Dallas Colleges: Lane Taylor

Oklahoma State Cowboys spring wrap

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
10:30
AM CT
2012 record: 8-5
2012 Big 12 record: 5-4
Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners: QB Clint Chelf, WR Josh Stewart, CB Justin Gilbert, LB Shaun Lewis, LB Caleb Lavey, WR Blake Jackson, DT Calvin Barnett, S Daytawion Lowe, DE Tyler Johnson

Key losses: RB Joseph Randle, LB Alex Elkins, K/P/KOS Quinn Sharp, CB Brodrick Brown, DE Nigel Nicholas, WR Isaiah Anderson

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Passing: Clint Chelf* (1,588 yards)
Rushing: Joseph Randle (1,417 yards)
Receiving: Josh Stewart* (1,210 yards)
Tackles: Alex Elkins, Daytawion Lowe* (75)
Sacks: Tyler Johnson* (4)
Interceptions: Lyndell Johnson*, Daytawion Lowe*, Shamiel Gary* (2)

Spring answers

1. The defense's intentions are clear. Bill Young is out. Glenn Spencer is in, and he's all about playing aggressive. Tight coverage and blitzes are the name of the game, and we'll see if it pays off in a Big 12 lacking in quarterback experience. Last season, OSU's parade of turnovers came to an end, but Spencer seems intent on bringing it back. Nobody's stopping Big 12 offenses, but forcing turnover and holding teams to three in the red zone are how you succeed on defense in this league.

2. The offensive line is set ... for now. Center Evan Epstein and guard Lane Taylor are gone, but the Pokes are going with youth at left tackle in sophomore Devin Davis, moving last year's left tackle, Parker Graham, to left guard. Meanwhile, junior Jake Jenkins is sliding up to take Epstein's spot at center. That's how it ended in the spring, but OL coach Joe Wickline is kind of unpredictable, so those guys better continue to bring it in fall camp.

3. Athletic director Mike Holder is still running the show. Gundy and Holder had a disagreement on scheduling that nearly ended with Gundy packing his bags to succeed Derek Dooley in Knoxville. But Gundy's displeasure with Holder helping schedule Mississippi State this year and Florida State next year -- both on neutral fields -- hasn't changed much. OSU just announced a future home-and-home with Boise State. Who knows what Boise will look like then, but the intent is clear: Holder wants attention-grabbing, money-making games to start the season, not home games against patsies to help OSU run up an easy 3-0 mark before conference play begins.

Fall questions

1. Seriously, what's the deal at quarterback? Chelf is the safe bet at quarterback, but Gundy reneged on a statement midway through spring that he would hold onto his starting spot in Week 1 ahead of J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt. Now, Gundy says the starter for Game 1 hasn't been decided, and quarterbacks are off limits to the media with no updates being given until after the season opener. We'll see if Gundy sticks to it, and if Chelf hangs onto the starting job he earned with strong play to close 2012.

2. Is Oklahoma State a new Big 12 power? The Pokes broke through and won a title in 2011, but one title doesn't mean anything in the big picture. OSU is in position to win another and just may be the league favorite to start the season. They are in my book for sure. Two Big 12 titles in three seasons? That's serious, and the Pokes have a chance to do some special things this season.

3. Is Mike Yurcich the next super coordinator at OSU? Mike Gundy's been a head coach less than a decade, but his coaching tree is already way underrated. He's churning out head coaches year after year, highlighted by guys like Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia, Larry Fedora at North Carolina and Tim Beckman at Illinois. Todd Monken just left for Southern Miss, and if Yurcich, who stepped into the new role from a Division II school, keeps the pace for this offense, I'm betting he may attract interest before too long, too. Watching how he handles Year 1 will be interesting. Monken came from being an NFL position coach and made parlaying that into a head coaching job look easy.

Catching up with the Big 12 free agents

April, 29, 2013
4/29/13
11:30
AM CT
More than 250 players were drafted over the weekend, but not everyone who plans on playing in the NFL made it happen.

Minicamps aren't far away, but players can sign with teams as soon as the draft ends. Many did over the weekend. Here's a look at the Big 12's notable signings.
A few thoughts:
  • Collin Klein is the obvious headliner on this list, and I'm torn on him. On the one hand, there's nothing like playing quarterback, and that's the position he wants to play and loves to play. On the other, he hasn't looked like an NFL passer at any point in his career, and he did his future career a disservice by not letting scouts get a look at him at receiver or tight end. He's a big body and an athletic, tough guy. If he wants to play quarterback and only quarterback, then fine. That's up to him. If he really is open to doing something else at the next level, he should have done more work at other positions. I don't see him making an NFL roster as a quarterback.
  • Safeties Tony Jefferson and Cody Davis should definitely make their respective rosters, however, and I'll be intrigued to see what Jefferson looks like and says once he's in camp. He sounded pretty salty on Twitter over the weekend. "I can't even attempt to express how I feel right now. Y'all really don't know how hurt/confused I am!" he tweeted. "Y'all don't even understand the fire inside of me man." Him going undrafted was definitely the most shocking Big 12 development of the draft for me, but he'll have a whole lot of motivation and a lot to prove.
  • I have to think Jake Knott would have gotten drafted if not for his shoulder surgery and being limited in workouts for NFL teams. He makes his name on his smarts, instincts and toughness because he lacks speed and a ton of agility, but being banged up and not testing well certainly didn't bode well for him in the immediate future. Mildly surprised that somebody didn't start drooling over his game tape and take a shot on him in the sixth or seventh round.
  • First guy in this group to get paid big soon? My money is on Quinn Sharp, the do-everything special teamer.
  • Very surprised to see Darrin Moore and Meshak Williams go unsigned so far. Moore is physically gifted, but lacked production and didn't make a team fall in love with him. Williams, though? I get that he's not exactly ideal size, but for his effort and production, how does some team not at least bring him into minicamp? That's just insane.
  • Watching the Big 12 quarterbacks is always interesting. Doege didn't have great arm strength, but had solid accuracy. Crist had the big arm, but his decision-making and accuracy were lacking. We'll see if either of those guys can make a splash with a fresh start in a new spot.
  • One final thought: If I have to hear the phrase "chip on their shoulder" another time in the next week, I'm going to lose it. For the record, if you really did have one, I'm fairly certain that's something that would require surgery.

Randle, Brown make waves at pro days

March, 13, 2013
3/13/13
12:04
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Joseph Randle couldn't have been happy with his 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, posting a disappointing 4.63 time that raised a few eyebrows about the two-time 1,000-yard rusher for Oklahoma State.

He changed a bit of that as the main attraction at the Cowboys' pro day Tuesday, posting a much-improved time of 4.51 seconds that puts him right back in mix for running backs in terms of speed. Only five backs at the combine were faster. A thumb injury kept Randle from bench-pressing in front of scouts from 25 NFL teams in attendance in Stillwater, but he did a great job erasing the biggest question mark that surfaced at the combine.

Randle's clearly faster than a 4.63 guy, so his new time seems like a more accurate reflection of what we saw on the field the past three seasons.

Kansas State also held its pro day Tuesday, but it was closed to media and no official results were released. Linebacker Arthur Brown was the main attraction, reportedly recording 21 reps on the 225-pound bench press clocking somewhere in the 4.5-4.6 range on his 40-time, validating his status as one of the draft's top linebackers. He sat out workouts at the combine because of a shoulder injury.

Back at Oklahoma State, offensive lineman Lane Taylor definitely drew some attention Tuesday after posting 31 reps on the 225-pound bench press. Despite being a two-time All-Big 12 talent, Taylor didn't earn an invite to the combine, but his performance on the bench would have been good for seventh among all prospects at the event in Indianapolis last month.

The Pokes weren't short on surprises, too. Hubert Anyiam, the team's leading receiver in 2010, showed up to work out after not catching on with a team in the NFL last season while also battling an ankle injury, but All-Everything special-teamer Quinn Sharp (and the lone specialist I've ever named to my top-25 players list) shanked a pair of kickoffs and missed three consecutive kicks from 45 yards.

Last season, Sharp was 7-of-10 from beyond 40 yards and 19-of-19 from inside 40 yards. He obviously wasn't happy with the performance, but especially for a kicker, his outrageous numbers from the past two seasons will mean a whole lot more than one rough day. I don't know about Sharp's chances to get drafted, but I'd be shocked if he didn't get a real chance in somebody's camp next fall.

The All-Big 12 Bowl Team

January, 10, 2013
1/10/13
11:00
AM CT
The Big 12 had nine teams in bowl games this season, and here is the best of the best in the Big 12's postseason. Let's get to it.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsDavid Ash's big plays fueled Texas' comeback against Oregon State.
QB: David Ash, Texas: He edges out Clint Chelf because of his game-changing plays in the Longhorns' win against Oregon State. Ash had the best play of the entire bowl season with a crazy escape and acrobatic touchdown pass to Johnathan Gray, and he hit Marquise Goodwin on a 36-yard bomb to put the Longhorns ahead in the final minutes. He finished 21-of-33 with 241 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 22 yards and a score.

RB: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor: Seastrunk helped Baylor rout UCLA with 138 yards and a score on 16 carries in the Bears' Holiday Bowl win.

RB: Glasco Martin IV, Baylor: How many rushers did the Big 12 have this bowl season who had at least 95 yards? Two, and both played for Baylor. Martin scored three touchdowns in the Holiday Bowl and carried the ball 21 times for 98 yards. Heck of a night for the Bears backs.

WR: Darrin Moore, Texas Tech: Moore was the most consistent receiver in the bowl season with 11 catches for 84 yards, keeping the chains moving for the Red Raiders in their Meineke Car Care Bowl win against Minnesota.

WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia: Despite playing in a snowstorm, Bailey had the best performance of any Big 12 receiver. He caught eight balls for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It wasn't enough to get the Pinstripe Bowl win, but no other Mountaineer scored a touchdown.

WR: Marquise Goodwin, Texas: The track star's touches were limited, but he had a huge impact. His 36-yard grab with 2:24 to play proved to be the game winner, and he finished with four catches for 68 yards. He also had one carry -- which he turned into a 64-yard touchdown, looking as fast as any player in college football while streaking to the end zone.

TE: Ernst Brun Jr., Iowa State: Brun caught four passes for 102 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown, to get the first-quarter party started for the Cyclones, which scored 17 points in the quarter. The rest of the game was forgettable, but Brun had one of the longest plays of Iowa State's season.

OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor: The Bears' left guard was a big reason why Baylor had so much success running the ball. Baylor racked up 306 yards on the ground against UCLA.

OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State: Purdue's Kawann Short is a stud and arguably the team's best player, but Taylor helped Oklahoma State rack up 58 points and helped hold the Boilermakers defensive tackle to just one tackle and one sack. Short had minimal impact throughout the game.

OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders ran the ball well -- on the few occasions they did -- and Seth Doege had plenty of time. Waddle was a big reason why for both.

OL: Lane Johnson, Oklahoma: Texas A&M wrecking ball Damontre Moore declared for the NFL draft before the Cotton Bowl, but credit Johnson at tackle, who helped hold him to five tackles, one tackle for loss and zero sacks, despite Landry Jones throwing 48 passes.

OL: Ivory Wade, Baylor: Those 306 yards rushing for the Bears didn't come easy. Most of them came on the interior, and Wade was a solid presence in the middle of the line.

DEFENSE

DL: Chris McAllister, Baylor: He was one of a handful of guys to hold UCLA's Johnathan Franklin to 34 yards on 14 carries, had five tackles, including two sacks, and batted down a pass to help keep UCLA's passing game grounded.

DL: Alex Okafor, Texas: Okafor is my defensive MVP of the Big 12 bowl season. He gave Oregon State's offensive line nightmares and helped the Longhorns stage a late comeback with 4.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and eight stops. He also forced a fumble.

DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State: The Wildcats had a rough night against Oregon, but Williams played pretty well with nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

DL: Terrance Lloyd, Baylor: Lloyd was part of the Baylor gang who helped UCLA have its worst running game of the season. He had four tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack. No zone read for you.

LB: Terence Garvin, West Virginia: Garvin was everywhere for the West Virginia defense, which largely struggled in a blowout loss to Syracuse. He forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, broke up a pass, had two sacks, made three tackles for loss and had 15 tackles.

LB: Tyler Johnson, Oklahoma State: Johnson blew up what Purdue likes to refer to as its "passing game." He made six tackles, had two sacks and forced two fumbles, including a huge hit on Purdue quarterback Robert Marve.

LB: Eddie Lackey, Baylor: Lackey was another part of Baylor's defense that put together one of its best games of the season. He made 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and five tackles.

DB: Jason Verrett, TCU: Most of Michigan State's night was frustrating in the passing game before some late success, and Verrett was a big reason for those struggles. He broke up two passes, made a tackle for loss and had 12 tackles.

DB: D.J. Johnson, Texas Tech: Johnson made 14 tackles and is on this team for one of the biggest plays of Texas Tech's season. The defense hadn't forced a turnover since Oct. 20, but Johnson picked off a Gophers pass in the final minute with Minnesota driving and the game tied. He returned it 39 yards, helping to set up the winning field goal as time expired.

DB: Jeremy Reeves, Iowa State: Reeves returned a Cody Green interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of the Liberty Bowl loss. He had six tackles with a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

DB: Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State: No second-half comebacks for Purdue. Lowe opened the half with a 37-yard fumble return for a score and made seven tackles with half a tackle for loss.

SPECIALISTS

KR: Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech: This one is pretty simple. Grant returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score, giving Texas Tech a 7-3 lead early in the first quarter of its Meineke Car Care Bowl win.

PR: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State: Purdue faked a punt to keep its opening drive alive but punted on its next set of downs. The always-shifty Stewart delivered a 64-yard punt return, giving Oklahoma State the ball on the Purdue 19-yard line. The Cowboys scored for a 7-0 lead to kick off the Heart of Dallas Bowl rout.

K: Jaden Oberkrom, TCU: He edges out Texas Tech's Ryan Bustin, who kicked a 28-yard winner, for making all three of his attempts, including a crazy 53-yarder for a 16-14 lead with 2:42 to play. He also made kicks of 47 and 31 yards.

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State: He narrowly edges out Oklahoma's Tress Way (five punts, three inside 20, long of 58 yards, average 49.4 yards) for this award after pinning Purdue inside its 20-yard line on two of his three punts. He boomed a 65-yarder and averaged nearly 53 yards on his three punts. He was more valuable for Oklahoma State because field position mattered to Purdue. It didn't to Texas A&M.

Preseason All-Big 12 checkup: Offense

December, 26, 2012
12/26/12
1:00
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It's always fun looking back on what we thought in the preseason, and today, we'll take another look.

Here's who made the postseason team.

How did our All-Big 12 preseason team stack up at season's end?

QB: Geno Smith, West Virginia

Smith lost his spot to Collin Klein, but still had a solid season worthy of All-Big 12 honors in most seasons. The Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year was second in the league in passer rating and threw 40 touchdown passes to just six interceptions, and was second in the league with 4,001 passing yards.

RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State

Randle had the season most expected him to, easily leading the league in rushing with 1,351 yards, over 300 yards more than any other back in the Big 12.

RB: Waymon James, TCU

James got off to a solid start with 168 yards and a touchdown on his first 17 carries of the season, averaging nearly 10 yards a touch. However, a knee injury suffered in the second game of the year against Kansas ended his season far too soon. KU's James Sims replaced him on the postseason team.

All-Purpose: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State

Klein's rise made it clear that there was no need for an All-Purpose spot on the postseason team from ESPN.com. He accounted for 37 touchdowns and carried Kansas State to a Big 12 title on the way to an invitation to the Heisman Trophy presentation.

WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia

He was Studman Bailey this season, catching 23 touchdowns and earning a spot on the postseason team, as well as a nod as a Biletnikoff Award finalist. No other Big 12 receiver had more than 13 touchdowns and Bailey's 1,501 receiving yards were second-most in the Big 12. He obviously made the postseason team.

WR: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma

Stills was OK, but even he admitted his season was "sub-par." He was surpassed on the team by Terrance Williams, but earned a second-team nod after catching 75 balls for 897 yards and 11 scores, fifth-most in the Big 12.

WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Austin was probably the most dangerous player in the Big 12 this season. Nobody was better in the open field and 909 of his 1,266 receiving yards came after the catch. Ridiculous. He also rushed for 598 yards and three scores on just 61 carries. He made the postseason team.

C: Joe Madsen, West Virginia

Madsen held onto his spot on my postseason team with a solid year for the Mountaineers, who finished third in the league in total offense. Kansas State's B.J. Finney closed the gap by season's end, but I went with Madsen on the preseason and postseason teams.

OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

Ikard had the season most thought. He was arguably the Big 12's best offensive lineman in the preseason and proved to be that player throughout 2012.

OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State

Taylor was loaded with experience for a lot of good offense, and looked the part of an experienced lineman this season. OSU needed three different quarterbacks this year, but the Pokes had the nation's No. 5 offense and gave up just 10 sacks, the fewest in the Big 12.

OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor

Richardson was the only player who could challenge Ikard as the league's best lineman, and it was razor-thin this season between the two. Either way, Richardson did what most thought he would, helping Baylor rank No. 1 nationally in total offense.

OL: Mason Walters, Texas

Walters was good this season, but he was the only lineman on this list who didn't make my postseason team. I replaced him with Texas Tech's LaAdrian Waddle.

Pretty solid preseason team. No true busts on the entire team, and not a lot of breakout players who came from nowhere to make the team. We'll look at the defense a little later on.

Recruiting rewind: 2012 All-Big 12 offense

December, 17, 2012
12/17/12
9:48
AM CT
Collin Klein Denny Medley/US PresswireCollin Klein chose to play at Kansas State over Colorado State, Utah and Air Force.
The season has come and gone, and brought with it an All-Big 12 team. But where do these guys come from? How easy is it for a no-name recruit to earn all-conference first-team honors?

Let's take a look at the All-Big 12 offense and see who surprises us.

You'll need ESPN Insider Insider to see each player's recruiting page from back in the day, but I excerpted a bit of what the scouts had to say about each player coming out of high school.

OFFENSE

QB: Collin Klein, Kansas State

  • Klein was graded as a 75 by ESPNRecruiting and the nation's No. 60 quarterback. He picked K-State over Colorado State, Utah and Air Force. Scouts take: Klein has prototypical size and a powerful arm. What you don't expect is how athletic he is and while he is a pocket passer, if he gets on the move, he can build momentum and create a few plays here and there with his legs. He can be unorthodox in his delivery and mechanics can be inconsistent, but he is very productive and has a lot of physical tools to mold at the next level.
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State

  • Randle was the nation's No. 43 athlete from Wichita, Kan., and was also recruited by Arizona, Kansas State and Kansas, as well as Miami and Texas A&M. Scouts graded him at a 78 and gave him three stars. Scouts take: Randle looks good on the hoof in terms of size and has equally impressive athleticism. Tall, lean and very rangy; has some muscle-tone but we do question his narrow base as a future college running back. A really well-rounded back at the high school level; has perimeter speed, in-line strength, hands out of the backfield and can block in pass pro. Has a tight waist and good fluidity to elude defenders but we feel he is more productive now and will be in college when he squares up and gets north. Has the frame, with added bulk and speed, to develop into quality one-cut-and-go back.
RB: James Sims, Kansas

  • The Irving, Texas, native was graded at a 76 and ranked as the nation's No. 76 running back, a three-star recruit. He was also recruited by Arkansas and Iowa State. Scouts take: Sims is a sturdy, good looking running back in the spread offense that will flash a nice downhill presence. He is also adept at exploiting cutback lanes and working comfortably within a zone blocking scheme. He has somewhat of an upright running style and good leg drive. Is a short-strider for a taller back, but has quick feet in the hole and shows a knack for jump cutting and making people miss in the hole. When he can hit the hole with authority, he shows good initial burst and top-end speed.
FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma

  • Millard was a three-star prospect and the nation's No. 59 athlete in the 2010 class. He graded out at 78, and was also recruited by Syracuse, Iowa, South Carolina and Tennessee. Scouts take: Millard is a thick inside linebacker prospect with good mobility and downhill burst between the tackles. We like his athleticism as a future tight end or H-back as well. Has a large upper-body and overall frame. Carries his weight well and has above average lateral agility for a defender with his thickness.
WR: Terrance Williams, Baylor

  • Williams, a Dallas native, was the nation's No. 124 receiver and was given a grade of 74 by scouts. He was also recruited by Colorado State, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Scouts take: Williams is smooth, well-rounded receiver prospect. He possesses a tall, lean frame that still has room to add good muscle while retaining current speed. Utilizes his size well in traffic shielding defenders and positioning his body for the difficult grab. Excels at snagging the ball in stride and transitioning quickly upfield. Is currently used more as a short-to-intermediate threat at the high school level but flashes good arm extension, coordination and adjustment to the deep ball.
WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia

  • Austin was the nation's No. 41 running back, and the Baltimore native was given a grade of 78 by scouts. He was also the No. 75 player in his region. Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Penn State also recruited him. Scouts take: Austin is a smallish but dynamic prospect who has the skills to be a good change-of-pace or scatback runner at the next level. He lacks great size, but he runs harder and bigger than his measurables suggest. He's dangerous on the perimeter and in space, but also very good between the tackles as a zone runner. Can pick and stab his way through traffic and decisively hit small cutback creases without losing much in transition. Shows good body control, vision and balance. Excels at changing gears and eluding defenders with sudden bursts and sharp cuts.
WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia

  • Bailey was the nation's No. 48 receiver and the No. 69 player in the state of Florida. The Miami native was given a grade of 78 by scouts. He was also recruited by Alabama, Ole Miss and South Carolina. Scouts take: This dude catches everything thrown his way. Bailey is one of those receivers that you really begin to like because he shows versatility as a route runner, he can play inside or outside, he has good quickness and run after catch skills and he is tough. An athletically gifted slot receiver type. Possesses good speed, but we would not call him a jet. Tracks the ball well and flashes the ability to get behind the defense. Changes directions well, uses quick feet to set defenders up and is a solid route runner that could become an excellent one.

TE: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

  • Amaro was the nation's No. 28 tight end and the San Antonio native was the No. 83 player in the state of Texas. He was given a grade of 78 by scouts. Arizona, Baylor, Missouri and Texas A&M all recruited him. Scouts take: Amaro is a productive receiving tight end. He has good size and appears on film to have the frame to be able to add more good bulk with time in a college weight program. He will play and block from an in-line position, but at this point it seems the strength of his game is a receiver. He has good hands and displays the ability to consistently extend his arms and the catch the ball away from his body. Displays an adequate vertical, but will go up and try and highpoint the ball. Displays good concentration and can catch the ball in traffic and also displays good body control to be able to adjust to the ball.
C: Joe Madsen, West Virginia

  • Madsen was not ranked by our scouting services, and the Chadron, Ohio, native drew interest from Bowling Green. The only notes from our scouts? Madsen was a Division II all-state selection in Ohio.
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor

  • The Fort Worth, Texas, native was the nation's No. 64 offensive tackle and the No. 166 player in his region. He also was recruited by Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas Tech. Scouts take: Richardson is a very steady offensive tackle. He has great size and a large wing span which can be beneficial especially in pass protection. Shows strength in both the lower and upper body. Gets excellent movement when run blocking as long as pads stay low and power angles are maintained. Uses hands better in run game than when pass protecting. Wins most battles at the line of scrimmage when base and drive blocking. ... Richardson should develop into a very good tackle at the next level.
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State

  • Taylor was the nation's No. 111 guard and was also recruited by KU, North Texas and SMU. Scouts gave him a grade of 69. Scouts take: Taylor is a tough-nosed battler at the guard position. He is not the biggest kid but has adequate size. He will need to continue to add bulk and fill his frame out. He plays hard and can create push. He does a good job of quickly getting into defenders. He delivers a good initial pop and brings his hands. He can get hands on but needs to watch his placement. He does not always get ideal placement and can struggle to maintain position and will at times wind up with his hands outside the defender's frame. He does display the ability to get under a defender's pads, generate power from the hips and drive a defender off the line of scrimmage. He does need to watch his pad level, and he will engage a defender with high pads and naturally struggles to get the push he can.
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

  • Ikard was the nation's No. 19 tight end and graded out at 78. He was also recruited by Notre Dame, Stanford and Oklahoma State. Scouts take: Ikard is a good football player and it is tough not to like him. He comes across as a smart, hard working, and productive player. He plays both defensive end and tight end in high school and is a legitimate recruit on both sides of the ball. He is a sound defensive end prospect.
OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech

  • Waddle was the nation's No. 19 offensive tackle in the 2009 class and was grade at 79 by scouts. He also had interest from Ole Miss and Houston, as well as Rice and TCU. The Columbus, Texas, native was the No. 43 player in his region. Scouts take: Waddle is a mountain of a man at offensive tackle. Over three hundred fifteen pounds with good height he looks massive in pads. Must be careful not to gain anymore weight until his foot agility improves. Is usually fairly quick off the ball but often takes a false step or understeps. Completely smothers smaller defensive linemen once in to them. Extremely powerful due to size and follows the initial contact with good leg drive. Sometimes gets beat underneath due to improper first step. Wipes out his side of the line of scrimmage on the down block. Comes off to second level with some authority and gets into linebacker but often can't sustain block due to being too high. Tends to lose some body control when his legs straighten out. Mauls opponent on the double team block with power and leg drive. Decent at pulling but needs to move quicker and lower.

I always enjoy looking these up. There wasn't a true superstar blue-chip recruit in this bunch, but what's even more interesting? Not a single juco recruit in this bunch, either. The only player you could consider a real diamond in the rough in this bunch was Madsen. There were plenty more in last year's group.

ESPN.com's 2012 All-Big 12 team

December, 10, 2012
12/10/12
11:00
AM CT
Congrats to all these guys for turning in fantastic seasons. Naturally, there will be some snubs and some things that need to be explained. Check the blog later today for more thoughts.

Without further ado, here's the All-Big 12 team from ESPN.com.

OFFENSE

QB: Collin Klein, Kansas State
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
RB: James Sims, Kansas
FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma
WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
WR: Terrance Williams, Baylor
WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
TE: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
C: Joe Madsen, West Virginia
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech

DEFENSE

DL: Devonte Fields, TCU
DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State
DL: Calvin Barnett, Oklahoma State
DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB: Jason Verrett, TCU
CB: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
S: Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

SPECIALISTS:

PK: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
PR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Honorable mention: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia; Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma; Anthony Cantele, K, Kansas State; Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas; Justin Brown, PR, Oklahoma; Tanner Hawkinson, OL, Kansas; Jake McDonough, DL, Iowa State; Lane Johnson, OL, Oklahoma; John Hubert, RB, Kansas State; Travis Tannahill, TE, Kansas State; Durrell Givens, S, Iowa State; Cody Davis, S, Texas Tech

ESPN.com's Midseason All-Big 12 Team

October, 18, 2012
10/18/12
12:17
PM CT
We're at the season's halfway point, and it's time to look back and put together our All-Big 12 team at the midseason.

The criteria for this is pretty simple: I picked the best players at every position in the game, but made room for deserving players. You'll see where that came into play. Let's get to it:

OFFENSE

QB: Geno Smith, West Virginia
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
RB: John Hubert, Kansas State
All-purpose: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
WR: Terrance Williams, Baylor
WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
C: Joe Madsen, West Virginia
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech

DEFENSE

DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL: Devonte Fields, TCU
DL: Kerry Hyder, Texas Tech
DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
CB: Jason Verrett, TCU
S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

SPECIALISTS:

K: Jaden Oberkrom, TCU
P: Kirby Van Der Kamp, Iowa State
KR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
PR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia

ESPN.com's preseason All-Big 12 team

August, 29, 2012
8/29/12
9:00
AM CT
The season is only a few days away, and it's time to unveil our official All-Big 12 team.

The criteria for this is pretty simple: I picked the best players at every position in the game, but made room for deserving players. For this league, that meant eliminating the tight end spot and sliding a more deserving Collin Klein onto the team via an all-purpose position.

The quarterbacks are solid in this league, but I'd call the cornerbacks the best and deepest position in the league. The worst? Defensive tackle. I didn't put a single one on the All-Big 12 team, electing to name four defensive ends along the defensive line. I hate doing that, but this year, it's necessary.

Without further ado, here's our team:

OFFENSE

QB: Geno Smith, West Virginia
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
RB: Waymon James, TCU
All-Purpose: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
WR: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
C: Joe Madsen, West Virginia
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL: Mason Walters, Texas

DEFENSE

DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL: Stansly Maponga, TCU
DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB: Carrington Byndom, Texas
CB: Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State
S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

SPECIALISTS:

K: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
PR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Honorable mention/regrettable snubs: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma; Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas; Ivory Wade, C, Baylor; LaAdrian Waddle, OL, Texas Tech; Blaize Foltz, OL, TCU; Kenny Cain, LB, TCU; Shaun Lewis, LB, Oklahoma State; Jamarkus McFarland, DL, Oklahoma; Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas; Nigel Malone, CB, Kansas State; Demontre Hurst, CB, Oklahoma; Tyler Lockett, KR, Kansas State
The Outland Trophy, given annually to college football's best interior lineman (offense or defense) has released its 71-man watch list.

Seven players from the Big 12 made the cut. Here they are:
That's a pretty good list, but I probably would have liked to see Kansas State center B.J. Finney crack the list, too. The Outland Trophy is only for interior linemen, meaning no offensive tackles or defensive ends. These are truly the big uglies in the middle. Their names don't get mentioned enough.

Ndamukong Suh (2009) was the last Big 12 talent to win the award. Before him, it was Jammal Brown at Oklahoma in 2004.

Nebraska's nine and Oklahoma's five Outland Trophies are the most in college football.

The Big 12's seven candidates are fourth-most of the major conferences, led by the SEC's 19.
College football guru Phil Steele is previewing his must-read offseason magazine, and with it, he's releasing his all-conference and All-America teams.

Here's who he slated as his first-team All-Big 12 squad:

OFFENSE

QB: Landry Jones, Oklahoma
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
RB: Malcolm Brown, Texas
WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
WR: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
TE: Jordan Najvar, Baylor
C: Ben Habern, Oklahoma
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
  • I'd probably go with Geno Smith ahead of Jones, but it's close. You could definitely make a compelling case for both.
  • I'd also lean more toward Terrance Williams at Baylor for that third receiver spot ahead of Stills. Stills' upside is still really high, but again, it's close between those two.
  • Good grief, the tight end spot in the Big 12 is a rough. Navjar is a good selection. Travis Tannahill at Kansas State could grab that spot, too. You're almost better off picking a sixth offensive lineman or a fullback like Trey Millard at Oklahoma, who's more valuable than any of the league's tight ends.
DEFENSE

DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
DL: Stansly Maponga, TCU
DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL: Jamarkus McFarland, Oklahoma
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
LB: Tom Wort, Oklahoma
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
CB: Nigel Malone, Kansas State
CB: Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State
S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

SPECIALISTS

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
K: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
PR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
KR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
  • No complaints among the specialists, but I'd definitely have kept a more traditional three linebackers. You could afford to leave Tom Wort off that list. Not so with the other three.
  • After a sad group of cornerbacks in 2011, the position looks pretty loaded this year. There's no fewer than five guys in my book who deserve strong consideration and probably a spot on the first team. It's too bad there are only two spots. Clearly, Malone and Brown are deserving, but so are Justin Gilbert, Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs.
  • Safeties are both loaded. Maybe two of the best defenders in the league.

Here's who Steele tabbed as All-Americans, too.

FIRST TEAM
  • Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
SECOND TEAM
  • Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
  • Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
  • Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
  • Quinn Sharp, K, Oklahoma State
THIRD TEAM
  • Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma
  • Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
  • Lane Taylor, OL, Oklahoma State
  • Quinn Sharp, P, Oklahoma State
  • Tyler Lockett, KR, Kansas State
FOURTH TEAM
  • Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
  • Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
  • Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
  • Gabe Ikard, OL, Oklahoma
  • Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
  • A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State
  • Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma
  • Tavon Austin, KR, West Virginia

Oklahoma State spring wrap

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
9:30
AM CT
2011 overall record: 12-1
2011 conference record: 8-1

Returning starters: Offense 6; defense 8; P/K 2

Top returners
RB Joseph Randle, WR Tracy Moore, WR Isaiah Anderson, CB Brodrick Brown, LB Shaun Lewis, S Daytawion Lowe, LB Alex Elkins, CB/KR Justin Gilbert

Key losses
QB Brandon Weeden, WR Justin Blackmon, S Markelle Martin, DE Jamie Blatnick, C Grant Garner, RT Levy Adcock, WR Josh Cooper, WR Michael Harrison

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Joseph Randle* (1,216 yards)
Passing: Brandon Weeden (4,727 yards)
Receiving: Justin Blackmon (1,522 yards)
Tackles: Daytawion Lowe* (97)
Sacks: Jamie Blatnick (8)
Interceptions: Justin Gilbert*, Brodrick Brown* (5)

Spring answers

1. Handing the reins to the youngster: I had my doubts about whether OSU would actually pull the trigger and name a starting quarterback. For the Cowboys to name 18-year-old true freshman Wes Lunt is a big move, and proof of the staff's confidence that the Illinois native is the best man for the job. The summer will be about him establishing himself as the team's leader, but seeing how he handles the fall will be fascinating.

2. Rebooting the offensive line: You could say OSU must replace four starters on the offensive line, but sixth-year senior Jonathan Rush has plenty of experience while he returns from a knee injury, and Lane Taylor returns, too. Michael Bowie was a starter-quality contributor last year, and Parker Graham earned rave reviews for his work in the second unit last year, moving into a starter role for the final five games. Evan Epstein is the man at center, but replacing Grant Garner won't be easy. This is a unit hardly devoid of experience.

3. Emerging stars at receiver: OSU knew Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper would be gone this year, but Michael Harrison's exit from the team was a surprise. OSU needed talents to emerge in the spring, and they did. Josh Stewart was a big standout, as was juco newcomer Blake Jackson, in the mold of former Sooners star Jermaine Gresham. Charlie Moore exploded for 243 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the spring game.

Fall questions

1. How far can Lunt take the Cowboys? Oklahoma State will carry the banner of defending Big 12 champs for the first time in school history next fall. They'll do so with a wide-eyed true freshman making his way through plenty of unfamiliar territory and playing plenty of new faces for the first time. His ceiling is high, but Oklahoma State will start in the top 25 and is good enough to be a factor in the Big 12 title race. How far will Lunt carry them?

2. Who's filling in for Markelle Martin? Martin was the leader of the defense in 2011, but defensive coordinator Bill Young says replacing him will be done by committee. Lavocheya Cooper, Zack Craig and Shamiel Gary will be in the mix, but how will that rotation work out in the fall?

3. Can the defense carry more of the load? OSU forced 44 turnovers last season, the most of any team in college football. It also finished 107th nationally in total defense. The Cowboys won't have the same awe-inspiring offense in 2011, but the defense returns a lot of experience and a lot of talent. Defensive ends Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones leave holes in the pass rush. The defense should be better, but it has to be. The margin for error will be much smaller.

OSU's biggest question became strength

April, 12, 2011
4/12/11
2:20
PM CT
STILLWATER, Okla. -- A year ago, Oklahoma State was full of question marks. None, perhaps, were bigger than what to expect out of the 1,500 pounds or so trying to pave the way for the Cowboys' new offense.

[+] EnlargeLane Taylor
Chuck Cook/US PresswireLane Taylor is part of an experienced offensive line for Oklahoma State.
"We only had one guy [Lane Taylor] that was a returning starter and he’d only played 4 or 5 games, so we didn’t know where we were at," said coach Mike Gundy.

Added quarterback Brandon Weeden: "[Offensive line] coach [Joe] Wickline, as good as he is, I expected the best, but that was kind of the unknown. Myself, I was kind of like, 'will they be able to get it done?'"

Wickline rotated a few players in and out of the starting group early in spring. Finally, in hopes of chemistry creating a "whole greater than the sum of its parts" type of situation, he decided to stick with five players.

Taylor, a sophomore and the lone returning starter, was slotted at right guard. Levy Adcock and Nick Martinez slid into the role of right and left tackle, respectively. Jonathan Rush took over at left guard. Grant Garner assumed the role of center, making up a group of four juniors and a sophomore.

"We hoped that [running back] Kendall [Hunter] and some of the wideouts we had could make plays for us and we’d overcome some deficiencies in the offensive line," Gundy said. "Later, we found out they were pretty talented and they were able to work well as a group and make some plays."

What looked like a patchwork offensive line eventually developed into one of the Big 12's best, helping pave the way for Hunter and give Weeden time to quarterback the nation's No. 3 offense.

"They were just some blue-collar guys that worked well together," Gundy said. "I think they had great leadership from their quarterback and it didn’t hurt that we had a Doak Walker candidate at running back and a Biletnikoff winner at receiver, which takes a lot of pressure off those guys."

The best news now, though? All five are back. Four starters are seniors and Taylor will enter his third season in the starting lineup as a junior.

"Experience is very important in this game at any level and at any position, and when you have experienced guys up front, it gives your quarterback a little sense of security," Gundy said, "and they feel better about themselves and he feels better about his ability to be protected and make some plays."

The line saw progress in spring. It continued into the fall.

"By the end of the year, they were rolling pretty good," Gundy said. "They didn’t just dominate people, but they were really good, sound and didn’t make a lot of mistakes. Because of that, eliminating the errors, made them a good offensive line."

The offense will have to adjust to a new play-caller and a new running back next season, but with the play of the big men up front, their tasks look significantly easier.

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