The Pac-12 not only welcomes back 10 starting QBs, it welcomes back 198 total starts, topped by 31 from Oregon State's Sean Mannion. Seven of the returning Pac-12 QBs have more than one season's worth of starting experience, too.
The Big Ten features 10 returning QBs and a cumulative 139 starts. The 14-team SEC only welcomes back five starting QBs with a combined 68 starts. Ohio State's Braxton Miller has the most career starts among returning quarterbacks with 32.
Further, notes Hawkes, "Also notable is that aside from Rutgers' Gary Nova (28 starts), Mannion (31), Taylor Kelly (27), Brett Hundley (27) and Marcus Mariota (26) are the four most seasoned QBs among all BCS teams (along with Bo Wallace at 26 starts at Ole Miss)."
Here's the list.
Sean Mannion, Oregon State: 31
Taylor Kelly, Arizona State: 27
Brett Hundley, UCLA: 27
Marcus Mariota, Oregon: 26
Kevin Hogan, Stanford: 19
Connor Halliday, Washington State: 19
Travis Wilson, Utah: 16
Cody Kessler, USC: 14
Jared Goff, Cal: 12
Sefo Liufau, Colorado: 7
Total: 198 starts
Big Ten (10)
Braxton Miller, Ohio State: 32
Gary Nova, Rutgers: 28
Devin Gardner, Michigan: 21
Joel Stave, Wisconsin: 19
Connor Cook, Michigan State: 13
Jake Rudock, Iowa: 13
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State: 12
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana: 8
Danny Etling, Purdue: 8
Mitch Leidner, Minnesota: 4
Total: 139 starts
Big 12 (8)
David Ash, Texas: 21
Bryce Petty, Baylor: 13
Jake Waters, Kansas State: 13
Jake Heaps, Kansas: 9
Sam Richardson, Iowa State: 8
Clint Trickett, West Virginia: 7
Davis Webb, Texas Tech: 6
Trevor Knight, Oklahoma: 5
Total: 82 starts
American Athletic (5)
Paxton Lynch, Memphis: 12
John O'Korn, Houston: 11
P.J. Walker, Temple: 7
Mike White, South Florida: 5
Casey Cochran, Connecticut: 4
Total: 39 starts
Anthony Boone, Duke: 15
Jameis Winston, Florida State: 14
David Watford, Virginia: 12
Terrel Hunt, Syracuse: 10
Total: 54 starts
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss: 26
Nick Marshall, Auburn: 14
Brandon Allen, Arkansas: 12
Justin Worley, Tennessee: 10
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State: 6
Total: 68 starts
That would be down from the 12 first-round picks the SEC produced a year ago, which tied the record for first-rounders set by the ACC in 2006.
Kiper's No. 1 pick overall is South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney going to the Houston Texans. Six of the first 10 picks in the draft will be SEC players, according to Kiper. He has Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson going No. 2, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel going No. 4, Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans going No. 7, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews going No. 9 and Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix going No. 10.
If all three Texas A&M players end up going in the top 10, it would be the first time that's happened in the SEC since the 2005 draft when Auburn produced three top-10 picks -- running backs Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams and cornerback Carlos Rogers.
Kiper has a total of 17 SEC players going in his first two rounds. He doesn't have Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron going in the top two rounds, but does have LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger going No. 42 overall to the Tennessee Titans.
Texas A&M guard Germain Ifedi turned in a solid debut season as a starter in 2013, laying the foundation for a bright future in Aggieland. As one of four returning starters on the offensive line, there has never been much question about his ability -- he has plenty of it, to go with a lot of size (6-foot-5, 327 pounds).
This spring, Ifedi set out to show that even with his size, he has the athleticism and talent to make the shift from guard to tackle. He spent the majority of the spring working as the starting right tackle. With the position open for battle after last year's right tackle, Ogbuehi, shifted to the left side, Ifedi showed that he wants it.
"He surprised all of us," Ogbuehi said of Ifedi's spring performance at right tackle. "His footwork is better at tackle than at guard. He's done a great job. You can tell he's watched Luke, Jake, myself and it got him a lot better. It's showing."
When spring practice began, the Aggies worked junior college transfers Avery Gennesy and Jermaine Eluemunor at the position. Offensive line coach B.J. Anderson eventually moved both to the second unit so that they could get more practice time to focus on fundamentals and grasp playing both right guard and right tackle.
Anderson stressed that there weren't "any jobs being won" in spring and that the time was meant to get guys focused on improvement. But Ifedi certainly emerged as a real candidate for the right tackle job come fall.
"He has done a really nice job transitioning," Anderson said. "He's just got to get used to the techniques and fundamentals of it ... the hand work, the answers to the counter move, the bull move, all the things he's going to see."
Having shown he can play guard, it will be an asset to the Aggies if Ifedi, who will be a redshirt sophomore this fall, can become proficient at tackle. Anderson wants to see the depth improve on the offensive line and having versatile players is helpful.
While the Aggies want to put the best five players out on the offensive line, they also want to make sure it's a cohesive unit, which doesn't necessarily mean it's the five best linemen.
"The thing about the offensive line is you want to create what we call a nickel, and not five pennies," coach Kevin Sumlin said in March. "The five best guys aren't always the best O-line. [It's] the guys who can communicate and the guys who can play. We'll figure that out.
"I think the experience that Germain is getting at tackle gives us some real different combinations without having to put an inexperienced player on the field right away at South Carolina."
But Tuesday during the Big 12 coaches spring teleconference, Gundy held off on naming Walsh his starter for the Cowboys’ opener against Florida State -- despite how inevitable it seems.
“We had a really good competition throughout the spring,” he said. “It’ll continue on.”
Garman, who might have the strongest arm of the bunch, progressed rapidly during the spring, but he injured his knee and missed the last week of spring ball.
Rudolph was rated as the nation’s No. 8 pocket-passing quarterback, making him one of the most highly touted quarterbacks ever to sign with Oklahoma State. Rudolph had his moments this spring, including a long touchdown pass in the Orange Blitz.
But Rudolph didn’t make the same splash that Wes Lunt did in 2012. Lunt beat out Walsh and Clint Chelf that year to win the starting job coming out of spring ball as a true freshman.
Still, because Garman and Rudolph were getting significant reps this spring for the first time in their college careers, the possibility for growth is there. That might be one reason why Gundy held off on naming Walsh the starter.
“Daxx Garman, who’s been in our program, had a really good spring,” Gundy said. “Then we obviously we had the freshman, Mason Rudolph, that was here that was learning and getting better each day.”
Walsh remains the overwhelming favorite to lead the Cowboys offense against the Seminoles. That became evident during the spring, even to the players.
“J-Dub has been the most consistent,” running back Desmond Roland told ESPN.com earlier this month. “He’s the first one in the weight room, the last one to leave. First one to watch film, first one out before practice, last one to leave.
“So, I believe he’s going to be one."
But Walsh isn’t the one just yet. At least not according to Gundy.
“Those three guys need to compete,” Gundy said. “They need to put their time and effort in the summer and the offseason and develop their leadership skills during the conditioning with the team.
“And then we’ll let 'em go at it for the first 15 days or so of fall camp.”
Texas Tech has committed 133 turnovers in 64 games during that span, worst in the Big 12 and 115th in the bowl subdivision. When Kliff Kingsbury took over the program before the 2013 season, he knew it was an issue that needed to be addressed.
Yet not much changed last season as the Red Raiders finished with 33 turnovers, which again was worst in the Big 12 and 119th among FBS teams.
“Ball security on offense was a big emphasis, and it has been the past two years. Last year we weren’t very good at it,” Kingsbury said. “I thought they did a good job protecting it this spring.”
The tangible result of Texas Tech's ball-security struggles was a minus-51 points-off-turnovers margin in 2013. The Red Raiders’ 15 fumbles and 18 interceptions made life much more difficult for Kingsbury during his first season, as turnovers are directly tied to Texas Tech's five losses in 2013. A turnover margin of minus-9 in those games, including a minus-4 turnover margin in the fourth quarter alone, underscores the importance of Kingsbury changing the turnover trend in Lubbock.
Adding to the misery was Texas Tech's penalty troubles. It had the fourth-most penalties in the nation in Kingsbury’s first season with 103 total penalties and an average of 75.2 penalty yards per game. Penalties aren’t as big an issue as the turnovers, as the three teams with more penalties than the Red Raiders -- Baylor, UCLA and Oregon -- combined to win 32 games last season.
Kingsbury knows his team will have to be better in both respects if they hope to insert themselves into the Big 12 championship chase this fall.
“I think when you’re playing the alpha-level teams in this conference, you can’t have those penalties, you can’t have those turnovers,” Kingsbury said. “So we have to find a way to minimize those. As many plays as we [run], you’re going to have penalties but you can’t be at the bottom of the country. That’s unacceptable.”
- Texas coach Charlie Strong is a little too honest for his fanbase, in the opinion of the Dallas Morning News' Kevin Sherrington. The paper's Chuck Carlton got a one-on-one video interview with Strong.
- The naming of Montell Cozart as Kansas' starting QB was all about timing, writes the Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait.
- Baylor is relishing its role as the defending Big 12 champs.
- TCU defensive end Devonte Fields has returned better than ever, writes Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Lindy Berry, a former TCU All-American QB, passed away at 86.
- Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads wants a starting quarterback named by mid-August, reports the Ames Tribune's Bobby La Gesse.
- The Kansas State running back competition continues, according to the Manhattan Mercury's Joshua Kinder. The Wildcats are looking for more out of linebacker Charmeachealle Moore, writes the Topeka Capital-Journal's Ken Corbitt.
- Oklahoma lost another commitment, its second in the last week. The Sooners are hoping to land this blue-chip kicker. An Alabama transfer offensive lineman chose Ohio State over Oklahoma. Bob Stoops weighs in on whether transfer QB Baker Mayfield will be on scholarship.
- West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen is a fan of the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule, but wonders if it's going to be reformed, reports Dave Hickman of the Charleston Gazette. Allan Taylor of the West Virginia MetroNews Network addresses whether the Mountaineers receiving corps can regain its swagger.
- Coach Kliff Kingsbury said incoming freshman Patrick Mahomes is likely to be Texas Tech's No. 2 QB behind starter Davis Webb.
- Big 12 coaches don't see players as employees, The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey reports.
- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy sees the College Football Playoff eventually going to eight teams, according to the Austin American-Statesman's Kevin Lyttle. Gundy also thinks college football is becoming more time consuming for players, reports the Tulsa World's Kelly Hines.
- The Dallas Morning News wraps up spring ball for Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech.
So we reviewed the film. Here’s a closer look at the plays that stood out from the second-year QB’s critical day.
His only first-quarter completion was a screen pass. So was his second completion of the day. When Shawn Watson appeared for a quick in-game interview on Longhorn Network, he admitted Swoopes had “a little deer-in-the-headlights look” early on.
In fairness, his offensive line should take some of the blame for his early mistakes. Desmond Harrison ignored defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway on Swoopes’ first dropback, leading to an 11-yard sack. In a real game, Swoopes would’ve been flattened on that one.
On the next snap, right tackle Kennedy Estelle didn’t slow down a blitz from the slot by Naashon Hughes, who got good pressure. Dalton Santos did an impressive job of dropping back deep into coverage, leading Swoopes to try throwing the pass high. It sailed past his receiver and into walk-on Dylan Haines' arms.
Swoopes got oh-so-close on two potential touchdown balls to Jaxon Shipley. On the first, Shipley beat Chevoski Collins for an easy third-down TD over the middle if the pass was even chest-high. Instead, another overthrow that seemed more a product of Swoopes’ footwork.
He had a heck of a throw later when Shipley was fading to the right corner of the end zone. Swoopes put it in the perfect spot, right where Bryson Echols and Adrian Colbert had no chance to make a play, but just one yard too far from Shipley’s outstretched hands.
One more play to note, because it came right before Swoopes started to get rolling: The ugly conversion on fourth and 4 in the second quarter. Texas lined up in a power set with two tight ends and a fullback and went with a play-action pass that was well-protected.
But Swoopes looked right and didn’t find what he wanted. So he rolled left and fired a pass off his back foot. He was fortunate Shipley broke off his comeback route toward the sideline. The sophomore QB fit the pass into traffic for a difficult but important completion.
The response from Watson? Screaming. He threw down his headset and ripped into Swoopes, presumably for making the wrong look off the run fake and turning a tricky play into a much more difficult one.
From there, Swoopes got better. Texas found the end zone three plays after the fourth-down pass to Shipley. Then, after a quick takeaway from the No. 1 defense, came the play that turned the tide for Swoopes.
He rolled to the right and all the way to the sideline on the final play of the first half. With Caleb Bluiett in close pursuit, Swoopes loaded up and fired a pass off his back foot that traveled at least 50 yards. The diminutive Daje Johnson pulled it down in a crowd of three defenders.
That, in one shiny nutshell, is what you can get when Swoopes’ raw tools are put to good use. A lucky completion, obviously, but one that still requires a cannon.
The Texas coaches were wise to simplify from there. Swoopes got in a zone by hitting some easy stuff, comebacks and passes over the middle and two bootleg passes to tight end Geoff Swaim. It’s also good vanilla ball for a spring game on TV.
Swoopes ended his day with a magnificent throw. Clean drop, looked off a safety, made the right read and threw a perfect ball that fluttered nearly 45 yards to Shipley. He pulled it down in between Collins and Colbert and finished for the score.
That gave Swoopes reason to celebrate. He watched, waited, even leaned in as he watched the ball. When he knew it was good, he threw up his hands and let out a shout. Plays like that build confidence, no matter the setting.
There’s a lot more work to be done here. Watson will work with Swoopes on his mechanics this summer, though he says those fixes won’t need to be significant. He’ll get stronger -- though the physical tools are all there -- and he’ll spend a lot of time studying the scheme the summer.
But how far Swoopes advances by the end of summer and into fall camp will depend on what he puts in. With Jerrod Heard and, potentially, Max Wittek arriving in the summer, and David Ash returning from his foot fracture, reps with the No. 1 offense won’t be handed to Swoopes by default like they were over the final week of spring ball.
This isn’t to say Swoopes will be some forgotten man. Not at all. But if he wants to seriously contend for the job this fall, he’s going to have to master this offense and outwork everyone else.
If his rally on Saturday means anything, perhaps it’s this: Don’t count him out just yet.
Texas A&M isn't hurting for talent at running back. The Aggies have had strong depth at the position since coach Kevin Sumlin arrived.
This season is no different. Even though one back graduated (Ben Malena), three lettermen return from a season ago: Tra Carson, Brandon Williams and Trey Williams.
But it's the fourth scholarship back, one who redshirted a season ago, who opened eyes during spring football for the Aggies: James White.
"I think the surprise has been James White," Sumlin said in late March. "He has really come on to be pretty solid. He's a guy that's going to play special teams for us this year and then we'll see where he fits in this group. James does everything pretty good. He's big enough at 215, 220 [pounds]. He has soft hands, is a good runner, a good blocker, so he's another guy that gives us a mix."
Because of the presence of three players who have SEC experience in Carson and the Williamses, there likely won't be many spare carries to go around, but White has shown he can contribute in several ways. While working on special teams, White has been part of the kickoff return team in a role similar to that of Malena the past two seasons and Carson last season.
At 6-foot, 218 pounds, White has good size and a wide range of skills to go with that size. The depth and versatility he can provide will be welcome in the SEC, where the Aggies have shown it isn't easy to get through a season without incident. Last season, Carson, Brandon Williams and Trey Williams all missed at least two games while recovering from injuries. All four active scholarship backs on the roster were used last season. Don't be surprised if that's the case this fall, too.
Throughout the spring, White showed he's ready to contribute.
"He's picked up on the offense," running backs coach Clarence McKinney said. "The tools are there. He can run the ball, he's big, he's physical, he can catch it as well as any of those guys. Just learning the offense and protection is really important for him to pick up right now."
Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford, top-five NFL draft pick Lane Johnson and FBS all-time receptions leader Ryan Broyles are just a few players who exceeded the production of other highly regarded recruits in their class.
“We’re very aware when we see very good football players, and they may not have all the stars or may not fit any one particular position,” Stoops said during Tuesday’s Big 12 teleconference. “But we love the way they play, they’re smart, they have size, they can play multiple positions.”
OU may have found another one in its 2014 class. Fullback Dimitri Flowers, who enrolled early and participated in spring drills, has already started carving a role in the Sooners’ plans for 2014. Flowers could help fill the void left by Trey Millard, a four-year starter and critical contributor.
“This is the first guy in three years that we felt reminded us of Trey Millard because they aren’t easy to find,” Stoops said. “We get him on campus and he’s everything and more than we thought he would be. We’re elated with all the things he can do and how similar he is to Trey Millard and all the versatility Trey gave to us.”
Flowers spent a lot of time with the first-team offense during OU’s spring game before a injury knocked him out of the scrimmage. The hyper-extended knee is not expected to keep Flowers from participating in summer workouts or preseason camp.
If Flowers is as good as advertised he could team with returning fullback Aaron Ripkowski to give the Sooners a pair of quality blockers as they try to match their 223.9 rushing yards per game average from 2013.
Three days after Edmond told reporters after the Orange-White spring game that, among other things, "I really don't like Baylor. I still think they're trash," Baylor's head coach offered a response that was predictably diplomatic.
When a reporter further clarified that Edmond said he considers Baylor "trash," Briles didn't bite.
“Well that’s all right," he said. "Shoot, everybody's entitled to their opinion."
The senior linebacker's post-spring game comments evoked a big response from Baylor players and fans on social media, and no doubt gave Briles and his coaching staff perfect bulletin board material for when BU takes on Texas in Austin on Oct. 4.
Briles didn't think much of Edmond's complaint about how much the Bears celebrated their 30-10 victory over Texas last December. He has been in those shoes before.
"I wasn't particularly pleased at some of the places we weren't victorious, either," Briles said. "Our cause for celebration that game was for two reasons: winning the Big 12 and closing down Floyd Casey Stadium. I'm not going to spend a lot of time being protective of somebody's comments about our program when they don't understand it."
Edmond wasn't reprimanded by Texas for his largely unprovoked comments about Baylor, at least not publicly, but first-year coach Charlie Strong was disappointed by Edmond's comments.
"You know how kids are, they get so emotional and wrapped up in the game," Strong said on the teleconference. "But he's got to be smarter than that. I have a lot of respect for Coach Briles. He's done an unbelievable job at Baylor. Right now, that's the way it is. We haven't beaten Baylor."
Briles does have the scoreboard on his side. Baylor was won three of its last four against Texas, with two of those victories coming by 20-plus point margins. Sure seems like he has won the war of words with Edmond, too.
- Texas coach Charlie Strong's tour of the Lone Star State began in TCU country. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Stefan Stevenson had the details.
- The Longhorns picked up their 10th commitment for 2015.
- Texas still has plenty of position battles looming, writes the Dallas Morning News' Chris Hummer.
- Oklahoma's director of player personnel is heading south to become Texas' on-campus recruiting coordinator.
- Texas Tech released its post-spring depth chart, and according to the Dallas Morning News' Tommy Magelssen, several position battles are still to be waged. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Don Williams had 13 thoughts on the depth chart.
- Magelssen also makes the case for and against Red Raiders QB Davis Webb being a sleeper Heisman candidate. The paper's Josh Friemel explains why Baylor QB Bryce Petty could win the Heisman. Friemel also writes that Bears coach Art Briles has some decisions to make about his defensive line.
- The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel examines the bad blood that is boiling in the Texas-Baylor rivalry.
- A change of scenery is suiting Kansas receiver Nick Harwell, writes the Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait.
- Former Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert has a busy itinerary as he prepares for the NFL draft. The same goes for ex-TCU cornerback Jason Verrett.
- The West Virginia MetroNews Network's Allan Taylor asks whether the Mountaineers are vulnerable up front.
- Former Kansas State QB Josh Freeman signed with the New York Giants.
The Texas linebacker took to Twitter to ask his fans and followers for help raising money for his mother's open heart surgery. The initial goal was $5,000. The response was immediate and overwhelming.
According to her page on the website YouCaring.com, Mary Vista Santos was diagnosed with a thoracic aortic aneurism that will require open heart surgery to be repaired. A family friend who set up the donation page, Malinda McKnight, wrote that the mother of three does not have insurance that will cover the operation.
On the site, McKnight wrote: "We need to raise money to help her during this time. Even if you can only donate 5 dollars it will help ease the burden. The stress of finances should not be something our friend worries about during this time."
And so the Santos family and its friends went online, asking for the support of the hard-hitting inside linebacker's friends and fans. Santos' initial Twitter post has been retweeted more than 250 times and more than 260 donations have already come in.
The donation total passed $5,000, and then it kept going. It surpassed $10,000 by Monday afternoon, and more than $12,000 by the end of the day.
"We feel truly blessed and honored to be a part of such a caring football family," Dalton's father, Albert Santos, told ESPN.com.
Donations to the family are not a violation of NCAA rules, according to Texas' official Twitter account.
Take 1: Max Olson -- David Ash
There are two correct answers: Either the second half of the 2013 opener against New Mexico State (a team that would go 2-10), or the second half of the 2012 Valero Alamo Bowl to rally past Oregon State.
Texas fans have been clinging to those fleeting flashes of brilliance for, what, eight months now? Those quarters are some of the best evidence that, when everything is clicking, Ash can operate a tempo offense with confidence and creativity.
But he has to do it for four quarters and 12 games if he wants to hold on to Texas’ starting quarterback job.
I don’t doubt that, barring another injury, Ash will be the guy behind center when the Longhorns open their season. He did enough this spring in nearly a dozen practices to show Charlie Strong and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson he’s the right quarterback to bet on.
The foot fracture Ash is recovering from now is a poorly timed setback, no question, and it prompts skeptics to point out Ash has now dealt with three troubling injuries (broken ribs, concussions, foot fracture) in less than two years.
An Ash optimist would point out this: As a true sophomore in 2012, he was a top-25 passer by QBR and efficiency standards. And, really, it won’t be easy for another QB to surpass him. Tyrone Swoopes should redshirt. Jerrod Heard is better off doing the same. That leaves potential transfer Max Wittek, who’d face three months of catching up this summer, to learn the offense.
As long as Ash doesn’t eliminate himself from the race with another injury, you only need that process of elimination to see it’s still his job to lose.
Take 2: Jake Trotter – Max Wittek
I don’t deny Ash has talent. But after missing an entire season due to lingering concussion issues, then most of a spring with a fractured foot, I’m skeptical of Ash’s long-term health. And that’s why I’m going another direction.
Swoopes showed in the spring game that he’s not ready to be the starting quarterback at Texas, even with a decent finish after a disastrous start. Heard is loaded with potential, but he’s going to be a true freshman.
That leaves USC transfer Max Wittek, who visited the Austin campus for a third time over the weekend, suggesting a decision to ink with the Longhorns could be imminent. Wittek will graduate from USC in May and will be eligible immediately wherever he decides to go. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Wittek might not be Bobby Layne, but given Ash’s injuries, Swoopes’ lack of polish and Heard’s complete inexperience, Wittek could very well be the best option for Strong’s maiden voyage.
Who will be the starting running back? The competition promises to continue into August, but don't be surprised if it continues deep into the season. OU has plenty of good options including sophomores Keith Ford and Alex Ross, but this competition could be decided by what the Sooners' running backs do without the ball in their hands. Ross had an excellent spring but didn’t star in the spring game while Ford showed he can play at a Big 12 level as a freshman. The running back battle could be the most exciting battle to monitor this fall.
How will Ahmad Thomas be used? The sophomore has really come on since the middle of last season. He saw time against Alabama and held his own, then built upon that performance with a strong spring. It would be a surprise if he’s not a major contributor on OU’s defense; it’s just a matter of where he plays. Thomas is a versatile defensive back who can play safety or nickelback. He’s the type of guy the Sooners can leave on the field -- regardless of the offense they’re facing -- and feel confident he will make an positive impact against the run or pass.
Who will back up Knight? Baker Mayfield is the obvious choice … in 2015. The former Texas Tech quarterback was the standout of the spring game and will have Knight feeling like his starting spot is never secure when he becomes eligible to play for the Sooners after sitting out the 2014 season. This fall, however, Knight’s backup remains a question mark. Redshirt freshman Cody Thomas looks like he could develop into a quality quarterback, and the new NCAA rules will allow the Sooners to quicken his development like never before. Thomas should be considered the favorite to win the No. 2 job but Justice Hansen's decision to enroll early has allowed him to get one spring under his belt and he could arrive in the fall much more comfortable than the average freshman. This is another battle that could last deep into August.
Who will make big plays in the passing game? Austin Bennett. Blake Bell. Jordan Smallwood. Durron Neal. K.J. Young. Those names could emerge as key targets for Knight this fall but none of them have locked down a spot in the offense quite yet. Smallwood, who probably had the best spring of the bunch, will undoubtedly play a role but OU needs someone to emerge as a legit, consistent threat alongside Sterling Shepard or risk watching one of the Big 12’s top returning receivers be double teamed constantly.
4-star: WR John Humphrey Jr.; WR Devontre Stricklin; ATH Louis Brown; WR Chad President; RB Ja’Mycal Hasty; ATH Blake Lynch
3-star: OT Sam Tecklenburg
Other: OT Maurice Porter
The skinny: Baylor’s class is ranked No. 15 nationally, and no program in this conference has more ESPN 300 commitments than BU’s six. Hasty and Humphrey are perfect fits for what the Bears do on offense, and Humphrey might be the fastest prospect in the state of Texas. After loading up on offensive talent, expect some defensive pledges in the next few months.
Other: OLB Bobby McMillen
The skinny: More than two months after landing McMillen, the Cyclones have yet to add a second pledge.
The skinny: Kansas hosted plenty of recruits this spring, but still no verbal commitments so far.
3-star: QB Alex Delton
The skinny: Delton remains the only pledge in this class, but he’s a good one. ESPN scouts praise his athleticism and instincts but want to see him make some mechanical fixes before he gets on KSU’s campus.
4-star: DT Marquise Overton; TE Bobby Evans; S Jamile Johnson Jr.
3-star: DT Du’Vonta Lampkin
The skinny: Oklahoma’s post-Sugar Bowl recruiting moment took a hit when ESPN 300 lineman Joshua Wariboko decommitted last week, but the Sooners are still in the running for him as well as some of the best prospects in Oklahoma and Texas. Wariboko wants to play in college with his younger brother, 2016 CB Max Wariboko, so it might take offering both to get the offensive guard back on board.
4-star: RB Ronald Jones II; QB John Kolar; OG Johnny Wilson
3-star: DT Taaj Bakari
The skinny: The newly released ESPN 300 was very friendly to the Cowboys. Jones chose OSU this month over Baylor, Oklahoma, Oregon, Ohio State, USC and Notre Dame, and he’s now ranked No. 3 among all running back prospects. Kolar was a huge riser in the rankings and is now the nation’s No. 3 pocket passer. Bakari, the most recent pledge, was a nice interior addition.
3-star: WR Tony James; WR Jarrison Stewart; OLB Alec Dunham; DE Breylin Mitchell
Other: DT Joseph Broadnax; WR J.F. Thomas; ILB Semaj Thomas; ATH Tre’Vontae Hights; OT Cody Ford
The skinny: TCU is off to a really nice start with nine commitments, highlighted by pledges from four future receivers. That’s just what the Frogs’ new offense needs. James might be one of the most underrated athletes in Texas, but the same could be said of several of these recruits. Considering this staff’s reputation for talent evaluation, don’t be shocked if a few of these TCU commits end up as four-stars when it’s all said and done.
4-star: S DeShon Elliott; OT Toby Weathersby; OG Patrick Vahe; RB Tristian Houston; RB Jordan Stevenson; OT Ronnie Major
3-star: DT Bryce English; RB Kirk Johnson; DE Charles Omenihu
Other: CB Keivon Ramsey
The skinny: The Longhorns are now in great shape at running back after landing Houston and Johnson in the same week, and Johnson’s coveted younger brother, 2016 WR Collin Johnson, also committed last week. Ramsey made his pledge at the spring game and is another hard hitter for the secondary. Texas would have 12 commitments now, but early pledges CB Jalen Campbell and S Johnny Shaw were taken off the list and will get a chance to re-earn their offers in summer camp.
4-star: QB Jarrett Stidham; DT Breiden Fehoko
Other: ILB D’Vonta Hinton; RB Corey Dauphine; OT Trace Ellison; OG Lio Lafaele
The skinny: Landing Stidham was huge, but Fehoko is another top-50 recruit who followed in his brother’s footsteps and will work hard to recruit for this class. He can play anywhere on a defensive line. Even at 5-foot-10, Hinton is one of the state’s most talented linebackers. The Red Raiders have a chance to put together one of their best classes in a long time.
4-star: WR Jovon Durante; S Kendrell McFadden
3-star: ATH Jordan Adams; ATH Jacquez Adams; WR Kahlil Lewis; RB William Cameron; OG Matt Jones; Stone Wolfley
Other: S Kevin Williams; S Sheldrick Redwine
The skinny: Thanks to its efforts in Florida, WVU is off to an excellent start with this 10-man class. The tricky part will be holding on to some of these recruits, especially Durante. The No. 120 overall recruit visited Alabama this weekend and reportedly came very close to committing. That flip could be coming soon unless the Mountaineers coaching staff can convince him to stay put.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Part 2 of the articles on OSU's involvment in academic fraud was released. Some claim the expose is unfounded. Ian and Richard warn that there are two sides to all stories.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mack Brown, Manny Diaz and all the latest with the Texas Longhorns.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett give you the latest on the Johnny Manziel story and Charles Barkley weighs in. You won't believe who the outspoken NBA Hall of Famer is disappointed in and what he thinks about the autograph allegations.
Play Podcast Kirk Herbstreit joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly visit to preview the 2013 college football season.
Play Podcast Former TCU and current Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the expectations for the Bengals this season, give a prediction for the TCU-LSU game and talk about what it's like having the Hard Knocks cameras follow him.
Play Podcast Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley, and Mark Friedman react to Dez Bryant's comments regarding the NCAA's ongoing investigation of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Play Podcast Richard Durrett, Ian Fitzsimmons and Glenn "Stretch" Smith react to Dez Bryant sounding off yesterday after practice about Johnny Manziel and the shadiness of the NCAA.
Play Podcast Former NCAA investigator and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to weigh in on the Johnny Manziel drama and give some insight as to what goes on during an NCAA investigation.