Dallas Colleges: Ian Sadler

Poll: Big 12's best offensive unit?

May, 8, 2014
May 8
10:30
AM CT
For the past two weeks, we’ve been ranking the best units in the Big 12 by position.

Now, in our weekly poll, we’re asking for your opinion: Who has the league’s best offensive unit regardless of position?

We’re going to exclude the quarterback position, since that’s more about one player than the collective strength of an entire unit.

Sorry, Bryce Petty.

SportsNation

Who has the Big 12's best overall offensive positional unit?

  •  
    19%
  •  
    24%
  •  
    16%
  •  
    19%
  •  
    22%

Discuss (Total votes: 5,751)

Petty’s receivers at Baylor, though, have a strong claim as the best offensive unit in the league. The Bears return four players who finished with at least 30 receptions last season, including Antwan Goodley, who produced 71 catches for 1,339 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013. Baylor will also be adding arguably the deepest and most talented signing class at the position in the country, headlined by ESPN 300 receiver K.D. Cannon.

The Bears, however, aren’t the only ones loaded at receiver.

Texas Tech features the dynamic receiving trio of Jakeem Grant, Bradley Marquez and Reginald Davis, who combined for four touchdowns in the National University Holiday Bowl win over Arizona State. D.J. Polite-Bray emerged over the spring as a downfield burner on the outside. The Red Raiders have also added their top overall recruit from last year to the rotation in Devin Lauderdale, who was forced to attend junior college for a year after failing to initially qualify. Four-star slot receivers Byron Daniels and Ian Sadler will be joining the squad in the summer.

As deep as the Bears and Red Raiders are at receiver, there might not be a positional group in the Big 12 as deep as West Virginia’s running backs.

In their backfield, the Mountaineers have Dreamius Smith (the No. 1 juco back in 2013), Wendell Smallwood (who played as a true freshman), Rushel Shell (who before transferring in from Pitt, set Pennsylvania’s state high school career rushing record), Andrew Buie (the team’s leading rusher from 2012) and Dustin Garrison, the team’s leading rusher from 2011 who had a tremendous spring following a string of injuries the previous three seasons. If that weren’t enough, four-star signee Donte Thomas-Williams will be arriving in Morgantown this summer.

While not as deep, Texas’ three-headed monster in the backfield is more proven than West Virginia’s, though not without questions. Johnathan Gray is coming off an Achilles injury, and Joe Bergeron was barred from the team during the spring due to academics. But when together and healthy, the threesome of Malcolm Brown, Gray (both All-Big 12-caliber runners) and Bergeron is as fearsome as any in the country.

Last fall, the Texas backs ran behind the most experienced offensive line in the Big 12. This season, that distinction belongs to the Sooners, whose offensive line unit caps the poll.

All told, Oklahoma boasts 107 career starts along its offensive line, headlined by senior tackle Daryl Williams and guard Adam Shead, who have been starting since their redshirt freshman seasons. Guard/center Nila Kasitati and tackle Tyrus Thompson are also returning starters on an offense that placed second in the Big 12 in rushing last season.

So who does have the best offensive unit in the Big 12?

Baylor's or Texas Tech’s wide receivers? West Virginia's or Texas’ running backs? Or Oklahoma’s offensive line?
With spring ball done, we’re re-examining and re-ranking the positional situations of every Big 12 team, continuing Friday with special teams. These outlooks will probably look different in August. But here’s how we see them post-spring:

1. TCU (pre-spring ranking: 1): The Horned Frogs’ coverage units were pretty lousy last year. If they can shore those up, this could be an elite special-teams unit with kicker Jaden Oberkrom, punter Ethan Perry and returners B.J. Catalon and Cameron Echols-Luper.

2. Kansas State (3): Freshman Judah Jones, who was one of the stars of the spring game with a 51-yard touchdown catch, fielded kickoffs, too. Cornerback Morgan Burns also added a 39-yard kickoff return. They could take some pressure off Tyler Lockett in the return game and also him to get a breather when needed.

3. Baylor (2): The return units are going to be spectacular, and Spencer Roth is one of the best punters in the nation. But field-goal kicking is an unknown. Freshman Chris Callahan has taken over for now as the team’s kicker, but missed one chip shot badly in the spring game. Callahan could be fine. But as Oklahoma State found out last year, rolling with a first-time kicker can be dicey.

[+] EnlargeMichael Hunnicutt
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsMichael Hunnicutt has the ability to become Oklahoma's first All-America kicker.
4. Oklahoma (5): Place-kicker Michael Hunnicutt (Moneycutt?) nailed field goals of 52 and 47 yards during a windy spring game. Amazingly, the Sooners have never had an All-America kicker. Hunnicutt has the potential to be the first.

5. West Virginia (7): Josh Lambert created plenty of buzz this spring, including his 53-yard field goal in the spring game. Mario Alford also took the opening kick in the spring game to the house. Punter Nick O’Toole is a proven commodity. If Lambert has a big sophomore year (he was really good as a freshman) and Alford’s TD is a sign of improvement in the return units, which ranked last in the Big 12 last year, this could become one of the league’s better special-teams units.

6. Texas Tech (4): The Red Raiders continued to have issues fielding punts during the spring, which is probably one reason why the return slots were left blank in the team’s post-spring depth chart. Incoming freshman Ian Sadler, who had six return touchdowns during his senior season of high school, could solidify that spot once he arrives on campus.

7. Iowa State (6): Sophomore kicker Cole Netten showed off his big leg in the spring game by making a 56-yard field goal. That came after coach Paul Rhoads gave him a shot at a 62-yard attempt. Netten, combined with the dynamic return trio of Jarvis West, DeVondrick Nealy and Aaron Wimberly, should translate into a strong special-teams unit. If incoming freshman Colin Downing can adequately step in at punter, the unit will be even stronger.

8. Texas (8): Nick Rose showed a strong leg on a missed 55-yard field goal try in the spring game and converted a 40-yarder. William Russ averaged 43.3 yards per punt in the spring game. Those were positive signs, but replacing All-American kicker/punter Anthony Fera will be one of the underrated storylines in Charlie Strong’s first season.

9: Oklahoma State (10): With so much turnover on both sides of the ball, the Cowboys need their special teams to be much better than last season. They just might be, though. With his speed, Tyreek Hill will be a major factor in the return game. Also, place-kicker Ben Grogan, after a shaky freshman season, drew praise for his improvement this spring from coach Mike Gundy.

10. Kansas (9): Special teams did not excel in Kansas’ spring game. Matthew Wyman made a 23-yard field goal but missed an extra point. The punting in the game was mediocre as well. The Jayhawks reportedly have preferred walk-on John Duvic enrolling this summer. After setting the Illinois state high school record with five field goals in a game, he could be a welcomed addition.
In today's mailbag, we discuss Iowa State's offensive potential, Texas Tech's defensive potential and OU's potential to run the table. There's also major disagreement about which schools I'm actually a homer for.

To the 'bag:

Rusty in Denver writes: Thanks for totaling the position rankings at the end last week. I thought that was a good summary. I do think you missed out on two key aspects for the coming season: schedule and coaching. As a K-State fan, I would push us up for the coaching staff, but take us back down for our schedule. Thoughts?

Trotter: Glad you enjoyed the series, Rusty. But I wasn’t trying to predict records, which obviously coaching and schedule play a big part into. I only wanted to focus on the position groups, and where every team stood relative to the rest of the league. When we try to predict how each team will finish in the league down the line, coaching and schedule obviously will be factored in.


Bryan in Norman, Okla., writes: What do you think of OU’s chances of running the table this year?

Trotter: OU could be favored in every game on its schedule, which obviously would give them a decent chance of running the regular-season table. But the Sooners also have a recent history of dropping games as double-digit favorites, as well (TCU ’05, Colorado ’07, BYU ’09, Texas Tech ’11, Texas ’13). This has a chance to be OU’s best team since 2008. And they are a legitimate threat to make the College Football Playoff. But they won’t get there unless they can avoid the double-digit land mine.


Justin in West Des Moines, Iowa, writes: Am I the only Cyclones fan here that is not sold on Grant Rohach and this "dangerous" wide receiving group with Quenton Bundrage, Allen Lazard and E.J. Bibbs that everyone is hyped about? Not to discredit those three, but isn't this just a replay of what we saw near the end of the 2012 season when Sam Richardson replaced good ol' Steele Jantz and torched Kansas and nearly beat West Virginia? I agree, those three are going to be great targets for Rohach, but they're going to be making him look much better than what I've seen so far. I still feel like to get to the next level (more than 6-7 wins), ISU still needs more than what Rohach can provide.

Trotter: I disagree with your put down of the Iowa State WR corps. Bundrage has proven he can make big plays, Lazard was one of the top-rated WR recruits in the country and Bibbs is the Big 12’s best returning receiving tight end. But the point about the QBs is very valid. Iowa State always seems to find its answer at QB at the end of a season, only to restart its search the next. I don’t know if Rohach is the answer. Maybe he is. Or maybe it’s a healthy Richardson. Or perhaps it’s Joel Lanning. Whoever it is, that quarterback will have some weapons to work with next season. The key will be finding -- and sticking with -- that right quarterback.


Crews in Tyler, Texas, writes: Is there any way possible that Texas Tech's defense is underrated going into next season? Even with a ton of new starters, how much does playing in the same system/coaching staff from the previous season help?

Trotter: Well, there’s no doubt that getting through that first year in coordinator Matt Wallerstedt’s 3-4 scheme is going to help. But I don’t know that I’d term the Tech defense underrated at this point. The Red Raiders gave up 41 points or more in their final four regular-season games, and while the Holiday Bowl showing was impressive, losing the likes of Kerry Hyder, Dartwan Bush, Will Smith, Terrance Bullitt, Tre' Porter and Bruce Jones is going to hurt. I do like the potential athleticism of this defense, though. And they do have the chance to surprise, particularly if some of the juco transfers up front pan out.


Joshua Parsons in Lubbock, Texas, writes: Which freshman will have the biggest impact for this upcoming season for the Red Raiders?

Trotter: It’s possible receivers Ian Sadler or Byron Daniels work their way into the rotation, but I think cornerback Nigel Bethel II will make the biggest impact. The Red Raiders just don’t have a corner on their roster with the speed or playmaking potential of Bethel. He might not start right way, but he will play. And ultimately he will end up starting, perhaps sooner rather than later.


Cliff W. in Madison, W. Va., writes: I heard rumors that Shelton Gibson was an academic non-qualifier this spring -- is there any truth to it? It may be old news but I'm an underground coal miner and I don't get much time to keep myself updated about the drama up in Morgantown.

Trotter: Basically, Gibson was a partial qualifier last season, which means he can’t join the team in an official capacity until this summer. Ultimately, since Gibson redshirted, it won’t matter much. Provided he keeps his grades up, he will still have four years of eligibility left once he joins the team.

Big 12 class rankings analysis 

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
2:00
PM CT


The momentum train continues to roll right along in Lubbock, Texas, where first-year Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury has the Red Raiders off to a 4-0 start.

Their winning ways have benefited their recruiting efforts, too, as they have the No. 31 class overall in the latest ESPN RecruitingNation class rankings and have picked up three commitments in the last two weeks.

If they are to jump any of their conference foes in the rankings, it will have to be another week since there wasn’t any movement with the Big 12 schools.

Texas continues to lead the way with the No. 7 class, followed by Baylor at No. 17, Oklahoma at No. 22, Oklahoma State at No. 29 and West Virginia at No. 40.

Big 12 recruiting mailbag

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
11:00
AM CT
This week’s Big 12 mailbag focuses on Texas Tech’s class and underrated prospects committed and uncommitted to conference schools. It also discusses some of the tangibles seen from coaches in a Big 12 wide receiver. We encourage all to send questions each week, either via Twitter to @DamonSayles or @ESPNWilkerson or by email at dsaylesespn@gmail.com or wilkerson.espn@gmail.com.

From @taylormidkiff: Who is the most underrated prospect that a Big 12 team will end up getting?

I think that can be answered in two ways. There are a few underrated prospects already committed to a Big 12 program, but running back Traevohn Wrench (Gardner, Kan./Gardner-Edgerton) will be one to watch next year at Kansas. Wrench has been a 2,000-yard back since his sophomore year and is on pace to pass Bubba Starling this season for career rushing yards at the high school. As for the uncommitted underrated prospects of the world, if wide receiver Del’Michael High (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) can get things right academically, he will be every bit as good as any of the ESPN 300 receivers, top to bottom. High, at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, does so much on raw talent alone; coaching from the Big 12 level could make him an all-conference player as a sophomore.

[+] EnlargeNick Watkins
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins is still wide open in his recruiting which could help some Big 12 teams.
From PJ Worthen: What are the chances Tech finishes with a top 25 class? After getting Connor Wilson to flip his commit, is Sam Sizelove to follow? What big name recruits have Tech on their radar? Thanks for the time, I enjoy your work!

Thanks for the comments, first of all. Texas Tech is ranked No. 31 in the latest ESPN class rankings. The Red Raiders will need a couple of ESPN 300 commits -- or see some of the teams ahead of it lose some big-name pledges -- to crack the top 25. Texas Tech has 20 commits, which means there’s still room to land some highly ranked players. If the Red Raiders can continue to stay undefeated, they might turn the heads of players still wide open in the process -- such as ESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne), four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter) and high three-star safety Payton Hendrix (Dallas/Bishop Dunne). As for Sizelove (Argyle, Texas/Argyle), he’s said on multiple occasions that he’s still solid with Kansas State -- but the idea of playing with high school teammates Wilson and four-star receiver Ian Sadler is very intriguing.

From @bryantwing: Does Texas have a legitimate chance of reviving their season and win the Big 12? Why or why not?

The losses to BYU and Ole Miss will be short-lived if the Longhorns can score a win against Oklahoma on Oct. 12. The Red River Rivalry is considered by some as the end-all, be-all for Texas’ season. Currently, the Longhorns are undefeated in Big 12 play, and if they can beat the Sooners, they will have the confidence to take out anyone in the conference. If they take a bad loss to Oklahoma, questions about beating TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor will begin to spread.

From @dmiller37: Do you see RB/WR Justyn Oliphant (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) fitting into a Big 12 program and which one?

Through four games, Oliphant has 49 rushes for 286 yards. He’s still looking for his first offer, but his seven touchdowns show he can get the job done when his number’s called. He’s not the biggest player at 5-8 and 170 pounds, but he has similar physical qualities as Iowa State running back James White. Although the Cyclones have two big, three-star backs committed in 6-0, 196-pound Tommy Mister (Chicago/St. Rita) and 6-0, 200-pound Martinez Syria (Houston/Nimitz), Oliphant would make for a nice change-of-pace back for the program, someone who also can line up as a slot receiver.

From @AdidasKing5: What kind of receivers fit in well in the big 12

In short, coaches want playmakers. They want receivers who specialize in results. Size, speed and agility preferences differ with every coach, but all coaches will agree that they want a reliable option to the passing game and someone who scores touchdowns or puts them in great position to score, runs great routes and won’t drop passes. Coaches want receivers who will make the lives of opposing defensive backs miserable. There’s still time for uncommitted receivers to make a name for themselves, but the window closes each week.

From @cody_winning: Which Big 12 team is performing the best in terms of recruiting nationally?

If you’re talking about how teams are performing on the field with past recruits, you’ve got to look at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys look really good right now, but Baylor is looking equally dangerous. Both have solid 2014 classes that will only enhance what’s been done. As for the Big 12 team with the top 2014 recruiting class, you have to look at the Texas Longhorns. With seven ESPN 300 commits, the Longhorns have a top-10 class, and they could land one or two more big names. Defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) and safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie), two ESPN 300 players, are among the players still very high on Texas.

Official Visit: Recruiters flocking to Texas DBs

May, 2, 2013
5/02/13
12:00
PM CT


ESPN Midlands recruiting coordinator Damon Sayles stops by to talk about Josh Pelzel's commitment to Baylor, the strong crop of defensive backs in the state of Texas, and a small Texas high school that's providing several Big 12 recruits.

SPONSORED HEADLINES