NCF Nation: Jamie Blatnick

Big 12 recruiting needs in 2012

January, 24, 2012
Signing day is coming fast. Next Wednesday, the next round of players will sign up for their respective programs and start what could be storied careers.

Here's what each team across the Big 12 needs. You'll find Texas A&M and Mizzou on the SEC blog and West Virginia on the Big East Blog.


Quarterback: This one's pretty simple. Robert Griffin III is taking his talents to the NFL early. Nick Florence is waiting to take over, and the Bears have Bryce Petty behind him, but more reinforcements at quarterback are needed. Dual-threat quarterbacks, ideally.

Defensive tackle: Baylor already was one of the nation's worst teams (102nd nationally) at stopping the run. Now it'll need to replace both its interior linemen, Nicolas Jean-Baptiste and Tracy Robertson.

Offensive linemen: Baylor's offensive line, meanwhile, has been solid. It loses junior college transfer and two-year starter Robert T. Griffin, as well as All-Big 12 center Philip Blake. John Jones, a reserve guard, also has exhausted his eligibility.


Receiver: This has been a weak spot for the team for several years, and its top overall talent, Darius Reynolds, is gone. Darius Darks is, too. Aaron Horne and Josh Lenz will be the team's best weapons in 2012, but the pair of shifty slot guys will be seniors. This position needs reinforcements.

Defensive back: The DBs have been a quiet strength for ISU, especially in 2011. Cornerback Leonard Johnson and safety Ter'Ran Benton both have exhausted their eligibility, though, and defensive backs coach Bobby Elliott left for Notre Dame. You'll see plenty of new faces in the Cyclones' secondary next year.

Defensive line: Experienced starters Stephen Ruempolhamer and Jacob Lattimer are both gone, and Iowa State has struggled to stop the run consistently the past few seasons.


Quarterback: Kansas landed high-profile transfers Dayne Crist (Notre Dame) and Jake Heaps (BYU), but this is still a huge position of need. Last year's starter, Jordan Webb, left the team. Quinn Mecham is out of eligibility. Heaps is sitting out his NCAA-mandated year after transferring. Crist is the starter, but he badly needs a backup, especially if Brock Berglund's transfer appeal allows him to leave.

Wide receiver: Kansas lacks a big threat at this position. It needs a talent upgrade in a big way. Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay is joining the team, but he's no guarantee to a) be granted immediate eligibility or b) become an impact player.

Defensive tackle: Kansas is thin here, too. Richard Johnson, Patrick Dorsey and Michael Martinovich are gone, and Kansas couldn't stop much of anything on defense. Some push up front could help make everything look better. A late addition to the 2012 class from a junior college seems like a no-brainer. The Jayhawks need physically mature players to contribute immediately.


Offensive line: K-State's offensive line was much better in 2011 and could be again in 2012. It needs help replacing All-Big 12 lineman Clyde Aufner, though. Starter Colten Freeze is also gone.

Defensive line: Kansas State is bringing back about as many starters as anyone in the Big 12, but the biggest losses are along the defensive line. Kick-blocking specialist (five in 2011) Ralph Guidry is gone, along with tackle Ray Kibble. Juco transfer Jordan Voelker exploded onto the scene this year, but he's gone, too.

Defensive backs: Cornerback David Garrett leaves a huge hole behind. Tysyn Hartman may not be as talented as teammate Ty Zimmerman, but his experience leaves a big hole. Zimmerman will have to mentor a younger safety in the near future.


Receiver: The Sooners are thin here in a big way. That was obvious late in the season when Ryan Broyles' storied college career ended a few weeks early with a knee injury. The team also lost Justin McCay (transfer) to Kansas. Jaz Reynolds and Kenny Stills are the likely top two targets, but they need help.

Tight end: This position inspired a bit of panic at the end of the season. Seniors James Hanna and Trent Ratterree are gone. Austin Haywood wasn't allowed back on the team, and two more tight ends left the team for various reasons. That left the Sooners suddenly without a scholarship player at the position returning in 2012.

Offensive line: Starting tackle Donald Stephenson must be replaced, as will guard Stephen Good, who moved in and out of the starting lineup throughout his career. The Sooners bring back a lot of talent and aren't dying for depth there, but those two will leave holes. Three more offensive line starters will be seniors in 2012.


Offensive line: The Cowboys need a whole lot of help here to fill in behind young players stepping into the starting lineup. Starters Levy Adcock, Nick Martinez and Grant Garner are gone. Backup center Casey LaBrue is gone, too. Those are two All-Big 12 linemen who leave big shoes to be filled.

Receiver: Justin Blackmon surprised no one by leaving a year early, and Josh Cooper leaves with perhaps the most underrated career of any receiver in school history. In OSU's offense, there's always room for depth here. Nine receivers had at least 19 catches in 2011. Blackmon and Cooper combined for 192, though.

Defensive ends: The pass rush was solid for Oklahoma State this year, but both starters, Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones, are gone. Replacing both is a necessity.


Receiver: Texas lacks a true game-changer at the position, though Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis may develop into that role in 2012. Former blue-chip recruit Darius White left for Missouri, too.

Quarterback: David Ash and Case McCoy didn't show a ton of potential at quarterback this year, though Ash may grow with an offseason to prepare as starter. Garrett Gilbert got a big chunk of the work in the spring, summer 7-on-7 and fall preseason camp. Even if Ash does grow, the Longhorns need reinforcements at the position.

Linebacker: Two senior impact players are gone. Texas is left trying to replace Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson, though Jordan Hicks may mature into a star in 2012.


Offensive line: TCU's offensive line is headed for some major turnover. OT Robert Deck, OG Kyle Dooley and OG Spencer Thompson are gone. Two more starters, OG Blaize Foltz and C James Fry, will be seniors in 2012.

Defensive linemen: TCU isn't losing a lot at this spot, but Ross Forrest and D.J. Yendrey will be seniors in 2012. The Horned Frogs would be well-served to prepare, and offer some depth next year.

Specialists: TCU will have to break in a pair of new starters on special teams next season. Kicker Ross Evans and punter Anson Kelton have exhausted their eligibility.


Receiver: The Red Raiders' offense requires a lot of depth here. Tramain Swindall is the only loss at the position, but three more (Alex Torres, Cornelius Douglas, Darrin Moore) will be seniors. Douglas moved to cornerback this year after the team was racked with injury, but we'll see whether he moves back this offseason.

Offensive line: Tech has a huge need here. Four players won't be returning in 2012. Lonnie Edwards, Mickey Okafor and center Justin Keown must be replaced.

Defensive linemen: Tech's Donald Langley and Scott Smith are both out of eligibility, and juco transfer Leon Mackey will be a senior.'s 2011 All-Big 12 Team

December, 9, 2011
Editor’s Note: Tune into the “AT&T ESPN All America Team Show” on Saturday (ABC, 1:30 p.m. ET) to see who ESPN’s writers and experts selected.

It's been a fun season across the Big 12, with a few big names who didn't play as well as we thought, and lots of unknowns who became household names by the end of the season.

I'll offer my comments below, but here's our All-Big 12 team for 2011.


[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Jerome Miron/US PresswireThe heroics of Robert Griffin III got Baylor to 9-3 and made him a Heisman Trophy finalist.
QB: Robert Griffin III, Baylor
All-purpose: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor
RB: Henry Josey, Missouri
FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma
WR: Kendall Wright, Baylor
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri
C: Grant Garner, Oklahoma State
OL: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M


DE: Frank Alexander, Oklahoma
DT: Dominique Hamilton, Missouri
DE: Alex Okafor, Texas
DE: Jamie Blatnick, Oklahoma State
LB: Sean Porter, Texas A&M
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
LB: Emmanuel Acho, Texas
NB: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
CB: Nigel Malone, Kansas State
CB: Carrington Byndom, Texas
S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
S: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State


P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
PK: Randy Bullock, Texas A&M
PR: Dustin Harris, Texas A&M
KR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

Finally, a few notes and explanations:

  • I loved the media's idea to craft an all-purpose spot to accomodate Collin Klein. The Big Ten did the same for Michigan's Denard Robinson last season. I followed suit, and did so on the defensive side of the ball with a nickel-back spot for Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson. Two players that missed first-team designation by the coaches, but clearly deserve to be recognized.
  • Additionally, I prefer the teams to reflect the Big 12 style of play, so the nickel back fits. Each team doesn't have 11 players, but there were deserving linebackers. The same with Egnew and Millard. Does every team use a fullback or a tight end? No, but both are standout performers. They'd rotate in anyway, just as Jefferson would in a theoretical package.
  • Tough call to leave Philip Blake from Baylor off my team, but Garner's been better. Blake is very, very close, though.
  • Hated to leave off Brodrick Brown and E.J. Gaines, but I went with a more traditional two corners and two safeties, rather than four corners like the media's team.
  • Steven Johnson and Arthur Brown would have been right behind my three linebackers. That race was probably closer than at any other position, except maybe cornerback. Difficult to leave either of those guys off my first team, but the three on the team were better. I gave Brown my Newcomer of the Year nod, though.
  • I don't like going with three defensive ends and one defensive tackle, but there wasn't a defensive tackle who deserved the honor more than Okafor, my third defensive end. Okafor was a defensive tackle last year anyway, so that's close enough, right? He moved from tackle to end before spring practice earlier this year. In the Big 12, an additional pass rusher is necessary, too, right?
  • I made a similar move with my offensive line. Went tackle-heavy, but the guards didn't have quite as many standouts.

STILLWATER, Okla. -- That's as thorough a beating as any Bob Stoops team has taken since USC back in the Orange Bowl.

I believe for their efforts, the Trojans were given a ... national championship? Just some food for thought.

Followed by some analysis for dessert.

How the game was won: Oklahoma State dominated from start to finish in the 44-10 win. Oklahoma moved it early, but Oklahoma State piled on points after a Landry Jones fumble that set up the Cowboys' second touchdown. The second half never materialized as a real contest, especially after Jones inexplicably fumbled while trying to throw a bubble screen and Oklahoma State DE Richetti Jones scooped and scored from five yards out to make it 34-3 early in the third quarter.

Turning point: Down 10-0 and facing a 3rd-and-6 at OSU's 19, Jones was flushed out of the pocket, but OSU LB Alex Elkins caught him. He stripped the Sooners QB, and Jamie Blatnick returned the fumble 59 yards to the OU 1-yard line. The rout, as they say, was on.

Stat of the game: Remember that opportunistic Oklahoma State defense? The one that ranks second in the nation in turnover margin? It grabbed three turnovers in this one, stuffing an OU drive in OSU territory on one, returning another for a touchdown and returning a third to the 1. A solid beating turns to a rout fast when that happens.

Players of the game: Oklahoma State's offensive line. The holes were huge. Brandon Weeden had all day to throw. The Big 12's best front five played a heck of a game and gave the offense what it needed to operate, despite lots of early blitzes from Oklahoma that the Cowboys countered with screen passes. Late in the game, OSU continued to punish OU up front, too.

Second guessing: Poll voters and BCS computers. OSU didn't get any help from LSU, but Oklahoma State and Alabama were pretty close in my mind coming into Saturday night's game. The beatdown swung it in the Pokes' favor from where I'm sitting. No rematch. Let's see LSU's stifling defense take on an Oklahoma State offense that's scoring on everybody. LSU has never seen an offense like it would see in the Superdome. Oklahoma State's never seen a defense like it would encounter. Who doesn't want to see that?

What Oklahoma learned: It can't bounce back offensively from the loss of Ryan Broyles. It struggled last week against Iowa State. Baylor's defense? Well, it's not very good. But the Sooners struggled all night to put together a drive. Receivers weren't open, and OSU's corners, Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert, played outstanding games and both grabbed interceptions. Those receivers were plagued with the drops again, too, and without DE Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma's pass rush was non-existent.

What Oklahoma State learned: It can deliver a beating just like Oklahoma has done time and time again in this rivalry. The worst beating OSU had ever delivered before Saturday was a 47-0 win in 1945. Midway through the fourth quarter of this matchup, Oklahoma State fans started chanting "L-S-U! L-S-U!" in hopes that a date with the Tigers in the Superdome was on the way. Oklahoma State didn't surprise anybody by hanging as many points as it did, but the defense completely shutting down the Sooners? That's a shocker.

What it means: We're in for a very tense next 20 hours or so until the BCS standings are revealed on Sunday night. Virginia Tech, who was ahead of Oklahoma State in both human polls that factor into the BCS, lost to Clemson. That helps, and the lopsided fashion the Cowboys won will make lots of voters think twice about automatically putting Alabama at No. 2 behind LSU on their ballots. Oklahoma State can't hide from its horrible loss at Iowa State. But it has more quality wins than Alabama and has won all but two of its games impressively. Which will carry more weight?

Rough night gets worse for Landry Jones

December, 3, 2011
STILLWATER, Okla. -- I suppose if you ask a quarterback to throw it enough times, bad things will happen eventually?

Landry Jones is on pace for a career high in attempts, but he's already been chiefly responsible for two Oklahoma State touchdowns.

On the latest, he looked like he was whipping the ball out to a receiver on a bubble screen, but the ball slipped out of his hands and went backward.

Richetti Jones scooped it up and returned it 5 yards for the score to make it 34-3 Cowboys early in the third quarter.

Jones already fumbled once on a sack that OSU returned 59 yards to the 1-yard line.

That was an outstanding team play from OSU, who got to Jones on a big blitz and linebacker Alex Elkins forced the fumble.

This one, though? It might have effectively ended the game. The only thing Oklahoma's done less than move the ball is keep Oklahoma State from moving it.

Ugly, ugly night for the Sooners.
STILLWATER, Okla.--Not quite the shootout most expected, but a fun game. Plenty of passes. Quite a few more incompletions than we thought we'd see, perhaps. Most of them by Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State has completely dominated to this point, even more complete than anyone probably could have expected. A mental block against the Sooners, who have won eight consecutive Bedlams? I think not. OSU is on point. The Cowboys are a better team than Oklahoma, but not this much better. The Cowboys are out to prove something to ... pretty much everyone.

Oklahoma banged in a 48-yard field goal at the halftime gun.

Turning point: Oklahoma needed to move the chains. Facing a 3rd-and-6 at the OSU 19-yard line, OSU brought a big blitz and linebacker Alex Elkins knocked the ball away from quarterback Landry Jones. Defensive end Jamie Blatnick scooped it up and rumbled, young man, rumbled 59 yards down to the Oklahoma 1-yard line. Joseph Randle punched in his 22nd rushing touchdown of the season a play later to give OSU total control at 17-0. OU went three-and-out on the ensuing possession.

Stat of the half: Oklahoma has inexplicably ignored its running game, despite not having receiver Ryan Broyles. Jones has thrown the ball 38 (!) times. The Sooners' backs have carried the ball just eight times.

Best player in the half: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State. Weeden's been very, very sharp while Jones has struggled. The Cowboys passer has completed 14 of 21 passes for 156 yards and consistently moved the chains, though he hasn't thrown a touchdown pass yet. The Cowboys have been running free on intermediate throws over the middle, and Weeden's been on the money all night.

What Oklahoma needs to do: Find a balance between a fast-paced offense capable of putting up points and an offense that doesn't ignore the running game. If it sounds near impossible, that's because it is. But that's life with a 21-point deficit at halftime against the nation's No. 3 team. Oklahoma's passing game simply isn't the same without Broyles. Against the kind of pressure OSU's defense puts on opposing offenses, that's abundantly clear tonight. Did Oklahoma feel like it had to come out and outgun OSU?

What Oklahoma State needs to do: Uh, everything it just did. Lost in the "24" on the scoreboard is the "3." Oklahoma State's defense has been aided by a few drops, but they've tackled well, hit harder than Oklahoma and has been sound everywhere with no busts. Opportunistic turnovers have surfaced, too. For Oklahoma State, if it wants a chance at the title, it better keep scoring and preventing Oklahoma from answering. Now is not the time for mercy. Now is the time for style points.

Big 12 weekend rewind

October, 24, 2011
Here's our look back at the weekend that was.

Best offensive player: Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech. Doege quarterbacked the Red Raiders to a huge win over Oklahoma, snapping the Sooners' 39-game home winning streak. He finished 33-of-52 for 441 yards and four touchdowns without a turnover in the 41-38 win.

[+] EnlargeSeth Doege
Mark D. Smith/US PresswireSeth Doege threw four touchdown passes in Texas Tech's upset of Oklahoma.
Best defensive player: Jamie Blatnick, DE, Oklahoma State. OSU ran away from Mizzou late, aided by big plays from the Cowboys defender. Blatnick tipped two passes and both were intercepted by teammates. He also notched a sack and forced a James Franklin fumble for another turnover to help the Cowboys get a big win in the turnover column (4-1).

Best team performance: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were unfazed and went toe-to-toe with the Big 12's top team, beating them in every phase of the game on their home field, and did it while being hampered by injuries, too.

Best game: Texas Tech 41, Oklahoma 38. The Red Raiders jumped out to a 31-7 third-quarter lead and held off a furious late charge by the Sooners for the win. Great theater in a great nightcap after a less-than-thrilling set of early games. The closest margin of victory was Texas A&M's 16-point win over Iowa State.

Best performance in relief: Deveric Gallington, C, Texas Tech. Justin Keown is already playing with one injured knee, and hurt the other early on in the win over Oklahoma. The answer? Gallington, who had never played center. He stepped in admirably, blocking well. And although there were a few shaky snaps, he was an unsung hero in a huge win for Tech.

Second-best performance in relief: Jared Barnett, QB, Iowa State. Steele Jantz struggled early, and the Cyclones turned to Barnett. His completion percentage (44 percent) wasn't high, but he led the team with 66 yards rushing and threw for 180 yards. That's a good sign for the future.

Biggest guts: Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech. Tubs was is full "Riverboat Gambler" mode on Saturday night. He went for a fourth down inside the 5-yard line in the first half and scored a touchdown. He did it again in the second half and failed, as did a fake punt, but it said a lot about Tech's intentions, and the Red Raiders won. Just imagine if they'd won those last two gambles ...

Worst 90 seconds: Kansas before/after halftime. Kansas grabbed momentum with a late first-half touchdown to come within 28-14 with :14 left in the half. In the 1:21 of game time that followed, Kansas State's lead grew to 45-14. A 48-yard pass to Tyler Lockett set up a field goal. Lockett returned the opening kick of the second half for a score, then scored again after a quick fumble inside the 10-yard line by Tony Pierson. Yikes.

Best trend: Big 12 road warriors. Every road team (Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Oklahoma State) won on Saturday, the first time that's happened since 2000 and just the third time in Big 12 history.

Worst guest: Mother Nature. Once again, she rudely interrupted an already late kickoff in the Big 12. Baylor and Texas Tech have dealt with weather delays, and Oklahoma State didn't kick off a game until after midnight earlier this season. Oklahoma and Texas Tech endured a 94-minute delay before their game, which kicked off at 8:45 p.m. The Sooners ran plays and worked out in their indoor facility while Tech passed the time with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the cramped visitor's locker room.

The roadblocks for Oklahoma State reaching Bedlam undefeated with a chance to play for the national title are dwindling.

Missouri was a major one on Saturday. Plenty across the league, yours truly included, had the Cowboys on upset alert.

Oklahoma State's response? Another solid performance, exactly like this team has put together in every other game this season.

Brandon Weeden was sharp, unfazed by numerous drops from a solid receiving corps that could have frustrated less mature, less experienced passers. He finished with 338 passing yards and three scores. Joseph Randle ran for 138 yards and three touchdowns, scoring another on a 13-yard catch.

The defense gave up 463 yards of offense, but forced four turnovers, including a monster second half from Jamie Blatnick, who tipped two passes to teammates for interceptions and forced a fumble on a sack.

OSU's only turnover was costly. Weeden threw an interception to E.J. Gaines in the end zone and Gaines returned it to midfield, igniting the crowd with Missouri trailing by just 14. OSU's answer? Force another turnover deep in its own territory to snatch back momentum.

A strong sign. Like last week against Texas, OSU wasn't at its best. It still won convincingly on the road. This time, against a good opponent and good offense, the Cowboys took another step toward an unprecedented season. If you're coach Mike Gundy, that's exactly what you want to see.

Justin Blackmon suffered an injury and missed the entire second half, too.

"Justin got dinged in the head, and he's fine, but that young man's got too much in the future," Gundy told the FX sideline reporter in postgame. "We're just not going to put him back in there."

Gundy said he'd be back at practice this week.

So, too, will the rest of the Cowboys, with a perfect record and a lot to play for.

Big 12 Media Days schedule

July, 14, 2010
Big 12 Media Days in Irving, Texas are only a couple weeks away, and the schedule for the three-day gabfest has been released.

First thing I noticed: Nebraska (first) and Texas (last) are as far away as possible. Though I don't think the week is going to be as conducive to fireworks as some believe, it should still be plenty entertaining.

Media Days run July 26-28, and here's when to look for who on your team. (all times ET)

Monday, July 26

2:00 Nebraska: Coach Bo Pelini, WR Niles Paul, DE Pierre Allen, CB Prince Amukamara

2:45 Baylor: Coach Art Briles, LB Antonio Johnson, OT Danny Watkins

3:30 Iowa State: Coach Paul Rhoads, QB Austen Arnaud, RB Alexander Robinson, DE Rashawn Parker

4:15 Texas A&M: Coach Mike Sherman, QB Jerrod Johnson, LB Von Miller, DT Lucas Patterson

Tuesday, July 27

10:00 Missouri: Coach Gary Pinkel, QB Blaine Gabbert, RB Derrick Washington, CB Kevin Rutland

10:45 Oklahoma State: Coach Mike Gundy, QB Brandon Weeden, LB Orie Lemon, DE Jamie Blatnick

11:30 Kansas State: Coach Bill Snyder, RB Daniel Thomas, S Tysyn Hartman, OL Zach Kendall

12:15 Texas Tech: Coach Tommy Tuberville, QB Taylor Potts, QB Steven Sheffield, DL Colby Whitlock

Wednesday, July 28

10:00 Kansas: Coach Turner Gill, DE Jake Laptad, CB Chris Harris, OL Brad Thorson

10:45 Oklahoma: Coach Bob Stoops, DE Jeremy Beal, LB Travis Lewis, WR Ryan Broyles

11:30 Colorado: Coach Dan Hawkins, CB Jalil Brown, WR Scotty McKnight, OL Nate Solder

12:15 Texas: Coach Mack Brown, QB Garrett Gilbert, OT Kyle Hix, DE Sam Acho, DT Kheeston Randall

A few quick thoughts:
  • Definitely surprised that Texas' Garrett Gilbert will be making the trip. I saw firsthand how well-spoken he was this spring on my visit to Austin, but I'm still surprised Brown would trot out his first-year starting quarterback for the media horde outside Dallas. Although his presence guarantees there should be plenty to talk about with the Longhorns.
  • Tommy Tuberville probably had to bring two or none of his quarterbacks, lest he tip his undecided hand at his starter and get people talking about a nonexistent decision. He chose the former. Interesting to note that Colorado's Dan Hawkins went with the latter.
  • Not sure why DE Jamie Blatnick will be one of Oklahoma's State's representatives instead of DE Ugo Chinasa or S Markelle Martin. Chinasa is a senior two-year starter heading into his third, while Blatnick is a junior who started only part-time last season. Martin is one of the conference's rising stars.
  • Baylor is the only team in the league bringing just a three-man contingent, and in Waco, they're the closest team to Media Days. A little surprised that Robert Griffin III won't be making the short drive, but at least that forces everyone to ask questions not about Griffin's knee. For that, I thank you, Art. But throwing WR Kendall Wright in the car at the last minute wouldn't be a terrible idea.
  • Meanwhile, Texas is the only team with a five-man crew. Everything's bigger.
  • Pretty good representation elsewhere, no real complaints. What do you think?