Dallas Colleges: Gary Mason Jr.

Big 12 media days live: Day 2

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
9:40
AM CT
The Big 12 media days continue on Tuesday in Dallas, as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and new Texas coach Charlie Strong each take the stage. Keep this page open throughout the day's proceedings as we bring you the latest from our reporters, who will cover all 10 teams at the event.

Baylor Bears spring wrap

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
11:15
AM CT
2012 record: 8-5
2012 Big 12 record: 4-5
Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners: OL Cyril Richardson, RB Lache Seastrunk, S Ahmad Dixon, WR Tevin Reese, LB Eddie Lackey, DE Chris McAllister, LB Bryce Hager, K Aaron Jones

Key losses: WR Terrance Williams, QB Nick Florence, WR Lanear Sampson, S Mike Hicks, C Ivory Wade, DT Gary Mason Jr.

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Passing: Nick Florence (4,309 yards)
Rushing: Lache Seastrunk* (1,012 yards)
Receiving: Terrance Williams (1,832 yards)
Tackles: Bryce Hager* (124)
Sacks: Chris McAllister* (6)
Interceptions: Eddie Lackey* (4)

Spring answers:

1. Bryce is the guy. It was going to take a lot for Bryce Petty to lose his starting spot, but he looked like a guy who suited up for his fourth spring this year and cemented his status as the heir apparent to a crazy-good quarterback tradition under Art Briles. He'll follow Robert Griffin III and Florence, who both set school records for passing yards.

2. Defense changes its identity. The Bears didn't have a ton of speed in the secondary last season, and as a result, relied heavily on zone and didn't play a lot of tight coverage. To start fixing the problem, Dixon moved back to traditional safety, and as the defense's most physically skilled talent, that was a wise decision. Baylor wants to play more man and play tighter this year, and we'll see if it pays off in the fall.

3. Offense finds its playmakers. Williams is gone and so is Sampson, two of the team's top three receivers. Reese returns, but Antwan Goodley and Jay Lee emerged to win starting spots this spring, and both look like big-time targets for one of college football's best offenses. Count on those guys and Clay Fuller to keep the tradition going.

Fall questions

1. Can the defense prove itself? The Bears were definitely one of the best defenses in the Big 12 over the last month of the season. The same unit, however, was also a big reason why Baylor limped to an 0-5 start in conference 12 play before ripping off four wins to end the season. The defensive line should be improved and young talents like Javonte Magee and Shawn Oakman could make names for themselves this fall.

2. Is the offensive line deep enough? Baylor's history under Briles at this position makes me pretty confident, and the Bears have a solid starting five. But losing Troy Baker this spring is a big knock, and the Bears only had 10 healthy offensive linemen this spring. Come fall, more injuries could force the Bears to force inexperienced players into the rotation. This was probably the biggest concern for Briles all spring.

3. Just how good is Petty? He looks good for now, and was productive and impressive during the spring. That's also the spring. RG3 and Florence broke school records for passing yards in consecutive seasons, though, so the bar is sky-high. There's every reason to believe in Petty, but expectations are high and reaching them won't be easy. The good news is he has a huge talent in Seastrunk and a solid receiving corps around him to support his efforts.

Big shoes to fill: Baylor Bears

March, 7, 2013
3/07/13
9:00
AM CT
We're moving on with a new series today looking at the players across the Big 12 who have to replace program legends. We might as well call this the Nick Florence Memorial team, but today we'll tackle his old team, the Baylor Bears.

Big shoes to fill: Baylor's defensive tackles

We've talked about filling Florence's shoes, and even those left behind by Terrance Williams and Lanear Sampson. We're looking a little closer at Baylor today, and I'm staring right at the front of Baylor's defense. Both defensive tackles, Nick Johnson and Gary Mason Jr. are gone, and Baylor's left with a hole in the front of the defense that only about 600 pounds can fill.

Smart money is on rising sophomore reserves Beau Blackshear and Trevor Clemons-Valdez stepping up to replace Mason and Johnson. Clemons-Valdez made four starts a year ago and should be a strong replacement, and the duo combined to make 21 tackles a season ago, including a tackle for loss from Blackshear and a fumble recovery from Clemons-Valdez. Baylor's trying to build its defense, but if it starts getting gashed up front, any development elsewhere will ultimately be for naught. Filling those emptied spots is paramount this spring.

See more shoes to fill.

Video: Big 12 On the Spot, Week 4

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
2:03
PM CT

David Ubben says Baylor's defensive ends are on the spot this week against Louisiana-Monroe.

Fresh faces: Baylor Bears

August, 15, 2012
8/15/12
3:18
PM CT
Today begins a new look across the league at a couple players for each team who had low profiles last year, but you'd better get to know before 2012. They just may be household names by season's end.

Jordan Najvar, TE: Baylor's got lots of big-name talent at the skill positions, but Najvar gets no pub, despite landing on the league's preseason team at the tight end spot. The 6-foot-6, 260-pounder is a solid target, and caught 15 balls for 146 yards and two touchdowns. His old quarterback, Robert Griffin III, had a penchant for the deep ball and Najvar's not really going to stretch the field. New QB Nick Florence may be looking underneath a big more, and Najvar should reap some benefits.

Spencer Drango, LT: Drango didn't play in any games last year, but he broke out in spring camp to win the starting left tackle job and start making his impact as a high-profile recruit. What's his secret? How's this: He signed with Baylor as a 265-pound tackle, the nation's No. 14 prospect at the position. Today, he checks in at 310 pounds. That's quite the transformation. Baylor's better off for it.

Gary Mason Jr., DE: The Bears are missing most of their defensive line this year. Tackles Tracy Robertson and Nicolas Jean-Baptiste graduated and end Tevin Elliott is still suspended while the legal process surrounding a sexual assault charge plays out. Enter Mason. Baylor needs him to be big, and he may deliver in his third year as a starter. He made eight tackles for loss and had 2.5 sacks last season, but keep an eye on him in 2012.

Big 12 position rankings: Defensive lines

July, 21, 2011
7/21/11
11:43
AM CT
We've tackled every other spot, and now we'll wrap up out Big 12 position rankings with the defensive lines across the Big 12.

Here are the rest of the position rankings.
Now that we've finished ranking the complete units, we'll start ranking the top 10 at each position very soon leading into the 2011 season.

This is a decent position for the Big 12 this season, and the top half of the league should feel pretty good about their group. There aren't many studs in this group, but there are a whole lot of solid players.

Brad Madison
AP Photo/Pat SullivanMissouri has one of the Big 12's best pass rushers in Brad Madison.
1. Missouri -- Missouri has the Big 12's best returning pass rusher and a Defensive Player of the Year contender in Brad Madison, but its depth is what lands it on top of the list. Jacquies Smith is solid at the opposite defensive end spot, and Michael Sam and Kony Ealy provide great depth at DE. Dominique Hamilton's absence last season hurt after breaking his ankle against Oklahoma, but he's back, alongside Terrell Resonno. Sheldon Richardson, who may be transferring from junior college, is a wildcard that could be anywhere between a complete game changer, irrelevant or absent.

2. Oklahoma -- Oklahoma's defensive tackles are somewhat suspect, but the defensive end combo of Ronnell Lewis (provided he is eligible come fall camp) and Frank Alexander is on par with the best in the Big 12. Both were preseason All-Big 12 selections, but Jamarkus McFarland needs to make good on his potential. Stacy McGee and Casey Walker should both get time at the other tackle spot.

3. Texas -- Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is loaded with potential as the nation's former No. 1 recruit. He had a big impact early last season before being slowed by an ankle injury. Alex Okafor moved outside from defensive tackle just before spring and had five sacks in the spring game. Inside, Kheeston Randall is an All-Big 12 favorite, but Ashton Dorsey had a strong spring and could help out with Reggie Wilson opposite Randall.

4. Texas A&M -- The Aggies have one of the best linemen in the league in Tony Jerod-Eddie, but Jonathan Mathis, Eddie Brown Jr. and Ben Bass have a lot to prove around him after the loss of Lucas Patterson, who was outstanding in 2010.

5. Texas Tech -- Sam Fehoko has moved to defensive end from middle linebacker, and should provide some good speed to the front line. Scott Smith looked on his way to an All-Big 12 campaign last season, but was suspended for the remainder of the season by coach Tommy Tuberville and has yet to be officially reinstated. For now, Dartwan Bush and Aundrey Barr will help out at defensive end, outside of Donald Langley, Kerry Hyder and Pearlie Graves. The Red Raiders did snatch a big pickup from departed UNC signee Delvon Simmons, a defensive tackle that could have an impact immediately.

6. Oklahoma State -- Defensive line is the biggest weak spot for the Cowboys, who have a decent set of ends in Jamie Blatnick and former heralded recruit Richetti Jones, but an even bigger question mark at defensive tackle where Christian Littlehead and Nigel Nicholas enter fall camp as starters.

7. Kansas -- Top rusher turned defensive end Toben Opurum came on strong late last season and should be one of the most exciting Jayhawks to watch in 2011, but the rest of the line leaves a bit to be desired. Keba Agostino has the other starting spot at defensive end ahead of Pat Lewandowski, who had a great spring. Patrick Dorsey and John Williams enter fall camp as starters at defensive tackles.

8. Kansas State -- K-State recruited this position hard in its 2011 class. For now, defensive end Brandon Harold will try to bounce back from a disappointing 2010 after a promising 2009. Lance Dunbar and Taylor Martinez think this group is ranked too high, but Meshak Williams could start opposite Harold, while Ray Kibble and Raphael Guidry should be the tackles inside.

9. Baylor -- Tevin Elliott was limited this spring because of offseason shoulder surgery, and Terrance Lloyd exited spring practice as the starter, but I'd expect Elliott to regain the spot by the time the season arrives. Phil Taylor, a first-round pick, is a big loss, but Gary Mason Jr. will try to fill his spot next to Nicolas Jean-Baptiste.

10. Iowa State -- Having a pair of linebackers combine for 241 tackles is a good and bad thing. They've got outstanding linebackers, but the defensive line was the Big 12's worst last season for a unit that ranked 10th in rush defense and had just 11 sacks. That was the fewest sacks in the Big 12 and more than just three teams in all of college football. The good news is all four starters return, but for now, this is where the Cyclones start. Stephen Ruempolhamer has some promise, but Cleyon Laing, Jake McDonough and ends Patrick Neal and Roosevelt Maggitt have a lot to prove. Jacob Lattimer ran into offseason trouble, but re-appeared atop the depth chart released by the Cyclones on Wednesday.

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