Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series takes a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 86 Jake Oliver
Redshirt freshman wide receiver


Recruitment rewind: The record-setting ESPN 300 receiver from Dallas Jesuit was the second member of Texas' 2013 class after Jake Raulerson and chose UT over Oklahoma and more than 50 other offers (no, really, check that list). He caught a whopping 93 passes for 1,354 yards and 18 TDs as a senior and broke Jordan Shipley's Texas high school state record with 308 career receptions, which ranked second all time nationally.

Career so far: Oliver redshirted as a freshman in 2013, and an injury prevented him from making his debut this spring. He suffered a minor elbow injury that did not require surgery but was held out of the Orange-White game and should be fully recovered by now.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Oliver could push his way up to the No. 4 receiver spot behind Jaxon Shipley, Marcus Johnson and Kendall Sanders. He's a big 6-foot-4, 216-pound target who can be an impact blocker immediately in the run game, and Oliver should see a decent amount of targets. He has some of the best hands on the team and could team with Jacorey Warrick to give Texas some exciting options beyond the starting trio.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: To get that kind of playing time, Oliver will have to hold off the new freshmen -- namely Armanti Foreman and Lorenzo Joe -- and he'll also get some strong competition from fellow second-year receiver Montrel Meander. As we've acknowledge throughout this series, Texas has so many options at receiver and it's going to be a wide-open battle until the end of August.

Future expectations: Oliver has four years left in the program, and there's really no telling what that position group will look like a couple years from now. Texas inked nine wideouts in its last two classes (now eight, because Chevoski Collins moved to DB) and you figure the best of the bunch will rise up. Oliver can develop into a multi-year starter and a nice red-zone target if he plays his cards right and shows the new staff what he's capable of this fall.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
12:00
PM ET
I would write a better intro, but I can't stop checking Twitter to see if LeBron has signed.
  • Texas Tech sold out its season football ticket allotment for the first time in program history.
  • Texas Tech QB recruit Jarrett Stidham is outperforming the competition at the Elite 11 camp, according to USA Today's Paul Myerberg and Daniel Uthman.
  • University of Texas President Bill Powers resigned, and will leave his post in 2015.
  • The Longhorns picked up a commitment from a Louisiana offensive lineman.
  • Was Charlie Strong the right hire for Texas?
  • West Virginia's season ticket sales are as low as they’ve been in nine years, according to the Charleston Daily Mail's Mike Casazza.
  • West Virginia faces a tough road to redemption, according to the Daily Athenaeum's Connor Murray.
  • The Mountaineers could play Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., in 2017.
  • Former Jayhawk Brad Thorson announced that he's gay. The Topeka Capital-Journal's Jesse Newell has the details.
  • Baylor coach Art Briles say his program will do whatever it can to help troubled Cleveland Browns and former Baylor standout Josh Gordon.
  • TV plans are set for Oklahoma State's first four games.
  • The return of Devonte Fields could put TCU's D-line over the top, according to the Dallas Morning News' Ryan Gerbosi.
  • Is TCU's Jaden Oberkrom college football's best kicker?
  • The Ames Tribune's Bobby La Gesse gives his take on the Iowa State-Texas game appearing on the Longhorn Network.
  • The Waco Herald-Tribune's Brice Cherry says four games will make or break Baylor’s Big 12 title quest.
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
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%
  •  
    22%
  •  
    35%
  •  
    11%
  •  
    10%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,053)

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.
Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series takes a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 85 M.J. McFarland
Junior tight end


Recruitment rewind: A four-star tight end from El Dorado High out in El Paso, McFarland's decision was supposed to come down to Texas and Texas Tech. But he took a junior day visit to UT in 2010, locked in his commitment and never looked back. McFarland put up 2,604 receiving yards and 39 TDs at El Dorado and was able to enroll early at Texas in the spring of 2011.

Career so far: McFarland redshirted in 2011 and walked into some big expectations as a redshirt freshman. He hauled in eight passes for 125 yards and one touchdown in 12 games (four starts) that year, but he suffered a concussion late in the season. McFarland was relegated to a more limited role last fall and did not record a catch in the 11 games he played.

Best-case scenario for 2014: For years, McFarland has been trying to live up to the hype that he could be the Longhorns' next great tight end, its next Jermichael Finley. He hasn't come close to that bar yet, but there's still time for McFarland to become a weapon over the middle. He can be Texas' best pass-catcher at tight end and could get a lot more looks if he breaks back into the starting lineup. After all, Louisville's top tight end last year (Gerald Christian) did get 36 targets and finished with 426 yards and four TDs.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Geoff Swaim and Greg Daniels have a leg up on McFarland in the tight end room, even with Daniels missing spring ball, and it's entirely possible juco transfer Blake Whiteley rises up and becomes the superior receiver of the group. Simply put, McFarland has to put in a lot of work this summer and has fall camp to prove he deserves to be on the field ahead of that trio.

Future expectations: Swaim and Daniels are both seniors, and Texas does not have a tight end committed for next year. Unless another juco transfer or a game-changer like ESPN 300 TE Will Gragg comes on board, that's going to mean a McFarland-Whiteley tandem in 2015. There's plenty of untapped, unrefined potential in McFarland. If the new staff is able to coax it out of him this fall, an already deep receiving corps gets much better.

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.
Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series takes a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Gray, Geoff Swaim
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsGeoff Swaim (left) served as a quality blocker in his first season at Texas.
No. 82 Geoff Swaim
Senior tight end


Recruitment rewind: Swaim was an absolutely unknown commodity prior to his Texas commitment. The junior college tight end from Butte College in California took an official visit to UT in June 2012, got his offer and committed. Credit Bryan Harsin and Bruce Chambers for finding a true sleeper, a juco transfer with no other offers and zero pre-commitment publicity. He ended up being a four-star prospect and ESPN's No. 26-rated juco recruit.

Career so far: Mack Brown would not sign junior college prospects unless he thought they could contribute immediately at a need position. That's what Swaim did in 2013: He played in all 13 games and was credited with nine starts. The honorable mention All-Big 12 tight end was used almost exclusively as a blocker, but he did record three catches for 14 yards.

Best-case scenario for 2014: There figures to be more opportunities for tight ends in Texas' new offense, and Swaim should see his role expand. He was praised by Shawn Watson for having a great spring, and the staff trusts him to set the edge as a blocker. Swaim has never been much of a receiving threat, but his targets should multiply a good deal from the five he got last year. He won't be confused for Jace Amaro, but Swaim can be a sneaky good piece to this offense regardless of who's playing QB.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Being relegated to a blocking-only option would probably be the only thing that would make his senior season a disappointment. Texas has so many talented receivers coming back this fall and will put guys such as Jaxon Shipley and Daje Johnson in the slot a lot, so that might not create a ton of opportunity for Swaim and his fellow tight ends in spread sets. And, of course, if someone else such as M.J. McFarland has their breakthrough, that could mean limited snaps for Swaim.

Future expectations: Swaim's playing time in burnt orange is almost up already. He enters his second and final season at Texas having built up a solid reputation at his position, and he had no trouble transitioning from California juco ball to Big 12 play. The Longhorns are going to run the ball a lot this fall, and Swaim is going to be a big help on that front. He's an important piece to the offense and is getting better.
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.
Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series takes a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 81 Hassan Ridgeway
Sophomore defensive tackle


Recruitment rewind: Three days after his junior day visit to Texas in 2011, Ridgeway got on the phone with Mack Brown and made a commitment, turning down offers from Texas A&M and TCU. The four-star Mansfield (Texas) defensive lineman didn't play football until his sophomore year but developed into an all-state talent. Ridgeway took a late January visit to A&M and has admitted he came very close to flipping to the Aggies, but he stuck with Texas on signing day.

Career so far: Ridgeway redshirted in 2012 and moved inside from defensive end to defensive tackle following his freshman year. As a redshirt freshman, he played in 12 games as a reserve and recorded 13 tackles, five QB pressures and one pass breakup. Most of those numbers came in nonconference play. Exiting spring ball, Ridgeway was Texas' top backup at defensive tackle.

Best-case scenario for 2014: New defensive line coach Chris Rumph takes Ridgeway's game to the next level. Texas' previous staff was plenty excited about the young lineman's high ceiling a year ago, and there is great need for depth at defensive tackle. Ridgeway is a powerful 6-foot-4, 309-pound force who can make life tough for quarterbacks. His role is set to expand in a big way.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Behind Malcom Brown and Desmond Jackson, the depth at defensive tackle is largely unproven. Alex Norman and Paul Boyette Jr. haven't made any impact thus far, and stud incoming freshman Poona Ford isn't on campus yet. If Ridgeway gets hurt or underperforms, Texas could find itself in real trouble in the middle as the season progresses.

Future expectations: What if Brown is so good this fall, he elects to declare for the NFL draft early? If he and Jackson are both gone after this season, Ridgeway will almost definitely have to step into the starting lineup in 2015. Even if Brown sticks around, Ridgeway will probably be the favorite to take Jackson's place. This should be the year the third-year defensive tackle breaks through -- and when he does, look out.
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.
LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- There was plenty of recruiting news that came out of Monday's reporting day for The Opening. One of the prospects who shared the latest was ESPN 300 No. 39 Malik Jefferson.

Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series takes a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 81 Greg Daniels
Senior tight end


Recruitment rewind: A four-star recruit from Houston's St. Pius X, Daniels was a bit of an under-the-radar find when he committed at a 2009 junior day. He had offers from Oklahoma and Baylor at the time, and Alabama and Texas A&M after his pledge. He played both tight end and defensive end in high school, but took more of a liking to defense in his senior season.

Career so far: Daniels redshirted in 2010 and played in three games on the defensive line in 2011. After that season, he transitioned over to tight end and has stayed there ever since. He's played in 25 games and earned 14 starts since joining the offense, and has eight receptions for 118 yards in his career. Daniels had right shoulder surgery this offseason and missed spring ball.

Best-case scenario for 2014: This is a player who's poised to surprise. The new Texas staff knows Daniels can set the edge as a blocker, and he's going to see the field a lot on running downs. But don't forget that Daniels was on the receiving end of the 2012 Wishbone tribute to Darrell K Royal. That was a 47-yard reception, and Daniels could be in for more opportunities as a pass-catcher over the middle.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Texas has four pretty intriguing options at tight end now that Blake Whiteley has joined the mix, and it's the position group that has the most continuity since Bruce Chambers was retained. So as long as Daniels' shoulder heals up, the only setback he would face is falling to third or fourth on the depth chart. He will at least be a quality blocker, he just might not see many passes thrown his way.

Future expectations: Daniels has one season of eligibility left and, potentially, a chance to help reverse Texas' recent trend of unremarkable play at tight end. Unless one player rises up in fall camp, expect a committee of contributors at that position. He's not yet a well-known player among Texas fans because of his thankless efforts as a blocker, but you could see a lot more from Daniels as a senior.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Vince Young Announces Retirement
ESPN.com's Max Olson discusses Vince Young's decision to retire from the NFL and return to the University of Texas program.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video