Dallas Colleges: KD Cannon

Revisiting the Big 12's top 2014 signees

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
10:00
AM CT
The first Wednesday of February brings hope to every college football fan as the stars of the future sign on the dotted line, changing the destiny of their programs.

It’s easy to look at a recruiting class on paper and slot newcomers into need positions. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Now is a good team to revisit the Class of 2014 and see what “can’t miss” prospects fulfilled those expectations and which ones are still striving to meet those lofty projections.

Here’s a look at some of the Big 12’s most talked about signees a year ago and their impact, or lack thereof, on the Big 12 as true freshmen.

Baylor receiver KD Cannon: Cannon lived up to the hype. The No. 30 player in the 2014 ESPN 300 was the Big 12’s top-ranked recruit and one of the nation’s top freshmen. He looked every bit the five-star recruit he was laveled as, finishing with 50 receptions for 1,030 yards and eight touchdowns. He will enter his sophomore season as one of the Big 12’s most feared playmakers thanks to his blazing speed and sticky hands.

Iowa State receiver Allen Lazard: Another ESPN 300 receiver who lived up to the hype, Lazard was asked to help fill the void when the Cyclones lost Quenton Bundrage in their season opener. The No. 148 player in the 2014 class responded with 45 receptions for 593 yards and three touchdowns.

Kansas center Jacob Bragg: It wasn’t over the top to think that Bragg could slide right into Kansas' offensive line as one of two ESPN 300 signees for the Jayhawks. Yet three-star signee Junior Visalia was KU’s impact true freshman offensive lineman, starting the Jayhawks' final three games after Ngalu Fusimalohi was injured. Bragg redshirted but did impress during his redshirt season and could be poised to force his way into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman.

Kansas State defensive tackle Terrell Clinkscales: The lone Big 12 team without an ESPN 300 signee, the Wildcats did land four players on the ESPN JC 50, including Clinkscales. The junior college transfer was Bill Snyder’s only four-star signee but didn’t make much of an impact for the Wildcats. He finished with two tackles in eight games in 2014.

Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine: As crazy as it sounds, Perine wasn’t even the highest-ranked running back on the Sooners' signee list. Joe Mixon had that honor and looked ready to make an impact before an off-the-field incident took him out of the equation. Perine, who was creating a similar summer buzz, stepped right in to become the Big 12’s top freshman, set the FBS record for single-game rushing yards (427 against Kansas) and earned first-team All-Big 12 honors. The No. 220 player in the 2014 ESPN 300 finished with 1,713 rushing yards, 6.5 yards per carry and 21 touchdowns as a true freshman.

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph: His unique freshman season has been well-documented, as the Cowboys’ top-ranked signee went from redshirting to beating Oklahoma in Bedlam in a matter of weeks. Rudolph enters the spring as the Cowboys starting quarterback.

TCU running back Shaun Nixon: A preseason knee injury kept the No. 221 player in the 2014 ESPN 300 from having an impact as a true freshman.

Texas quarterback Jerrod Heard: It sure seemed like Heard was supposed to cure all ills at the quarterback position in Austin at this time a year ago. Now many people have already written him off after a redshirt season during his first fall on campus. The No. 149 player in the 2014 ESPN 300 still has the potential to be the answer behind center for UT, but the time is now for Heard to seize the opportunity to be a difference maker for the Longhorns.

Texas Tech cornerback Nigel Bethel II: The Red Raiders lone ESPN 300 signee, Bethel made an impact as a true freshman after missing the first three games due to suspension. The Florida native started seven games during his debut season, finishing with 41 tackles and six pass breakups in nine games. Bethel should be even better as a sophomore.

West Virginia safety Dravon Henry: The ESPN 300 safety was a starter from day one for the Mountaineers. Henry had 45 tackles and two interceptions in 13 games for WVU as a true freshman and should be a key contributor in the secondary in 2015 and beyond. The No. 140 player in the 2014 ESPN 300 has the versatility to expand his role in the defense as a sophomore.

Rewind: Baylor 61, TCU 58

December, 3, 2014
12/03/14
2:00
PM CT
Baylor 61. TCU 58. It happened. It still matters. The Big 12's unofficial conference championship game, played on Oct. 11, might not end up settling the College Football Playoff debate as a title tiebreaker or head-to-head hammer to the No. 3 Frogs' hopes. In the totality of these two teams' résumés, evidently the committee values this one as just one game.

Still, what a phenomenal game it was. The first-ever Big 12 game at McLane Stadium was a four-hour shootout between two evenly matched teams with all the traits of an instant classic. Here are 10 lessons learned after a thorough re-watch of the Big 12's best game of 2014.

1. Admiring the instant comeback. Months later, Baylor’s successful 21-point rally in less than seven game minutes remains an astonishing feat. Bryce Petty had fans exiting with 11 minutes left after his pick-six to TCU's Marcus Mallet put the Bears in a three-score hole. “I was pissed,” Petty said this week, “but there was never a thought of, ‘I just lost us this game.’ I wanted the ball back.” He immediately engineered an unfathomable offensive run: 14 plays, 228 yards, 21 points in three minutes, 21 seconds. Per ESPN Stats & Information, TCU’s likelihood of winning after the Mallet pick-six was 98 percent. We witnessed the not-so-impossible 2 percent.

2. Count those turning points. Close games usually get decided by four or five plays. This one might've had a dozen game-changers. Ever since TCU jumped ahead 14-0, handing Baylor its first deficit of the season, the twists and turns were constant. A 90-yard scoring drive to put TCU up 21-10? Nobody remembers that. KD Cannon’s 64-yard touchdown, capped by a stiff-arm, makes it 21-21? No big deal. B.J. Catalon took the ensuing kickoff to the house. Petty’s first INT, David Porter's near touchdown and countless other plays might’ve swung a more ordinary game.

3. TCU led for 80 percent of the game. A total of 48:01, in fact, of the game’s 60 minutes. The Frogs led for 160 plays against a foe that, again, had never trailed. Against Baylor, TCU never trailed until the final play of the game. Say what you want about game control measurements and their meaningfulness. In a matchup of two top-10 teams, controlling a game that long is significant.

4. It was like playing us.’ That’s what Baylor DC Phil Bennett said this week, when reflecting on the challenge TCU presented. The new-look Frogs took such a similar approach to this game, particularly with deep shots and gutsy big plays. The best pass of the night was receiver Cameron Echols-Luper chucking the ball to end the third quarter that soared 55 yards and right into B.J. Catalon’s hands. The Bears matched those big plays by the day’s end, with these teams combining for 41 plays of 10-plus yards. The influence of aggression was everywhere.

5. The Big 12’s great QB battle. Petty put up career-high passing numbers, but he also pressed and was pressured throughout. What remains a mystery is just how injured Trevone Boykin was during the game. The injury to his non-throwing wrist was revealed days after the Baylor game. For a 119-point game, neither QB was as unstoppable as you'd expect.

6. Three the easiest way. With 8 seconds left in the first half, a deep snap soaring over punter Ethan Perry’s head nearly cost TCU its lead. Shawn Oakman, all 6-foot-9 of him, chased and fell on the ball with 2 seconds left. TCU got lucky, in a way, because Oakman could’ve tapped the ball to one of three oncoming teammates. Nobody stood in their way of a TD. But the big man set Chris Callahan up for an easy 29-yard field goal to make it 31-27. Those three points paid off in the end, didn’t they?

7. Shock, awe up the middle. The secret key to the comeback? Baylor running back Shock Linwood and his five linemen. Linwood, once a Horned Frogs commit, pounded the middle of the TCU defense for 113 rushing yards on 13 fourth-quarter runs, repeatedly busting through well-cleared lanes to set Art Briles and Petty up for ideal passing downs. As that game wore on, TCU couldn’t get him down.

8. Frogs get tired. These teams combined for 198 offensive snaps, including 103 pass attempts. TCU cornerback Kevin White said Tuesday he knows that workload played a role in the Frogs’ failures late. “We were both going fast. A lot of deep balls, a lot of guys tired by the end of that game,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of football. I’ve never felt like that after a game as far as being exhausted and tired.”

9. ‘No mas.’ TCU’s back and forth over going for it on fourth down is still a little baffling. With 1:20 left in a 58-58 game, the Frogs quickly lined up and punted on fourth-and-8 while the Bears were still substituting players. That drew a 5-yard penalty for fourth-and-3. Patterson sent out his offense, then called a timeout. Then he sent out his punting team. Then he called another timeout. Back came the offense. “He went no mas, all or nothing,” Bennett said. The DC blitzed six when TCU finally ran its fourth-down play. Had Boykin waited a second, he had B.J. Catalon open on an out along the sideline. But the call was a lob and fade to Josh Doctson. The result? A low-percentage throw, an incompletion and a chance for Baylor's offense to start at its 45 with 77 seconds left and a win in sight.

10. Patterson right about PI, not ending. Patterson recently offered USA Today the following take: “It still really came down to two pass interference penalties; one that didn’t get called and one that did.” His complaint is fair. Officials didn’t call PI on Ryan Reid for his physical fourth-down coverage of Doctson. They had no business calling one on Corry O’Meally's third-down coverage of BU’s Levi Norwood five plays later. That flag set Callahan up for the game-winner. In a rollercoaster four-hour battle, blaming the result on one flag or no-call makes little sense. Baylor won 61-58 because, after nearly 200 plays of pure craziness, the Bears made the last one count.

Big 12 players in Week 7 spotlight

October, 9, 2014
10/09/14
3:00
PM CT
Last week, Brandon Chatmon correctly predicted big games for Baylor's offensive line, TCU receiver Kolby Listenbee (103 receiving yards) and Iowa State cornerback Nigel Tribune (one interception). Who could be due for a breakout game in Week 7? Here are nine players to keep an eye on Saturday.

Baylor WR KD Cannon: He was killer in non-conference play, but now that the veterans are back his targets are down considerably. He played an insignificant role last week -- one catch, 8 yards -- and Baylor did not hit the game-changing deep bombs against Texas. The Bears will need to find better ways to free up Cannon in space and let him do his thing.

Iowa State TE E.J. Bibbs: The breakthrough finally came last week for Bibbs, who caught two touchdowns in the second half against Oklahoma State. Against a Toledo defense that ranks fourth-worst in FBS in pass defense, he should feast.

Kansas QB Michael Cummings: It's possible the Jayhawks stick with Montell Cozart this week, but now that the quarterback position is an open competition again, what is Cummings capable of? A week of preparation knowing that he could start should help, and he did better things in the pass game during his second-half audition last week than Cozart has. Let's see what the guy can do if he gets his chance.

Oklahoma offensive line: Two things Texas' defense does best: Sacks and takeaways. At a time when Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight's play is being called into question, it's going to be on his big boys up front to protect him and reduce the pressure he will face in a crazy Cotton Bowl atmosphere. Plus, if the weather forecast holds true and we get some rain on Saturday, this line has to create push for Oklahoma's run game in what could be a sloppy brawl.

Oklahoma State CB Kevin Peterson: Whoever is playing quarterback at Kansas (and the Pokes could see all three), the Cowboys' secondary should be in for some fun. Peterson has just one interception this season, but should get a chance to snag at least one pass forced Nick Harwell's way.

TCU RB B.J. Catalon: His final stats against Oklahoma were relatively modest, but Catalon is a guy who can burn you as a rusher, receiver and returner. He snuck behind the Sooners' defense for a wide-open, 39-yard touchdown reception last week, ran another TD in and went 30 yards on TCU's trick play kick return. Don't be surprised if he finds the end zone a few more times this week.

Texas LB Steve Edmond: He is coming off probably the finest performance of his career, a team-high 17 tackles and two sacks against Baylor, and he is earning major praise from Charlie Strong and his teammates for all the extra film work he's putting in during the week. Edmond was asked to do a lot against the Bears, and he will be just as responsible this week against Oklahoma's tough power run game.

Texas Tech RB DeAndre Washington: The Red Raiders completely abandoned the run last week, giving just one carry to a running back in the second half against Kansas State. And it didn't go to Washington, either. Tech needs to keep this game close enough that it can have a lot more balance offensively, and Washington needs to make a dent with his first-half opportunities.

West Virginia CB Daryl Worley: Well, how much rust should we expect? Worley is coming back from a two-game suspension and has some catching up to do. Now that he has been reinstated, West Virginia has arguably its best defender back just in time to help shut down Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez. He should get tested often on Saturday.

Texas 'trash' talk a sign of Baylor's ascent

October, 1, 2014
10/01/14
8:30
AM CT
WACO, Texas -- Goliath wasn't the one slinging stones. Nor had he much need for trash talk.

That's what makes the blossoming feud between Baylor and Texas so bemusing. Who would've ever thought the once-powerless Bears could someday provoke contempt from these once-gigantic Longhorns?

Their relationship has never felt more different than in 2014. David is faster and more confident than ever, his arsenal of weapons expanded well beyond the slingshot. Goliath, well, he's working through some issues right now.

Baylor players got heated in April when Texas linebacker Steve Edmond, in relatively unprovoked fashion, declared: "I really don't like Baylor. I still think they're trash." This week, when Texas receiver John Harris made a similarly dismissive comment, those players couldn't help but laugh.

"It's a sign of something…I just can't put my finger on it," Baylor lineman Pat Colbert said.

It's mostly disrespect. Texas players see no reason to bow down to the Big 12 champions in advance of their rematch on Saturday in Austin. No. 7 Baylor has beat the Longhorns three of the last four years, but can't quite seem to humble them.

If the Bears expect deference, they're looking in the wrong place.

"They're still Baylor," Harris said Monday. "Just because they started playing better in this era, that's good for them. We're still Texas."

Baylor coach Art Briles didn't quite know how to respond to that statement on Monday.

"I mean, what am I supposed to say?" Briles said. "We're still Baylor, TCU is still TCU, Oklahoma is still Oklahoma. I'm not sure what it means."

Why'd Harris say it? He was asked if Baylor was snatching control of the state of Texas away from his program. Briles says he doesn't look at things that way, that this is a "week-to-week business."

But anyone suggesting Baylor is still Baylor hasn't been paying too much attention, including to the scoreboard, over these past few seasons.

"We're a completely different team than we were five years ago," Bears linebacker Bryce Hager said. "We're a nationally contending team. Eventually, people are just going to have to accept it."

When Edmond's comments hit Twitter, Colbert was one of the first to react, vowing that the Bears would "kick our feet straight through his teeth AGAIN!!" Fellow lineman Troy Baker posted a photo of their Big 12 title trophy with the caption, "I love this trash too."

When asked Tuesday how he'd respond to being called trash, Colbert paused before offering: "You're trash for saying that."

Edmond has spoken to reporters just once since his post-spring game smack talk. When asked if he wanted to say anything more on the subject, he quickly said no. Teammate Quandre Diggs joked this summer that Edmond's comments weren't surprising because, simply put, he's gonna say what's on his mind.

"Steve is country. That's just how it is," Diggs said. "When you're raised in the country, you don't really care. You don't care about hurting people's feelings."

What made Edmond's diss so silly is the fact he didn't even play against Baylor last season while recovering from a lacerated liver. He'll get a chance to back up (or pay for) his words on Saturday.

"We'll keep an eye out for him," Colbert said.

Baylor receiver KD Cannon said he considers Texas' disrespect a sign of weakness. The freshman star, who did turn down an offer from UT, noticed Monday that Diggs said he'd never heard Baylor considers itself "Wide Receiver U."

"Texas is going to be Texas," Cannon said. "They have a good program. It's just trash talk. It's just something we've got to shut up."

There's a little more to the "trash" talk, too: Remember, Texas and Baylor were tied 3-3 at halftime last December. The Big 12 trophy and a Fiesta Bowl trip were on the line. And Texas flopped in the second half, getting outscored 27-7 and walking off the Floyd Casey Stadium field in silence as Baylor fans filled the field.

"It still haunts us that we were 30 minutes away from winning a Big 12 championship," Texas defensive end Cedric Reed said.

That heartbreak was the true source of Edmond's negativity and the reason why this bickering began. But if Texas can't appreciate the all-time high Baylor is riding right now, that's just fine with the Bears. They'd rather come down to Texas' house on Saturday and prove their point there.

"Of course they're not going to like us," Colbert said. "We're winning. They're down. We're up. We'll get ‘em back."

Big 12 bye-week blueprint

September, 17, 2014
9/17/14
1:45
PM CT
With six Big 12 teams having this weekend off, now is a good time to take stock of what's working and what isn't after Week 3. What are these six teams happy with and what still needs to get fixed? Here's a closer look:

Baylor
Next game:
Sept. 27 at Iowa State
What's working: Pretty much everything. Baylor's offense kept rolling even when Bryce Petty was sidelined, the run game broke in new toys in Johnny Jefferson and Silas Nacita, KD Cannon became a national phenom in three weeks and the defense ranks top five nationally in scoring, total defense, yards per play and run defense to go along with an FBS-high 15 sacks.
What needs work: This is welcomed recovery time for a team that got the injury bug in fall camp. Petty is 100 percent now and excited to get go-to target Antwan Goodley (quad) and receivers Corey Coleman (hamstring) and Clay Fuller (collar bone) back on the field. The Bears will likely get running back Devin Chafin (high ankle sprain) back in time to travel to Ames, too. With the exception of Levi Norwood, they'll have the full arsenal back in time for Big 12 play.

Iowa State
Next game:
Sept. 27 vs. Baylor
What's working: The Cyclones go into the week off riding an emotional high they aim to turn into momentum. Their 20-17 upset of Iowa provided so many encouraging signs. Quarterback Sam B. Richardson had arguably the best game of his career, the defense came up with its first takeaway in a big moment and we saw another impressive performance from Cory Morrissey. Paul Rhoads is a happy camper after the rivalry win, and ISU avoided an 0-3 start in dramatic fashion.
What needs work: A game plan for slowing down Baylor will be the main focus this week. ISU has a few injury issues of its own, but the good news is Jarvis West should be OK. Rhoads is focusing in on a four-week, four-game stretch in which the Clones take on Baylor, Oklahoma State, Toledo and Texas. After a win this good, there's always another upset to chase.

Oklahoma State
Next game:
Sept. 25 vs. Texas Tech
What's working: The youth and inexperience Oklahoma State has on paper is not showing on the field. The Pokes haven't slipped since losing J.W. Walsh, they gave Florida State a tough four-quarter ballgame, they won with relative ease after that and they have entered the Top 25. Thsi is not a perfect team yet but is a rising one that's going to scare a lot of teams in conference play.
What needs work: Facing Tech will give OSU a much better sense of how good its defense can be in 2014 after a nice showing in nonconference play. Gundy wants to see more depth develop in the back seven, and on offense he's expressed concerns about blocking the run game.

TCU
Next game:
Sept. 27 at SMU
What's working: The offensive transition has been smooth and effective. TCU has averaged 39 points and 491 yards per game with its new Air Raid, and Trevone Boykin has been everything the coaches hoped for -- and maybe a little more. The defense hasn't taken a step back without Devonte Fields and has seen several players step up their games up front. Smooth sailing so far for a team that definitely looks bowl-bound again.
What needs work: TCU's pass defense ranks No. 6 in FBS, but Gary Patterson has said he still wants to make some fixes in pass coverage. They'll devote the required amount of time on SMU, a struggling team led by an interim coach and a third-string quarterback, but the Frogs know they need to work ahead a little on Oklahoma and Baylor, including preparing for the 3-4 fronts of the Sooners' defense.

Texas
Next game:
Sept. 27 at Kansas
What's working: Despite taking two losses, this defense is playing at a high level with a top-20 yards-per-play rate, a top-15 pass defense and 13 sacks. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown looks like a potential All-American so far. Tyrone Swoopes is taking steps in the right direction and shined at times against UCLA, while John Harris has finally emerged as a go-to receiver.
What needs work: Where to begin? Texas' patchwork offensive line hasn't gelled and desperately needs these two weeks. The Longhorns need suspended WR/RB Daje Johnson back and need a healthy Desmond Jackson (ankle). Cedric Reed was better against UCLA but hasn't broken out yet. And Charlie Strong needs to start coming up with plans for stopping Baylor and Oklahoma or else this team could start 2-4.

Texas Tech
Next game:
Sept. 25 at Oklahoma State
What's working: Tech is getting nice production in the run game from DeAndre Washington and Justin Stockton and in the pass game from Bradley Marquez and Jakeem Grant. Offensive line play has improved and Tech hasn't given up a sack. Its pass defense ranks 11th nationally, which is probably misleading.
What needs work: Run defense, penalties, tackling, Davis Webb's consistency -- lots of fundamental issues here that are starting to cause concern. Webb seemed to be forcing throws against Arkansas and will need to put in some time this week to clean up concerns about his footwork and decision-making. And that porous run defense has to get cleaned up quick because opponents will keep attacking it hard over the next month.

Future is now for Baylor's Hall, Cannon

September, 12, 2014
9/12/14
9:30
AM CT
KD Cannon was caught off guard.

“KD!” said Baylor coach Art Briles.

“What?” came the response from the freshman receiver.

“Go in!”

[+] EnlargeK.D. Cannon
Tony Gutierrez/Associated PressFreshman wide receiver KD Cannon has been off to the races for Baylor, averaging 35.3 yards per catch.
Seconds later, Cannon was on the field in the first game of his collegiate career.

What happened next wasn’t even a dream come true, as Cannon streaked past the SMU defense for a 46-yard touchdown on his first catch in a Baylor uniform.

“I wasn’t expecting to get the ball,” Cannon said. “I thought I’d work my way in, but he was like, ‘High-low go.’ I was like, ‘That’s me!’

“It’s something I couldn’t even have dreamed of. It felt great scoring on your first play.”

Welcome to Baylor, where Briles runs a program that consistently takes the approach, “Why do something later when we can do it now?” It applies to the Bears' use of freshmen and their approach to every season, and it can be found at the foundation of the mindset that has helped the program rise to prominence in the Big 12.

The sequence that led to Cannon’s first college touchdown catch is a perfect example. Injuries during the Bears' first two games have thrust Cannon and fellow freshman Davion Hall among the team's leading receivers.

With All-Big 12 receiver Antwan Goodley, Clay Fuller and Levi Norwood on the shelf with various injuries, Briles and Baylor didn't hesitate to turn to their true freshmen to help fill the void. The future became the present and they’ve performed like savvy veterans, not newcomers suiting up for the first time. Cannon has eight receptions for a Big 12-best 282 yards and four touchdowns, while Hall has a team-high 11 receptions for 164 yards and a score of his own.

“It just affirmed what we felt like we knew coming in -- both those guys are really good football players that are ready for prime time,” Briles said of his freshman receiving duo. “A lot of time it transfers from high school to college, college to the NFL. A great player in high school is going to be a great player in college, and eventually the NFL.”

Since last year's deep threat, four-year standout Tevin Reese, no longer calls Waco, Texas, home, Cannon has been an exceptional deep threat while averaging 35.3 yards per reception. He gives defenders fits with his acceleration and top-end speed.

“We're always going to have a guy that can stretch the field, or try to,” Briles said. “And when you get more than one, which is what we're on the verge of developing right now, that's when you really have a chance. Because if you've got one guy, they'll put a guy over the top of him. If you've got more than one, then they can't do that.”

Hall hasn’t proven to be the consistent deep threat that Cannon is but has shown signs he could become a dependable third-down target, with six of his 11 receptions coming on third down. He’s also shown he can be a deep threat when called upon, with his lone touchdown coming on a 57-yard bomb from Seth Russell against Northwestern State last weekend.

The thought of Briles adding more speed, versatility and youth to his receiving corps should make Big 12 defensive coordinators shudder. Yet it isn't these traits that Briles likes most about his freshman receiving duo.

“They’re serious about being good football players,” Briles said. “That’s what I like about them; they want to be good.

“All they’ve done is come out and made plays. First in practice, now in games.”

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 2

September, 7, 2014
9/07/14
9:00
AM CT
Here's our weekly shout-out to the Big 12's top performers on Saturday. As usual, the choices are never easy but the honorees are always deserving. And our sincere apologies go out to Texas Tech, whose game at UTEP had not ended when the stickers were digitally passed out.

WR KD Cannon, Baylor: "He's a freak! He's the fastest kid alive!" A line from the great "Superbad" seems fitting for this youngster after his jaw-dropping first-quarter exploits against Northwestern State. Cannon finished with six catches for 223 yards and three touchdowns -- the first three of the night for fill-in QB Seth Russell -- and made the Bears quickly forget their four "best" receivers are all injured during a 70-6 win against Northwestern State. And that's his first career start. Scary to think about how good he might be a year from now -- or a week from now when Petty's back.

QB Jake Waters, Kansas State: When the Wildcats badly needed to rally at Iowa State, their quarterback dug deep. With the frequent help of Tyler Lockett, Waters threw for 239 yards and added a career-best 138 rushing yards, including the game-winner from 8 yards out, to help KSU score the game’s final 19 points and survive in Ames, 32-28.

WR Jarvis West, Iowa State: What can’t this guy do? West finished with 75 yards and a touchdown as a receiver, had an 82-yard punt return TD and stunned the K-State defense with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Allen Lazard off a double reverse.

QB Daxx Garman, Oklahoma State: Thrust in to the lineup in the first quarter after a J.W. Walsh injury, Garman opened some eyes in a 40-23 win over Missouri State. In the first game of his college career, the junior threw for 244 yards and two TDs. No word on how long Walsh is out, but at least OSU knows what they have now in their backup.

LB Geneo Grissom, Oklahoma: We always love a big-man touchdown, and Grissom provided for the second time in his career. The converted defensive end (and ex-tight end) plucked a Tulsa pass out of the air and dashed 38 yards for the score during the Sooners' 52-7 victory. He’s one of the more underrated pieces of this Sooner D, but he makes plays.

WR Nick Harwell, Kansas: Dang, this was a good week for receivers. Harwell beat out several big-time players because, in addition to his two touchdown catches in the Miami (Ohio) transfer's Jayhawk debut, he also fell on top of an onside kick to save the day for KU in a 34-28 win over Southeast Missouri State. He made life much easier for Montell Cozart, and we're going to be hearing a lot more from Harwell as this season goes on.

2014 Big 12 recruiting draft: Round 1

May, 8, 2014
5/08/14
3:00
PM CT
The NFL draft gets underway in a matter of hours so we decided to have a little fun on the Big 12 blog today.

The premise: What could things be like if college football, and the Big 12 in particular, acquired players via a draft instead of recruiting?

Therefore, this afternoon we’ll be posting a three-round Big 12 draft. Any recruit who signed with a Big 12 school is eligible to be drafted and the draft order reflects the 2013 final standings. Jake Trotter will draft for Iowa State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Max Olson will draft for Baylor, TCU and Texas. Brandon Chatmon will draft for Kansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas State.

Without further ado, let’s kick the draft off with Round 1:

1. Kansas: QB Jerrod Heard
Signed with: Texas
Brandon Chatmon: The Jayhawks need a playmaker at the quarterback position, and Heard is the best quarterback who will enter the Big 12 this season, in my opinion. He’s a dual-threat quarterback and the perfect guy to rebuild the Jayhawks offense around.

2. Iowa State: S Steven Parker II
Signed with: Oklahoma
Jake Trotter: With Jacques Washington and Deon Broomfield both gone off last season's team, the Cyclones need a new anchor at the back end of their defense they can rebuild around. Cornerback Nigel Tribune (who started in 2013 as a freshman) and Parker would give Iowa State one of the best young defensive back combinations in the league.

3. West Virginia: QB William Crest
Signed with: West Virginia
Chatmon: Ironically, I think Crest is the ideal fit for West Virginia and coach Dana Holgorsen. Crest could have the highest upside of any Big 12 quarterback signee, and his athleticism could take Holgorsen’s offense to another level. Oklahoma signee Justice Hansen was strongly considered, but Crest gets the nod due to his upside.

4. TCU: ATH Davion Hall
Signed with: Baylor
Max Olson: The Horned Frogs get the second-highest rated Big 12 signee and a player who has the potential to not only contribute immediately, but he also addresses a need no matter what position he plays. At TCU, Hall would get a chance to become the playmaker the Frogs' new offense needs if Brandon Carter can't play, and he'd even be able to help a secondary missing Jason Verrett from the safety spot. Considering Gary Patterson's reputation for maximizing the potential of versatile athletes, it's a good fit.

5. Texas Tech: RB Tyreek Hill
Signed with: Oklahoma State
Trotter: With Kenny Williams now plying his craft at linebacker, the Red Raiders need help at running back. With his hands and unmatched speed, Hill would be the perfect fit in the backfield alongside DeAndre Washington. Because of his ability to slide over to the slot, Tech could line up in five wide sets, too, without having to substitute with Hill on the field. Hill would also alleviate Tech's problems returning punts, and with Jakeem Grant and Reginald Davis manning kicks, the Red Raiders would be a constant threat for a big play on special teams.

6. Kansas State: RB Joe Mixon
Signed with: Oklahoma
Chatmon: The Wildcats need a running back to ensure balance in an offense that features quarterback Jake Waters and receiver Tyler Lockett. Mixon would bring balance with his running ability and versatility with his receiving skills, thus allowing him to be a three-down threat for the Wildcats offense.

7. Texas: QB Mason Rudolph
Signed with: Oklahoma State
Olson: It's tempting to go with the Longhorns' top-rated signee, DE Derick Roberson, at this spot. But with Heard already off the board, the safe move here is probably Rudolph. The 6-foot-4 pocket passer might be a really good fit for what Shawn Watson wants in his future QBs, and Rudolph did receive an offer from Louisville during his recruiting process. Charlie Strong is a defensive-minded coach, no doubt, but hard to think he'd pass up a chance to address Texas' obvious issues at quarterback with this very talented one.

8. Oklahoma State: WR K.D. Cannon
Signed with: Baylor
Trotter: Cannon doesn't fill a position of need for the Cowboys, but as the top-rated Big 12 signee of this class, he's too talented of a player to pass up. The Oklahoma State offense has a strong track of producing first-round wideouts (Rashaun Woods, Dez Bryant, Justin Blackmon). Cannon would have the skill set to become the next star.

9. Oklahoma: CB Nigel Bethel II
Signed with: Texas Tech
Chatmon: Speed. Speed. And more speed. Bethel would bring much-needed speed to the Sooners secondary that needs someone to fill the void left by two-time All-Big 12 cornerback Aaron Colvin. Bethel recently won a few Florida state titles in track and would step right into the competition for playing time in the secondary.

10. Baylor: ATH Michiah Quick
Signed with: Oklahoma
Olson: Tough call with this pick. You can talk yourself into a few other touted wideouts. You can go in several different directions if you want to address needs. But we'll settle for speed and upside, two traits the Bears obviously covet. ESPN scouts loved Quick for his versatility as a WR and CB. They called him "an explosive jet of a weapon." Sounds like the kind of kid Baylor would have some fun with, right?

Poll: Big 12's best offensive unit?

May, 8, 2014
5/08/14
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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?

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    19%
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    24%
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    16%
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    19%
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    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?

Signing day: Big 12 wrapup

February, 5, 2014
2/05/14
9:52
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As hectic of a day as it was, national signing day was a success for all Big 12 programs. Coaches were up early manning their fax machines and showing excitement with every national letter of intent submitted via fax.

Nearly 250 football players signed letters of intent to play Big 12 football on Wednesday. Here are five of the biggest storylines -- and a bonus storyline that could have an ending Thursday -- from the conference.

Oklahoma takes over top spot in Big 12

In the past 48 hours, everything seemed to go Oklahoma’s way.

[+] EnlargeMichiah Quick
Courtesy of Nike ESPN 300 ATH Michiah Quick was a big part of Oklahoma's final rush, a rush that gave the Sooners the top class in the Big 12.
After getting a Tuesday commitment from ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker II (Jenks, Okla./Jenks), the Sooners got Wednesday pledges from ESPN 300 athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East) and high three-star offensive tackles Kenyon Frison (West Valley City, Utah/Granger) and Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge).

All four players were a part of Oklahoma’s signing class of 26 on Wednesday -- helping the Sooners take over the top spot in the Big 12 class rankings. Oklahoma’s class is No. 13 nationally, three spots better than previous top dog Texas.

Oklahoma in previous years has been very good at finishing strong in recruiting. It managed to sign Frison, who committed to Utah last February before decommitting last month, as well as Brown, who had been committed to Tennessee since May before making an 11th-hour change.

Strong, Longhorns get their DTs

New Texas coach Charlie Strong wanted two players he recruited to play at Louisville, and by Wednesday afternoon, he had them.

ESPN 300 defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) and three-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian Academy) signed with the Longhorns and were two of 23 to submit national letters of intent. They also helped erase the sting of the Longhorns losing three four-star defensive tackle commitments in LSU signee Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren), Oklahoma signee Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) and Texas A&M signee Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) last month.

Collectively, Ford and Nelson recorded 235 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 35 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles. The duo also had 37.5 tackles for loss.

Receivers ‘No. 1’ to Baylor coach

Baylor coach Art Briles made a bold statement about his new wide receivers -- one that might be challenged by some but co-signed by others.

“The thing that we feel really good about,” Briles said, “is that we've signed the No. 1 receiving class in America -- I don't think that's up for debate.”

Briles has an argument with four ESPN 300 receivers in K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), Ishmael Zamora (Houston/Alief Elsik) and Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis). The quartet helped to give Baylor a top-25 national recruiting class.

Rhoads fired up about lone in-state signee

To say Paul Rhoads is excited about his top-ranked signee, ESPN 300 wide receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale) is an understatement.

While Rhoads is pumped about the entire class, there’s something special about Lazard, as he is this year’s only in-state signee. Lazard, No. 148 in the ESPN 300, had opportunities to sign with other programs, but he chose to honor his original commitment and also follow the footsteps of his father Kevin Lazard, who played in the secondary for the Cyclones in the early 1990s.

“This is a young man who has gotten phenomenal national attention and was recruited by the traditional historical programs in college football and kept on turning them away to stay true to his word to be an Iowa State Cyclone,” Rhoads said in a statement of Lazard, the No. 2 prospect out of the state of Iowa behind Alabama offensive lineman signee Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls).

West Virginia adds depth in class

Adding depth was the objective for West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, as he signed 22 players on Wednesday. Holgorsen was fortunate to add depth from coast to coast.

Of the 22 commits, only one -- three-star offensive tackle Amanii Brown (Morgantown, W.Va./Morgantown) -- is an in-state signee. The Mountaineers hit points all over the Lower 48, from California to Texas to Florida, to get players who can be contributors early and help the program return to star status.

West Virginia’s class is led by five ESPN 300 players. Running back Donte Thomas-Williams (Durham, N.C./Hillside), the class’ top-ranked player, was the last to commit early Wednesday afternoon. He joins defensive back Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) and receivers Lamar Parker (Miami/Booker T. Washington) and Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) in the class.

Bonus: Could the Sooners add one more?

LSU signed 22 players on Wednesday. The Tigers were hoping to sign 23.

Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass) has been verbally committed to LSU since July, but the ESPN 300 defensive end also has high interest in Oklahoma. There were conflicting reports on Wednesday regarding whether Clark actually signed and submitted his letter of intent to LSU.

ESPN’s David Ching said an LSU spokesperson confirmed the letter of intent was at LSU and cleared compliance. Outside reports, however, say Clark did not submit the letter of intent, and a tweet from Clark's Twitter account said that “nothing is final.” His mother Dorshell also told The Oklahoman that her son “has not signed with LSU.”

Oklahoma City schools were closed on Wednesday because of bad weather, so Clark didn’t fax anything by way of Douglass High School. He is expected to announce his final decision on Thursday.

If it's true that Clark has not signed with LSU, look for Oklahoma to be a key player in his final decision. Ranked No. 273 in the ESPN 300, Clark has built a great relationship with the Sooners' coaching staff, particularly defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.

Chat wrap: Tech recruiting, K.D. Cannon

February, 5, 2014
2/05/14
5:30
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Sorry for the technical difficulties, you can find my full chat transcript here. If you have any additional questions, feel free to email me at bchatmonespn@gmail.com.

Cully_Ross (Atlanta, Ga) Did Charlie Strong's firm stance on turning the players commitment and behavior off the field negatively effect his ability to bring in Top talent, or did he just not have the resource or draw to bring them in the first place?

Brandon Chatmon I don't think so. You can't expect things to happen that quickly in recruiting. He had two, three weeks? It's not realistic to judge anything about Charlie Strong's Texas program off what has happened on the recruiting trail in the past few weeks

Jeremy (Arkansas) Is this the best class Mike Gundy has had?

Brandon Chatmon I don't think so. Sounds like you're underrating some past classes. But I think Oklahoma State has more talent on campus right now than ever before and I think this class will upgrade it even more

Justin (Oklahoma ) Which is more ridiculous National Recruiting Rankings or Preseason Polls?

Brandon Chatmon Not a huge fan of either. But I think there is more validity to recruiting rankings

Charles Knowlton (Waco) Do you think K.D. Cannon will play a role in the Bears offense this upcoming season, or will he have to work his way up and wait his turn behind the returning veteran receivers?

Brandon Chatmon Yes. too talented to keep on the sidelines, no matter who is already on campus.

Jon (Santa Fe) With TTU grabbing a couple recruits from the SEC and ACC's backyard, do you see Tech trying to form a pipeline to this area? And is this smart, or should we be looking to recruit guys a little closer to home? And how about our JUCO signees from the Cali area, could we see that trickle down to the highschool level?

Brandon Chatmon Really like what Kingsbury has done. I wouldn't say a pipeline could or should be developed but I fully agree that Texas Tech should cherry pick hidden gems in SEC, ACC and PAC 12 country. So many impact guys can be under the noses of local schools and go unnoticed. Really smart recruiting approach from the Red Raiders in my opinion.

Key recruiting visits -- Big 12 

January, 17, 2014
1/17/14
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The dead period is over, and official visits are set. The next three weekends will be huge for players as they look to finalize their college plans.

Here are 10 names to watch as they take their official visits to Big 12 schools. The names are in alphabetical order.

Big 12 recruiting storylines: Dec. 12 

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
2:00
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With the high school playoffs coming to an end and junior college bowl games behind us, it’s time for many athletes to put recruiting back in the forefront. Several athletes are either in the middle of finishing up their official visit schedules, or they’re in the right mindset to make the big announcement that will shape their lives for the next few years.

Here are some attractive storylines in the Big 12:

Four-star DT still tight with Texas?

This weekend marks the big banquet weekend for Texas, an important event when many commits come to Austin and several targets look to take official visit. With Mack Brown expected to announce his resignation very soon, this weekend could also serve as a time to keep an eye out for Texas commits who choose to reopen their recruiting because of Brown’s departure.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
8:00
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Texas Tech and West Virginia each scored verbal commitments from athletes in the 2014 class, and in case you didn’t get the memo: Texas is relevant again. Wins tend to make people forget the immediate past.

There were several other updates from Big 12 programs from the weekend, including one 2015 athlete landing his third Big 12 offer. Here are some of the highlights:


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Big 12 recruiting mailbag

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
10:00
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This week’s Big 12 recruiting mailbag focuses on Baylor’s offensive success, Kansas’ progress in recruiting, the status of an ESPN Junior 300 player and more. 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 @InTheNameOfBU: Do you see Baylor sustaining their success in offense for quite a while? If so, why? #AskBig12

As long as head coach Art Briles, offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery and passing game coordinator/offensive recruiting coordinator Kendal Briles stick around, Baylor shouldn’t have any problems offensively. It’s really scary to think that Wofford -- and not a school like West Virginia -- has held Baylor to its lowest point total -- 69. The Bears have all kinds of offensive weapons now with quarterback Bryce Petty, running backs Lache Seastrunk and Shock Linwood and receivers Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese, and if they sign committed ESPN 300 players in receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), expect more of the same in the next couple of years.

From @Roberrttthom: How much do you think the early offer for 2015 DT Marquise Overton helps OK State's chances to land him?

In speaking with Overton, I know that he’s very appreciative of the Oklahoma State offer. However, I can’t say that it’s his absolute favorite right now. Reason being, he truly doesn’t has a favorite right now. The ESPN Junior 300 defensive tackle has additional offers from Baylor, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Oregon State and others, and all schools are in the running. Overton did say that he really likes Oklahoma State. The team is playing well right now, and it’s close to his home in Jenks, Okla. Keep an eye on how the 6-foot-1, 301-pound tackle gauges his schools of interest.

From @cr93ia: Any update on the buzz post Rhoads’ postgame press conference and just in general? #AskBig12

If you’re the Texas Longhorns, you’re not listening; you’re celebrating a win. If you’re pro-Paul Rhoads, you’re probably still a little upset about what happened last week. There’s nothing that can be done now, but Rhoads will have his Cyclones amped up for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech. Recruiting-wise, a few players are still eyeing every move Iowa State makes. The Cyclones have offered players like ESPN 300 defensive end Dewayne Hendrix (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon), ESPN 300 outside linebacker Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central), four-star outside linebacker Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter), and they’re hoping to land at least one of these targets.

From @ttoulouse94: Any word on #KU making progress with WR or O-line prospects?

Recruiting with Kansas can be seen in two ways: Either a recruit will give the program the side eye for its subpar play, or a recruit will look at the subpar play as an opportunity to see immediate playing time. The Jayhawks are hoping to land three-star athlete Darious Crawley (Houston/Cypress Ridge), who can play receiver at the next level. As for the offensive line, Kansas will be looking in the junior college ranks for right-now type of players. Juco linemen Avery Gennesy (Southaven, Miss./East Mississippi Community College), Luke Hayes (El Dorado, Kan./Butler Community College) and David Hedelin (San Francisco/City College of San Francisco) all have Kansas offers.

From @KookanHere: #askbig12 Will Dana Holgorsen be the head coach of WVU next season?

West Virginia is 3-3 on the season. Just because the Mountaineers were rolled by Baylor doesn’t mean Holgorsen’s job is in jeopardy. Baylor has put up huge points against everybody. Holgorsen will be back next season to coach his new recruits in receivers Lamar Parker (Miami/Booker T. Washington), Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) and outside linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) -- all ESPN 300 prospects. If Holgorsen is lucky, he also will be coaching ESPN 300 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), who is strongly considering the Mountaineers.

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