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Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Spring steps forward: Baylor Bears

By David Ubben

We'll take a look at some of the Big 12's breakout stars this spring, but we'll start a series today looking at guys who will be stepping into bigger roles this season and what they have to provide for their new teams. Some are emerging from role players into starters. Some are going from starter to star. Some from stars to bona fide superstars.

Let's start with Baylor.

Baylor's spring step forward: WR Tevin Reese 

Reese was fantastic in 2012 and made a name for himself as a big-play threat for a dangerous Bears offense. His eight catches longer than 40 yards were more than all but two Big 12 receivers, and his 11 grabs longer than 30 yards were more than all but three. He's got a case as the league's fastest man, but this year, if he can show the ability to be much, much more than a home run threat, Baylor's offense will find it easier to continue its tear under Art Briles.

His 957 yards on just 53 catches are third most among returning receivers in the Big 12, and he was one of just three players a year ago to average better than 18 yards a catch. This season, he's got to mature into a more complete receiver. Can he be the guy to catch the quick hitch and turn it into 8 easy yards by not letting a cornerback bring him down immediately? Can he get open underneath and show some quickness that gives him the ability to use that speed to turn a 4-yard slant into a 25-yard game-changer?

He'll have a bigger role this spring and will try to prove he can do more than just beat a corner up the field and depend on his quarterback to find him deep. Reese will still do plenty of that this spring and in the fall, but Baylor's offense is going to be a whole lot better if the 5-foot-10, 165-pounder can be a complete receiver all over the field. At his size, that's somewhat of a risk coming over the middle among safeties and linebackers, but he's smart enough to protect himself. If his quarterback can make throws to lead him away from trouble, the Bears are going to be tough to stop yet again.