Several Big 12 players popped up on the watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to college football's best defensive player, and the Outland Trophy, given to the best interior lineman.

Here are the Big 12 players that made each list:

Nagurski
Outland

Already this week, the Maxwell (player of the year), Bednarik (defensive player of the year), Hornung (most versatile player), Mackey (best tight end), Rimington (best center), Groza (best kicker) and Guy (best punter) watch lists have come.

Below is the rest of the preseason watch list schedule:

Friday, July 11
- Jim Thorpe Award, best defensive back

Monday, July 14
- Butkus Award, best linebacker
- Lombardi Award, best lineman

Tuesday, July 15
- Biletnikoff Award, best receiver

Wednesday, July 16
- Davey O’Brien Award, best quarterback.

Thursday, July 17
- Doak Walker Award, best running back

Friday, July 18
- Walter Camp Award, best player

Top 10 projected CFB programs

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
11:06
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CFB Future Power Ranks10 future stars | Chat wrap | 2013 FPR

In case you missed it, ESPN Insider released its College Football Future Power Rankings on Wednesday. Travis Haney led a panel of Insider experts who voted in five categories to determine the top 25 college football programs during the next three years using this methodology. We wanted to find out if our data projections agreed.

One of the foundational elements of our annual Football Outsiders projections is our weighted five-year program ratings. According to our research, program trajectory helps forecast future performance better than previous-year data -- and not just for the upcoming season, but for seasons beyond. We calculated future winning percentages based on current program ratings data, recent program trajectory and projected schedule strength, then adjusted the FPR methodology to identify the potential for each program to be in the hunt for the four-team College Football Playoff at least once during the next three seasons.

Here are the top 10 projected teams, according to our numbers, for the next three years. Alabama is No. 1, but our experts and the data diverge significantly across the rest of the top 10.


1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Future Power Rankings Rank: 1
2013 Program Fremeau Efficiency Index Rank: 1
Projected FBS win percentage 2014-2016: 85.4 percent (minus-3.8 percent from 2011-2013 span)
Projected likelihood of at least one playoff appearance 2014-2016: 93.8 percent

Alabama has distanced itself from the pack in our program ratings trajectory analysis, a result of three national championships in the past five seasons and a top-three ranking in our opponent-adjusted drive efficiency ratings in all five. The Crimson Tide send stars to the NFL draft each year, but coach Nick Saban also brings in one of the nation's top recruiting hauls annually. An SEC West division loaded with other national contenders is the only real reason the Tide may trip up on occasion during the next three years, but Alabama has proven it has what it takes to stay on top of the college football world.

During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 39 Nick Hodgson, kicker, 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, senior

Impact thus far: Hodgson’s junior season was the first year he made a significant impact. He became OU’s kickoff specialist under new special teams coach Jay Boulware and excelled in his new role. Hodgson led the Big 12 in touchback percentage (62.3 percent) and yards per kickoff (63.7).

Impact in 2014: There’s no reason to remove Hodgson from his kickoff specialist role, as he’s proved to be among the Big 12’s best with his kickoffs.

Long-term upside: One area of improvement would be his ability to place kickoffs inside the 25-yard line whenever the Sooners want to try to pin teams deep.

Evaluation grade for Hodgson: C. The senior is a walk-on who has made an impact but hasn’t made the Sooners look silly for not offering him a scholarship out of high school. The Sooners generally ask kickers to prove themselves before a scholarship offer is considered, and Hodgson was no different.

Development grade for Hodgson: B. Give OU credit for recognizing Hodgson was the best kickoff specialist on the roster and using him even though Michael Hunnicutt is one of the top kickers in the nation.
In 2008, the Big 12’s strongest position was quarterback with a deep roster that featured Heisman winner Sam Bradford, Heisman finalist Colt McCoy and national passing champ Graham Harrell, among several other noteworthy QBs.

Five years later, the league’s top position turned out to be cornerback, headlined by eventual first-round picks Justin Gilbert and Jason Verrett.

SportsNation

Which Big 12 defensive end will have the best 2014 season?

  •  
    22%
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    22%
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    34%
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    11%
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    11%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,973)

This season, the Big 12’s best position is looking more and more like it will be defensive end, notably thanks to Kansas State’s Ryan Mueller, Texas’ Cedric Reed, Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper, Baylor’s Shawn Oakman and TCU’s Devonte Fields -- all of whom have All-American potential.

Mueller was a first-team All-Big 12 selection last year after finishing second in the league with 11.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. Only Jackson Jeffcoat, the departed Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, topped Mueller in either category.

Just one spot behind Mueller, Reed finished third in the league with 10 sacks, and was a second-team All-Big 12 pick. Even though his teammate Jeffcoat racked up all the accolades, many coaches around the league felt Reed was the tougher assignment.

Tapper was another tough assignment, and the only underclassman defender to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors last season. Tapper was timed running the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds during the spring, underscoring why he’s such a nightmare matchup for opposing offensive linemen.

Speaking of nightmare matchups, Oakman presents just that with his 6-foot-9, 275-pound frame. Despite being a part-time player last year, Oakman still finished sixth in the conference with 12.5 tackles for loss. According to coach Art Briles, Oakman was unblockable during spring ball and could be in for a monster breakout season.

Fields already broke out two years ago, when he was the AP’s Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a true freshman. A suspension followed by season ending foot surgery turned Fields’ sophomore campaign into a disaster. But by all accounts, Fields was his old self again this spring, and seems primed to have a dominating season.

But which of these defensive ends will have the most dominating 2014 season?

We put the question to you via our weekly Big 12 poll.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 9, 2014
Jul 9
12:00
PM ET
The biggest meltdown in the history of sports? It might have been.
  • After nudging Mack Brown out the door, Texas president Bill Powers faces a similar fate, writes The Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton.
  • The Texas regents are expected to ratify the deal to keep the Oklahoma game at the Cotton Bowl.
  • Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard explains to the Ames Tribune's Bobby La Gesse why he wanted to put the Cyclones' game with Texas on the Longhorn Network.
  • Former Oklahoma QB and congressman J.C. Watts discussed the changing landscape in college football with The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey.
  • Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury wants to keep pushing the limits.
  • Red Raiders QB commit Jarrett Stidham is impressing at the Elite 11 football camp.
  • West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck says improvement this season may not necessarily be measured in wins.
  • The Charleston Gazette previews West Virginia's game with FCS power Towson.
  • Kansas State coach Bill Snyder's legend grows, writes the Leavenworth Times' Mac Stevenson.
  • The Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan has been counting down the 25 most crucial Jayhawks to the 2014 season.
  • TCU is working to enhance its game-day experience.
  • Baylor will be introducing an app to help with game-day traffic to McLane Stadium.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 36 Dimitri Flowers, fullback, 6-foot-1, 244 pounds, true freshman

Impact thus far: Flowers is an early enrollee who participated in spring football and impressed coaches and teammates with his smooth transition into the program.

Impact in 2014: It would be a surprise if Flowers doesn’t have a significant impact as a true freshman. He was getting first-team reps during the spring and his versatility has drawn comparisons to Trey Millard, a four-year starter in crimson and cream.

Long-term upside: Flowers is so similar to Millard it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him have a similar career as a four-year starter and all-conference level player. Obviously its early to heap those type of expectations on a player who has never played in a game at OU, but Flowers was exceptional during the spring and the Sooners love to utilize players with his skills. Even if he never reaches the heights attained by Millard, he should be an impact player during his career.

Evaluation grade for Flowers: B. The only reason this isn’t an A is because Flowers hasn’t done anything on Saturdays yet, so it’s all based on praise and conjecture to this point. But if he continues on his current path the Sooners will have unearthed another versatile gem, which is not easy to do considering they had to project him into this role.

Development grade for Flowers: NA. It's too early to give a development grade for a player who has never had the opportunity to play in a game. But all signs point to the Sooners throwing him right into the mix this fall.
Earlier this morning we gave you our preseason All-Big 12 picks. Here are some additional thoughts:

The other player I most considered for Offensive Player of the Year?

Chatmon: Tyler Lockett was tough to leave in Bryce Petty's wake. The Kansas State receiver means as much to the Wildcats' attack as anyone in the conference. He's unstoppable in one-on-one situations and transforms the Wildcats offense when he's on the field. He's able to single-handedly take over games from the receiver position in ways very few receivers have done in the Big 12.

Olson: Petty is the undisputed king for this honor, but Lockett is the clear runner-up. His game against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl was terrific, but that was just a cherry on top after epic performances against Oklahoma (12 catches for 278 yards and 3 TDs) and Texas (13-237). He's a no-doubt All-American if you ask me.

Trotter: Lockett was the only other player deserving of consideration. He's going to have another monster year, and the biggest reason why K-State could be a darkhorse Big 12 title contender. But Petty is the reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, and there's no reason to believe he won't be even better in his second year as a starter.

[+] EnlargeTyler Lockett
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesKansas State receiver Tyler Lockett was next in line for Offensive Player of the Year behind Baylor QB Bryce Petty according to all three voters.
The other player I most considered for Defensive Player of the Year?

Olson: While I thought he was a tad overhyped last year, you just know defensive end Ryan Mueller is going to be in the DPOY conversation at the end of November. He's already tied Kansas State's single-season sacks record (11.5) and will probably break that this fall, even with opposing linemen paying more attention to him.

Chatmon: Even though I eventually settled on Devonte Fields, Oklahoma's Eric Striker is destined to cause havoc this fall. His Allstate Sugar Bowl performance is a glimpse at his pass-rush ability and the Sooners are going to spend much of the year trying to find ways to allow Striker to do what he does best. Quite frankly the main reason I settled on Fields is the fact Striker will have to beat offensive tackles AND teammates Charles Tapper and Geneo Grissom to the quarterback to rack up sacks in 2014.

Trotter: You could make a viable case for a half-dozen different defenders here. But the only other player I really considered was Striker. He's the Lawrence Taylor of the Big 12, and is going to be in the nightmares of opposing quarterbacks this year. The Sooners are loaded up front, which will give Striker plenty of opportunities to rush the passer without double teams. But right now, Striker seems to be a little too one-dimensional to pick as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year. Fields, meanwhile, is the total package -- when he's healthy.

The other player I most considered for Newcomer of the Year?

Olson: No disrespect to Harwell, who should be quite productive at Kansas, but I did give some consideration to Oklahoma's Joe Mixon. The freshman running back is capable of emerging as an elite playmaker from the get-go. Of course, if we knew he was eligible in 2014, Dorial Green-Beckham would be the runaway choice for this preseason honor.

Chatmon: It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Oklahoma State's Tyreek Hill beats out Harwell for the award. Hill will consistently be the fastest player on the field and has the quickness and change of direction skills to give teams fits. Harwell got the nod because KU has fewer playmaking options than the Cowboys, who also feature Jhajuan Seales, Desmond Roland, Rennie Childs and Marcell Ateman as potential playmakers.

Trotter: If I knew running back Rushel Shell was going to get the lion's share of West Virginia's carries, he would have received stronger consideration. But at the moment, Dreamius Smith sits atop the Mountaineers' depth chart, and West Virginia has other capable backs in Wendell Smallwood and Dustin Garrison, to boot. While Shell is an immense talent, it's unclear just how big a part he'll be of the West Virginia attack. There's no doubt Hill is going to be a focal point of the Oklahoma State offense. And after dazzling in the spring, there's little doubt Hill is in for big year thanks to his world-class speed.

What was the most difficult position to figure out?

Olson: I had to crunch the numbers on Malcolm Brown vs. Johnathan Gray, since Gray did have the superior YPG average when healthy. The tiebreaker went to Brown for his receiving production and TDs. I do think the discussion at cornerback will be interesting this year, too. I chose Zack Sanchez over Kevin White and Daryl Worley, but several others could step up in 2014.

Chatmon: The defensive line spot was easily the toughest with Brown and Baylor's Shawn Oakman finding themselves on the outside looking in. Both players got left off my first team but I wouldn't be surprised if either guy emerges as the Big 12's most dominant defensive lineman this fall, surpassing Tapper, Mueller, Reed and Fields. Defensive back was another tough spot with Oklahoma's Zack Sanchez, TCU's Chris Hackett and Kansas State's Dante Barnett each getting strong consideration.

Trotter: Defensive end was the most difficult position to sort out, because let's face it, there are actually five first-team All-Big 12 caliber players there. I ultimately went with Oakman alongside Fields because of the upside. But Reed, Mueller and Tapper are right there, and more deserving of being All-Big 12 than some of the other players that made my team at other positions.

The toughest omission from the All-Big 12 team was?

Olson: Because I am a man of honor and integrity, I selected two ends and two tackles for my All-Big 12 defensive line, even though this was not required. That made excluding Mueller and Shawn Oakman or Tapper a difficult but necessary call. But I stand by my admirable self-restraint.

Chatmon: Malcom Brown is going to make me regret leaving him off my list. The Texas defensive tackle could emerge as a nightmare in the middle for Charlie Strong's Longhorns. As much as I wanted to include him on my first team, I had to go with a few proven veterans ahead of him.

Trotter: Besides Mueller, Reed and Tapper, the toughest omissions were Baylor running back Shock Linwood and Oklahoma offensive tackle Daryl Williams. Linwood had a big two-game stretch last year that flashed his talent. But I also think he's going to share carries with Devin Chafin and Johnny Jefferson, which could drive down his individual numbers. Williams is the best of a terrific Sooners offensive line, which is tops in the league. But Oklahoma's strength up front lies in its depth, not just the talent of any one individual player.

Our All-Big 12 ballots

July, 9, 2014
Jul 9
7:30
AM ET
The deadline for media to turn in All-Big 12 ballots to the conference office comes Friday. The official All-Big 12 team won't be released until Big 12 media days in Dallas in a couple weeks.

But below, the Big 12 blog team released the ballots we turned in to the office to you for your viewing pleasure.

Later this morning we'll go into more depth about how we went about selecting our ballots.

But before we do that, the ballots:

BRANDON CHATMON'S BALLOT

Offense

WR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

TE: E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State

OL: Spencer Drango, Baylor

OL: Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech

C: Dominic Espinosa, Texas

OL: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State

OL: Daryl Williams, Oklahoma

WR: Antwan Goodley, Baylor

QB: Bryce Petty, Baylor

RB: Malcolm Brown, Texas

RB: Shock Linwood, Baylor

PK: Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma

PR: Levi Norwood, Baylor

[+] EnlargePetty
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesBaylor QB Bryce Petty made it on all three ballots.
Defense

DL: Devonte Fields, TCU

DL: Ryan Mueller, Kansas State

DL: Cedric Reed, Texas

DL: Charles Tapper, Oklahoma

LB: Eric Striker, Oklahoma

LB: Bryce Hager, Baylor

LB: Ben Heeney, Kansas

DB: Kevin White, TCU

DB: Daryl Worley, West Virginia

DB: Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State

DB: Sam Carter, TCU

P: Trevor Pardula, Kansas

KR: B.J. Catalon, TCU

Player of the Year Awards

Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Petty, Baylor

Defensive Player of the Year: Devonte Fields, TCU

Newcomer of the Year: Nick Harwell, Kansas

Quick explainer: The Big 12 features more proven stars heading into this season than it did in 2013 but that didn't make my preseason All-Big 12 team any easier. Several young players seem ready to take their contributions to another level at the expense of established playmakers. The receiver position was a no-brainer (although two receivers on the squad seems a little odd), while the running back position is so littered with unknowns I considered just throwing a darts at the dart board and hoping for the best. Overall I ended up going with proven production over up-and-coming stars, meaning my postseason All-Big 12 squad could look much different than this version.

MAX OLSON'S BALLOT

Offense

WR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

TE: E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State

OL: Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech

OL: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State

C: B.J. Finney, Kansas State

OL: Quinton Spain, West Virginia

OL: Spencer Drango, Baylor

WR: Antwan Goodley, Baylor

QB: Bryce Petty, Baylor

RB: Malcolm Brown, Texas

RB: Shock Linwood, Baylor

PK: Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma

PR: Levi Norwood, Baylor

Defense

DL: Devonte Fields, TCU

DL: Chucky Hunter, TCU

DL: Malcom Brown, Texas

DL: Cedric Reed, Texas

LB: Eric Striker, Oklahoma

LB: Bryce Hager, Baylor

LB: Ben Heeney, Kansas

DB: Quandre Diggs, Texas

DB: Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma

DB: Sam Carter, TCU

DB: Chris Hackett, TCU

P: Nick O'Toole, West Virginia

KR: B.J. Catalon, TCU

Player of the Year Awards

Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Petty, Baylor

Defensive Player of the Year: Devonte Fields, TCU

Newcomer of the Year: Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State

Quick explainer: Petty, Lockett and Goodley are easy choices, but from there it gets tricky and you can make a case for a ton of players being deserving of preseason all-conference honors. On defense, the Big 12's ballot provides flexibility with DL, LB and DB as the three position categories, but I still tried to put together a unit with true defensive tackles and safeties. When in doubt, I went by 2013 production. How well these guys would all fit together on a playing field, who knows? But there's plenty of star power and proven talent in this lineup.

JAKE TROTTER'S BALLOT

Offense

WR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

TE: E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State

OL: Spencer Drango, Baylor

OL: Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech

C: B.J. Finney, Kansas State

OL: Quinton Spain, West Virginia

OL: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State

WR: Antwan Goodley, Baylor

QB: Bryce Petty, Baylor

RB: Johnathan Gray, Texas

RB: Keith Ford, Oklahoma

PK: Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma

PR: Daje Johnson, Texas

Defense

DL: Devonte Fields, TCU

DL: Chucky Hunter, TCU

DL: Malcom Brown, Texas

DL: Shawn Oakman, Baylor

LB: Eric Striker, Oklahoma

LB: Ben Heeney, Kansas

LB: Bryce Hager, Baylor

DB: Daryl Worley, West Virginia

DB: Kevin White, TCU

DB: Sam Carter, TCU

DB: Quandre Diggs, Texas

P: Nick O'Toole, West Virginia

KR: Corey Coleman, Baylor

Player of the Year Awards

Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Petty, Baylor

Defensive Player of the Year: Devonte Fields, TCU

Newcomer of the Year: Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State

Quick explainer: The official Big 12 ballot doesn't differentiate between offensive tackles and guards, defensive tackles and ends and cornerbacks and safeties. But like Max, I still tried to keep position integrity, which made putting this ballot together significantly more difficult. But unlike Max and Brandon, I attempted to project out this year's all-conference team instead of leaning on rehashing last year's, which is why Worley, Oakman and Ford made my preseason team over more conventional selections like Sanchez, Mueller and Linwood. Those three gambles could make me look incredibly smart at the end of the year -- or incredibly dumb. Time will tell.
When Baylor unveils McLane Stadium in its season opener, it will also be unveiling a bronze statue of the school's lone Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III, outside the stadium.

RG III's magical 2011 season helped spur the funding for the construction of the $260 million McLane Stadium. Midland, Texas, native Tom White of Tom White Studios in Prescott Valley, Arizona, completed the 9.5-foot bronze sculpture, which will stand in the south end plaza of McLane Stadium.

Griffin joins some exclusive company in the Big 12. Below is a sample of some of the football statues that have been erected outside other Big 12 stadiums:
Watch list week continued Tuesday with the release of the Mackey Award and Rimington Trophy. The Mackey goes to the most outstanding tight end, while the Rimington is for college football's top center.

Here are the Big 12 players that made each list:

Mackey
Rimington

Monday, the Maxwell (player of the year), Bednarik (defensive player of the year) and Hornung (most versatile player) watch lists were released.

Below is the rest of the preseason watch list schedule:

Wednesday
- Lou Groza Award, best place-kicker
- Ray Guy Award, best punter

Thursday
- Bronko Nagurski Trophy, best defensive player
- Outland Trophy, best interior lineman

Friday
- Jim Thorpe Award, best defensive back

Monday, July 14
- Butkus Award, best linebacker
- Lombardi Award, best lineman

Tuesday, July 15
- Biletnikoff Award, best receiver

Wednesday, July 16
- Davey O’Brien Award, best quarterback.

Thursday, July 17
- Doak Walker Award, best running back

Friday, July 18
- Walter Camp Award, best player

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
12:00
PM ET
No Neymar, no problem. Brazil over Germany today. Who you got?
  • New West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson has a big challenge in trying to figure out what Alabama's offense will look like, writes the Charleston Gazette's Dave Hickman.
  • The Sooners are still waiting on two freshmen to show up, according to The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey.
  • Oklahoma's games against Tennessee and Oklahoma State are sold out.
  • Former OU defensive lineman Larry Birdine faces domestic assault charges, the Norman Transcript's Jessica Bruha reports.
  • Baylor will be unveiling a statue of RG III at McLane Stadium.
  • Bears QB Bryce Petty was named one of the freaks of college football.
  • The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Nicholas Talbot weighs in on the punch that led to Nigel Bethel II's dismissal.
  • Iowa State named two football assistant strength and conditioning coaches.
  • Will this season be more of the same for the Jayhawks?
  • Texas freshman DT Poona Ford has been cleared and should be ready to go in August.
  • The Oklahoman's Cody Stavenhagen offers up 10 Cowboys who could break out this season.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 34 Daniel Brooks, running back, 5-foot-8, 185 pounds, sophomore

Impact thus far: Brooks has never played in a game for the Sooners. He redshirted during the 2012 season after injuring his ACL in high school then didn’t get any playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2013.

Impact in 2014: Brooks will have to force his way onto the field. He's in competition with several talented, young running backs for playing time this fall. There's is minimal experience returning at running back.

Long-term upside: Brooks is talented and showed flashes of ability during the spring game. Nonetheless he faces a tough road to playing time at running back in 2014 and beyond.

Evaluation grade for Brooks: C. Ideally, Brooks would have had some type of impact thus far, even if he just played a role on special teams. After all, several of his fellow 2012 signees are the foundation of OU’s 2014 title hopes, including receiver Sterling Shepard, quarterback Trevor Knight and defensive end Charles Tapper. And several 2013 signees surpassed his productivity in one year on campus. Brooks still has time to make an impact, but he’s clearly looking up at other signees of his class.

Development grade for Brooks: C. The Sooners could have given him a little playing time a year ago, particularly in blowout games, yet chose not to give him playing time. That said, the Sooners have given opportunities to several other players, so the lack of opportunities could fall on Brooks' shoulders as much as anyone else.
It's Take Two Tuesday again, when we give our opinions on a topic related to the Big 12.

Today's topic: Should Oklahoma have resorted to adding alternate uniforms?

Take 1: Brandon Chatmon -- Yes

It's been a long time coming for the Sooners. OU needed a new alternate look to keep up with the times in the arms race that is college football recruiting. The Sooners had a stellar close to its Class of 2014, landing several elite prospects in the final month of the recruiting cycle, a clear sign that uniforms aren't the end-all, be-all of recruiting.

Yet, they do have an impact.

Several recruits took to social media to express their approval including current commitment P.J. Mbanasor of Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson and local target Will Sunderland of Midwest City, Oklahoma/Midwest City. And several former players expressed their envy of current Sooners who will get the chance to don the alternate uniforms this fall. Players love alternate uniforms and uniform options so the Sooners' decision to add them was the correct decision.

For OU to dig its heels in the ground and refuse to tinker with their uniform options would have been silly. Uniforms help win recruiting battles and winning recruiting battles wins games. Uniforms are completely in the Sooners' control and it's taken too long for the Sooners to take advantage of this opportunity as it is.

Better late than never.

Take 2: Jake Trotter -- No

The past few years, I had the parent of a player email me many times, inquiring as to why Oklahoma didn't have alternate uniforms.

My answer was always the same. The Sooners had an iconic brand and an iconic look, and didn't need to resort to such tactics.

Sure, the uniform craze has worked wonders for the likes of Oregon and instate rival Oklahoma State, the first school in the Big 12 to follow the Ducks and repeatedly change up its look. Yet before this millennium, Oregon and Oklahoma State football had very little identity. The snazzy uniforms helped give them one.

But Oklahoma already had an identity. And while most kids have never heard of Barry Switzer, much Less Bud Wilkinson, kids are smart enough to know who the “it” schools in college football are. Oklahoma, I always thought, was one of them. Apparently the Sooners themselves weren't so sure.

The new uniforms, no doubt, will generate excitement with the players (see this video) and drum up enthusiasm with recruits.

But there's a reason you don't see Alabama changing its looks for the sake of appealing to recruits. The Crimson Tide don't need to.

I didn't think Oklahoma needed to, either. Like Alabama, I thought the Sooners were above that.

I, apparently, was wrong.
The 2014 season could be a critical one for several Big 12 seniors.

It’s their final chance to maximize their potential, show off for NFL scouts and push their teams to higher heights. In other words, it’s now or never for several Big 12 players who are poised to play the final 12 games of their college careers. Last week we looked at five offensive players who are facing now-or-never seasons. Here’s a look at five seniors on the defensive side of the ball who could have a major impact on their teams' success or hamper those chances for success if they struggle as individuals.

[+] EnlargeJordan Hicks
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesTexas linebacker Jordan Hicks has been productive when healthy.
Linebacker Jordan Hicks, Texas

Why he might excel: Talent and production have never been the issue for Hicks. He was poised to become a star until back-to-back season-ending injures derailed his junior and redshirt junior seasons. If he returns to full health and remains healthy, he should be one of the Big 12’s top defenders. The Ohio native had 40 tackles in four games in 2013. If he's productive and healthy, Texas' defense is better and more experienced.

Why he might struggle: Much like teammate David Ash, Hicks' injury history makes it tough to build around him. Hicks has played in seven games in the past two seasons, with a hip injury in 2012 and a Achilles injury in 2013. There’s no guarantee he can return to be the active, productive player who was donned the burnt orange No. 3 during the past few seasons.

Cornerback Kevin White, TCU

Why he might excel: White has quietly performed at a high level for the past two seasons but has remained relatively unnoticed while being overshadowed by the excellence of fellow cornerback Jason Verrett, the San Diego Chargers’ 2014 first-round draft pick. White has started in 24 games in the past two seasons and earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors as a junior. His senior season offers a chance for him to cement himself as one of the top defenders in the conference, particularly as TCU’s top cover man.

Why he might struggle: He will be asked to be the man in the secondary. While lining up opposite Verrett, White was tested plenty during the past two seasons. But can he hold his own when consistently asked to cover the Big 12’s top receivers? If he stumbles, there aren't a lot of experienced options to turn to in the Horned Frogs' secondary.

Defensive tackle James Castleman, Oklahoma State

Why he might excel: Castleman has been productive for the Cowboys during the past two seasons and has all-conference potential. This season is his last opportunity to fulfill that potential. He enters the season with 70 tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss and two sacks in his first three seasons. If Castleman is a disruptive force in the middle, he would help the Cowboys' inexperienced secondary greatly.

Why he might struggle: Castleman has seemed like a guy who could have a breakout season since his sophomore year. Yet it hasn’t really happened during his first three seasons. With Calvin Barnett moving on, Oklahoma State will lean on Castleman to fill the void and take his game to another level. He has supreme talent, but needs to finally maximize his potential during his final season.

[+] EnlargeGeneo Grissom
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesIf Geneo Grissom finds a home on Oklahoma's defense, look out.
Defensive end Geneo Grissom, Oklahoma

Why he might excel: He’s an NFL-level talent with unique physical gifts. Grissom finally began to show his ability to be a dominant player in the final stretch of the 2013 season, particularly the Allstate Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. His junior season was easily his most productive with 40 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception. The Sooners clearly view him as a critical piece in the defense and he could be a guy who helps Eric Striker and Charles Tapper create havoc for opponents.

Why he might struggle: Grissom’s exceptional athleticism has been an anchor during his career in some ways. Recruited as a defensive end, Grissom moved to tight end at one point during his career and he even practiced at linebacker during the spring. The constant moving might be one reason for inconsistency in his play. If he consistently plays his best football, he can be an All-Big 12 performer and rise up NFL draft boards. If he doesn't maintain his Cotton Bowl production, Oklahoma's defense would take a step backward.

Linebacker Kenny Williams, Texas Tech

Why he might excel: He’s a terrific team player and is very versatile. He’s proved he can be a quality Big 12 running back and appears poised to start at linebacker during his final season at Texas Tech. Williams has a unique ability to play several roles and make an impact. If he can excel at linebacker, it gives the Red Raiders a little more piece of mind about a defense that will have to improve greatly for Tech to make a Big 12 title run.

Why he might struggle: He’s listed as a starter at a position he hasn’t called home during his time as a Red Raider. He enters the season as Tech’s most productive returning running back, but his move to linebacker is the best move for the team. It could take him a while to adjust and become productive.
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Matt Millen and Andre Ware debate whether the risk is worth the reward for Oklahoma to bring in Dorial Green-Beckham.

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Dorial Green-Beckham Worth The Risk?
Matt Millen and Andre Ware debate whether the risk is worth the reward for Oklahoma to bring in Dorial Green-Beckham.
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