Dallas Colleges: Texas Longhorns

Burnt Orange Breakdown: Geoff Swaim

July, 9, 2014
Jul 9
9:00
AM CT
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.
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:

Burnt Orange Breakdown: Kennedy Estelle

July, 7, 2014
Jul 7
9:00
AM CT
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. 77 Kennedy Estelle
Junior offensive tackle


Recruitment rewind: The Under Armour All-American had offers from all over the country (USC, Alabama, Florida State, Auburn, Notre Dame and Oregon to name a few) but chose the Longhorns after attending a UT summer camp before his senior year. Estelle, a 6-foot-7, 310-pound tackle, was the No. 1 offensive line prospect in Texas and a top-10 in-state recruit.

Career so far: Estelle played in three games as a true freshman backup but missed six games with a left shoulder injury. He broke into the starting lineup in 2013 when Josh Cochran went down and earned starts in eight of Texas' nine conference games. He earned relatively good reviews for his performance, but Estelle was also suspended for the Alamo Bowl vs. Oregon after being ruled academically ineligible.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Estelle appears to be on the right track academically under Charlie Strong's staff, a necessary commitment in order to keep his starting job at right tackle. At 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds, Estelle brings impressive size and a solid year of playing experience to the table.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Strong has zero tolerance for players who don't buy in all the way on their academic responsibilities. He won't be afraid to find someone else at right tackle if Estelle falls short of those expectations. If Desmond Harrison doesn't play up to his great potential, offensive line coach Joe Wickline could move Estelle over to left tackle. That switch isn't as easy as it sounds, but might be necessary if others don't step up.

Future expectations: Estelle could definitely develop into a three-year starter at right tackle, which would be a big plus for the imminent future of this group. The Longhorns lost a big piece of the puzzle up front when Cochran, a 23-game starter, ended his playing career this offseason due to a recurring shoulder injury. A healthy and eligible Estelle answers a big question mark and can be a major asset for Wickline in these next two years.

Burnt Orange Breakdown: Kent Perkins

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
1:00
PM CT
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. 76 Kent Perkins
Sophomore offensive guard


Recruitment rewind: Perkins committed just days after landing his Texas offer and chose the Longhorns after junior day visits to Texas A&M and Oklahoma. The ESPN 300 lineman from Lake Highlands High near Dallas was the first of five offensive line pledges and a three-year starter at tackle in high school. In Perkins, Texas signed the No. 1 offensive tackle in the state and No. 4 nationally.

Career so far: Perkins was one of only three Texas true freshmen who played in 2013, along with Tyrone Swoopes and Jacorey Warrick. He earned his first career start at right tackle against Texas Tech and played in five more games, typically as the backup to Kennedy Estelle. When Josh Cochran was essentially lost for the season, Perkins stepped up and chipped in when needed. He suffered a minor knee injury that shut him down for more than two weeks of spring ball and the spring game.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Perkins breaks into a starting role at right guard or right tackle. What makes him so valuable to the Texas offensive line is his ability to play inside or outside, along with the size (6-foot-5, 325 pounds) and power you would want. Once he gets healthy, he's going to challenge for a major role somewhere on Joe Wickline's offensive line.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: No downside here. If for some reason Perkins isn't a starter for the opener, he'd still be one of the first linemen off the bench and would help keep the rest of the line fresh. Texas needs depth and options, something it hasn't had much of in recent seasons, and Perkins is going to help no matter what he's asked to do.

Future expectations: Perkins has the look of a potential three-year starter and a future pro if he stays healthy and on the right course. Wickline loves to cross-train his big men at every position on the line, and Perkins is the perfect kind of player who will fit wherever needed. The competition will be stiff at right guard, but he can win that job, or challenge Estelle at tackle. Either way, you're going to see a lot of him in 2014 and beyond.

Poll: '00 Oklahoma or '05 Texas?

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
9:30
AM CT
Our Big 12 16-team BCS era playoff had so much promise.

But off the bat, unsavory collusion from the state of Ohio bounced the 2005 Texas Longhorns from the bracket in the very first matchup in the very first round to rob the tournament of legitimacy.

With no other national champion in its path, the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners cruised with ease through all four rounds to capture our Big 12 BCS era playoff title.

Now it's time to find out whether the '00 Sooners would have won the title anyway.

Now it's time to pit them head-to-head with the '05 Longhorns.

Both teams went undefeated, toppling the preeminent programs of their day (USC/Florida State) in the national championship behind a pair of all-time great title game performances (Vince Young/OU’s defense).

But who do you think was best?

Tell us by voting in the weekly Big 12 poll.

SportsNation

Which team would win?

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    56%
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    44%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,766)

2005 TEXAS LONGHORNS

Record: 13-0

Final ranking: No. 1

Top player: QB Vince Young

Consensus All-America:Young, OT Jonathan Scott, DT Rod Wright, S Michael Huff

First-Team All-Big 12:Young, Scott, Wright, Huff, OL Justin Blalock, DE Tim Crowder, LB Aaron Harris, CB Cedric Griffin

Second-Team All-Big 12: RB Jamaal Charles, TE David Thomas, DT Frank Okam

Best wins: at No. 4 Ohio State (25-22); Oklahoma (45-12); No. 10 Texas Tech (52-17); Colorado (70-3, Big 12 championship); USC (41-38, national championship)

Losses: None

2000 OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Record: 13-0

Final ranking: No. 1

Top player: QB Josh Heupel

Consensus All-America: Heupel, LB Rocky Calmus

First-Team All-Big 12: Heupel, Calmus, DT Ryan Fisher, S Roy Williams, S J.T. Thatcher

Second-Team All-Big 12: QB Quentin Griffin, WR Antwone Savage, OT Frank Romero, LB Torrance Marshall, P Jeff Ferguson

Best wins: No. 11 Texas (63-14); at No. 2 Kansas State (41-31); No. 1 Nebraska (31-14); at No. 23 Texas A&M (35-31); No. 8 Kansas State (27-24, Big 12 Championship); No. 3 Florida State (13-2, national championship)

Losses: None

Burnt Orange Breakdown: Camrhon Hughes

July, 2, 2014
Jul 2
2:00
PM CT
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. 71 Camrhon Hughes
Sophomore offensive tackle


Recruitment rewind: Hughes, a four-star tackle from Harker Heights, Texas, turned down offers from Baylor, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech and chose Texas during a junior day visit in 2011. He enrolled early in the spring of 2012 and was joined at Texas by his younger brother, linebacker Naashon Hughes, after his first year in the program.

Career so far: Hughes has been a Longhorn for two years and has not appeared in a game. He redshirted in 2012 after sustaining a torn ACL during a pickup basketball game that summer, and Hughes did not appear on the depth chart at any point last season. He was a scout-team contributor and did not start on either offensive line in the spring game scrimmage.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Hughes is probably a third-string offensive tackle at this point and will try to work his way into the rotation as a backup to either Desmond Harrison at left tackle or Kennedy Estelle at right tackle. At 6-foot-7 and 317 pounds, he's certainly not lacking for the size you want on the outside. If he can earn a backup job and play a good amount of snaps in relief of the starters, that would be a great start.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Texas has not been able to find much reliable depth at offensive line behind its starters in recent years, and you'd hope that trend will end under respected offensive line coach Joe Wickline. Hughes is one of those players who can get lost in the mix, backing up younger linemen, if he doesn't make a step in the right direction this fall.

Future expectations: Hughes has plenty of time to get his Texas playing career back on track, with three seasons of eligibility remaining, and the truth is he wouldn't have broken into the veteran-heavy lineup last season even if he were fully healthy and ready to go. The Longhorns are probably going to have a real question mark at left tackle in 2015 after Harrison graduates, and that's probably the job Hughes should focus on landing.

Burnt Orange Breakdown: D. Harrison

July, 2, 2014
Jul 2
9:00
AM CT
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. 68 Desmond Harrison
Senior offensive tackle


Recruitment rewind: The Houston native finished his high school and prep school ball in North Carolina, then went to Contra Costa Community College in California. His Texas connections made the difference during his recruitment, and the three-star tackle chose UT after official visits to USC, Oklahoma, Arizona State and NC State. After some NCAA delays, Harrison enrolled late in the summer of 2013.

Career so far: When Harrison first joined the program in 2013, the coaching staff hope he would be able to take over the starting left tackle job. But a strange issue involving invalidated BYU independent study credits required Harrison to sit out the first two weeks of fall practice. By the time he returned, on Aug. 20, it was too late for him to win the job. He played in seven games, dealt with a minor ankle injury at midseason and never enjoyed his breakthrough.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Harrison is 6-foot-8 and 318 pounds, the kind of mammoth lineman you want protecting the blind side, and he's currently penciled in to start at left tackle. Texas' new coaching staff sees a big man with big potential, and they're hoping they can get 13 quality games out of him. He's shown flashes of brilliance in practice but still hasn't put it all together.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Harrison pretty much has to be the solution at left tackle. Texas could try moving Kennedy Estelle or Kent Perkins over there, maybe, but right now the backup left tackles seem to be Darius James and Camrhon Hughes. The Longhorns are betting on a big year from Harrison, and they need one. He's a former basketball player who's still working to master the finer points of playing tackle. If he can't get the job done, Texas might have to do some serious reshuffling up front.

Future expectations: Mack Brown said over and over Harrison would be an NFL draft pick, maybe even a first-rounder, and was one of the best-looking linemen he'd ever seen. At his size, he might get drafted no matter what he does in 2014. But Harrison has one season to prove he can live up to that great potential. If he comes through and starts playing as well as advertised, this Texas offensive line could be one of the better units in the league.

Burnt Orange Breakdown: Rami Hammad

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
9:00
AM CT
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. 67 Rami Hammad
Redshirt freshman offensive guard


Recruitment rewind: Texas was the third school Hammad committed to during his recruiting process. The three-star lineman from Irving, Texas, initially chose to play for Joe Wickline at Oklahoma State in June 2012. Five months later, he flipped to Baylor. But Hammad's recruitment blew up again in January after an impressive showing at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, and he committed to Texas in late January over offers from Oklahoma and TCU.

Career so far: Hammad, a practicing Muslim, joined the program last summer and fasted during Ramadan and team workouts. That wasn't the reason he redshirted in 2013, though. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound guard suffered an shoulder injury during the season and did not end up appearing in a game. At the start of spring ball, he was practicing as the first-team right guard. By the end of spring ball, Taylor Doyle held that job with Hammad working with the No. 2 line.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Hammad wins the right guard job and doesn't look back. There was a time last season, right before the shoulder injury, when Texas coaches considered plugging Hammad into the starting lineup. Wickline, now the Longhorns' offensive coordinator, knows Hammad has serious potential. He just needs to adjust to Wickline's schemes and coaching style after some struggles this spring. He can become a devastating blocker once he gets it all down.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Kent Perkins is more than capable of winning out at right guard, despite the knee injury that cost him much of spring ball. So is Doyle, who emerged from obscurity to earn major reps with the No. 1 offense this spring. If Hammad doesn't rise to the occasion in fall camp, or if he clashes with Wickline, he'll have to fight to regain his job throughout the season.

Future expectations: The many Big 12 coaches who fought so hard to recruit Hammad in 2012 believed he would develop into a multi-year starter and future NFL lineman. Those are lofty expectations, especially for a supposed three-star prospect, and Hammad didn't get a chance in 2013 to prove whether his play merited such praise. He enters this fall with plenty of motivation and a clear goal of winning a starting job. If he does so, Hammad should become a mainstay in the lineup.

Players coming to Big 12 media days

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
12:30
PM CT
Friday, the Big 12 released a list of players scheduled to be coming to media days July 21-22 in Dallas -- a list that includes only three quarterbacks, but one punter:

Monday

Baylor: Quarterback Bryce Petty, wide receiver Antwan Goodley, linebacker Bryce Hager, defensive end Shawn Oakman.

Kansas: Wide receiver Nick Harwell, linebacker Ben Heeney, tight end Jimmay Mundine, safety Cassius Sendish.

Oklahoma State: Wide receiver Jhajuan Seales, corner back Kevin Peterson, linebacker Ryan Simmons.

TCU: Safety Sam Carter, defensive tackle Chucky Hunter, center Joe Hunt, wide receiver David Porter.

Texas Tech: Wide receiver Bradley Marquez, linebacker Sam Eguavoen, running back Kenny Williams.

Tuesday

Iowa State: Offensive lineman Tom Farniok, defensive end Cory Morrissey, tight end E.J. Bibbs, linebacker Jevohn Miller.

Kansas State: Wide receiver Tyler Lockett, quarterback Jake Waters, defensive end Ryan Mueller, linebacker Jonathan Truman, offensive lineman BJ Finney.

Oklahoma: Quarterback Trevor Knight, linebacker Geneo Grissom, defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue, defensive tackle Daryl Williams, safety Julian Wilson.

Texas: Center Dominic Espinosa, running back Malcolm Brown, cornerback Quandre Diggs.

West Virginia: Wide receiver Kevin White, corner back Daryl Worley, punter Nick O'Toole.

Burnt Orange Breakdown: Curtis Riser

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
10:00
AM CT
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. 62 Curtis Riser
Sophomore offensive lineman


Recruitment rewind: Riser had a bunch of big-time offers and was expected to go through a full recruiting process into his senior year. Then he sat down with the Texas staff and committed on the spot in February 2011, to the surprise of even his high school coach. The DeSoto (Texas) product came from a popular UT pipeline and emerged as an elite line prospect, an Under Armour All-American who ranked 78th in his class' ESPN 150.

Career so far: Riser redshirted in 2012 and made his debut last season, appearing in four games as a reserve offensive guard. He finished out the season listed as the top backup to Trey Hopkins at left guard on the depth chart.

Best-case scenario for 2014: There was some speculation Riser might leave the program this offseason, but he's staying on board with the hopes of competing for the open guard spots now that Hopkins and Mason Walters have graduated. Best case, he can work his way up to being the No. 3 or No. 4 guard and one of the first guys off the bench. Even when the opening-day starters are decided, Joe Wickline has vowed the competition for jobs will continue on a weekly basis.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Exiting spring ball, Riser was probably Texas' No. 6 guard behind (in some order) Sedrick Flowers, Kent Perkins, Taylor Doyle, Rami Hammad and Alex Anderson. So the numbers aren't really in his favor at the moment. Between injuries and fall camp, there's still plenty of time for that hierarchy to change, but Riser has a lot to prove to the new regime.

Future expectations: A year ago, you might've tabbed Flowers and Riser as the presumptive favorites to take over the open guard spots. Riser hasn't done anything wrong to change that -- he just has more competition now. It's hard to know what to expect from him in 2014. He could rise up and become a starter at some point in the season, or he could be a reserve lineman who struggles to get on the field. It's not up to Wickline; it's up to Riser and what he shows his new coach in practice.

Burnt Orange Breakdown: D. Espinosa

June, 26, 2014
Jun 26
10:00
AM CT
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. 55 Dominic Espinosa
Senior center


Recruitment rewind: A local kid from Cedar Park, Texas, Espinosa was a four-star recruit and ESPN's No. 3 center prospect in the class of 2010. He had early offers from the likes of LSU, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Stanford, but when Mack Brown extended an offer at a February junior day, he committed on the spot. Espinosa moved from tackle to center before his senior year at Cedar Park and notched 179 knockdown blocks on the year.

Career so far: Espinosa redshirted in 2010, then surprised many by winning the starting center job in fall camp as a redshirt freshman. He's been in the starting lineup ever since and enters his senior season with 39 career starts. No player in the 2014 roster has started more games. Espinosa earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors from the league's coaches as a junior.

Best-case scenario for 2014: There are a ton of question marks with this Texas offensive line entering 2014. Espinosa isn't one of them. He'll hold down his job for 13 more games and, thanks to new offensive line coach Joe Wickline's tutelage, should become a more consistently dominant blocker. He's a sharp player, a good leader, and he's going to get better.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: At this point, unless something changes dramatically, it's hard to picture another player beating Espinosa out for the center job. Jake Raulerson and Terrell Cuney are good, young players. Darius James is also capable of playing some center. They'll get their chance down the road. Wickline could try other players out at center if he thinks he needs to make a change, but entering fall camp, there's no reason to expect that. Only an injury or truly poor play is going to get Espinosa bumped from the lineup.

Future expectations: Could Espinosa develop into an All-Big 12 lineman this fall? There are a few good centers in this league -- Kansas State's BJ Finney, TCU's Joey Hunt and Iowa State's Tom Farniok stand out -- and Espinosa probably isn't on their level just yet. He still has plenty to prove if he hopes to compete for a spot in the pros, but Espinosa has the benefit of a year with arguably the nation's best offensive line coach and has all that experience. We haven't seen his best ball yet.

Best case, worst case: Texas

June, 25, 2014
Jun 25
3:00
PM CT
Last week, we started our series on the best-case and worst-case scenarios for each Big 12 team.

The premise of these fun posts is to examine what the season might look like if everything falls into place for each school -- the best-case scenario for 2014. Conversely, we’ll also show what might happen if everything goes wrong -- the worst-case scenario.

We continue the series today with Texas.

BEST CASE

Mack Brown’s debut season at Texas featured a Heisman Trophy winner (Ricky Williams), a 9-3 record and a win in the Cotton Bowl. Tough act to follow, but why not try?

To kick off this run, David Ash takes the boot off his left foot in early July and the word “injury” is never whispered for the rest of his career. The Longhorns don’t need much from him to beat down North Texas in the opener, not with Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray each rushing for 100 yards.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
AP Photo/Rick BowmerDavid Ash missed most of the 2013 season with a concussion and fractured his foot in spring practice.
The team doesn't need much motivation against BYU, either. Texas exorcises last year’s demons by holding BYU to an unprecedented minus-550 rushing yards.

Even with Ash’s physical invincibility, Texas is challenged by a top-10 UCLA team. Trailing 28-20 early in the fourth quarter, Charlie Strong elects to insert freshman Jerrod Heard. He goes off on the Bruins, throwing for a touchdown and rushing for two more to pull off the upset. Texas goes to 3-0 and No. 10 in the polls.

Strong sticks with Heard the rest of the season and he throws for 3,707 yards and 27 touchdowns, plus 1,411 rushing yards and 22 more TDs. It’s not enough to win the Heisman, but Heard does finish second and inspires a recruiting run in December and January the likes of which this state has never seen.

So Texas beats UCLA and then has a close call at Kansas – Ash’s fourth-quarter cameo saves the day – before the big home game against No. 4 Baylor. Final score: Texas 6, Baylor 3.

Next up: No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Texas. Blake Bell – yes, the Sooners go back to Blake Bell – throws for 130 yards and two interceptions and Texas wins 49-17. That makes six games in a row that Gray and Brown have each gone for 100-plus.

Texas takes care of Iowa State and Kansas State, but a nail-biter in Lubbock ends in heartbreak when Davis Webb connects with Jakeem Grant for the game-winner with 1 second left, evoking comparisons to the ending in 2008. Texas is despondent, but still No. 9 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

They beat West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU but finish in the dreaded No. 5 spot. In an incredibly close vote, the committee’s sixth tiebreaker is Strong’s April 21 statement that Texas will not play for a national championship. Alabama secures the No. 4 spot and is one of three SEC teams in the inaugural playoff.

Texas settles for a spot in the Sugar Bowl and beats LSU 33-23. Gray and Brown each finish with 1,500 rushing yards and join Cedric Reed and Quandre Diggs in earning All-America honors. A record-breaking 15 Longhorns are selected in the NFL draft.

WORST CASE

Texas has no troubles against North Texas – in fact, a healthy Ash looks encouragingly good – and folks are feeling good about the beginning of the Strong era.

But then Texas loses to BYU thanks to more heroics from Taysom Hill and his knee brace-aided touchdown runs, and this reeling team isn’t ready for the big stage in Jerry World against UCLA. Brett Hundley raises his Heisman stock with a big game and the Longhorns’ inability-to-tackle woes are again a trend.

Texas coaches have two weeks to prepare Heard for the Big 12 opener against Kansas, but they stick with Ash the rest of the season and let the rookie redshirt. Ash’s final numbers are solid, all in all – he returns to putting up top-25 passing numbers in several metrics, as he did in 2012 – but by the end of the season the Longhorns have no more confidence in their quarterback situation than they did on June 25.

Texas gets to 2-2 with a win over Kansas, then gives up 45 points to Baylor in a game that gets out of hand in the second half. Art Briles wears his Big 12 title belt on the sideline the entire fourth quarter.

Despite a valiant effort in a closer-than-expected battle, Texas still comes up just short against Oklahoma and drops to 2-4.

Texas does get to six wins by beating Iowa State, Kansas State, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, but hardly anyone notices. The nation is too captivated by a playoff race that ends with Oklahoma, Baylor, Alabama and Florida State making the College Football Playoff. The Sooners win it all.

But Texas’ humiliation doesn’t end there. The AdvoCare Texas Bowl jumps at the chance to pit the 6-6 Longhorns against a 6-6 Texas A&M team in Houston. The Aggies get the last laugh on a field goal as time expires.
There can be various signs of success in the Big 12.

Last week we took a look at potential stats from various offensive players in the conference that could be a sign of success for their respective teams. This week, we look at a stat from one defensive player per school that could be a sign of success this fall.

Here's a look at one stat from a defensive player on each Big 12 team that could be a sign of success for their teams.

Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman's total sacks: The Penn State transfer has freakish ability. At 6-foot-9, 275 pounds, Oakman moves like someone half his size and was ultra-productive as a sophomore, compiling 12.5 tackles for loss in 13 games. But he only managed two sacks as a sophomore, although he was deployed in a backup role for most of the season. If Oakman can approach double-digit sacks with increased playing time as a junior, he could help Baylor’s young secondary overcome the mistakes they are certain to make as they gain experience.

Tackles recorded by Iowa State defensive tackle Brandon Jensen: The Cyclones have a potential hole in the middle of their defense with attrition since the end of the season destroying ISU’s depth. Jensen, who quit football after the 2013 season, returned to the team shortly after spring football. His return was much needed and if he’s able to match his production while starting all 12 games a year ago, it will give Paul Rhoads a foundation for his defense that he didn’t have during spring football. If he can raise his tackle total from 18 in 2013 to around 30 in 2014, it could be a sign he’s become a disruptive force in the middle of ISU’s defense.

Kansas linebacker/defensive end Ben Goodman's tackles for loss: The junior is a versatile talent who has moved closer to the line of scrimmage to make more of an impact with his ability to be disruptive and get into the backfield. He finished with 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2013. If he can at least double those numbers, his disruptive nature could combine with a talented secondary to make the Jayhawks defense better than expected this fall.

Kansas State linebacker Mike Moore's total tackles: The junior looks like he could be poised for a breakthrough season with the Wildcats. He’s an active and energetic linebacker who could pair with Jonathan Truman to give KSU one of the conference’s most productive linebacking duos. Moore only had seven tackles in 2013 but finished strong with two tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. If he can match or exceed Blake Slaughter's 110 tackles in 2013 it will be a good sign that the Wildcats’ defense won’t have a major drop off in 2014.

Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips total tackles: If the junior exceeds his tackle total from 2013, that’s a great sign for OU’s defense. Phillips played in just four games as a sophomore, recording seven tackles before a back injury forced him to miss the rest of the season. Anything higher than seven tackles likely means Phillips has returned to the lineup and is healthy and productive. If he does return, he has the potential to take OU’s defense to another level.

Oklahoma State cornerback Ashton Lampkin's pass breakups: The likely replacement for Justin Gilbert will be tested early and often in 2014. If Lampkin responds to the challenge and ends up with double-digit pass breakups, it means he has made a seamless move into the starting lineup. That would be terrific news for the Cowboys because if he can join Kevin Peterson to help lock down the perimeter, OSU won’t have to count on its young and inexperienced safeties to make as many plays in the passing game.

Sack total from TCU defensive end Devonte Fields: If Fields returns to his 2012 form, he’s a game-changing talent. He managed three tackles, including two tackles for loss, before a foot injury ended his 2013 season. In 2012, Fields had 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. If he’s healthy and focused, Fields has the ability to put up career-high numbers in sacks and tackles for loss in 2014. If he does, he can transform TCU’s defense and take the unit to another level.

Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks' total tackles: The senior had 40 tackles in four games last season, so the Longhorns would love to see a full, healthy season from Hicks. If he surpasses 40 tackles in 2014, it’s a great sign for Charlie Strong’s defense. The 2011 season was the last time Hicks played in double-digit games, but he's in impact player when healthy. But he’s spent as much time on the sidelines as he has making plays during the past two seasons.

Texas Tech defensive end Branden Jackson's sack total: The Red Raiders will really need to lean on Jackson, who finished the 2013 season with 44 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, and four sacks. He’s a proven commodity along Tech’s defensive front so it will be critical for him to, at the very least, match those numbers this fall. If he struggles to be productive, the Red Raiders defensive line could be the weak link of the defense and hamper the team as a whole.

Tackles for loss by West Virginia defensive end Shaquille Riddick: The Gardner-Webb transfer has the talent to make a major impact. While it would be great for the Mountaineers if Riddick can register between 5-10 sacks, he could be a difference maker if he can record 15-20 tackles for loss. If he is consistently disruptive and getting into opponents' backfields, the Mountaineers’ talented secondary could take advantage of any mistakes by the quarterback with key turnovers. If Riddick is a matchup nightmare, he will change the future of WVU’s defense.

Big 12 lunchtime links

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
11:00
AM CT
I'm not a LeBron hater, but here's the early favorite for tweet of the day.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
1:30
PM CT
Here's the latest in recruiting around the Big 12 as summer camp season winds down and new commitments keep rolling in:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: Believe it or not, Baylor is already running out of room in a 2015 class that should be smaller than usual. The Bears picked up pledge No. 11 from a sleeper defensive back, Montrel Wilson of Keller (Texas) Fossil Ridge, last week. Depending on which position its "athlete" commits play, BU already has five or six defenders on board. They'll keep pursing ESPN 300 prospects such as OLB Malik Jefferson and CB Holton Hill, but the numbers game is going to get tricky for Art Briles' staff in the coming months.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 5
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Iowa State landed its quarterback for the 2015 class on Friday in Austin (Texas) Lake Travis dual-threat Dominic DeLira. He comes from the same prestigious program that produced Garrett Gilbert, Baker Mayfield, Michael Brewer and Todd Reesing, who had an awful lot of success at Kansas playing under new ISU OC Mark Mangino. The Cyclones also locked up a pledge from in-state DE Seth Nerness this weekend and has now picked up four pledges in June.

KANSAS
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Kansas followed up an impressive five-pledge haul from juco prospects last week with one more from Los Angeles Harbor College WR Cory Butler, who flipped his commitment from Utah to KU. But the Jayhawks should be far more excited about a (very) late add to their 2014 class: OT Larry Mazyck. The 6-foot-7, 340-pound lineman signed with Maryland out of Iowa Western C.C. but did not qualify, clearing the way for him to end up at KU. He'll join the program this summer and could be a starter-quality contributor immediately if he's in shape and a quick learner.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 4
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Soon after locking up Nebraska offensive lineman Adam Holtorf, Kansas State picked up a second line pledge from three-star tackle Scott Frantz out of KU's backyard. The Lawrence (Kan.) Free State prospect is now the Wildcats' highest-rated pledge, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound lineman who picked KSU over Missouri and KU.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Oklahoma has no pledges but a lot of exciting possibilities at receiver. OU did make the top five that ESPN 300 WR Ryan Newsome released on Saturday, along with Texas, Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame. Texas has been considered the favorite for Newsome for a while, but it might be wide open now following Newsome's unofficial visit to Oregon. The Sooners will continue to make a hard run at flipping the top-rated recruit in Baylor's class, ESPN 300 WR John Humphrey Jr.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Cowboys' class grew to eight with the addition of Za'Carrius Green, a safety/linebacker from Duncanville, Texas, who turned down offers from Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas and Iowa State. Oklahoma State had yet to extend an offer, but one recent commit worth keeping an eye on is WR Dahu Green. The three-star in-state recruit is a big 6-foot-4 target and committed to Louisville last week. He'd likely have some thinking to do if either in-state Big 12 school made an offer in the near future.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU is one of only 10 programs in FBS with 16 or more pledges, a list that includes Alabama, Clemson, Texas A&M, Penn State and other heavy hitters. Its most recent commitments came from Arlington (Texas) Bowie CB Niko Small and Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints kicker Jonathan Song. Small ran a 4.44 40 time at camp and hails from the program previously coached by TCU corners coach Kenny Perry. Song's offer from TCU is to grayshirt, so he'll continue to seek full scholarship offers and recently camped at UCLA.

TEXAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: New offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Wickline has three four-star linemen on board so far and is looking for the final pieces to his 2015 puzzle. The Longhorns extended new offers last week to Houston North Shore center Tyler Moore and Coppell (Texas) three-star tackle Connor Williams. ESPN 300 tackles Madison Akamnonu and Jerry Tillery (a Notre Dame commit) and four-star Garrett Thomas have also been offered and are still on the radar.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: RB Corey Dauphine was not a coveted big-time recruit when he committed to Texas Tech in February, but interest in the three-star back from Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial has picked up significantly ever since. He's expected to make a "final" decision in the next few weeks and is considered a soft commit at this point. If he doesn't stick with Tech, Dauphine is going with Texas A&M or Baylor.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers recently added two linemen to the fold in Oviedo, Fla., nose tackle Alec Shriner and Belmont (Ohio) Union Local tackle Colton McKivitz, who'd been previously committed to Miami (Ohio). Shriner is also capable of playing center or guard on offense if necessary.

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