR Aubrey Quarles, OL Zach Kendall, DL Prizell Brown, QB Carson Coffman, RB/KR William Powell

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Daniel Thomas (1,585 yards)

Passing: Carson Coffman (2,060 yards)

Receiving: Aubrey Quarles (765 yards)

Tackles: David Garrett* (92)

Sacks: Prizell Brown (5)

Interceptions: Ty Zimmerman* (3)

Three spring answers

1. Quarterback spot looks clear. It’s not over, but it’s obvious Klein will enter fall camp with a lead in the quarterback spot, ahead of Sammuel Lamur and Boston College transfer Justin Tuggle. He’s only thrown 18 career passes, but will the experience he gained on the field in 2010 should help entrench him as the starter next year.

2. Defensive playmaker emerges. Linebacker Arthur Brown returned home from Miami and sat out last year, per NCAA rules, but made an impact as a scout team defender. This spring, he moved up and will likely start next year. He made a game-high 14 tackles in the spring game and has speed unlike any other Wildcats linebacker.

3. Snyder works his juco mojo again. Juco cornerback Nigel Malone showed up to campus this spring from a junior college in California, and after just 15 practices he may be a starter across from one of the team’s stars, Garrett. Bill Snyder is known for his juco talent-mining skills, and with Malone it looks like he’s struck again.

Three fall questions

1. Who’s the running back? Daniel Thomas was a do-everything back for two years, but we may see a share of carries this year. Bryce Brown hasn’t had quite the impact his brother, Arthur, has, but he’s competing with John Hubert for a starting spot.

2. Where’s the D? Kansas State has found a few new pieces in Malone and Arthur Brown, but embattled defensive coordinator Chris Cosh is still there. The Wildcats defense struggled last year, ranking 11th in total defense. How much better can it be in 2011?

3. What’s in store from Klein? Even if Klein wins the job, he won’t be facing Kansas State’s secondary every week. Is he developed enough as a passer to give Kansas State a viable passing threat? That’s something the Wildcats didn't have with Carson Coffman or Grant Gregory, but can Klein buck the trend?

Recruiting needs: Big 12 North

January, 26, 2011
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Signing day is exactly a week from today, and it's time to take a look at who needs what in its 2011 class.

Some schools have addressed these with their current class. Some haven't. Others are still trying.

We'll kick things off with the artists formerly known as the Big 12 North and examine the South later today.

COLORADO

Cornerback: Jalil Brown and Jimmy Smith were pretty reliable for the Buffaloes, but both are headed to the NFL, and the Buffaloes could definitely use some depth behind their first-year starters. It's not quite as pressing of an issue considering their move to the less pass-happy Pac-12, but they still like to sling it out west.

Receiver: Colorado isn't exactly starving anywhere on offense, but receiver sticks out a bit. Toney Clemons was good, but maybe not quite what the Buffaloes hoped he'd be in 2010, but they caught a break in getting Paul Richardson back after a great freshman season. The Buffaloes need some complementary pieces around Clemons and Richardson to replace departed pass-catchers Scotty McKnight and Travon Patterson. Next year, that should be tight end Ryan Deehan and receiver Will Jefferson.

IOWA STATE

Receiver: It's been a struggle for Iowa State in recent years, but they have to get better outside to help out their quarterback. Sedrick Johnson's transfer only worsens the Cyclones depth at the position, but Jake Williams and tight end Collin Franklin, the team's leading receiver, are gone. Shontrelle Johnson looks ready to become a big factor in the offense, but the Cyclones filling the space at receiver will make it easier for Johnson to replace running back Alexander Robinson.

Safety: Both starters, David Sims and Zac Sandvig, are gone. So is the Cyclones top reserve at the position, Michael O'Connell. Sims was a top-notch talent that will be tough to replace, but Iowa State needs more depth here. They should be solid at corner with Leonard Johnson, Ter'ran Benton, Jeremy Reeves and Anthony Young, which could make the new safeties' jobs easier.

KANSAS

Defensive line: KU is losing three of four starters on the line, including the team's only All-Big 12 talent, defensive end Jake Laptad. Turner Gill wants more speed, and this is a place to install it. Tackles that tip the scales at 320 pounds aren't too necessary in this league, but speed on the edge can go a long way in stopping the pass.

Quarterback: Neither Jordan Webb or Quinn Mecham look like long-term answers at quarterback for the Jayhawks. Mecham will be a senior, and Webb might develop into a better player as a sophomore next year, but Kansas needs other options. The Jayhawks hope Brock Berglund, the top-rated recruit in Colorado, is the solution to the problem.

KANSAS STATE

Running back: I hear your cries for Bryce Brown, Wildcats fans, but K-State can't expect to hitch their wagon to the former blue-chip recruit turned Tennessee transfer in the same way it did for Daniel Thomas. Thomas and his backup, William Powell, are gone, and the Wildcats need some depth at running back to show up.

Interior offensive linemen: K-State loses both guards and its center from an offense that produced the Big 12's leading rusher in 2010. Don't expect them to do it again in 2011 without Wade Weibert, Kenneth Mayfield and Zach Kendall, as well as Thomas and Powell, but finding some new talent behind them will help them come close.

Cornerback: David Garrett emerged as a budding star in 2010 ready for a breakout senior year in 2011, but the Wildcats lose Terrance Sweeney and Stephen Harrison, as well as safety Troy Butler. Like we've mentioned earlier, good secondaries are a must for success in the Big 12, and K-State had one of the league's worst in 2010.

MISSOURI

Receiver: Missouri has some good ones ready to suit up in 2011, namely Wes Kemp, Jerrell Jackson and T.J. Moe, but the Tigers don't have a true gamebreaker. They have some younger players in Marcus Lucas and Jimmie Hunt who they hope will develop into big-time, All-American caliber receivers, a la Jeremy Maclin and Danario Alexander. In Missouri's system, though, adding a few receivers is always a good idea. They certainly don't need any more running backs.

Defensive backs: Mizzou doesn't have any huge holes that need to be filled with recruiting, but the Tigers lose both corners, Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland from their 2010 team. Kip Edwards and E.J. Gaines look likely to fill those roles, but the Tigers could use some depth and keep recruiting in the secondary to help add some talent around Tavon Bolden and Matt White, safeties who will replace departed Jarrell Harrison, who actually had to play some linebacker in 2010 because of injuries.

NEBRASKA

Every kind of kicker: Alex Henery, the team's punter and kicker is gone. So is kickoff specialist and lover/producer of touchbacks, Adi Kunalic. Fan favorite Henery was hardly underappreciated by the Nebraska faithful, but they'll miss him even more if the Huskers can't find a suitable placekicker and punter. Bo Pelini was reportedly after Wake Forest commit Mauro Bondi this week.

Receiver: Niles Paul and Mike McNeill are gone. The Huskers need Brandon Kinnie to come through with another good year and it'd be nice if Quincy Enunwa broke through in 2011, but Taylor Martinez needs some more help at wide out, and a couple new recruits could provide it as Martinez's passing prowess matures.

2010 Big 12 All-Bowl team

January, 14, 2011
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We've spent the week wrapping up the bowls, and now that it's Friday, here's our Big 12 bowl team comprised of players who got it done individually in their bowl games.

Plenty of guys got snubbed, particularly at receiver (Sorry, Lyle Leong, Cameron Kenney and Kendall Wright!), but without further ado, here it is.

OFFENSE

QB: Landry Jones, Oklahoma

Jones shook off an early pick-six and threw for three touchdowns and 429 yards on 34-of-49 passing in Oklahoma's 48-20 win over Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl. It was his second consecutive 400-yard passing game in a bowl.

RB: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State

Thomas scored three touchdowns against Syracuse, and finished with 90 yards on 22 carries in the Wildcats 36-34 loss to the Orange in the Pinstripe Bowl.

RB: Eric Stephens, Texas Tech

Stephens ran for a season-high 126 yards on 14 carries and caught five passes. His 86-yard touchdown run helped push Texas Tech to a 45-38 win over Northwestern in the TicketCity Bowl.

WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

Broyles caught 13 passes for 170 yards--his second consecutive bowl game with 13 receptions--and had a highlight-reel catch for his lone touchdown on his final catch of the night.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

Blackmon opened the game with a 71-yard touchdown catch on the Cowboys opening drive, and finished with nine catches for 117 yards and a second touchdown in OSU's 36-10 win over Arizona in the Alamo Bowl.

WR: T.J. Moe, Missouri

Moe helped quarterback Blaine Gabbert top 400 yards against a porous Iowa zone defense, finishing with a 15 catches for 152 yards, both career highs.

OL: Zach Kendall, Kansas State

Kendall helped pave the way for Kansas State's offense, which threw for 258 yards and ran for 121 more against Syracuse.

OL: Tim Barnes, Missouri

Barnes was solid as usual, getting Gabbert in rhythm with solid snaps and giving the quarterback plenty of time to throw for a season-high 434 yards.

OL: Eric Mensik, Oklahoma

Oklahoma rolled up 524 yards of offense in the Fiesta Bowl, and Mensik was one of the big guys up front who helped it happen.

OL: Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech

Texas Tech ran the ball with uncharacteristic effectiveness, especially late in the game with a lead, and Edwards gets the nod for helping the Red Raiders run for 183 yards and throw for 369 more.

OL: Elvis Fisher, Missouri

Fisher completely eliminated Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn from the game, and because of it, the Tigers offense rolled for 512 yards against the Hawkeyes.

DEFENSE

DL: Phil Taylor, Baylor

Taylor made 10 tackles in the middle of Baylor's defense responsible for slowing down Illinois' rushing offense.

DL: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma

Beal plugged up holes for Connecticut's Jordan Todman, who averaged under a yard per carry at halftime, and finished with six tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

DL: Jared Crick, Nebraska

Crick made seven tackles--all solo--for the Huskers in their 19-7 loss to Washington in the Holiday Bowl.

DL: Richetti Jones, Oklahoma State

Jones made five tackles, including 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss, against Arizona's Air Raid passing attack.

LB: Von Miller, Texas A&M

Miller made nine tackles, a sack and three tackles for loss against LSU in the Aggies' 41-24 loss in the Cotton Bowl.

LB: Travis Lewis, Oklahoma

Lewis was responsible for slowing Todman, and finished with 10 tackles--all solo--and a pair of pass breakups to lead the team.

LB: Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State

Lemon led the Cowboys with 14 tackles against Arizona.

CB: Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma

Fleming made seven tackles and had a tackle for loss, but made a huge play when he intercepted a pass and returned it 55 yards for a score against the Huskies in the Fiesta Bowl.

CB: Kevin Rutland, Missouri

Rutland helped slow Iowa's passing attack led by Ricky Stanzi, making seven tackles, breaking up a pair of passes and returning an interception 25 yards.

S: Byron Landor, Baylor

Landor led the Bears with 12 tackles, and had a sack and another assist on a tackle for loss.

S: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State

Martin made just four stops, but swung the game on his 62-yard interception for a score, and broke up a pair of passes in the win over Arizona.

SPECIALISTS

P: Matt Grabner, Missouri

Grabner helped Missouri win the field position battle with a pair of punts inside the 20-yard line, a 55-yard punt and a Big 12 bowl-best average of 42 yards on his four punts.

K: Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State

Bailey made three field goals longer than 40 yards, and was flawless on his five punts after being forced into duty by a suspension.

KR: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M

Judie broke the Big 12's longest kick return on the opening kickoff of the Cotton Bowl, breaking a 69-yarder to set up a game-oepning touchdown and finished with 197 yards on seven returns.

PR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

Broyles returned five punts for 92 yards, and had the longest return of the Big 12 bowl season, a 57-yarder against the Huskies.

Picking the North versus the South

December, 21, 2010
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Yesterday, you saw my all-star teams broken down by division.

Before I offer my pick, here's a few thoughts and observations that emerged from selecting those teams.
  • In comparing the divisions, there are several lopsided positions. The Big 12 South is every bit the quarterback oasis we thought it was, while the North, outside of Blaine Gabbert's arm and Taylor Martinez's legs, is a bit of a wasteland. All five quarterbacks in the South -- plus Steven Sheffield -- would represent the North after Gabbert, and based on the way Martinez played in conference games, maybe him, too.
  • The same goes for the South and receivers. Somehow, Jeff Fuller couldn't make the South team, because he's got a pair of Biletnikoff finalists ahead of him. T.J. Moe and Scotty McKnight can get open in the middle of the field and both catch everything, but it's clear that all the big, fast receivers are in the South. The three aforementioned receivers, plus Kendall Wright, Lyle Leong, Detron Lewis and maybe Ryan Swope could have represented the North.
  • Meanwhile, the running backs are the opposite, like we thought at the beginning of the year. Kendall Hunter is the league's best, but DeMarco Murray might have been bumped off the South team by a number of North backs, including Rodney Stewart, Daniel Thomas, Roy Helu Jr. Murray racks up a lot of catches and is probably more dangerous in the open field than any of those previous three, but those three got it done between the tackles way more often than Murray.
  • Speaking of tackles, are there any good defensive tackles in the Big 12 North outside of Jared Crick? There are a lot of ends, so I put three on the team. Outside of maybe Nebraska's Baker Steinkuhler and Missouri's Terrell Resonno, there aren't many guys to fear in the middle of Big 12 North defenses. Could that perhaps be an explanation for the success of backs like Stewart, Thomas, and Helu? Can't hurt.

So what would happen?

Like we mentioned before, you'd see both teams rely on their strengths. If Blaine Gabbert is stepping back and throwing the ball 45 times to guys like McKnight and Moe all day, he's going to need a ton of completions to do it. The safer bet is to rely on those backs and a pretty strong offensive line. Ricky Henry and Zach Kendall might be two of the best run blockers in the Big 12, and their ballcarrier teammates benefited, so have them lead the way at the two guard positions.

It'd be a bit of a throwback offense for Gabbert, who is used to the spread at Missouri and in high school, but hey, it's only one game, right? He'll be OK. If the North was going to pull the upset, it'll have to do it with downhill running.

Meanwhile, expect the South to mix in plenty of those downhill runs with wide-open passing like most of them are used to. Swing passes to backs like Hunter and Murray would work well, and Ward served nicely as a lead blocker for Hunter.

Can you imagine the "backs" or "diamond" formation with Hunter, Murray and Ward? That's scary.

Through the air, how fantastic would Amukamara vs. Blackmon on one side and Broyles vs. Dennard on the other be? I want this game to happen. Somebody get Boone Pickens on the phone.

This game would be closer than it might seem coming in because of the North's salty secondary. That said, give me the boys down South by a touchdown.

South 27, North 20.

The Big 12 North versus Big 12 South

December, 20, 2010
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Like it or not, the Big 12 will be without divisions after 2010, no matter how many legends or leaders made their mark in the league's short history as a two-part conference.

Over that history, the South has been dominant with a pair of national powers, Texas and Oklahoma who were consistently racking up big win totals over the last decade while the North has, more often than not, sent a significantly less impressive team to the title game. That's measurable in plenty of ways, but I'll settle for the 11-4 advantage in the championship game and a 13-4 advantage in BCS bowl game appearances.

But what about this year? The South is clearly the deeper division when you talk total teams, but then I got this e-mail, which got me wondering:

John in Omaha, Neb., wrote: Bored at work, thought I'd give you a blog topic idea. If you had to pick two all star teams, one made entirely of B12 north players at each position and then a B12 south all star team at each position and then had them play a game. Who would win and who would be the players. Off the top of my head I'd say the south would but I bet it's pretty close once you break it down player by player.

My interest was piqued. We know what the All-Big 12 team looks like, but what if you broke it down by division? For reference, my All-Big 12 team had 11 players from the North and 15 from the South.

Here are my picks, when broken down by division:

Big 12 South

OFFENSE
QB: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
RB: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State; DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State; Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
TE/FB: Bryant Ward, Oklahoma State
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State; Danny Watkins, Baylor; Eric Mensik, Oklahoma; Matt Allen, Texas A&M, Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech

DEFENSE
DL: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma; Lucas Patterson, Texas A&M; Colby Whitlock, Texas Tech; Sam Acho, Texas
LB: Von Miller, Texas A&M; Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State; Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
CB: Andrew McGee, Oklahoma State; Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma
S: Quinton Carter, Oklahoma; Byron Landor, Baylor

SPECIALISTS:
K: Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
PR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

Big 12 North

OFFENSE
QB: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
RB: Rodney Stewart, Colorado, Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
WR: T.J. Moe, Missouri; Scotty McKnight, Colorado
TE/FB: Michael Egnew, Missouri
OL: Nate Solder, Colorado; Ricky Henry, Nebraska; Tim Barnes, Missouri; Zach Kendall, Kansas State, Ben Lamaak, Iowa State

DEFENSE
DL: Jared Crick, Nebraska; Aldon Smith, Missouri; Brad Madison, Missouri; Pierre Allen, Nebraska
LB: Lavonte David, Nebraska; Andrew Gachkar, Missouri; Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska; Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
S: Eric Hagg, Nebraska; Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State

SPECIALISTS:
K: Alex Henery, Nebraska
P: Alex Henery, Nebraska
KR: William Powell, Kansas State
PR: Niles Paul, Nebraska

So, there are my teams. I'll offer some further observations, plus my pick in a post Tuesday. But for now ... who you got?

Opening camp: Kansas State

August, 4, 2010
8/04/10
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Schedule: Practice starts today

What’s new: The receiving corps. Kansas State's possible top three targets may all be new faces. Brodrick Smith is a Minnesota transfer, Chris Harper is from Oregon. And Aubrey Quarles missed all of last season.
Key battle: Quarterback. Carson Coffman began last season as the starter before ceding the responsibility to Grant Gregory. Coffman has a slight lead entering camp, in front of Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur, but coach Bill Snyder sees all three as possible starters.


New on the scene: Fullback Braden Wilson. He started four games last season, and he'll be the lead blocker for the conference's leading rusher, Daniel Thomas. Snyder raved about the sophomore's efforts this spring.

Breaking out: Defensive end Brandon Harold. An injury made him a non-factor in 2009, but he's is back to full strength and ready to regain the form from his freshman season, when he had 45 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss. At 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, he'll be a force to block for opposing offensive lines.

Don’t forget about: The offensive line. It cleared the way for a 1,200-yard rusher in 2009 and brings back four starters from last year's team, led by senior guard Zach Kendall. He'll be one of the team captains this season.

All eyes on: Running back Daniel Thomas. The Wildcats need him to duplicate or surpass his 1,265 rushing yards from his first season at Kansas State, and he'll probably get the carries to let him do it. Thomas played through a minor shoulder injury last season, and he'll need to stay relatively healthy once again for the Wildcats to see success in 2010.

Quoting: "We came out of the spring with three young guys that were viable contenders for the number one quarterback spot. Is that good or bad? You could make a case either way." -- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder

More opening camps:

What to expect on Day 2 of media days

July, 27, 2010
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IRVING, Texas -- Pretty fun day on Day 1 of Big 12 media days yesterday. Our Day 1 wrap is readily available on the website with dispatches from yours truly and columnist Pat Forde, both in text and video.

Here's the lineup for Day 2: (all times ET)

10:00 Missouri: Coach Gary Pinkel, QB Blaine Gabbert, RB Derrick Washington, CB Kevin Rutland

10:45 Oklahoma State: Coach Mike Gundy, QB Brandon Weeden, LB Orie Lemon, DE Jamie Blatnick

11:30 Kansas State: Coach Bill Snyder, RB Daniel Thomas, S Tysyn Hartman, OL Zach Kendall

12:15 Texas Tech: Coach Tommy Tuberville, QB Taylor Potts, QB Steven Sheffield, DL Colby Whitlock

You can watch a live feed of the proceedings from Big12Sports.com, and the site also has archived video from earlier in the week. Nebraska, Baylor, Iowa State and Texas A&M took their turn on Monday.

Here's a look at what to expect on Tuesday:
  • Missouri looks like a solid contender in the North to knock off Nebraska, so expect plenty of questions about that game -- especially since it's the last time it'll be played for awhile. Pinkel might even be peppered with questions about Missouri's historical struggles in Lincoln; its 30-year drought at Memorial Stadium came to an end in 2008. The secondary gave up plenty of big plays in 2009 and will try to improve in 2010. If they do, Rutland -- one of four returning starters in the secondary -- will be a big reason why. Look for questions for Rutland and Pinkel about how they'll do it.
  • For Mike Gundy, it wouldn't shock me if he left the stage without a question about his defense, despite bringing two defenders into the one-on-one interview room next door. Believe it or not, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini accomplished that feat in Monday's formal Q&A. The story for the Cowboys is their new offense: how well Brandon Weeden knows it and can run it, how well Kendall Hunter fits into it, which receivers have meshed into it. I expect Oklahoma State's defense to be solid, probably somewhere in the 5-9 range in points allowed. Call it faith in Bill Young. But my hunch is the offense -- in both yardage and points -- looks like a big-swinging winner or loser in 2010. Top three or bottom three, depending on who figures what out when. I last visited Stillwater on the first day of spring camp. Everyone was still feeling everything out. There's surely been plenty of progression since then, but we won't get a sense of just how much until the first weekend in September.
  • Kansas State is short on big names -- only Daniel Thomas made the media's All-Big 12 team -- but Hartman might be the most well-known defender and one of the best. Snyder will surely be asked his thoughts about the seemingly imminent round-robin schedule he's opposed in favor of two five-team divisions. As one of the vulnerable Forgotten Five in this summer's realignment, expect to revisit the events of June as well.
  • The Red Raiders are probably the most interesting team to take the stage on Tuesday, and they'll end the day for Big 12 teams. Tuberville will hear about plenty on Tuesday, like what his defense getting torched by the team's third and fourth-string QBs this spring means in the big picture and perhaps being asked for general comments about his recent recruiting successes, since coaches can't refer to unsigned recruits by name. This should definitely be an entertaining session, and Tuberville's a pretty compelling speaker. Don't look for an encore of his comments that earned him a reprimand earlier this summer. He's already spoken on the issue a second time, and toned it down significantly.
  • BCS director Bill Hancock, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and the conference's coordinator of football officials, Walt Anderson, will all be answering questions on Tuesday afternoon. Beebe will surely face more questions about realignment--both in the past and future -- and Anderson should hear more questions about the controversial call at the end of the Big 12 championship. In addition, he may get a few questions about the rule changes college football faces after this season. Beyond that is anyone's guess.
  • Internet issues at the Westin Hotel forced some delays for our content on Monday, and there's reason to believe that'll be the case for most of today. But be sure, we will deliver the goods eventually.

Big 12 Media Days schedule

July, 14, 2010
7/14/10
11:35
AM ET
Big 12 Media Days in Irving, Texas are only a couple weeks away, and the schedule for the three-day gabfest has been released.

First thing I noticed: Nebraska (first) and Texas (last) are as far away as possible. Though I don't think the week is going to be as conducive to fireworks as some believe, it should still be plenty entertaining.

Media Days run July 26-28, and here's when to look for who on your team. (all times ET)

Monday, July 26

2:00 Nebraska: Coach Bo Pelini, WR Niles Paul, DE Pierre Allen, CB Prince Amukamara

2:45 Baylor: Coach Art Briles, LB Antonio Johnson, OT Danny Watkins

3:30 Iowa State: Coach Paul Rhoads, QB Austen Arnaud, RB Alexander Robinson, DE Rashawn Parker

4:15 Texas A&M: Coach Mike Sherman, QB Jerrod Johnson, LB Von Miller, DT Lucas Patterson

Tuesday, July 27

10:00 Missouri: Coach Gary Pinkel, QB Blaine Gabbert, RB Derrick Washington, CB Kevin Rutland

10:45 Oklahoma State: Coach Mike Gundy, QB Brandon Weeden, LB Orie Lemon, DE Jamie Blatnick

11:30 Kansas State: Coach Bill Snyder, RB Daniel Thomas, S Tysyn Hartman, OL Zach Kendall

12:15 Texas Tech: Coach Tommy Tuberville, QB Taylor Potts, QB Steven Sheffield, DL Colby Whitlock

Wednesday, July 28

10:00 Kansas: Coach Turner Gill, DE Jake Laptad, CB Chris Harris, OL Brad Thorson

10:45 Oklahoma: Coach Bob Stoops, DE Jeremy Beal, LB Travis Lewis, WR Ryan Broyles

11:30 Colorado: Coach Dan Hawkins, CB Jalil Brown, WR Scotty McKnight, OL Nate Solder

12:15 Texas: Coach Mack Brown, QB Garrett Gilbert, OT Kyle Hix, DE Sam Acho, DT Kheeston Randall

A few quick thoughts:
  • Definitely surprised that Texas' Garrett Gilbert will be making the trip. I saw firsthand how well-spoken he was this spring on my visit to Austin, but I'm still surprised Brown would trot out his first-year starting quarterback for the media horde outside Dallas. Although his presence guarantees there should be plenty to talk about with the Longhorns.
  • Tommy Tuberville probably had to bring two or none of his quarterbacks, lest he tip his undecided hand at his starter and get people talking about a nonexistent decision. He chose the former. Interesting to note that Colorado's Dan Hawkins went with the latter.
  • Not sure why DE Jamie Blatnick will be one of Oklahoma's State's representatives instead of DE Ugo Chinasa or S Markelle Martin. Chinasa is a senior two-year starter heading into his third, while Blatnick is a junior who started only part-time last season. Martin is one of the conference's rising stars.
  • Baylor is the only team in the league bringing just a three-man contingent, and in Waco, they're the closest team to Media Days. A little surprised that Robert Griffin III won't be making the short drive, but at least that forces everyone to ask questions not about Griffin's knee. For that, I thank you, Art. But throwing WR Kendall Wright in the car at the last minute wouldn't be a terrible idea.
  • Meanwhile, Texas is the only team with a five-man crew. Everything's bigger.
  • Pretty good representation elsewhere, no real complaints. What do you think?

Pre-game ponderables from Lincoln

November, 21, 2009
11/21/09
6:38
PM ET
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska and Kansas State used to be the Big 12 North’s two Tiffany programs as they combined for every championship game appearance from the division in the first five years of the conference’s history.

Neither program has approached the levels of those earlier days. But tonight’s winner-take-all battle between the Cornhuskers and Wildcats still will settle who will be playing in Arlington on Dec. 5.

Bo Pelini and Bill Snyder have had their moments over the years. Pelini angrily accosted Snyder after the Wildcats’ 38-9 victory in Lincoln in 2003 when he was the Cornhuskers’ defensive coordinator when he felt the Wildcats tried to tack on a late touchdown against a young Nebraska defense.

Both have made their amends since then. But their first matchup as rival head coaches will be an interesting one with huge stakes.

Here are some of the things I’ll be watching:

For Nebraska:

Follow Legate in the I-formation: Nebraska has seen much recent success when redshirt freshman fullback Tyler Legate was inserted into the lineup. His blocking has helped open holes that have sparked Roy Helu Jr. to back-to-back 100-yard rushing games as the Cornhuskers have run off three consecutive victories. I look for them to utilize a similar offensive strategy – particularly early in the game as they dare KSU to stop them.

Senior Day for the Cornhuskers: It will be an emotional game tonight for key Nebraska players like Suh, center Jacob Hickman, guard Andy Christensen, linebacker Phillip Dillard, safety Matt O’Hanlon and defensive end Barry Turner who will be concluding their home careers at tonight’s game. This group was here to start their careers with Bill Callahan before finishing up with the first two seasons of Pelini’s coaching tenure. They’ve seen the Cornhuskers return to the cusp of another title. Will they be able to get them back there tonight?

Will Cody Green get a call for Nebraska: If starting quarterback Zac Lee struggles early, it will be interesting to see if Pelini and Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson make a change -- even for a couple of series -- to freshman Cody Green. He’s had his moments earlier this season, but lost his job after struggling against Oklahoma. Lee has played with much confidence in the last couple of weeks, so I wouldn’t expect the Nebraska coaches to have a quick hook tonight.

Bo’s money ball: If the Cornhuskers can win tonight, it would be worth an extra $150,000 to Bo Pelini for qualifying for the Big 12 title game. He also stands to make an extra $100,000 by taking the Cornhuskers to a Big 12 title and another $100,000 bonus by leading the Cornhuskers into a bowl game.

For KSU:

Protect inside: There will be much pressure against KSU guard Zach Kendall and Kenneth Mayfield and center Wade Weibert to account for Nebraska’s talented tandem of defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Jared Crick. The middle of the Kansas State defense must do a good job in keeping them away from starting quarterback Grant Gregory.

Thomas the Train: Bullish 227-pound tailback Daniel Thomas expected to challenge for the starting job at quarterback when he arrived at Kansas State. Instead, he’s become the focal point of the Wildcats’ offense in another way. Thomas has accounted for about 35 percent of the Wildcats’ offense, leading the team with 1,166 yards. Expect the same kind of use tonight as the Wildcats will try to lengthen their possession with multi-play drives keeping the ball away from the Cornhuskers.

Tackle with abandon: The Wildcats have been very turnover-productive this season, ranking second in the conference and 19th nationally with a plus-eight turnover ratio. Nebraska has been susceptible to turnovers throughout the season, committing eight against Iowa State. The KSU defense will similarly need a couple of big plays, to take the loud sellout crowd of the game.

Get a cheap touchdown -- or two: Brandon Banks needs one more kickoff return to tie the NCAA career record for kickoff returns. With Nebraska’s defense likely to be extremely difficult to dent, a special-teams score would be huge. Even if Banks just dictates field position with his returns, it would be important for a KSU team that figures to struggle to producing consistent yardage against the Cornhuskers.

Smack-talking Wildcats ready for Kansas game

October, 28, 2008
10/28/08
9:45
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Let the war of words begin for this week's "Sunflower State" showdown.

Kansas State players started smack-talking early for their game Saturday against Kansas. And they didn't stop until the end of their media availability Monday in Manhattan.

Understand the Wildcats have been pointing to Saturday's game for several months. A countdown clock in the team's training facility has clicked away the hours until the Kansas game since the summer. And the team broke its huddle after losing last week to Oklahoma by chanting "Beat KU."

The Jayhawks have claimed three of the last four games in the series since former KSU coach Bill Snyder ran off an 11-game winning streak against the Jayhawks from 1993-2003.

Kansas State wide receiver Deon Murphy had some bold pronouncements about Saturday's game to the Lawrence Journal-World.

When asked how much top Kansas State defensive end Ian Campbell could have helped the struggling Kansas pass rush, Murphy boldly told the Journal-World:

"They're probably going to wish they recruited this whole team the way we're gonna play this weekend."

Kansas State sophomore center Zach Kendall had an interesting answer when asked what the first thing he thought about when asked about Kansas.

"Hate," he told the Journal-World. "For lack of a better word."

Later, when asked by the Journal-World why he felt Kansas State had the better football program, Kendall said, "Heart. I feel like we have more heart."

Murphy was only getting started as he made a bold prediction about Saturday's game.

"I'm taking one to the crib this weekend, that's the bottom line," Murphy said.

Saturday's game will have high stakes for both teams. The Wildcats can climb back into the North Division title race with an upset and need two victories to become bowl eligible.

Kansas still holds a share of the Big 12 North lead, despite losing back-to-back games against Oklahoma and Texas Tech in their last two games.

The Jayhawks have the reputation of being one of the more tight-lipped programs in the country. But it will be interesting to see what coach Mark Mangino and his players have to say about these comments during their media availability later today.

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