Dallas Colleges: Garrett Gilbert

Still Texas-BYU, but everything's different 

September, 6, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- Years from now, the 2011 BYU-Texas game won’t likely be remembered for anything more than its 17-16 final score, just another pair of numbers on a list of all-time results. A win, a close win but still a win, and nothing more.

But if Mack Brown is right and Texas does make another run at a national title soon, if the Longhorns do become elite again, perhaps we’ll look back on Sept. 10, 2011, as one of the key milestones of the rebuilding project.

You see, it was in that game when, with 9:42 left in the second quarter and a chorus of boos raining down from the stands of DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, Garrett Gilbert walked off the field and never returned.

SMU season preview

August, 16, 2013
Today we're looking at Southern Methodist University, which is being picked to finish near the bottom of the rankings in The American Athletic Conference's inaugural season.

Coach: June Jones (107-75 career, 31-34 at SMU)

2012 record: 7-6

Key losses: RB Zach Line, WR Darius Johnson, LB Taylor Reed

[+] EnlargeGarrett Gilbert
AP Photo/Michael SullivanQuarterback Garrett Gilbert returns as the Mustangs' leading rusher -- averaging 3.7 yards per carry last season.
Key returnees: QB Garrett Gilbert, LB Randall Joyner, CB Kenneth Acker

Newcomer to watch: DB Shakiel Randolph

Biggest games in 2013: at Texas A&M (Sept. 21), at TCU (Sept. 28)

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: The Mustangs will be looking for somebody to replace Line in the running game this year. Amassing 1,278 yards and 13 touchdowns as the main rushing threat last season, Line was crucial to the SMU offense that gave Gilbert the ability to be a dual-threat -- running for eight touchdowns and passing for 15. Gilbert won’t be able to do it all this season, so the Mustangs could be looking to Line’s little brother, Prescott Line, to carry some of the responsibility.

Forecast: While SMU has the benefit of not having to play AAC-favorite Louisville in the regular season, it plays three Texas heavyweights in the nonconference schedule. Opening with Texas Tech on a Friday night, the Mustangs travel to Texas A&M and TCU in back-to-back weeks in September. SMU has tallied four consecutive winning seasons and has played in four consecutive bowl games, but the first half of the Mustangs’ schedule might be too ambitious with Rutgers waiting as the first American Athletic game on the schedule. SMU is picked to finish eighth in the conference.

Like several teams in the American Athletic, the Mustangs are rebuilding on defense, having to work with a new group of defensive linemen. But four starters return in the secondary, including Acker, who was named to the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award that goes to the nation’s top defensive back. Acker had 13 interceptions and 12 pass breakups last season. Joyner and Stephon Sanders are the returning starting linebackers.

Offensively, SMU fits the American Athletic trend of teams having an established quarterback. Gilbert was on Jones’ radar when he was just a recruit committed to Texas because Jones had a relationship to Gilbert’s father. When Texas wasn’t the right fit for Gilbert, Jones welcomed him.

“It’s a plus for him that he's involved at SMU now and doing what he's doing,” Jones said. “I noticed last year by middle of the season he was finally starting to get a little bit of his confidence back. I think he took it upon his shoulders to compete and win maybe three, four games through the end that just was him, and even though we did it a little bit different than we normally do it, which normally doing it is passing the football. He was a very good runner. We inserted some things into the game plan to allow him to do some things that he does very well. And he gained a lot of confidence both in the passing game just from doing that.”

Predicting the 2013 season: Week 1

June, 26, 2013
Last season, we began this exercise. Here's how we did last season. Not terrible, but certainly some room for improvement.

We'll move forward again this offseason by making preseason picks for every single game on the Big 12 schedule.

Naturally, Week 1 seems an appropriate place to begin. By the end of this exercise, you'll know how I'm projecting every Big 12 team heading into the bowl season.


Kansas State 27, North Dakota State 21: Kansas State needed a late defensive stop to earn the win against the two-time defending FCS national champions. John Hubert's 150-yard game was much needed, but K-State will be glad to get this dangerous game with nothing to win and a lot to lose behind it. Sneaky fun game here to kick off Fox Sports 1's launch.

Texas Tech 31, Southern Methodist 21: Garrett Gilbert has already beaten Texas Tech in Lubbock, but won't get the job done at SMU in Dallas this time around. After some first-half hiccups, Tech takes control for a solid, but not quite impressive win to kick off the Kliff Kingsbury Era.


West Virginia 44, William and Mary 17: West Virginia's offense puts up some impressive fireworks against an overmatched FCS team. There are a few good games to watch in Week 1 across the Big 12. This is not one of them.

Iowa State 34, Northern Iowa 13: The in-state rivalry between these two is lopsided, and even a rebuilding year in Ames won't change the gap between the FCS and FBS foes. Sam Richardson has a nice debut.

Oklahoma 34, Louisiana-Monroe 27: The Sooners' 2012 season got off to an ugly, ugly start in El Paso. This is another sneaky dangerous team that reminds me a bit of Utah State back in 2010. Oklahoma wins this one and it's a little too close for comfort. Kolton Browning is back, and Sooner fans would be well-served to watch his performance against Baylor last season.

Baylor 51, Wofford 17: EDIT: Sorry about that. Mixed up South Dakota and Wofford notes. Baylor can score a lot of points against everyone. Big day for Lache Seastrunk in this one.

Oklahoma State 41, Mississippi State 23: The Pokes strike a blow for the Big 12 as a heavy favorite in Houston. Blake Jackson breaks out in a big way. He snags a pair of scores and goes for 100+ yards, and most importantly, he doesn't have a drop.

Texas 37, New Mexico State 10: Texas isn't going to convince anyone of anything good against New Mexico State, but the defense looks good and gives up its only touchdown of the day after the game is well out of hand.

TCU 21, LSU 20: I'll take the Frogs to pull the upset here. Casey Pachall looks shaky but gets the job done thanks to a strong night by the running backs against a young LSU defensive line.

Most important game: SMU Mustangs

May, 24, 2013
Next up is SMU, one of the more intriguing of the conference newcomers in 2013.

To see previous entries, click here.


Most important game: Oct. 5 versus Rutgers

Why: SMU has a very challenging nonconference slate. The Mustangs open their season Friday, Aug. 30 against Texas Tech and new coach Kliff Kingsbury. Two games later they travel to College Station, Texas, where they will face either an Aggie team coming off the high of beating defending national Alabama for the second year in a row or an Aggie team hungry after suffering a tough loss to the nation's best. One week later, they travel to TCU.

Like we said, very challenging. At least they avoid conference favorite Louisville in Year 1 of a new league.

So that brings us to Oct. 5, with the nonconference slate in the rearview mirror. SMU has a home contest against a Rutgers team that has a lot of unknown parts heading into Kyle Flood's second year as head coach. The first month of the season should test the Mustangs physically and mentally, and if they respond the way most good teams should, they will be ready for their Big East debut against the Scarlet Knights, one of four defending champions.

SMU's offense should be fascinating to watch with Hal Mumme joining head coach June Jones to tutor Garrett Gilbert. Rutgers is breaking in three new starters in the secondary. A bye follows the Rutgers game, and then come games against Memphis and Temple, two programs widely expected to finish at or near the bottom of the conference in 2013.

You look at the tough first month and what it could spell for SMU moving forward, and you look at games against the Tigers and Owls soon afterward, and you cannot help but think of what a win over Rutgers could do for this program in its first game in the Big East. A 3-0 start going into Cincinnati on Nov. 9? UConn awaits after that. A 4-1 start in conference play is very much possible, not to mention the chance of winning one or more of the aforementioned tough early-season games against its Texas brethren.

The possibilities could be there for a strong Big East debut for the Mustangs. But a lot of that only looks realistic if they can beat Rutgers on Oct. 5.
Wes Lunt's exit from Oklahoma State surprised a lot of people, but what kind of results can he expect over the rest of his career?

Here's an update on the Big 12's recent notable transfers. The results are all over the map.

Garrett Gilbert, transferred from Texas to SMU in 2011: Struggled in 2010 during Texas' 5-7 season, despite a strong showing in relief of Colt McCoy in the 2009 national title game against Alabama. Earned a starting position in June Jones' offense in Dallas and threw for 2,932 yards, 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season. He'll start as a senior in 2013.

Keith Nichol, transferred from Oklahoma to Michigan State in 2008: Nichol was a superstar recruit but lost a quarterback competition to some guy named Sam Bradford. After taking his talents to Lansing, he earned some time at quarterback as a sophomore in 2009, but found a home at receiver. He finished his career with 50 catches for 625 yards and four touchdowns, highlighted by a game-winning, Hail Mary touchdown to beat Wisconsin in 2011. He also threw for 826 yards and nine touchdowns.

Jevan Snead, transferred from Texas to Ole Miss in 2006: Played some in relief of Colt McCoy, but left for Oxford in search of playing time and found it. Carried the Rebels to a Cotton Bowl win and threw for 2,762 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2008. A year later, he tossed 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and racked up 2,632 yards. He left Ole Miss early, but wasn't drafted.

G.J. Kinne, transferred from Texas to Tulsa in 2008: Kinne never cracked the field at Texas, but had a huge career as a Golden Hurricane. He threw for just under 9,500 yards, ran for 1,365 yards and accounted for 96 total touchdowns in three seasons as starter. He went undrafted and hasn't caught on in the NFL, but is under contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Connor Wood, transferred from Texas to Colorado in 2011: Wood couldn't get on the field at Texas, but sought playing time in Boulder, and it looks like he's found it. After Nick Hirschman transferred last week, Wood is Colorado's likely starter in 2013, and has three years of eligibility remaining.

Jacob Karam, transferred from Texas Tech to Memphis in 2012: Was eligible immediately because he had already received his degree. He won the Tigers' starting job and threw for 1,895 yards and 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He'll be a senior, and the starter again in 2013.

Scotty Young, transferred from Texas Tech to Louisiana Tech in 2012: Never got on the field for the Red Raiders and sat out the 2012 season at Louisiana Tech. He's in good position to be the Bulldogs' starter next season, replacing Colby Cameron.

Drew Allen, transferred from Oklahoma to Syracuse in 2013: Allen served as a backup his entire career, but after receiving his degree, started looking for a place to play out his career. He believes Syracuse is the place to do it, and he'll compete for the starting job in the fall.

Jared Barnett, transferred from Iowa State to Illinois State in 2013: Barnett earned a place in ISU lore when he led the Cyclones to a win against undefeated, BCS No. 2 Oklahoma State in 2011, but struggled after that and throughout 2012. He finished the season on the bench behind Sam Richardson and elected to become a Cardinal after the season. He's eligible immediately, because his new team is an FCS school.

Bobby Reid, transferred from Oklahoma State to Texas Southern in 2007: Reid was the subject of Mike Gundy's infamous "I'm a man, I'm 40!" rant, and later said he felt like that rant ended his "life", though Gundy was defending his player. He threw for 1,791 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions at Texas Southern in 2008, but he and Gundy seem close again. He joined Gundy's staff in an administrative role this year.

Rhett Bomar, transferred from Oklahoma to Sam Houston State in 2006: Bomar's transfer wasn't his choice. Bob Stoops famously kicked Bomar off the team in the wake of reports that he had received payment from a local car dealership without doing the work. That was an obvious NCAA violation. He played just 19 games over the next two seasons, but finished as the school's all-time leader in passing yards, with 5,564 yards. He was a finalist for the 2008 Walter Payton Award as the nation's best FCS player. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 draft by the New York Giants, but has been out of the NFL since May 2012.

Jordan Webb, transferred from Kansas to Colorado in 2012: Started two seasons for the Jayhawks, but left town when Charlie Weis brought Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps with him to Lawrence. He played 10 games last season, throwing for 1,434 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. He tore his ACL in spring practice, though, and is questionable to get back on the field this fall. He's not helping his case to regain his starting status by getting arrested on felony assault charges last weekend.

SMU Mustangs spring wrap

May, 2, 2013
SMU Mustangs

2012 record: 7-6

2012 conference record: 5-3, C-USA West

Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Garrett Gilbert, WR Der'rikk Thompson, DB Kenneth Acker, LB Randall Joyner

Key losses

RB Zach Line, WR Darius Johnson, DE Margus Hunt, LB Ja’Gared Davis

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Line (1,278 yards, 13 TDs)

Passing: Gilbert* (268-of-506 for 2,932 yards, 15 TDs, 15 INTs)

Receiving: Jeremy Johnson* (679 yards, 3 TDs)

Tackles: Taylor Reed (97)

Sacks: Hunt (eight)

Interceptions: Acker*, Joyner* Reed (three each)

Spring answers

1. Garrett Gilbert looks sharp. Coach June Jones said after spring practice wrapped up that he was pleased with the way Garrett looked and improved in the biggest area of all -- accuracy. Gilbert only completed 53 percent of his passes last year but has a better grasp of the offense now and more chemistry with his receivers. It probably helps that he had Hal Mumme working with him, too.

2. Traylon Shead steps up. The Mustangs lost their best offensive player in Zach Line, but Shead stole the show this spring as he worked his way up to the first team. Jones called the Texas transfer “the real deal,” and is confident the running game will be just fine with Line gone.

3. Linebacker depth. Reed and Davis are gone, but there is depth at this position and some veterans returning to the starting lineup, too, in Joyner and Kevin Pope. Jones said Joyner had a great camp, and so did Lincoln Richard. Rishaad Wimbley moved over from running back as well.

Fall questions

1. Pass-rush specialist. Defensive end Margus Hunt proved just how special a talent he is this past weekend, when he was drafted in the second round. So how do the Mustangs go about replacing him and their other starting end, Kevin Grenier? Finding another pass-rush specialist takes on even greater importance now that the team is moving to a new league.

2. Offensive line depth. The Mustangs have to replace three starters and are going to be much more inexperienced at this position. Though Jones feels confident with his starting five, depth still has to be built in the fall. True freshmen may have to be relied on this season.

3. Receiver rotation. Jeremy Johnson and Thompson are back, along with Keenan Holman but otherwise, there are some young faces that are going to find themselves getting much more playing time. Line was also a big part of the pass game. Can Shead fill that role now?

Q&A: SMU coach June Jones

March, 26, 2013
Brett McMurphy joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss college football's national championship game coming to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Listen Listen
SMU opens spring practice today with lots of holes to fill on both offense and defense. I had a chance to catch up with coach June Jones to ask him about some of the biggest questions surrounding his team.

You are losing so many starters. How do you envision the spring playing out for you, knowing you have to replace your productive guys while moving into a new conference?

JJ: There’s definitely a lot of unknowns. The competition we’re playing -- everybody’s getting better. The Big East plays a very good brand of football, the schools that are left in there are pretty good. We have some positions to replace, but we think we have on campus a lot of good, young players who have been waiting for an opportunity. We have some kids that maybe, two or three of the freshmen kids will be an upgrade from what we’ve had the last four or five years, too. I think we’ll be OK.

[+] EnlargeSMU's June Jones
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports"I think sometimes when people don't expect you to be what you are, you have your best seasons," SMU coach June Jones said.
The biggest losses offensively: Darius Johnson, a very productive player for us. A receiver has to step up and take that lead. But Der'rikk Thompson has started for three years, and he’ll take that lead as we go forward. And then we have a transfer running back, Traylon Shead, that I think is going to be a really good player that was recruited by Texas, one of the best running backs in the state after his freshman year left and went to Navarro and he is with us and this spring will help him. But I think he’s a big-time runner off what I’ve seen on his JC tape. And so that solves our two questions. Those two kids have to step up. We have some other kids on campus. Prescott Line, Zach’s brother, looks like a prototype of his brother. He’s going to be a redshirt freshman so he understands what we’re doing. I think he’ll be productive. From that standpoint, I think we’re very good for filling it but until you do it game day you just never know.

The other question on offense surrounds your quarterback, Garrett Gilbert. How are you going to work with him to improve on his accuracy?

JJ: Any time you’re in a system more than one year you get better, you just get more comfortable with it. I think that will help Garrett. I really was happy with his competitiveness as a player. He did a lot of different things for us, running the ball, competing that way when things broke down to get first downs, things like that. He showed that he’s a competitive winner. So as long as he keeps getting better in the passing game, he’s got a shot to be a step up from where he was last year. We have a kid on campus, Neal Burcham, who is very accurate passer and will compete with Garrett. Both Garrett will make Neal better and Neal will make Garrett better. Competition does that.

Along the same lines, how are you going to work on just being a more consistent offense this spring?

JJ: You have to be or you’re not going to be very good. We have to be able to throw the ball more effectively. I’m not really worried about the run part of it. We will get the runs when we have them. The thing we have to be able to do if we’re going to be able to be successful, we have to throw the ball effectively. We’re in a pass offense. If you’re not completing 68 to 72 percent of your passes, that’s probably not getting the job done. That’s what we have to be able to do.

Defensively, you have to replace guys like Margus Hunt, Taylor Reed and Ja'Gared Davis. Who are the next guys up?

JJ: We have some kids on campus that played pretty well last year for us. We have a kid named Zach Wood and Beau Barnes that split time with Margus, they rotated in. Probably the most underrated guy we had was a guy name Torlan Pittman, and Darrian Wright will replace him. Darrian played as a true freshman and really played pretty well for us. We have some depth and we have some really good kids coming in. The best lineman we ever recruited named Zelt Minor from Lamar will compete right away for a starting job. He’s one of those kids that we’ve never had come to our school, since I’ve been here anyway, from a talent standpoint. We have some guys here, we have another kid, Elie Nabushosi that I think may be really, really great d-lineman. He redshirted last year. We couldn’t block him in practice.

We’re replacing two pretty productive linebackers in Taylor Reed and Ja'Gared Davis but we have some kids who might be bigger and more talented than them on campus right now, in a kid named Jarvis Pruitt and Lincoln Richard being the other guy. We’re going to be OK but they’ve got to learn the defense and play on game day. They’ll make mistakes but talent wise I think we’re going to be pretty good.

It sounds like you’ve got a lot of talent there, but you're young.

JJ: Everybody’s young. We open up with Texas Tech so obviously you better play pretty good to beat them, but at the same time I think once these kids get to Game 3 and 4 where they have a little game experience -- they’ll make plays while they’re learning -- but at the same time how you minimize your mistakes is really how you win the games. Who screws it up less is who wins games early so when you’ve got young kids, you’re making mistakes. We’ll make some big plays in there, too, because they are very talented.

What do you think when people say this is a rebuilding year and they’re not quite sure what they’re going to see out of you guys this year?

JJ: I don’t really pay too much attention to that. We were told when I was in Hawaii we were the worst team in the conference and we went 12-0. I think sometimes when people don’t expect you to be what you are, you have your best seasons. That’s just me. But I don’t worry. You’re coaching the kids up. You prepare them to win and they’ll learn how to win. We just have to hang together until they do. That’s how you turn it around.

Breaking down spring camp: Texas Tech

March, 22, 2013
Texas Tech is the latest Big 12 team to kick off spring practice later today. Let's take a closer look.

Schedule: The first of Texas Tech's 15 NCAA-allowed spring practices begins today. They will conclude with a spring game on April 20. Between now and then, just two practices will be open: April 6 (in Midland, Texas) and April 12.

What's new: Pretty much everything. Tech does return 13 starters from last season's eight-win team, tied for fourth-most in the Big 12. Beyond that, though, it's a whole new ballgame on the sidelines. More on that later.

New faces: Besides the coaches, Texas Tech is welcoming a new quarterback to the practice field this spring: Davis Webb. The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder is the nation's No. 24 pocket passer.

All eyes on: Kliff Kingsbury and his new staff. He's added six alums to the Red Raiders' sidelines. Kingsbury will be calling the plays for the Red Raiders. He handed the keys to his defense over to Matt Wallerstedt, who followed him over from Texas A&M. How will the 33-year-old Kingsbury run the program? As a program legend, he has the support of the city, and he'll have to learn on the job as a first-time head coach, the youngest among AQ conference teams. He inherited a talented team capable of making some noise immediately, but he'll have to take them there. That journey begins today.

Breaking out: Big 12 blog readers voted quarterback Michael Brewer the breakout player of the spring across the league. He's my pick, too. Kingsbury's not handing the sophomore the job right out of the gate, but it doesn't look like he has a ton of competition. The 6-foot-1, 183-pound native of Austin, Texas, hails from the same powerhouse Lake Travis program as Garrett Gilbert. Brewer lost just one game in high school, helping his coach, Chad Morris, take his first steps to being a major conference offensive coordinator. He's now at Clemson.

Question marks: I've written about the safeties a lot this spring, but the Red Raiders have a lot of work to do in replacing starters Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson. New position coach Trey Haverty has his work cut out for him, and any weakness in this area come fall will be exposed quickly.

On the mend: Tight end Jace Amaro. He became something of an afterthought during Big 12 play last season sue to a rib injury, but he's the cure for what has ailed the Big 12's tight ends these past couple of seasons. The position has been really, really weak, but if he's healthy, Amaro is the league's best at the spot. He had a forgettable night in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, catching two passes for 15 yards and getting ejected after throwing a punch. But shortly after taking the job, Kingsbury was already talking about how Amaro pops off game tape.

Don't forget about: Wide receiver Eric Ward. He's one of the Big 12's most underrated players, and all he's done in his career is lead Tech in receiving in each of the past two seasons and became the first Tech receiver to top 1,000 yards receiving and return to campus since Michael Crabtree in 2007. Ward's a big-time player in the passing game who doesn't get enough respect across the conference. Among returning players, only Oklahoma State's Josh Stewart had more receiving yards.

SMU adds Hal Mumme to staff

March, 20, 2013
Talk about a meeting of the offensive minds.

Offensive guru June Jones has hired offensive guru Hal Mumme as assistant head coach/passing game coordinator at SMU, the school announced Tuesday.

Both coaches have done their share to expand and enhance passing games. Jones has been known for his Run and Shoot concepts that allowed Colt Brennan and Timmy Chang to each pass for over 35,000 yards in three seasons at Hawaii; Mumme is known as the man behind the "Air Raid" offense, versions of which Mike Leach, Dana Holgorsen and a host of others now run.

One of the biggest areas that has to be improved this spring in Dallas is consistency in the passing game. Garrett Gilbert threw for 2,932 yards, with 15 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions last year as the Mustangs posted their lowest passing total since Jones arrived in 2008.

Mumme has had offensive success at all his stops. He comes to SMU after spending the past four years as head coach at McMurry, which just completed its first season as a Division II independent. During his time there, he led McMurry to a 27-16 record and three consecutive winning seasons.

Mumme has also served as head coach at Kentucky, New Mexico State, Southeastern Louisiana, Valdosta State and Iowa Wesleyan.

Big East spring preview: SMU

February, 27, 2013

Spring Start: March 25

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. Replacing Zach Line: The Mustangs have to replace their top runner over the past several seasons in Line, who had three straight 1,000-yard seasons. Leading the charge this spring are junior college All-American Traylon Shead and reserve back Rishaad Wimbley, who switched from defense a few seasons ago.
  2. New defensive starters: The Mustangs lost the bulk of their playmakers on defense in Margus Hunt and linebackers Taylor Reed and Ja'Gared Davis. Finding guys to step up without them is a huge priority. Watch for Zach Wood at defensive end in place of Hunt; and Kevin Pope and Robert Seals at linebacker.
  3. More consistency at QB: June Jones' offense runs best when the quarterback is at his best. Garrett Gilbert returns as the starter, but he is going to need to find much more consistency this spring and into the fall. Two numbers that have to be improved: accuracy (53 percent in 2012) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (15-to-15 in 2012).

More booms and busts from the 2009 class

February, 12, 2013
Earlier this morning, we broke down half of the big surprises and big busts from the 2009 recruiting class in the Big 12. Let's take a look at the rest of the Big 12.

Oklahoma State

Best surprise: OL Levy Adcock (Claremore, Okla.)

Adcock came to Oklahoma State as a juco transfer but had a quiet beginning to his career. He was the Pokes' No. 4 tight end in 2009 but moved to the offensive line and won the right tackle job, emerging as one of the Big 12's best lineman, and certainly the league's best in 2011. He was a first-team All-Big 12 selection and an All-American as a senior.

Biggest bust: RB Dexter Pratt (Navasota, Texas)

Pratt came as the only ESPN 150 member of Oklahoma State's 2009 class, but left the team in the spring of 2010. He was the nation's No. 15 running back and No. 139 overall recruit, but redshirted his first season on campus. He transferred to a junior college but was arrested in April 2011 on drug charges. That came less than two years after Pratt was arrested on a misdemeanor drug possession charge in July 2009.


Best surprise: S Kenny Vaccaro (Brownwood, Texas)

Vaccaro was just the nation's No. 42 safety and entered Texas more highly ranked than just two of the Longhorns' 20 signees. Still, he emerged as a playmaker throughout his career. He was a three-year starter and a two-time All-Big 12 selection, earning All-America honors as a senior. It's not as tangible of an honor, but for my money, he's been one of, if not the hardest hitter in the Big 12 the past two years.

Biggest bust: QB Garrett Gilbert (Austin, Texas)

Gilbert might be one of the biggest busts in Big 12 history. He was a hometown talent and the nation's No. 2 quarterback and No. 11 overall recruit, rated higher than guys like AJ McCarron and just behind talents like Matt Barkley and Manti Te'o. He showed big promise in the 2009 national title game against Alabama when Colt McCoy was injured, but threw 17 interceptions in Texas' 5-7 nightmare season in 2010. He returned in 2011, but threw two quick interceptions as Texas fell behind BYU. Gilbert was benched as fans booed him off the field, and he never saw any more time. He underwent shoulder surgery later that year and transferred to SMU, where he started and threw for 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2012.


Best surprise: DE Stansly Maponga (Carrolton, Texas)

Maponga came to TCU as the nation's No. 111 defensive end and ranked higher than just a handful of TCU's high-school recruits. He was a freshman All-American in 2010 after redshirting and became a full-time starter, earning all-conference honors. In 2011, he was a first-team All-Mountain West honoree and was TCU's only preseason representative on the All-Big 12 team. He battled injuries, but still had 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks, a year after making nine sacks.

Biggest bust: OLB Justin Isadore (Beaumont, Texas)

Isadore redshirted in 2009 but left the team after the season and transferred to Stephen F. Austin. He was the nation's No. 38 outside linebacker and the Frogs' second-highest ranked recruit. After transferring to the FCS level, he still has yet to record more than 20 tackles in a season.

Texas Tech

Best surprise: S D.J. Johnson (Austin, Texas)

Johnson was a middle-of-the-road recruit in a Texas Tech class that was just OK, but he emerged as a huge contributor and a three-year starter for the Texas Tech defense. He was an All-Big 12 honoree in 2010 and 2012 and racked up 90 tackles in 2012 for a much-improved Texas Tech defense under coordinator Art Kaufman.

Biggest bust: OLB Brandon Mahoney (Keller, Texas)

Mahoney was the class' highest-ranked signee and the nation's No. 13 outside linebacker. At one time, he was committed to Oklahoma, but Texas Tech made a swipe on the recruiting trail, but Mahoney didn't pan out. He left the team in August 2010 after redshirting in 2009.

West Virginia

Best surprise: S Darwin Cook (East Cleveland, OH)

Cook was the nation's No. 89 safety and didn't attract much attention on the way into Morgantown, even though he's got a pretty crazy backstory. He emerged to be a two-year starter at safety for the Mountaineers and a three-year contributor, providing the biggest defensive highlight of 2011 when he returned a fumble 99 yards for a touchdown in the Orange Bowl win over Clemson.

Biggest bust: WR Logan Heastie (Chesapeake, Va.)

Heastie was the nation's No. 19 receiver and only Geno Smith (known by recruiting services as "Eugene Smith" ... awesome) was rated higher in the Mountaineers' class. Heastie, though, never caught on with the Mountaineers and reportedly didn't take to offseason workouts and didn't do much to impress coach Bill Stewart. Heastie transferred in April 2010.

Big 12 players to watch in 2013

January, 15, 2013
As we finish wrapping up the 2012 season, it's time to look forward today. Here's a look at a few players you need to keep an eye on in 2013:

Casey Pachall, QB, TCU: If Pachall returns to form, you can bet on TCU as the Big 12 favorite in 2013, especially after Joseph Randle left Oklahoma State. He's officially back on the team after spending last fall in a treatment facility for drug and alcohol addiction, and we'll see what reports are out of spring in Fort Worth. He'll have to prove he's the same player and earn his job back, but if he is and he does, and TCU's defense does what it did in 2012 ... look out. Pachall was completing 66 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and a pick before his season ended following a DUI arrest in early October. The entire Big 12 race could very well shift on Pachall's return and subsequent development.

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Gray
Michael C. Johnson/US PresswireJohnathan Gray rushed for 701 yards and three touchdowns during the 2012 season.
Johnathan Gray, RB, Texas: Gray emerged as the most consistent back for the Longhorns this past season, becoming the second consecutive true freshman to lead the Longhorns in rushing. Gray rushed for more touchdowns than any back in high school football history, and if he can build on his 700 yards on fewer than 150 carries from 2012, he'll look more and more like the player Texas hopes he can be. He also might help Texas look like a real Big 12 title contender.

Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor: No player in the Big 12 was hotter at the end of 2012, and Seastrunk already made a well-publicized statement that he's planning on winning the Heisman Trophy in 2013. We'll see about that, but Seastrunk began November with fewer than 200 yards rushing. He ended the season as one of three Big 12 backs with at least 1,000 rushing yards. Craziness.

Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia: West Virginia's defense got all kinds of heat from critics and opposing offenses last year, but Joseph was the bright spot and a piece to build around for the future. He and fellow true freshman Isaiah Bruce showed real promise, but Joseph was sixth in the Big 12 with 102 tackles, forced three fumbles and had a pair of picks and seven tackles for loss. He's a stud.

Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State: Stewart takes my title as the Big 12's most underrated player entering 2013. He doesn't have the same reputation as an elite receiver, but he has put up the numbers to support the idea that he's exactly that. He caught 101 balls for 1,210 yards and will be the Big 12's leading returning receiver in 2013 by more than 150 yards. Only three Big 12 receivers hit triple-digit receptions last season, too. No returning receiver had more than 82.

Jake Heaps, QB, Kansas: Heaps is a wild card, but if KU is truly going to get out of the Big 12 basement (or win a game in Big 12 play), it needs Heaps' transition after transferring to go better than Dayne Crist's. The BYU transfer, who signed on with the Jayhawks and Charlie Weis after Weis' hiring, threw 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in almost two seasons as the Cougars' starter. He very nearly quarterbacked BYU to a win at Texas in 2011, too.

Aaron Green, RB, TCU: Green is another high-impact transfer this year, or at least could be. The San Antonio native sat out last year after transferring in from Nebraska. He was the No. 3 running back in the 2011 recruiting class and No. 11 on the ESPN 150. We saw this year the kind of impact a super recruit like Seastrunk can have, and TCU needs a big hitter in the backfield. We'll see what Green can do after rushing for 105 yards and two scores on 24 touches at Nebraska in 2011.

Michael Brewer, QB, Texas Tech: Brewer followed in Garrett Gilbert's footsteps in high school with a huge career at Lake Travis in Austin, but here's guessing his college career will be much more impressive. Brewer earned a little time this year behind Seth Doege, but I love what I saw from him in spot duty, and he'll be responsible for what kind of a start the Kliff Kingsbury Era gets off to in Lubbock. Here's guessing it'll be a good one.

Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl keys

December, 24, 2012
Three keys for tonight's Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl matchup between SMU and Fresno State:

1. SMU can't fall behind early: When the Mustangs are off, they are off. Of their six losses, four have been by at least 20 points, with two coming by 35 or more. Against Tulsa in the regular-season finale, SMU jumped out to a 21-0 lead and hung on for a 35-27 lead to become bowl-eligible. That same Golden Hurricane outfit topped Fresno State earlier in the season by one, despite the Bulldogs finishing three games better than the Mustangs.

2. Protecting the QB: SMU's Garrett Gilbert has been able to improvise with his feet all season long, but he will need his line to step up Monday night against a Fresno State pass rush that has notched 35 sacks on the season, good for 11th nationally. The Mustangs, meanwhile, have just 17 sacks on the season and will need to turn it up considerably against a quarterback as efficient as the Bulldogs' Derek Carr, who averages 311 passing yards per game.

3. Watch the running backs. For all the talk about the big-play capability of Fresno State's and SMU's offenses, both teams boast 1,000-yard rushers in Robbie Rouse (1,468 yards, 12 TDs) and Zach Line (1,207 yards, 12 TDs), respectively. The question is: Who will stop who first? SMU is 24th nationally against the run, while Fresno State is 73rd.

Pregame: Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl

December, 24, 2012
SMU (6-6, 5-3 Conference USA) vs. Fresno State (9-3, 5-1 Mountain West)

Who to watch: Fresno State's Phillip Thomas was the school's first-ever unanimous All-American following a nation-best eight-pick season, which set the Mountain West Conference single-season record. Thomas returned three of those picks for scores (a school record), and he led the Bulldogs with 82 total tackles and 12 tackles for loss, while tying for the team lead with four forced fumbles, adding four sacks and one fumble recovery. The fifth-year senior from Bakersfield, Calif., has recovered from a leg injury that forced him to redshirt last season and now has more interceptions than 29 teams. Simply put, Thomas is a ball hawk whom SMU must be aware of at all times.

What to watch: Both defenses. While both offenses are capable of big chunk plays -- Fresno State boasts the nation's No. 12 scoring offense -- the other side of the ball has put each team in great scoring position throughout the season. You already know about Thomas, but his nine takeaways account for barely a quarter of the Bulldogs' 33 forced turnovers this season. SMU? The same number, though the Mustangs have lost it 21 times this season, five more than Fresno State. The Bulldogs are No. 5 in turnover margin; the Mustangs are No. 12. Whichever defense makes more big plays is the one most likely to walk away with the victory, as SMU is minus-10 in the turnover category in its six losses this season.

Why to watch: Derek Carr, brother of former NFL No. 1 draft pick David Carr, has been phenomenal under center all season for Fresno State, completing better than 68 percent of his passes for 3,742 yards with 36 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Casual fans will also recognize the man under center for SMU as Garrett Gilbert, who is best known for his relief act of Colt McCoy in the 2010 BCS National Championship, and has 21 total touchdowns while netting nearly 3,000 yards of offense.

Prediction: Fresno State 35, SMU 24. The Bulldogs enter this game riding a five-game winning streak. The Mustangs had to win their regular-season finale over Tulsa just to extend their season. Fresno State does a better job of protecting the ball and has the more productive quarterback.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 5

September, 30, 2012
Time to hand out a few helmet stickers for a job well done. Your stickers are in the mail, boys. We're even making history this week:

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Holy. Cow. Smith deserves the helmet sticker of all helmet stickers for his game on Saturday, leaving no doubt in regards to the Heisman Trophy race. He's officially the unquestioned frontrunner. In a 70-63 win over Baylor in West Virginia's first-ever Big 12 Conference game, Smith threw for 656 yards on 45-of-51 passing with a whopping eight touchdown passes. "Please explain to me how he can improve on that," coach Dana Holgorsen told reporters after the game. I ... I got nothin'.

Eric Ward, WR, Texas Tech: Ward had the play of the day for Texas Tech, hauling in a 19-yard touchdown pass on first-and-goal from the 19 to put the Red Raiders ahead by eight in their 24-13 road win over Iowa State. Ward gave the Cyclones fits all night and caught nine passes for 122 yards in a defense-laden game. Not everybody in the Big 12 has forgotten how to cover, but Ward worked to get free.

David Ash, QB, Texas: Ash helped Texas rally to beat Oklahoma State, 41-36, and finished the game with 304 yards and three touchdowns on 30-of-37 passing. Despite throwing his first interception of the season, Ash bounced back to lead Texas to touchdowns on three of its four final drives. He's grown up, and sure, he may suffer a bad game at some point down the line, but Mack Brown said it best after the game: "He couldn't have done this last year." He did it this year, though, and Oklahoma State's secondary is a whole lot different than Ole Miss' secondary.

Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor: This is a first, but it's unavoidable. I've never, ever given out a helmet sticker for a player on a losing team, but nobody's ever deserved to buck that trend more than Williams does after his performance on Saturday. On the road against a top-10 opponent, Williams led all receivers with 17 catches for 314 yards and added two touchdowns. He broke the single-game school records for catches and yardage. The Bears suffered a 70-63 loss to West Virginia, but it wouldn't have been a game without Williams.

Chris Hackett, S, TCU: Hackett was all over the place for TCU in the Frogs' 24-16 win over SMU. With apologies to Devonte Fields (4 TFL, 2.5 sacks), I'm giving the sticker to Hackett. Hackett scooped up a Zach Line fumble, returning it 11 yards to set up TCU's first touchdown of the night. Hackett later intercepted Garrett Gilbert. That loomed large in what became a sloppy, close win in the Dallas rain for the Frogs.