NCF Nation: Chucky Hunter

ESPN.com midseason All-Big 12 team

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
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We're halfway through the season, which means it's time for our midseason All-Big 12 team. There's plenty of football still to play. And this midseason team might be very different from the end-of-season one. But this list recognizes the players who have distinguished themselves thus far.

After careful consideration and friendly debate, our midseason All-Big 12 team:

Offense

QB: Clint Trickett, West Virginia: Baylor's Bryce Petty had the Big 12's best game last weekend, but Trickett has had the better season so far. He leads the Big 12 in QBR and completion percentage and is third nationally in passing, fueling the Mountaineers' surprising 4-2 start.

RB: Shock Linwood, Baylor: The Big 12's top rusher has 326 rushing yards over Baylor's last two games, including 104 in the fourth quarter of the Bears' monumental comeback win against TCU.

RB: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma: This true freshman is second in the league in rushing, first in rushing touchdowns and delivered an historic performance at West Virginia with 242 yards and four scores.

WR: Kevin White, West Virginia: White has been as dominant as any player in the league. He easily leads the country with an average of 148 yards receiving per game, and has come up with a hundred yards receiving in every game.

WR: Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma: It's hard to imagine where the Oklahoma passing game would be without Shepard. He has accounted for 48 percent of Trevor Knight's passing yards.

WR: K.D. Cannon, Baylor: The true freshman might already be the most dangerous big-play receiver in the league, averaging 62.5 yards per catch on his six touchdowns.

TE: E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State: The senior has been a big part of the Cyclones' offense with 22 receptions for 190 yards and four touchdowns, including a one-handed scoring grab at Oklahoma State.

OL: Spencer Drango, Baylor: The Bears' franchise left tackle is thriving again after a return from a season-ending back injury. He has graded out the highest on the offensive line of the nation's top scoring offense.

OL: Joey Hunt, TCU: Hunt is the best offensive lineman on the Big 12's most improved offense, which is second in the league in scoring with almost 46 points per game.

OL: B.J. Finney, Kansas State: Finney is well on his way to a third consecutive All-Big 12 season as the lynchpin of the K-State offensive line.

OL: Quinton Spain, West Virginia: He and Mark Glowinski form one of the top guard duos in the country for the league's second-best passing offense.

OL: Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech: Arkansas coach Bret Bielema singled out Clark's prowess after facing him. Despite throwing the ball on almost every down, Tech leads the league in fewest sacks allowed with Clark protecting Davis Webb's blindside.

AP: Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State: The speedy Hill has kick return touchdowns the past two weeks, and has proven to be tough and durable as well as really fast.

Defense

DE: Shawn Oakman, Baylor: The freaky 6-foot-9 end is second in the league with five sacks and fourth with eight tackles for loss.

DT: Chucky Hunter, TCU: Hunter has been the anchor of the TCU defensive line, joining Davion Pierson to give Gary Patterson's squad one disruptive duo up front.

DT: Malcom Brown, Texas: This 320-pound monster has been unblockable, and the most disruptive defensive player in the league.

DE: Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State: Ogbah has broken out with five sacks, including two on defending Heisman winner Jameis Winston in the opener. In addition to being tied for second in the Big 12 in sacks, he's also second with 9.5 tackles for loss.

LB: Eric Striker, Oklahoma: Striker has 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss, and his relentless pass-rushing ability makes him the primary focus of opposing offensive coordinators.

LB: Jordan Hicks, Texas: The Longhorns' fifth-year senior is racking up 10 tackles per game, and is bringing leadership to the Texas defense after an injury-plagued career.

LB: Paul Dawson, TCU: The Big 12's leading tackler is on pace for the most single-season tackles in the Gary Patterson era. He also had the game-winning pick-six to upset the Sooners.

CB: Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma: Sanchez has given up some big plays, but he's countered with big plays of his own. He's second nationally with five interceptions, including a pick-six against Texas.

CB: Danzel McDaniel, Kansas State: McDaniel hits more like a linebacker than a cornerback. He's been another impressive junior-college find for Bill Snyder.

S: Sam Carter, TCU: Carter doesn't have eye-popping numbers, but he's once again been the heart of the TCU defense.

S: Karl Joseph, West Virginia: The enforcer of the West Virginia secondary is second among Big 12 defensive backs with 45 tackles.

Special teams

K: Josh Lambert, West Virginia: All he's done is nail two game-winning field goals as time has expired to beat Maryland (47 yards) and Texas Tech (55 yards) on the road.

P: Trevor Pardula, Kansas: He's gotten plenty of chances, but he's made the most of them, averaging 44.8 yards per punt, while putting 37.8 percent of them inside the opponents' 20.

PR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State: Lockett, who is second in the nation in punt returns, once again has been an electric all-around playmaker. He's also sixth in the league in receiving.

KR: Alex Ross, Oklahoma: Ross leads the nation in kickoff returns, taking two of his nine kick returns to the house for touchdowns.
video
FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU coach Gary Patterson tried to calm down his celebrating players in the locker room. He told them to act like this win was just like any other.

But eventually, even Patterson admitted he wouldn’t be able to contain his excitement for long, either.

This wasn’t any ordinary win.

"Am I really excited? Do I want to go scream? Yeah. Yeah I do,” Patterson said. “Maybe somewhere where nobody can see me, I might.”

Nobody could blame Patterson for screaming, or the Horned Frogs for celebrating.

[+] EnlargeB.J. Catalon
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesB.J. Catalon and TCU erupted for 37 points in a program-defining win over No. 4 Oklahoma
After two seasons of Big 12 mediocrity, TCU toppled fourth-ranked Oklahoma 37-33 Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium to send a message: The Horned Frogs are finally Big 12 contenders. And maybe something even more.

“We feel like we can win the Big 12 title,” said Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin. “And I’m pretty sure if we win the Big 12, we’ll have a shot [at the playoff]."

TCU entered the Big 12 in 2012 as a mid-major powerhouse, going 47-5 in its final four seasons as a member of the Mountain West. But the Horned Frogs compiled a 6-12 record against Big 12 opponents in their first two seasons in the conference and missed a bowl game last season for the first time in nine years.

TCU (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) had been yearning for a win to celebrate, to scream about.

Saturday, the Horned Frogs finally got it, catapulting them to Waco, Texas, with a chance to gain a stranglehold on the Big 12 race this upcoming weekend against No. 7-ranked Baylor -- the league’s only other still-undefeated team.

“We have a great opportunity now,” TCU defensive tackle Chucky Hunter said. “But we’re going to take this one game at a time and see where everything lands at the end of the season.”

While TCU’s playoff chances received a shot in the arm, Oklahoma’s were put on life support. Buoyed by their win over Alabama in last season's Sugar Bowl, the Sooners stormed into this season with Big 12 title and playoff aspirations. But after a dominating first four games, Oklahoma’s offense flat-lined in the fourth quarter in Fort Worth.

Sooners quarterback Trevor Knight completed just 14 of 35 passes and went through a key stretch in the second half when he completed only 2 of 10. The Horned Frogs also bottled up Oklahoma standout freshman running back Samaje Perine, who scored three touchdowns but rushed for only 59 yards.

Save for a blocked extra point return, the Sooners went scoreless in the fourth quarter.

“The bottom line is they made plays and we didn’t,” said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. “We had our opportunities and chances late in the second half and we couldn’t take advantage.”

Three times in the final seven minutes, the Sooners had the ball on the TCU side of the field.

All three times, the Sooners came up without points.

Knight was picked off by TCU safety Chris Hackett while trying to force a pass to Sterling Shepard.

After the Horned Frogs fumbled two plays later, Oklahoma had another chance to take the lead with three minutes remaining. But on fourth-and-1 at the TCU 22-yard line, Perine was stuffed short of the first down by linebacker Marcus Mallet.

The Sooners had one final chance, but Knight’s Hail Mary attempt sailed out of the end zone as time expired.

“Finally, after two years, the football gods ... we finally got a little luck,” Patterson said.

There was nothing lucky about TCU’s win, however.

The Horned Frogs outgained Oklahoma, generated more first downs than Oklahoma and controlled the trenches better than the Sooners.

It was also the first time in 14 meetings TCU had ever scored more than 20 points against the Sooners, part of the reason why Patterson revamped his offense in the offseason, hiring coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie to install an up-tempo, wide-open attack.

"We just didn't have enough firepower,” Patterson said.

No one has thrived more in the new attack more than Boykin, who remained calm and collected as Knight struggled. Boykin, who beat out Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel for the job in the preseason, completed 20 of his 38 passes and accounted for three touchdowns while generating a career-high 395 yards of offense. He also kept plays alive with his feet, burning the Sooners by escaping the pocket when they tried to blitz.

“He was tremendous,” Patterson said of Boykin, who has at least 250 yards passing in all four of TCU’s games. “The key for any quarterback is finding a way to win a big game. And he did that.”

While Boykin and the offense gave TCU its chance for a program-defining win, it was the defense that clinched it.

Paul Dawson, who arrived at TCU as a wide receiver and was sick and throwing up on the field during the game, picked off Knight at line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter.

“I was supposed to blitz,” Dawson said. “But I read [Knight’s] eyes.”

Dawson raced 41 yards with the interception for a touchdown to give the Horned Frogs a fourth-quarter lead.

His defensive teammates then did the rest.

“We opened a lot of eyes,” Hackett said, “that we have a great team, too.”

The Horned Frogs have been waiting to open eyes, to show they’re a conference title contender again.

They seem to be just that. And maybe even more.

Preseason All-Big 12 team

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
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Today, ESPN.com released its preseason All-American team. Before Big 12 media days, we released our individual preseason All-Big 12 ballots. But to pair with the All-American team, we debated, argued and eventually settled on one Big 12 blog, consensus preseason All-Big 12 team.

Here we go:

Offense

QB: Bryce Petty, Baylor
Easy choice. Petty is the reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year after he threw for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns with just three picks. He should be even better in Year 2 as a starter.

RB: Johnathan Gray, Texas
Malcolm Brown finished strong in place of Gray the past season, but there’s a reason Gray was Texas’ No. 1 back before he suffered an Achilles injury. Gray is healthy again, which gives Texas the best one-two punch at running back in the league.

RB: Shock Linwood, Baylor
Despite being Baylor’s third-string running back the past season, Linwood still finished sixth in the Big 12 in rushing. He’s the featured back now and could wind up the league’s top rusher.

WR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Lockett was literally uncoverable at times last year. Just ask Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan, which surrendered a combined 631 receiving yards and six touchdowns to Lockett. With Jake Waters settled in at quarterback, Lockett could put up even bigger numbers in 2014.

WR: Antwan Goodley, Baylor
Goodley might have been the most improved player in the league the past season. He was also one of the most dominant, with 1,339 receiving yards and a national-best five catches of 60 yards or more.

TE: E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State
With Jace Amaro gone, Bibbs takes over as the top receiving tight end threat in the league. Only Amaro had more catches and yards than Bibbs among Big 12 tight ends the past season.

OT: Spencer Drango, Baylor
With Drango in the lineup, Petty was sacked only eight times through the Bears’ first nine games last year. After Drango was sidelined with a back injury, Petty was sacked nine times in Baylor’s last four games. Suffice it to say, Petty is glad to have Drango back protecting his blindside.

OG: Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech
The Red Raiders previously had plans to move Clark inside to guard, but they still have him manning left tackle this season. Whether he stays at the bookend or slides to guard, Clark is one of the most dominating offensive linemen in the league.

C: BJ Finney, Kansas State
Finney owns a Big 12-best 39 starts over the past three years. The former walk-on is also a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection and will be the favorite to garner such recognition again as the linchpin of the K-State offensive line.

OG: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
Whitehair is capable of manning either guard or tackle, but the Wildcats will be showing their trust in him by asking him to protect Waters’ blindside this season.

OT: Daryl Williams, Oklahoma
Williams is the best piece on the league’s best offensive line, which returns four starters and plenty of capable backups.

AP: Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
Grant finished sixth in the league in receiving yards per game, despite being the third option in Tech’s passing attack the past season. Grant is now the first option in the passing game, as well as an electric playmaker on special teams.

K: Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
The Sooners have never had an All-American kicker before, but they have a strong candidate in Hunnicutt, who converted 24 of 27 field goals the past season.

Defense

DE: Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
In 2013, Mueller finished with 11.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss, which were second in the league only to Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jackson Jeffcoat. Mueller, who also forced four fumbles, has one of the conference’s best noses for finding the ball.

DT: Chucky Hunter, TCU
The Horned Frogs still had a formidable front the past season, even without Devonte Fields, due in large part to Hunter. TCU won’t have Fields again. But Hunter is back to anchor a defensive line loaded with quality players.

DT: Malcom Brown, Texas
This former blue-chipper broke out the past season with 68 tackles, including 12 for loss. He and Cedric Reed team up to form the best inside-outside defensive line combination in the league.

DE: Cedric Reed, Texas
Reed was third in the Big 12 in 2013 with 10 sacks, fourth with 19 tackles for loss and tied for first with five forced fumbles. He gives the Longhorns a chance to feature the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season.

LB: Eric Striker, Oklahoma
When it comes to rushing the passer, there’s no one better in the league. Striker has spent this offseason refining other parts of his game to become a more complete player. But his pass rushing alone makes him one of the top players in the league.

LB: Ben Heeney, Kansas
Heeney was a tackling machine last year for a defense that performed valiantly despite getting little help from its offense. Heeney will get plenty of help from his defense, though, which returns eight other starters.

LB: Bryce Hager, Baylor
Hager has notched 195 tackles over the past two seasons, while twice earning second-team All-Big 12 honors. With Ahmad Dixon and Eddie Lackey gone, he takes over as the leader of a defense angling to prove it can be as good as the past year’s.

CB: Quandre Diggs, Texas
Diggs, who has never been afraid to speak his mind, is the heart and soul of the Longhorns. If the rest of the team takes on his mentality, Texas could have one feisty team in Charlie Strong’s first season.

CB: Daryl Worley, West Virginia
Despite being just a second-year player, Worley has already taken over as one of the vocal leaders of the West Virginia defense. He’s also already one of the best cover corners in the league.

SS: Sam Carter, TCU
Carter has nine interceptions the past two years, the most of any returning Big 12 player. He leads arguably the best secondary in the league, too.

FS: Karl Joseph, West Virginia
Joseph has started all 25 games for the Mountaineers since he stepped foot in Morgantown. No other returning Big 12 defensive back has more career tackles than Joseph’s 170.

P: Nick O'Toole, West Virginia
The “Boomstache” ranked 15th nationally last year, with an average of 44.1 yards per punt. He also has the best mustache in the league, which has to count for something.

Top Big 12 players: Nos. 20-16

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
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With the season just a month away, we’re taking this week to rank the Top 25 players in the Big 12.

This is a ranking of who we think the best 25 players will be over the course of the 2014 season.

Monday, we kicked this series off with the first five names. Today, we continue with Nos. 20-16.

20. Johnathan Gray, RB, Texas: Health is the only concern with Gray. Because when he’s healthy, Gray is a devastating combination of speed and power. There’s a reason the Longhorns have never lost when Gray has gotten 20 carries, which included victories over Oklahoma and Kansas State last year. A torn Achilles ended his 2013 season prematurely. But Gray has been cleared for fall camp, which is a good sign for the Longhorns and a bad one for the rest of the Big 12.

19. Bryce Hager, LB, Baylor: Hager is the Bryce Petty of the Baylor defense, with a pair of second-team All-Big 12 seasons behind him. Hager has recorded 195 tackles over the past two seasons and is one of the most seasoned players in the league. He missed the spring rehabbing from a season-ending groin injury, but should be 100 percent when the Bears begin fall camp. If Baylor avoids a drop off from last year’s breakout defensive campaign, Hager’s steady play will be a major reason why.

18. Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas: Diggs is the most outspoken player in the league, even foreshadowing during Big 12 media days that coach Charlie Strong might have to weed out certain players. Diggs will be a four-year starter and the unequivocal leader of the Texas defense. He should be more comfortable back at cornerback after a stint last season at the nickel. With cornerbacks Jason Verrett, Justin Gilbert and Aaron Colvin all gone, Diggs figures to be the new class of the position in the league.

17. Chucky Hunter, DT, TCU: The Horned Frogs might not have star end Devonte Fields this season. But they should still be stout up front, thanks to the return of Hunter, who is coming off an All-Big 12 season. Fellow tackle Davion Pierson is one of the most underrated players in the league. And the two form arguably the best one-two punch at defensive tackle in the league.

16. Ben Heeney, LB, Kansas: Don’t blame Heeney for the Jayhawks’ 3-9 record last year. The Big 12’s top returning tackler spearheaded a defense that gave opposing offenses fits at times in 2013, despite getting virtually no assistance from the Kansas offense. With nine starters back, the Jayhawks could create even more problems for the offenses of the Big 12. Especially with Heeney manning the middle.

Coming Wednesday: Nos. 15-11 …
Visions of long touchdown passes, big plays and head coach Gary Patterson drinking Gatorade during blowouts has TCU fans excited about the potential of the Horned Frogs' new offense.

Patterson brought in co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie to jump-start TCU's offensive attack this season after its offense struggled for a large portion of 2013.

[+] EnlargeSam Carter
LM Otero/AP PhotoSenior safety Sam Carter says the Horned Frogs' defense should benefit from playing against TCU's up-tempo offense in practice.
Yet an overlooked aspect of TCU's new offense is the potential impact on the Horned Frogs' defense. It could have a major impact or it may not affect anything on the defensive side at all. The only certainty is that TCU's defense will, generally speaking, get a better sense of the type of offenses it will face in the Big 12 with the Horned Frogs' new spread attack.

"It should help us get better as a defense, because we're going to be seeing that every day," defensive tackle Chucky Hunter said. "We're going to be in better condition, we're going to be more knowledgable of the plays we're going to see."

Safety Sam Carter loves the potential upside of practicing against Meacham's attack.

"I think it's going to help," Carter said. "I don't think it can hinder us in any way. To have it every day in practice, I'm excited to go against it."

While Carter doesn't envision a scenario that includes a downside, a negative impact appears possible. With TCU installing an up-tempo system of its own, it's a fair assumption to think its offensive plays per game average -- 72.2 during the past two seasons -- will increase in 2014, which could also increase the number of plays the defense will see. Those additional plays would be sure to test the depth and overall conditioning of the defensive unit in ways it has not been tested during TCU's first two seasons in the Big 12.

The defenses at Oklahoma State, Baylor, Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas Tech averaged at least 75 opponent plays per game in conference games during the past two seasons. Of that group, only the Cyclones lack a high-tempo offensive attack.

During the same span, TCU's defense faced 70.6 plays per game as Oklahoma was the lone defense to face fewer average plays per game in conference games. The Horned Frogs understand their average number of plays per game could jump significantly this fall but don't consider it a major concern.

It could end up being a bigger deal than anticipated.

During the past two seasons, the Horned Frogs' defense has allowed more points when facing 75 plays or more on defense. In conference games only, TCU allowed 29.1 points per game in the five games it faced 75 plays or more. In the 13 games TCU's defense faced 75 plays or less, the Horned Frogs allowed 25.8 points per game. Obviously a lot of different elements go into the actual number of plays an opponent runs, but these numbers are a clear sign more plays on the field could be a bad scenario for TCU's defense.

Even though their jobs just potentially got much harder, Hunter and Carter each stressed it was the defense's responsibility to stop opponents from scoring, regardless of the circumstances, and they are hopeful their defense is improved this season.

"We talked about it [playing more plays] but we can't control what the offense does," Carter said. "If the offense scores or not, your job is to stop other teams from scoring."
Several Big 12 players popped up on the watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to college football's best defensive player, and the Outland Trophy, given to the best interior lineman.

Here are the Big 12 players that made each list:

Nagurski
Outland

Already this week, the Maxwell (player of the year), Bednarik (defensive player of the year), Hornung (most versatile player), Mackey (best tight end), Rimington (best center), Groza (best kicker) and Guy (best punter) watch lists have come.

Below is the rest of the preseason watch list schedule:

Friday, July 11
- Jim Thorpe Award, best defensive back

Monday, July 14
- Butkus Award, best linebacker
- Lombardi Award, best lineman

Tuesday, July 15
- Biletnikoff Award, best receiver

Wednesday, July 16
- Davey O’Brien Award, best quarterback.

Thursday, July 17
- Doak Walker Award, best running back

Friday, July 18
- Walter Camp Award, best player

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