- Max Olson, Big 12 reporter
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Our weekly effort to identify one player poised for a breakout on each Big 12 team hit on a couple nice performances last week, most notably Kansas' DeAndre Mann, Baylor's Davion Hall and Oklahoma's Blake Bell. We will give it another try this week. Here are 10 players worth keeping an eye on this weekend.
Baylor RB Silas Nacita: After rushing for three touchdowns in his first two games at Baylor, the Cornell transfer is a feel-good story who is making the most of his carries. The Bears will still divvy out their snaps evenly among a loaded backfield against Buffalo, but expect to see a little more of Nacita and perhaps another score.
West Virginia CB Daryl Worley: We are big believers in Worley over here on the Big 12 blog. He could be an All-Big 12 player by the end of the season. But let's see if he can show up big against Maryland receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. After what the Terps did to WVU last season, he is one of the many defenders who needs a big day.
Kansas LB Ben Heeney: Your best players should step up in your biggest games, and this road trip to Duke is a big one. A win against the defending ACC Coastal Division champ would stop KU's 27-game road losing streak. The Jayhawks' tackling machine will make a game-changing play or two this week.
Texas Tech WR Bradley Marquez: He has been killer through two games (217 receiving yards, 5 TDs) and he will be one of the difference-makers in what could be a closer-than-expected meeting with Arkansas. If Marquez and Jakeem Grant can help Davis Webb get in a rhythm, they will help make up for whatever struggles Tech's defense faces.
Iowa State DE Cory Morrissey: Morrissey, the Cyclones' best defensive lineman, was looking forward to his faceoff with Iowa's All-America lineman Brandon Scherff. If reports of Scherff having knee surgery are accurate, the Hawkeyes will have to adjust and Morrissey will have to take advantage.
TCU DT Chucky Hunter: Minnesota's offensive line has allowed two sacks this season, but TCU's defensive line is an underrated bunch led by the run-stuffing Hunter and some rising defensive ends. The Gophers have quarterback issues this week and will try to pound the run with David Cobb. TCU needs Hunter's best on Saturday.
Oklahoma State WR Brandon Sheperd: Quarterback Daxx Garman spread his targets around fairly evenly last week, but expect to see more deep shots against a UTSA defense that gave up an 85-yard touchdown pass on its first play against Arizona last week. Sheperd broke out last week when Garman entered the game, and could be in for another nice day.
Texas WR Marcus Johnson: Texas has struggled to get the ball in the hands of one of its best playmaking receivers. Johnson has three catches for 26 yards and will need to do a lot more than that against UCLA if Jaxon Shipley (head injury) is indeed ruled out. Tyrone Swoopes should take more shots downfield this week, and though John Harris has become the go-to, Johnson needs to get back in the mix.
Oklahoma LB Caleb Gastelum: Who doesn't love this guy? After earning his scholarship last week, the former walk-on has become a force in the middle. Expect another solid showing against Tennessee and its exciting freshman running back Jalen Hurd. Gastelum has a nose for the ball and is building an impressive reputation. He will show up against the Vols.
Our weekly effort to identify one player poised for a breakout on each Big 12 team hit on a couple nice performances last week, most notably Kansas' DeAndre Mann, Baylor's Davion Hall and Oklahoma's Blake Bell.