You already know all about young bucks like Samaje Perine, Mason Rudolph, Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield, so we will spare you the more obvious rising stars of the Big 12. Instead, here’s a closer look at 10 underclassmen worth watching in 2015.
Baylor WR Davion Hall: When you are as stacked at receiver as Baylor was last season, somebody is bound to be the odd man out. Once Big 12 play got going, that was Hall. The true freshman put up 13 catches for 192 yards and a touchdown in non-conference play, but caught two balls the rest of the season. Departing seniors Antwan Goodley, Levi Norwood and Clay Fuller accounted for one-third of all Baylor completions. Hall’s share should be going up soon.
Iowa State OT Jake Campos: We haven’t forgotten about Allen Lazard, Kamari Cotton-Moya or the rest of the young Cyclones. But Campos deserves credit. He was thrown into a tough spot, forced to fill in as a starter for 11 games this season because of injuries. Asking a redshirt freshman to handle right tackle and then moving him to left tackle is quite a challenge, and Campos handled it as best he could. The experience will help in 2015.
Kansas LB Kyron Watson: It’s easy to trust the guy Ben Heeney has selected as his successor. The top backup at middle linebacker this season, Watson played in 11 games as a reserve and on special teams. Heeney took the former top-150 recruit under his wing last season and taught him plenty. You can’t teach Watson’s athleticism. Watch out for him.
Kansas State LB Elijah Lee: He wowed right away for K-State as a true freshman, racking up a KSU freshman record 4.5 sacks. Along the way, he steadily worked to prove he’s ready to be an every-down player. Lee’s athleticism and maturity make him a major asset, and one of the league’s better young defenders.
Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon: No Big 12 underclassman will face more attention and scrutiny in 2015, right? Mixon is on track to be reinstated after his season-long suspension. He has maintained good behavior and is out to prove he deserved his second chance. He’s also a terrific fit for Lincoln Riley’s offensive scheme. Mixon’s return could give Oklahoma one of the best running back groups in the nation.
Oklahoma State WR James Washington: A great off-the-radar discovery for Mike Gundy’s staff, Washington was an unknown true freshman from a tiny Texas town who just so happened to lead the Pokes with six touchdown receptions. The small speedster recorded eight catches of 20-plus yards and will keep growing into a big-play threat.
TCU CB Ranthony Texada: Starting a redshirt freshman at cornerback in this conference? Good luck with that. Texada acquitted himself well in his debut season, breaking up seven passes and picking one off as defenses attacked him to avoid Kevin White. There will be some fresh faces in this TCU secondary, making his play in 2015 even more important.
Texas WR Armanti Foreman: It only took a few catches to prove he’s one of Texas’ most explosive playmakers. As a true freshman, Foreman hauled in a 45-yard score at Oklahoma State and took a screen pass to the house for a 73-yard touchdown against TCU. His role the rest of the season was inconsistent, but perhaps playing for new receivers coach Jay Norvell -- who heavily recruited Foreman while at Oklahoma -- will solve that problem.
Texas Tech LB Mike Mitchell: Now this guy is exciting. The Ohio State transfer sat out the 2014 season after redshirting at OSU in 2013. Mitchell, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound sophomore, has worked at inside and outside linebacker in Tech practices and promises to be a game-changer no matter where he lines up. In fact, he’ll be one of the Red Raiders’ best defensive players in 2015.
West Virginia QB William Crest Jr.: There is reason Crest has been getting admiringly called "Little Geno" for a while now. He has a big arm and big potential, which we didn’t see much of in 2014. A shoulder injury suffered in his debut against Towson led to a medical redshirt. Crest should be OK for spring ball and might be the Mountaineers’ quarterback of the future.