NCF Nation: Kendall Wright

Best WR tandems in Big 12 history

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
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The Big 12 has featured some prolific wide receiver tandems over the years.

Baylor’s Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley, however, have a chance to top that list.

[+] EnlargeAntwan Goodley, Tevin Reese
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsAntwan Goodley and Tevin Reese rank 1-2 in the Big 12 in receiving yards per game.
This season, Reese is second in the Big 12 with 118 yards receiving a game. He trails only Goodley, who leads the league with an average of 128 yards receiving. They are a big reason why the Bears are on pace to break the FBS records for points (56.0) and yards (624.9) per game that were set by Army in 1944 and Houston in 1989.

But Reese and Goodley aren’t the only big-time duos in the Big 12 this year.

Kansas State’s Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett have been lighting it up since returning from injury. The last two weeks the two have totaled five touchdown catches.

Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard lead the Sooners with five touchdowns apiece. Texas Tech’s Eric Ward and Jakeem Grant are fifth and sixth in the league in receiving. Oklahoma State’s Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore are beginning to warm up with Clint Chelf at QB. And Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis have been stalwarts in this league for years.

But who are the best tandems ever to play Big 12? We lay it out below.

Tight ends were not included (sorry Jermaine Gresham and Chase Coffman). The tandems were evaluated on what they accomplished together, not on whether their careers simply overlapped (eliminating Jeremy Maclin and Danario Alexander, for example); and, this is a list for duos, not singles, trios or quartets (apologies to Rashaun Woods, and the 2008 Oklahoma and 2010 Baylor receiving corps).

To the list:

1. Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, West Virginia (2012): In their only year in the league, this tandem was one-two in the Big 12 in receiving, combining for 224 receptions and 2,914 receiving yards. Bailey himself had 25 receiving touchdowns; nobody else in the league had more than 13. Austin, meanwhile, also rushed for 344 yards in one game at running back. As Bailey tweeted out earlier Monday morning on this topic, “case closed.”

2. Michael Crabtree and Danny Amendola, Texas Tech (2007): Crabtree got all the headlines in 2007 on his way to winning his first of two Biletnikoff awards. But out of the slot, Amendola quietly put up 109 receptions for 1,245 yards, as Tech went 9-4.

3. Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby, Texas (2008): Shipley and Cosby starred on one of the three best Big 12 teams that didn’t win a conference title. The two each had 1,000 receiving yards and double-digit TDs from QB Colt McCoy, as the Longhorns finished the year 12-1, their only loss coming on Crabtree’s game-winning touchdown in the final seconds in Lubbock. The two were also prolific on special teams, with Shipley’s kick return touchdown sparking Texas’ 45-35 comeback win over Oklahoma.

4. Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper, Oklahoma State (2011): As with Crabtree-Amendola, Blackmon got all the attention on his way to a second Biletnikoff award. But Cooper was a pivotal piece in OSU’s first Big 12 title team, as he racked up 71 receptions out of the slot. Blackmon, of course, had a monster year with 121 catches and 18 touchdowns.

5. Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams, Baylor (2011): Reese was actually the third wheel to this duo, which shined with RGIII at quarterback. Wright was an All-American with 108 catches, 1,663 yard and 14 touchdowns. Williams was big time, too, finishing fifth in the Big 12 in receiving before taking over the No. 1 role in 2012.

6. Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (2010): Broyles led college football with 131 receptions on his way to becoming the all-time FBS leader in career catches. Stills broke OU’s freshman single-season receiving record, as the Sooners stormed back to capture the Big 12 crown after a pair of midseason losses.

7. Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas (2008): It might be difficult to remember now, but the Jayhawks used to play some ball. Meier tied Crabtree for second in the league with 97 receptions. Briscoe trailed only Dez Bryant with 1,402 receiving yards. This was an underrated duo.

8. Quincy Morgan and Aaron Lockett, Kansas State (1999): On one of the first passing teams in the Big 12, Morgan and Lockett shined. Morgan had 42 receptions for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns and was a first-team all-conference selection. Lockett, Tyler Lockett's uncle, was a second-team all-league pick for the Wildcats, who went 11-1 and finished the year ranked sixth in the polls.

9. Jarrett Hicks and Joel Filani, Texas Tech (2005): Neither might be a household name around the Big 12 anymore, but these two were both first-team All-Big 12 selections in ’05 along with Iowa State WR Todd Blythe.

10. Mark Clayton and Travis Wilson, Oklahoma (2004): Clayton carried the moniker of best receiver in OU history until Broyles came around. Because of Adrian Peterson, Clayton’s numbers dipped in ’04, but he was still an All-American with 66 catches. Wilson led the Sooners with 11 TD grabs, as OU advanced to a second consecutive national championship game.
Art Briles had to be in a little disbelief looking up at the scoreboard during his last two dates with Oklahoma State, both in Stillwater.

"They’ve whooped us pretty good the last two years, unless my memory serves me wrong," Briles said. "They’ve kind of had their way with us."

The 56-year-old's memory is just fine. The Bears' fell behind Oklahoma State 49-3 after three quarters a year ago, despite possessing the nation's No. 2 offense and future Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. Baylor moved the ball, but turnovers and red zone failures combined with a hapless defense turned a pivotal Big 12 game into a laugher.

A year earlier, it was much of the same. Oklahoma State raced out to a 41-7 lead late in the third quarter against a ranked Bears team.

Baylor's had a historical run behind Briles, qualifying for three consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history and winning 23 games over that span. Still, Oklahoma State's held a hefty advantage over the Bears, winning six consecutive games in the series.

[+] EnlargeArt Briles
AP Photo/LM OteroArt Briles' Bears have been outscored 114-52 by Oklahoma State during their past two meetings.
"It’s hard to explain why sometimes your players have really good weeks and then sometimes they don’t," coach Mike Gundy said of his team's recent dominance against Baylor. "We’ve played them later in the season, and our teams have practiced good and been healthy, but it’s hard to explain."

The Cowboys visit Waco this weekend for the first time since 2009 to close the season. Can Briles get his first win over a fellow Big 12 resurgent squad against OSU? He maintains the last two matchups won't affect this year's team or its confidence.

"One of those was what, 770 days ago or 800 days ago? The other one was 300 something days ago," he said.

Both teams are bowl eligible and out of the Big 12 title race heading into the final weekend, so they're playing for mostly bowl positioning and pride, but even a close loss might have Baylor feeling better about itself than it has the last two times the Cowboys have run the Bears out of Stillwater.

"With any great passing offense, you need to make them one-dimensional, so if you can limit their run game, which has been successful this year, you can get a better rush on the quarterback and make him throw some bad passes," linebacker Shaun Lewis said. "They kill teams with big plays, and if we can limit those big plays and make them drive the field, it might slow them down."

That's what happened the past two games. Before some garbage time scores in both games, OSU prevented the Bears' signature long touchdowns. Last year, a goal line stand, a fumble and an end zone interception left the Bears frustrated and out of the end zone until the game was well out of hand.

The Pokes will be looking for the same result against the Bears this week. Baylor doesn't have RG3 or Kendall Wright this time around, but Gundy's been impressed by his replacement, Nick Florence, who has the Bears back at No. 2 nationally in total offense.

"Coach Briles and their staff do a great job of getting him programmed for each game. He throws the ball, moves around and runs the ball effective enough to make some plays. He’s a very accurate passer. His numbers speak for themselves," Gundy said. "It’s extremely difficult what he’s done … I’m glad he’s a senior, to be honest with you."
Thanks for all the e-mails this week, everybody. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.

Let's get to your e-mail!

Terry Nixon in Marietta, Ga., writes: Hey Squinky--uh I mean Ubbs,See you're back with us. What is it the 4th, or maybe just the 3rd time you've picked us for the upset special. Keep doing it and you will get at least one right. I know we ruined your forecasting year the last couple but you didn't have to get even all in one year. Oh well enjoy while you can--next year is out for you.

David Ubben: Ha, this stuff always cracks me up. Fans get more bent out of shape at being put on upset alert than being picked against. I'm not even kidding. You've got me there, Terry. I've put OSU on alert in three of the last four weeks, and they soundly proved me wrong against Iowa State and TCU.

Still, you can only project with given information. I wasn't the one spearheading the upset alert last year, but the simple nature of being an undefeated team is everyone's going to dissect the ways and possibilities you can lose each week. That's what spices up any BCS race. Ironically, the one game almost no one put OSU on upset alert last year for, it lost.

So, maybe we're doing you a favor. Kidding. But don't take it so personally.




Jeremy writes: What percentage do you give each of the four unbeatens to stay undefeated going into bowl season?

DU: You don't have to ask me. The last projection I saw (by our BCS expert Brad Edwards, I believe), the four unbeatens had 7.9 percent chance of all being undefeated, up from three percent last week. Coincidentally, that 7.9 percent is the exact same as the American national unemployment rate.

BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN??




Ben Nelson in Dallas writes: You stated that you went 3-2 in your picks last week. Actually, it was more like 3-3."On Saturday, Texas Tech will beat Texas and transform into the best team in Texas after Mississippi State knocks off Texas A&M." I'll be checking for an update to the blog.

DU: You got me here too, Ben. I'll accept my reckoning. Thing about going out on a limb? Sometimes it snaps.




Eric Lovig in Paola, Kan., writes: In a recent blog you posted that "Oklahoma would need two K-State losses to win the conference outright, but would earn a share if they win out and Kansas State slips up in one of its final three games."I was reading up on the big 12 rules and via their website and it reads: "The following procedure will determine the Big 12 Conference representative to the Bowl Championship Series in the event of a first-place tie: a. If two teams are tied, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the representative.") According to the Big 12 website, even if Kansas State "slips up" in one of its last 3 games and OU wins out, Kansas State (having one conference loss) would be the Big 12 champs since they own the tiebreaker with OU (also one conference loss) by beating them head to head. Am I missing something?

DU: You're missing one big thing, Eric. This isn't the old Big 12, where one team has to play for the Big 12 title from each division. Everybody knows K-State would be the real Big 12 champion, just like everybody knows who the real division champions are in the old Big 12. It's the team who represented the division in the Big 12 championship game.

That's true, but the Big 12 rules are only about who represents the Big 12 in the BCS. Oklahoma wouldn't get the Big 12's automatic bid if it tied Kansas State, but it would have earned a share of the Big 12 title. Get used to it now. I don't like it, and I'm sure you don't either.

The simple truth: Split Big 12 titles are a reality in the new Big 12. The Big 12 got lucky and didn't have one last year. It might happen again. Though, if K-State slips up, I expect Oklahoma to be sitting their waiting to collect another Big 12 title -- and a BCS bid, even though it won't be the Big 12's automatic BCS bid.




Johnny Bryant in Austin, Texas, writes: Does Texas have a realistic shot of making a BCS bowl?

DU: It's definitely realistic. Let's break down the obvious path. Texas is sitting pretty at No. 17 in the BCS right now with Iowa State this week and TCU on Thanksgiving night after a bye week. Then it's on the road at K-State.

Texas might be inside or near the top 10 if it wins those first two games, but if it beats K-State, there's no doubt. Texas would likely be at No. 7 or 8 and looking really, really good with a 10-2 record.

Do you really think any BCS bowl would turn down the Longhorns at 10-2 in the top 10 and rolling in with a six-game winning streak? Absolutely not.

Debate the possibility of Texas winning out to that point all you want, but the path is there, and after last week's win at TCU, the possibility looks a lot more realistic.




David Wells in McAlester, Okla., writes: Just read your article about your prediction for an upset, possibly even a blowout in the West Virginia vs Oklahoma State game. I'm not saying an upset isn't possible, but there is a much possibility of a blowout in OSU's favor as there is in WVU's. OSU beat TCU by 22 in Stillwater just 2 weeks ago, and TCU beat WVU at Morgantown just last Saturday. From appearances last Saturday, it looked like OSU's 3rd team quarterback played better than their 1st (it appeared Lunt was suffering from some rust), and by the way Chelf played, if he had played the whole game, OSU may have had a chance of upsetting KState (I don't now how the turnover situation may have panned out, that's anybody's guess). I can't see an advantage of one side knowing the other, both teams know how certain aspects of the other team operate, so any advantage would equal out. Would it surprise you if OSU walked away blowing out WVU?

DU: I mean, you could do this all day with about any two teams with losses. West Virginia beat Texas on the road. Oklahoma State lost to them at home.

WVU isn't playing very well the past month, and the truth is teams don't offer the same quality of play every week. That's the nature of the game. My prediction was West Virginia will snap out of whatever funk it's been in the last month and knock off the Cowboys.

Compare scores all you want. I know what I've seen: A West Virginia team not playing up to its potential the past month. They took a decent step forward last week, and they'll get over the hump this week.




Mike in Oklahoma City, Okla., writes: Terrance Williams has been given little love on the national stage for his performance so far. Do you forsee a repeat of last year when Kendall Wright was overshadowed by a nationally known receiver, Justin Blackmon? Blackmon got the the Biletnikoff in 2011 despite Kendall Wright having better overall numbers. What does Williams have to do to take home the award this year?

DU: Well, last year was kind of the perfect storm for Wright. I think Blackmon was a better receiver last year, but Wright put up his craziest numbers down the stretch last year after the finalists list was made. You can debate the legitimacy of the timing of that finalist list if you'd like. That's fair.

As for this year, Williams is hurt by playing for a weak Baylor team while Marqise Lee has had a lot of attention in playing for a national brand like USC, though the Trojans have plenty of struggles of their own.

I do think Williams ends up winning it if he keeps his pace. He's just been so consistent. We haven't seen a guy rack up numbers like this since Blackmon in 2010. He caught 100 yards and a TD in every single game. That was pretty unbelievable.

Williams has at least 130 yards in every game but one, and scored in every game but two. Keep that pace up, and he's going to be very, very hard to turn down for the award. He's got to just keep on trucking. Baylor winning some games would help, but it doesn't have to happen. Like I've said all season, receivers don't have a heavy influence on whether teams win games when you compare them to running backs and quarterbacks. Teams are running 80-100 plays in the Big 12 these days, and receivers touch the ball 10-15 times a game tops. He can't single-handedly win games for Baylor. He hasn't had much help from the defense and a productive but turnover-prone Nick Florence this year.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 9

October, 28, 2012
10/28/12
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Here's what I learned during a pretty wild weekend in the Big 12.

Kansas State needs style points or losses by top-five teams. I didn't buy Notre Dame as a team good enough to run the table ... until last night. The Fighting Irish beat Oklahoma convincingly, and in the process won over a whole lot of voters. K-State did its dirty work early, beating the Sooners, West Virginia and then Texas Tech on Saturday. But in the final month of the season, the Wildcats might go without a matchup against a Top 25 team, while BCS challengers Notre Dame and Oregon go head-to-head with USC, and the Ducks also get a shot at Oregon State to close the season. The chances of K-State hanging on to the No. 2 spot if Notre Dame wins out are minimal at best. Oregon will be a nail-biter. It's unfair for the Wildcats, but somebody has to get left out if there are three or four undefeated teams. As it stands, K-State looks like the team that will get stuck on the outside looking in. That said, there's still a month of football left to be played. Nobody thought Oklahoma State would lose to Iowa State last year, or that West Virginia would lose to Pitt back in 2009. Anything can happen.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
AP Photo/Reed HoffmannSkies could be sunnier for Mack Brown and Texas even though the Longhorns improved to 6-2.
Texas' season is hanging by a thread. The Longhorns narrowly avoided disaster, but there are still quality teams left on Texas' schedule. The Longhorns wouldn't have beaten any of them playing like they did on Saturday, needing a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback led by Case McCoy to beat Kansas, a team with a 16-game losing streak in the Big 12. A loss to Kansas would have legitimized all the talk about Mack Brown being on the hot seat. He's OK for now, but if Texas stumbles to another eight-win season, will that still be the case? As one fellow scribe reminded me on Saturday, if you change two fourth-quarter throws on fourth down, Texas would be slumming at 4-4. It's 6-2 instead, but not a very impressive 6-2.

Oklahoma State might be preparing for a late-season charge. Quietly, the Cowboys beat up on good teams at the bottom of the Big 12 standings. TCU and Iowa State aren't that far off from being Top 25 teams, and the Cowboys beat both by three touchdowns. When OSU runs the ball, it's really hard to beat. Texas looks overrated, but Arizona knocked off USC on Saturday, and OSU will get its chance to prove just how good it really is with a trip to K-State next week, then a visit from West Virginia the following week. Then it's Texas Tech and OU. That's a whole lot of Top 25 teams, but OSU is going to be a tough out.

Baylor is in big, big trouble. The Bears looked to have the offensive firepower to withstand the losses of Robert Griffin III, Terrance Ganaway and Kendall Wright, but I'm not so sure any more. The defensive deficiencies are catching up to Baylor, and the offense isn't playing well enough to keep up. The Bears are now 0-4 in Big 12 play, joining Kansas as the only teams to lose every league game so far. Baylor talked a big game about validating what RG3 did for the program, but has fallen flat to this point.

Winning at Oklahoma doesn't seem so hard anymore. Oklahoma lost two games under Bob Stoops in Norman from 1999 until the 2011 season. Before this season, it had never lost to a ranked team at home under Stoops. But now? Texas Tech pulled a huge upset last year, and ranked foes K-State and Notre Dame walked into Norman and outplayed the Sooners. The mystique from that 39-game home winning streak is gone, and Notre Dame beat the Sooners by 17 on their home field, dominating the line of scrimmage and the fourth quarter. Ugly stuff. It's worth noting that OU's two losses came to teams that are among just six undefeateds left in college football, but Oklahoma hoped it would be among the nation's elite this season. It's not.
WACO, Texas -- It's been almost five years since Baylor hasn't had Robert Griffin III on its roster, but later tonight, Art Briles begins his first season at Baylor without last year's Heisman winner.

The Bears have plenty of offensive talent returning, though the Big 12's rushing champ (Terrance Ganaway) and receiving champ (Kendall Wright) are gone, too.

What will the new faces look like? We'll find out tonight. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports, and this should be a fun one between two teams that love to open up their offenses and let it fly.

That's what I'm watching today. We know Nick Florence can do it in spots. We saw it last year in the win over Texas Tech, and we saw flashes of it back in 2009 when he filled in for RG3 following his torn ACL early in the season.

Can he do it every week? That starts today. I'm a believer in Florence, in part because of the solid guys in front of him, headlined by center Ivory Wade and tackle Cyril Richardson, who are both All-Big 12-caliber guys. His backs should have plenty of holes and receivers like Tevin Reese and Terrance Williams are speedy, with plenty of experience playing with Griffin the past couple of seasons.

How will the defense handle SMU? The Bears made some strides late in the season in the turnover department, but the last time we saw the Bears, they were giving up 56 points to Washington in the bowl game ... and still finding a way to win. Florence is good, but the loss of RG3 no doubt trims the margin of error for this defense.

Baylor's got to be careful. Cornerbacks K.J. Morton, Demetri Goodson and Joe Williams need to play well against June Jones' run-and-shoot attack, but the bigger concern might be Zach Line up front. Baylor won't face many running backs like him in the Big 12.

Curious Big 12 fans can get a their first look at former Longhorn Garrett Gilbert in his new surroundings. He's a good fit for Jones' scheme, and despite his obvious failures at Texas, there's no denying his physical skills and resume as one of the greatest high school players in Texas history. This is a completely different offense and a completely different challenge. Should be interesting to see how he responds.

I expect the Bears to hang enough points to win this one, but the Mustangs will light up the scoreboard, too, and make it interesting. Either way, this should be a fun one. Let's get started. Stay right here for coverage throughout the night.
WACO, Texas -- Heisman winner Robert Griffin III earned accolades for his performance at the podium at last month's NFL combine, but he elected not to throw until his pro day at Baylor.

The day for NFL scouts, GMs and coaches to see it up close and in person has arrived. Or, at least, it will on Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
AdidasRG3 will get his chance Wednesday to show off for NFL scouts, GMs and coaches at Baylor's pro day.
"It’ll probably be the biggest pro day Baylor’s had in awhile," Griffin said on Monday after arriving to campus to take in his former team's spring practice.

Now, when would Baylor have ever had a bigger pro day?

"Well, I didn’t want to say that," Griffin said with a laugh.

Make no mistake, it's the biggest ever. Around 130 media members were credentialed for Wednesday's event, and 60-80 more NFL personnel are expected to arrive. That number was trimmed from around 120 after the Washington Redskins traded up to No. 2 with intentions to select Griffin.

"We’ll see what happens," Griffin said of his future destination. "Either way, if it’s Indy or Washington or whatever happens in the draft, I’ll be excited to play for that team."

The Bears had originally planned to allow fans to attend, and expected around 1,000 to show up and watch Griffin go throw a scripted set of throws, but that plan was scrapped.

Several networks, including ESPN, will broadcast the pro day live. The Big 12 Blog will be on hand, too. It's not only about Griffin throwing, though.

"We’re trying to show [NFL teams] we’ve got two really good running backs in Terrance Ganaway and Isaac Williams. Kendall [Wright]’s going to show off and do his thing and run great routes," Griffin said. "We’ve got a couple older guys coming back in Ernest Smith and Krys Buerck. They’re looking forward to a shot at the NFL, so I’m trying to help, help everybody out, not just show what I can do. Tape doesn’t lie, so I don’t have to prove anything at pro day, it’s about going out and having fun and helping those guys be successful, so we’re looking forward to it."

Griffin's spent the past two-plus months training in Arizona for Wednesday, and explained some of what Wednesday's workout can prove to NFL teams that want to see more than just his extensive, impressive game tape.

"The routes are all different in different systems, but they give you that generic NFL route tree and they want you to go run that and show them, 'Hey, I can run the basics, now teach me everything else,'" Griffin said. "So, just matching the drops to those throws, because they’re not what anybody does in the college level, no matter whether they’re in a pro system or in a spread system.

"I don’t think I’ve ever seen a quarterback go seven [steps], plant and throw -- throw an out route at the college level. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a spread or in a pro style at college. It’s still a different game and I’m excited to go play that game."

He'll get his chance this fall, but even with an adidas endorsement deal, Griffin isn't showing off any newfound cash just yet.

He hasn't made any car or house purchases, and doesn't have any plans to change that just right now.

"Not at all," he said. "I’m still broke."
WACO, Texas -- Baylor practiced for about two hours in shoulder pads and shorts on Monday, and I got a chance to see the new-look Bears up close and personal.

I’ll be writing about this in detail in the coming weeks, but first things first: the quarterbacks.

  • It was a windy day with what I’d say were easily 30-40 mph gusts, so the Bears moved inside for the second half of practice, but even in the wind, quarterback Nick Florence looked really good. Throwing into the wind, he hit Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese on consecutive deep balls down the field in one-on-one drills. Reese and Williams, by the way, looked great ... but you already knew that.
  • Bryce Petty is a step above Florence when it comes to physical skills, but Florence isn’t that far behind. Petty has a bigger arm and a bit more velocity, but both quarterbacks can definitely “make all the throws,” as they say. We’ve seen Florence do it in game action, but ultimately, it’s hard to see Florence losing this job. He’s been in this system since 2009, and it shows. He’s decisive. He’s got a quick release. He makes moving the ball in pass skeleton or 11-on-11 look effortless at times and he takes care of the ball.
  • [+] EnlargeNick Florence
    Sarah Glenn/Getty ImagesEarly indications from spring practice shows Nick Florence will be Baylor's starter this fall.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Florence will be a well above average quarterback in this league, but Petty could already start for a handful of Big 12 teams. Bottom line is I think this plays out like most think. This is Florence's team in 2012. Baylor can feel good about that. In 2013 and 2014, this is Petty's team. Baylor can feel really, really good about that. Art Briles has to sleep easy at night when it comes to worrying about quarterbacks.
  • I’ll have more on him today, too, but hyped transfer Lache Seastrunk looks like he’s bulked up a whole lot. It shows in his shoulders and calves, especially. He’s much thicker, which I have to think he understood he needed after an unproductive stop at Oregon before transferring to Baylor. His development will be fun to watch. Right now, he’s getting some reps with the first team, but Jarred Salubi was getting the majority of first-team reps. Surpassing him will be tough, but I think Seastrunk will get a decent chunk of touches this year. He’s got an explosiveness and shiftiness that’s rare; it’s easy to see why he was so highly recruited. But will that mean production? We’ll see. Late in practice, he disappeared in the pile during 11-on-11 drills, but broke outside and outran everybody down the left side for what would have been an 80-yard touchdown run.
  • That wowed the defenders on the sideline. "He’s been hanging out with one of the best backs around, LaMichael James," exclaimed defensive end Tevin Elliott on the sidelines, to no one in particular. “That must be where he gets some of his swag from."
  • That said, don’t let the hype from Seastrunk distract from what looks like a strong effort by Salubi to win this job ahead of Glasco Martin as well. He’s running hard inside the tackles and showcasing a physical style we didn’t see much of last year. Terrance Ganaway provided that all last season, and the Bears need someone to duplicate it. Salubi looks like he wants to answer the call and be known for more than shiftiness on the outside.
  • One scary thing to watch for, Bears: Replacing center Philip Blake. I don’t recall many bad snaps last year, but the first two to Florence during 11-on-11 drills on Monday were bad, and I counted at least six through the rest of the practice. Four with the first unit. There’s a lot of time to fix that, but center is one of those positions people don’t quite appreciate until they don’t have a good one.
  • A rough day for the defense. The athletes are there for the Bears, but the offense moved the ball at will in most of the team drills. Such is life going up against a high-powered set of skill players like the ones the Bears have. You couldn’t get much of a feel for the physicality, however, because players were only wearing shoulder pads.
  • Baylor’s one of the most fun teams in the league when it comes to trick plays; the Bears successfully executed quite a few in wins over TCU and Oklahoma. They’ve got some more fun ones drawn up along the goal line; plays we didn’t see in 2011 and ones I haven’t seen anyone duplicate. Detailing those is a good way to make sure you don’t ever see a practice again, but I’ll say this: They’ll be fun when Baylor busts them out.
  • With Baylor’s pro day looming on Wednesday, lots of the team’s departing seniors were on hand at Monday’s practice, back from training for the combine and pro day. Quarterback Robert Griffin III was on the field and for the first half and in the huddle for some of that period talking with Briles and various players. Receiver Kendall Wright and Ganaway were also on hand, and stuck around to watch the second half of practice indoors.
  • We’ll have some more from Griffin later today, but don’t be surprised if he busts out some bright cleats at his pro day showcase on Wednesday. He showed up Monday toting cleats reminiscent of the “Electricity” uniforms Baylor’s basketball team wore this postseason. Scott Drew would be proud.

Big 12 spring football preview

February, 21, 2012
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Spring football is already under way at Texas Tech, but in the coming weeks, the Big 12's other nine programs will join the Red Raiders in taking the field as a team for the first time since January, December or November for some.

Here's a preview of what to expect:

BAYLOR BEARS

Spring practice start date: March 19
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • Nick Florence: It's not official, but the Baylor quarterback job is Florence's to lose. That means he inherits the unenviable task of replacing the school's first Heisman winner. He replaced RG3 in 2009 with mixed results, but showed some major potential in a win over Texas Tech when RG3 took a shot to the head and sat out the second half. Can he keep the bowl streak alive at Baylor? We'll get an idea this spring.
  • The defense's progression: You didn't need to see much more than the 67-56 Alamo Bowl win over Washington to know the Bears needed some work on defense. In the month of November, Baylor became the first team in FBS history to win four consecutive games in a single season while also giving up at least 30 points in each of those games. The defense can't make Florence pick up the slack to that level. Year 2 under Phil Bennett must be better. Baylor has no excuses. The Bears have the athletes on campus necessary to be at least a decent defense.
  • The team's attitude/motivation: Baylor played with a lot of purpose the past two seasons, and made history in both, cracking a 16-year bowl drought and winning 10 games this year. Is that fire still there? Baylor has to prove it is without RG3 (and Kendall Wright) carrying the team on the field, emotionally and mentally.
IOWA STATE CYCLONES

Spring practice start date: March 20
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • The quarterback battle: Or is it? Jared Barnett looked like the man of the future in Ames late in the season, leading the Cyclones to an historic upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State. But in the ugly Pinstripe Bowl loss to a mediocre Rutgers team, Barnett's inaccuracy posed big questions. He was benched and Steele Jantz stepped in, though he didn't play much better than Barnett. Turnovers were an issue for Jantz early on, but Barnett has to bounce back in the spring to make sure the job doesn't come open.
  • The receivers: Darius Reynolds was the big-play man for the Cyclones, but he's gone. It's going to be tough to replace him. Slot receivers Aaron Horne and Josh Lenz were productive, but did little to stretch defenses like Reynolds did. Can ISU find someone to fill the void?
  • The new man at left tackle: Iowa State had the luxury of having a future pro, Kelechi Osemele, at left tackle for the past three seasons. He earned All-Big 12 nods in each of those seasons, but he's gone now. Junior Carter Bykowski was behind Osemele on the depth chart, but will the converted tight end be the new man at tackle for the Cyclones?
KANSAS JAYHAWKS

Spring practice start date: March 27
Spring game: April 28

What to watch:
  • Uh, everything?: I mean, what's not to watch at KU? Charlie Weis steps in for the fired Turner Gill and tries to build KU up from nothing. The Jayhawks were one of the worst teams in Big 12 history last season, losing six games by at least 30 points. Weis will speak his mind and watching him rebuilding the Jayhawks is going to be fun. It all starts next month -- on the field, at least.
  • KU's new pass-catch combo: Dayne Crist is on campus, and so is Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay, a former blue-chip recruit who didn't quite catch on in Norman. Quarterback and receiver were arguably the two biggest positions of need for KU last year, and we'll get a preview of what could be a productive combo next season. McCay isn't officially eligible for the 2012 season yet -- he needs the NCAA to waive its mandated redshirt year after a transfer -- but the coaching staff is confident he'll have it granted.
  • The uncertainty on the depth chart: When a new staff comes in, you never know what to expect. Kansas' leading rusher in its final season under Mark Mangino, Toben Opurum, is now one of its best defensive linemen. Look for Weis to shake things up, too. Where? Who knows?
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

Spring practice start date: April 4
Spring game: April 28

What to watch:
  • Collin Klein's maturation: Kansas State's quarterback could be fun to watch this spring and next fall. His throwing motion isn't pretty, but his accuracy improved in a big way throughout the season. If that continues at a pace anything close to what we saw last year, K-State's going to be a load for everyone. Look out.
  • Developing depth at running back: John Hubert is back, and so is seldom-used Angelo Pease. Bryce Brown is gone, though. Klein handles a lot of the heavy lifting in the running game, but it'd be some nice insurance if K-State could establish some more depth in the backfield. Making Klein carry the ball 300 times again is tempting fate.
  • Stars becoming superstars: Kansas State brings back more starters than all but seven teams in college football, so this team is going to look remarkably similar in 2012 to the way it did last year. However, it should get better. And its two transfers could look dominant this spring. Cornerback Nigel Malone and linebacker Arthur Brown emerged as stars last year, but we could see the duo emerge as true game-changers this spring. Look out, Big 12 offenses.
OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Spring practice start date: March 8
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • New faces on, off the field: Mike Stoops' arrival as the defensive coordinator was the biggest news this offseason in the Big 12, and Brent Venables, who had been at OU for all of Bob Stoops' tenure, left for Clemson rather than become co-defensive coordinator. Hopes are high that Stoops can revitalize Oklahoma's defense. He was in charge when the Sooners rode a dominant D to the 2000 national title, and the Sooners have the talent to win it all in 2012. Receiver Trey Metoyer joins the team this spring, and could be a major contributor immediately. Two of the team's four new tight ends are also enrolled early.
  • QB Blake Bell's role: The Belldozer is back … but so is full-time quarterback Landry Jones. How will the balance between the duo look this spring? And what new wrinkles will we see in Oklahoma's simple, yet near-unstoppable short-yardage formation that scored 13 touchdowns in the second half of 2011?
  • The battle at defensive end: Oklahoma must fill two huge holes at defensive end. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Frank Alexander is gone, as is possible first-round pick Ronnell Lewis. R.J. Washington contributed late and has potential, but David King filled in for Lewis in the final three games of the season. The duo could be great, but it could also be pretty pedestrian. We'll get an idea this spring, but Lewis and Alexander set a high, high bar.
OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

Spring practice start date: March 12
Spring game: April 21

What to watch:
  • The quarterback battle: This will easily be the highest-profile, highest-quality quarterback battle in the Big 12. It won't be at the level of Texas Tech in 2010, but it won't be too far off. Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt will go head to head. All have plenty of potential, though Lunt may have the most. The big-armed true freshman also has the least experience. Anything could happen here.
  • Which receivers rise: Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper leave huge holes behind. It's not every day a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner walks on campus. Hubert Anyiam is gone, too. Michael Harrison is unlikely to play for the 2012 season, but the school has offered no confirmation on his status. He had the most potential, but OSU is deep at the position. Who emerges as the top target? Isaiah Anderson? Tracy Moore? Josh Stewart? Anything could happen there, too.
  • Defense needs a leader: Safety Markelle Martin has been the heart of the defense the past two seasons, but his big-hitting days are over. Who becomes the new voice of the defense? It needs to find leadership this spring heading into summer voluntary workouts.
TEXAS LONGHORNS

Spring practice start date: Feb. 23
Spring game: April 1

What to watch:
  • The quarterback competition: I still think having a competition at the spot, which Texas says it will, isn't the best option, but David Ash and Case McCoy will go at it alongside early-enrolling freshman Connor Brewer. If Ash secures the job, expect an announcement heading into summer officially anointing the sophomore.
  • More sophistication on both sides of the ball: The progression is natural and likely. Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz had good first years in Austin, but this is Year 2. The spring won't be devoted to learning the playbook. It's time to master it. Both units could look markedly different, and much more refined next fall. Deny it all you like: Texas is back on its way to the top after a rough two years.
  • Maturing offensive weapons: Last season, the Longhorns relied on two true freshman running backs (Malcolm Brown/Joe Bergeron), a freshman/sophomore rotation at quarterback and its top receiver (Jaxon Shipley) was a true freshman. No. 2 (Mike Davis) was a sophomore. I hope I don't have to tell you what freshmen and sophomores do in college football. Look. Out.
TCU HORNED FROGS

Spring practice start date: Feb. 25
Spring end date: April 5

What to watch:
  • Can TCU shut out the scandal? Four team members were arrested in a recent drug sting and kicked off the team. How much of a distraction will that be for a program undergoing the most monumental change in its history? Quantifying the effects of the scandal will be pretty impossible, and we've got no idea how they'll handle the change, but will it be on players' minds?
  • The offense tightens up: The Horned Frogs' offense is absolutely loaded and ready to go for 2012. Quarterback Casey Pachall returns and brings his top three weapons (Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter) with him. Running backs Waymon James, Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker each topped 700 yards rushing in 2011 and all return. The spring will be all about fine-tuning an already stellar offense, and it'll be fun to watch.
  • Replacing departed starters: All-America linebacker Tanner Brock was among the four football players arrested and booted from the team, as was all-conference defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey and likely starting safety Devin Johnson. Those were unforeseen losses, but TCU can't feel sorry for itself. Gary Patterson has no choice but to find new faces to fill those holes.
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Spring practice start date: Feb. 17
Spring game: March 24

What to watch:
  • Once again, a new defense: Texas Tech sounds like a broken record these days when it comes to defensive coordinators. This time, Art Kaufman will be stepping to the microphone as the fourth defensive coordinator in Lubbock in four years. He's bringing a 4-3, a shift back to what Ruffin McNeil ran in 2009. Chad Glasgow's 4-2-5 and James Willis' 3-4 failed miserably in 2011 and 2010, respectively, the first two years under Tommy Tuberville.
  • The battle at running back: No one knows yet if Eric Stephens will be back next season. There's still a long way to go in his rehab from a dislocated knee he suffered last season in a loss to Texas A&M. DeAndre Washington is also out this spring after tearing his ACL against Missouri. Harrison Jeffers hung up his cleats. Who will prove to be reliable this spring? Look for the Red Raiders to try to use sophomore Bradley Marquez, freshman Javares McRoy and junior SaDale Foster in a manner similar to the way Oregon uses scatback De'Anthony Thomas, with lots of short passes and bubble screens to get them the ball in space, where they can use their speed and shiftiness to make plays.
  • Team health: Tuberville said earlier this month that the team is missing 15 players this spring. It can't afford any more injuries. It's already going to be tough to get enough done this spring, but Tech can't start getting banged up.
WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

Spring practice start date: March 11
Spring game: April 21

What to watch:
  • Dana Holgorsen's offense in Year 2: Holgorsen didn't get a chance to coach his talented offense at Oklahoma State in its second year. The results could have been crazy. They might be at West Virginia in 2012, and the beginning steps will be taken this spring as Geno Smith & Co. get more and more comfortable with the system and Holgorsen adds more wrinkles.
  • The battle at running back: Sophomore Dustin Garrison hurt his knee in practices leading up to the Mountaineers' 70-33 Orange Bowl win over Clemson, and won't be there for the spring. What does senior Shawne Alston have in store for the spring? Garrison was the featured back last season, but a big spring could help Alston earn a few carries next year.
  • Defense needs help: Najee Goode leaves a big hole at linebacker, and defensive back Eain Smith's exit means the Mountaineers enter the season without two of their top three tacklers from a year ago. Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller's talents on the defensive line will be tough to replace, and in a league that requires a great pass rush, Irvin, Goode and Miller's 19 combined sacks must be replaced somehow.

Big 12 position rankings: Receivers/TEs

February, 14, 2012
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We're continuing our look at the postseason rankings for each position in the Big 12. Here's a look back at where the receivers ranked in the preseason.

In this position, unlike quarterback, depth is a major, major factor in these rankings.

More postseason position rankings:
[+] EnlargeJustin Blackmon
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesJustin Blackmon highlighted Oklahoma State's deep group of receivers this season.
1. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys boasted two-time Biletnikoff winner Justin Blackmon, but he wasn't the only weapon. The Cowboys had nine (!) receivers with at least 19 catches and 200 yards receiving this season. Insane. Life is good with Brandon Weeden at quarterback.

2. Baylor: Kendall Wright actually outperformed Blackmon and Ryan Broyles on the stat sheet, catching 108 balls for 1,663 yards. The Bears didn't have the insane depth of OSU, but the trio of Wright, Terrance Williams (59 rec, 957 yards, 11 TDs) and Tevin Reese (51 rec, 877 yards, 7 TDs) were all in the Big 12's top seven receivers.

3. Texas A&M: Ryan Swope emerged to become one of just four Big 12 receivers to notch 1,000-yard seasons. Jeff Fuller's season was disappointing, but he still finished eighth in the league in receiving, and Uzoma Nwachukwu was in the league's top 15 in receiving.

4. Oklahoma: The Sooners weren't quite as solid as they thought to begin the season. Broyles was as advertised, though his Biletnikoff-contending season was cut short by a torn ACL. The unit was productive, but came down with the drops late in the season. Broyles and Kenny Stills were both in the league's top seven in receiving, and Jaz Reynolds caught 41 passes for 715 yards to crack the top 10.

5. Texas Tech: Tech's top target, Darrin Moore, battled injuries all year, but Eric Ward emerged as the team's most consistent target, catching 84 passes for 800 yards and 11 scores. Alex Torres missed two games, but added 616 more yards.

6. Missouri: The Tigers' receivers had their production dip with a dual-threat passer in James Franklin who ran the ball more than his predecessor, but they were still pretty good, despite lacking a true big-time threat. T.J. Moe caught 54 passes for 649 yards and four scores. Tight end Michael Egnew added 50 grabs for 523 yards and three scores. L'Damian Washington, Marcus Lucas and Wes Kemp had unremarkable individual seasons, but their production added up to a good year for Mizzou's receivers.

7. Kansas State: Kansas State was better than most thought to begin the season, but the ground-based offense limited their receivers' ability to finish with big production. Chris Harper (40 rec, 547 yards, 5 TDs) led the group. Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett showed some good promise, too.

8. Texas: The Longhorns could get really good, really fast at this spot. The uncertainty/struggles at quarterback limited this group, but Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis could both mature into absolute stars. For now, though, they didn't quite crack the top 15 in the Big 12 in receiving. Both topped 40 catches and 600 receiving yards.

9. Iowa State: Darius Reynolds' size downfield will be missed, but Aaron Horne and Josh Lenz are tough covers working the middle of the field. Reynolds caught seven touchdowns, and Horne and Lenz both topped 38 catches.

10. Kansas: Yikes. The Jayhawks didn't have a receiver in the league's top 20, but D.J. Beshears led the team with 40 grabs for 437 yards and three touchdowns. He was the only Jayhawk in the Big 12's top 32 in receiving.
Each offense across the Big 12 starts 11 players on Saturday and plays 12-13 games. That's a whole lot of performances. Some are better than others.

These are the 11 best individual performances from the entire 2011 season. Here's our top 10 from 2010. Why are there 11 this year? Because.

If a player's team didn't win the game, he was ineligible, and this list omitted defensive performances. This is, after all, the Big 12. An opponent's defensive quality is factored in. That considered, my apologies to Henry Josey vs. Western Illinois.

[+] EnlargeJustin Blackmon
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireJustin Blackmon was the difference between a win and a loss for the Cowboys in the Fiesta Bowl.
1. OSU receiver Justin Blackmon vs. Stanford. Simply put, Blackmon completely changed the game in the Cowboys' 41-38 win. OSU doesn't come anywhere close to winning without him. His first two catches went for scores, and he was uncoverable, hauling in his biggest catch of the night on a slant on fourth-and-6 with minutes to play and OSU trailing by seven. He finished with eight catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

2. Baylor QB Robert Griffin III vs. TCU. Interesting that Blackmon's performance came in the second-to-last game of the Big 12 season, and Griffin's came in the very first. Still, both were legendary. Griffin launched a Heisman campaign with four touchdown passes of 28 yards or longer, and extended the game-winning drive with a third-down catch up the middle that resulted with getting the wind knocked of out him. He still marched Baylor down the field for the game-winning field goal in the 50-48 win and finished 21-of-27 for 359 yards and five touchdown passes.

3. OSU QB Brandon Weeden vs. Texas Tech. This was sheer dominance from Weeden, who had an unbelievable game in the 66-6 win, despite throwing passes in what I can assure you was 40 mph-plus winds. He somehow finished 31-of-37 for 423 yards and five touchdowns in the laugher against the Red Raiders.

4. K-State QB Collin Klein vs. Texas A&M. This was by far Klein's best passing game of the season, rescuing the Wildcats from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter with a pair of deep completions and winning the game, 53-50, in the fourth overtime with a QB sneak. He carried the ball 35 times for 103 yards and five scores. He also completed 17-of-27 passes for 281 yards, a touchdown and an interception. That's a ton of touches.

5. Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles vs. Missouri. Oklahoma fell behind 10-0 early, but Broyles and quarterback Landry Jones helped bring the Sooners back in the 38-28 win. He was uncoverable for most of the game, catching 13 balls for 154 yards and three touchdowns.

6. Griffin III vs. Oklahoma. Griffin became the Heisman frontrunner after a second legendary performance in the same season. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass with seconds left to Terrance Williams, his fourth touchdown pass of the game. He finished 21-of-34 for 479 yards and carried the ball 18 times for 72 yards, including a late scramble on the game-winning drive.

7. Texas A&M WR Ryan Swope vs. Baylor: For once, the Aggies didn't struggle in the second half. Swope was solid for 60 minutes, breaking tackles and breaking loose from Baylor's offense all day. The Bears had no answer, and were blown out, 55-28. Swope finished with 11 catches for 206 yards and was the only receiver to catch four touchdowns in a game this season.

8. Baylor WR Kendall Wright vs. TCU. Now, you didn't think Griffin did it all by himself in the 50-48 win over the Horned Frogs, did you? Wright was blowing by an inexperienced TCU secondary, and RG3 found him all night. He finished with 12 catches for 189 yards and two scores, but he also threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams and hit Griffin on his only catch of the night.

9. Baylor RB Terrance Ganaway vs. Washington. Ganaway sealed the Big 12 rushing title with his sixth 100-yard game and second 200-yard rushing game of the season, rolling over the Huskies and overshadowing RG3 in the Heisman winner's final game. He carried the ball 21 times for 200 yards and five touchdowns.

10. Blackmon vs. Kansas State. Blackmon was at his best late, hauling in a 54-yard touchdown pass to take the lead in the final minutes, capped by a two-point conversion to make it a seven-point lead. K-State couldn't handle him, and he finished with 205 receiving yards, 13 catches and two scores.

11. Missouri QB James Franklin vs. Iowa State. Franklin had a handful of great dual-threat games. This was his best, despite going up against the Big 12's best group of linebackers. He helped blow out the Cyclones with 289 yards and three scores on 20-of-28 passing. He threw two interceptions, but he also carried the ball 11 times for 84 yards and two scores.

Honorable mention: Oklahoma QB Landry Jones vs. Texas; Landry Jones vs. Missouri; Texas RB Joe Bergeron vs. Texas Tech; Kendall Wright vs. Texas; Henry Josey vs. Western Illinois
If you're one of our most faithful readers, you'll remember we took a look at the ESPNU 150 recruits from the past five years before Signing Day 2011.

You can take check those here:
That was before the 2011 season. Now, our recruitniks have taken it upon themselves to provide a new update for the 2008 class.

You'll need ESPN Insider to see the full updates for each player group, but here's how the Big 12 players have done:

Prospects ranked from 1-25 Insider

No. 6 Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State (via Miami): Brown committed to Miami (Fla.), where he struggled to see the field in 2008 and 2009. He transferred to Kansas State and was named Big 12 newcomer of the year in 2011 after recording 95 tackles, two sacks and an interception (of Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III).

No. 7: Jermie Calhoun, RB, Oklahoma: Calhoun's career never got off the ground at Oklahoma after he redshirted as a true freshman. He appeared in 16 games and rushed for 242 yards on 56 carries. He tore his ACL early in his sophomore season (2010) and decided to transfer to Football Championship Subdivision program Angelo State University.

No. 11: R.J. Washington, DE, Oklahoma: Washington has appeared in 25 games (no starts) for the Sooners, and has 20 tackles and 3.5 sacks. His 13 tackles, three sacks and five pass breakups in 2011 are all career highs.

No. 13: Josh Jarboe, WR, Oklahoma: Jarboe was arrested for bringing a weapon onto his high school campus before enrolling at Oklahoma. His career with the Sooners didn't last long, as he was kicked off the team after a YouTube video emerged with him rapping about guns and violence. Jarboe resurfaced at Troy but couldn't escape the negative headlines and was dismissed in 2009. After a year at Northeast Mississippi junior college, Jarboe returned to the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks at Arkansas State, and had 54 receptions for 730 yards and two touchdowns this season

No. 16: D.J. Grant, WR, Texas: After redshirting in 2008, Grant suffered season-ending knee injuries in 2009 and 2010. He finally got on the field in 2011 and started six games, finishing the season with 16 receptions for 180 yards and three touchdowns.

No. 17: Dan Buckner, WR, Texas: Buckner had 50 receptions for 526 yards and six touchdowns in two seasons with Texas. He was arrested on charges of criminal trespassing and resisting arrest in January 2010 and decided to transfer to Arizona. Buckner had 42 catches for 606 yards and two touchdowns this season for the Wildcats.

Prospects ranked 26-50 Insider

No. 38: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: It was once thought that Gabbert would be redshirted as a freshman in 2008. Instead, he was the third-string quarterback for the Tigers. He is now a starting NFL quarterback, playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. During his career at Missouri, Gabbert threw for more than 6,800 yards and 40 touchdowns. He left for the NFL after his junior season.

Prospects ranked 51-75 Insider

57. Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M: Gray closed out his junior season with seven consecutive 100-yard rushing performances, and he added two more to that streak to open his senior campaign. He missed the final two games of the Aggies' season, but he closed out his career with 312 yards and five scores in his final two games. He was named to the 2011 All-Big 12 second team, and ran for nearly 3,300 yards and 30 touchdowns in his career.

No. 72: Jameel Owens, WR, Oklahoma: In two years with the Sooners, Owens caught four passes for 44 yards. He then transferred to Tulsa before the 2010 season, receiving a transfer waiver so he did not have to sit out a season. But he lasted only one season for the Hurricanes, as he was granted a leave of absence during spring drills in 2011 and never returned to the team.

Prospects ranked 76-100 Insider

No. 79: David Snow, OL, Texas: Snow came right in and played as a true freshman. When it was all said and done, he appeared in 51 games, starting 31 at center and both guard positions. He received a Big 12 honorable mention this past season.

No. 84: Stephen Good, OL, Oklahoma: Good has been an active member of the Sooners' offensive line since he arrived in 2008. He was in the two-deep since day one, playing both guard positions.

No. 91: Derrick Hall, ATH, Texas A&M: Hall never made it to College Station because he failed to qualify academically. He went on to Navarro Junior College, where he rushed for more than 2,200 yards and 29 touchdowns in two seasons. Hall then signed with Tulsa, but the NCAA ruled him ineligible.

No. 92: Daniel Franklin, ILB, Oklahoma: Franklin redshirted his freshman season, and has since been a career backup and special-teams player in Norman.

No. 95: DeSean Hales, WR, Texas: Hales redshirted his freshman season in Austin. Through the next three years, he played in 31 games, catching 13 passes for 87 yards. He has one more season of eligibility.

No. 100: Emmanuel Acho, LB, Texas: Acho started every game this past season for the Longhorns, leading the team in tackles with 131. He also recorded 19 tackles for loss and three sacks. Acho was named first-team All-Big 12 in 2011, and finished his career with 269 tackles, 40 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

Prospects ranked 101-125 Insider

No. 106: Jordan Fields, CB, Texas A&M: Fields committed to Texas A&M but never signed with the Aggies. He enrolled at Blinn JC (Texas) following high school and has yet to sign with an FBS school.

No. 114: Nolan Brewster, OLB, Texas: Brewster played in all 13 games as a true freshman, mainly on special teams, and had eight tackles. He had 24 tackles and an interception as a backup safety as a sophomore and then redshirted his junior year after undergoing shoulder surgery. As a senior, Brewster played in Texas' first four games but had to retire from football due to multiple concussions and post-traumatic migraine headaches.

No. 117: Kye Staley, RB, Oklahoma State: Staley redshirted and then suffered a knee injury that wiped out his 2009 season. He quit the football team and didn't play in 2010 but rejoined the team the following year. He played in 13 games this past season, catching 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.

No. 118: Kendall Wright, ATH, Baylor: He made an immediate impact as a true freshman, leading the team in catches, yards and touchdowns. He earned second-team All-Big 12 honors his sophomore year, catching 66 balls for 740 yards and four touchdowns. Wright broke school records his junior season, catching 78 passes for 952 yards and seven touchdowns to again earn second team All-Big 12. As a senior, Wright earned several All-American honors after catching 108 passes for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns, all school records. He's rated as a potential first-round draft pick in April's NFL draft.

No. 122: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Jones will likely shatter every Sooners passing mark after surprisingly deciding to come back for his senior year. He started 10 games his redshirt freshman season after starter Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams) suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. He set a school freshman record, throwing for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns, including a school-record six in one game. He earned All-American honors as a sophomore after throwing for 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns and led the Big 12 in total offense. Jones' numbers were down a bit his junior season, but he still threw for 4,463 yards and 29 touchdowns.

No. 125: Justin Johnson, RB, Oklahoma: Johnson's Sooners career was short-lived as he transferred to Abilene Christian following his freshman year. He rushed for 103 yards and had a 100-yard kickoff return for a score as a sophomore but transferred following that season to McMurry, a Division III school. Johnson rushed for 771 yards and eight touchdowns to go with 40 catches for 352 yards and four more scores for the War Hawks as a junior last year.

Prospects ranked 126-150 Insider

No. 138: Dravannti Johnson, LB, Texas: Johnson decided to transfer from Texas last month, having already graduated. The junior defensive end saw limited action, playing in only seven games and registering just four tackles, one for a loss. Johnson's most productive season came in 2010, when he started five games and recorded 23 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack and six quarterback pressures. He is expected to transfer to a smaller school for more playing time.

No. 143: Rodrick Davis, DT, Texas A&M: After two uneventful seasons at Texas A&M, Davis transferred to Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College before transferring again to New Mexico following the 2011 season. Davis played in eight games last season for Fort Scott and recorded 28 tackles. He redshirted in 2008 so he has one year of eligibility remaining and can play this season.

Early 2012 Big 12 power rankings

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
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With the season over, it's time to take a look at the Big 12 in 2012. For now, that means assuming a few things. And we all know what assuming does.

It makes us all look like geniuses.

So, for the purpose of this, I'll assume a few predictions. First, I'll assume Robert Griffin III is heading for the NFL. I'll also assume Mike Stoops lands back at Oklahoma.

That said, it's time to project what this league looks like in 2012.

And, before we start, let me make this clear: The Big 12 from 1-6 is absolutely wide open. Last year, the league only had three legitimate title contenders: Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. This year, every one of the top six teams (and maybe seven, if RG3 returns) can win the Big 12 in a realistic scenario. The difference between Nos. 2 and 6 is minuscule and could change a ton by the end of spring practice.

And for the curious: I would have Missouri behind Kansas State on this list, and I'd have Texas A&M right behind Texas.

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners moved into the familiar role of favorite after Landry Jones announced he'd return in 2012, but not nearly as heavy a favorite as they were in 2011. Injuries hurt Oklahoma late this season, and replacing Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Frank Alexander, along with linebacker Travis Lewis and corner Jamell Fleming won't be easy. Receivers Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds have to play big for the Sooners to get the win.

2. Kansas State: The big question mark for this team is can it take care of business and not get stuck in close games in 2012? The Wildcats were 8-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less this season. They can't count on duplicating that in 2012. They should be better, and return most of the big pieces from this season's 10-win team, most importantly quarterback Collin Klein and linebacker Arthur Brown. Next season is the time to prove it.

3. West Virginia: Who else is excited to see Geno Smith, Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineer Express show up in Big 12 country next season? Like I wrote last week, giving up 33 points and still winning by five touchdowns is the Big 12 way of life. The Mountaineers broke Baylor's week-old bowl scoring record with 70 points, and bring back most of a good Big East champion team in 2012. The transition won't be easy, but they've got a chance to make a big splash in their inaugural year. The Big 12 and West Virginia are both convinced that the Mountaineers will join the Big 12 in 2012 and are planning as if it will happen, though pending lawsuits with the Big East mean it's still unofficial.

4. TCU: The transition will be more difficult for TCU, methinks. Depth could be an issue. There aren't any weeks off in the Big 12. Not even Kansas. Ask Baylor about that one. New Mexico's staying behind in the Mountain West. Eventually, I think TCU has a chance to be on par with Texas and Oklahoma on the recruiting trail and on the field. Being the only team in the metroplex is a huge deal. And it'll bring back a great team with lots of offense, headlined by QB Casey Pachall and receivers Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson, along with Brandon Carter. It'll be fun to watch.

5. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys should sustain success from this year, even though they lose Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. They don't have to worry about a losing season, but with a first-year starter at quarterback, the odds are against them winning the Big 12. First-year starters have only won the Big 12 twice. Look out for Joseph Randle to have a huge year in 2012. I'm also betting on Clint Chelf to grab the starting QB job, but keep an eye on early enrollee Wes Lunt.

6. Texas: The Longhorns should be better and have lots of upside, but it's looking more and more like this team will only go as far as David Ash will take it. We'll learn just how far that is during spring and summer. This offseason is paramount for Ash's development. He's got to show something big next fall. The defense should be stingy, the offensive line improved and the backfield loaded. It's up to him.

7. Baylor: Sounds like 2012 may be the Nick Florence Show in Waco. Baylor will take a step back without RG3, but we'll see just how much he had around him, which is to say, a lot. Kendall Wright and Terrance Ganaway will be gone, but Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese will get a chance to shine. Oregon transfer Lache Seastrunk will get plenty of preseason attention, too. The Bears look like a fringe bowl team with some upside without RG3.

8. Texas Tech: Tech and Oklahoma State probably have the most upside of any team in these power rankings. The Red Raiders were better than 5-7 this season, but will have to prove it in 2012, and have to stay healthy. Seth Doege, Eric Stephens and Darrin Moore could be a dynamic set of triplets in 2012, and don't rule out a top-three finish for the Red Raiders in 2012.

9. Iowa State: The Cyclones may have a bit of a quarterback controversy in the spring after Steele Jantz reclaimed the quarterback job in the second half of the Pinstripe Bowl. Paul Rhoads joked about it after the game, but he's not joking when it comes to needing one of those guys to push the other. Jared Barnett has more upside, and the Cyclones could certainly grab a third bowl bid in four years if he plays well in 2012. ISU's a good team, but it's stuck in an absurdly deep conference that could have as many as seven (six, most likely, depending on RG3) Top-25 teams to start the season.

10. Kansas: There's a new flavor at KU, and the variables will be unpredictable for this team through spring and fall. The season should be fun. Can Charlie Weis redeem himself? What about Dayne Crist? Was Notre Dame just not the right fit for either? The opportunity to do something special at Kansas is here, and the bar is very, very low after a miserable two years. The defense can't be worse, and the Jayhawks have solid, maturing running backs.
Iowa State and Rutgers are set to meet at 3:20 p.m. ET Friday in Yankee Stadium on ESPN. Here are three keys for Iowa State to grab another bowl win, as it did in 2009 against Minnesota.

1. Keep Rutgers' quarterbacks shuffling. Rutgers has moved Chas Dodd and Gary Nova in and out all season, and each has had pretty equal production and near identical passer ratings. Nova's had a few big games, but the rotation's been pretty unpredictable. Simply put, if these guys are still moving in and out during the game, Iowa State's defense is doing something right. If one gets comfortable, especially Nova, it could be a bad sign. We saw an inspired effort from this defense against Oklahoma State. It could use another on Friday.

2. Look to utilize Jared Barnett's legs. I mentioned it earlier, but when Barnett gets loose, Iowa State's offense is dangerous. When he tops 70 yards rushing, Iowa State is 3-0. When he was limited to 21 and 26 yards late in the season, Iowa State lost to Oklahoma convincingly and Kansas State. He's not a precise passer and is inexperienced at reading defenses. He has to be able to make plays with his feet to keep the chains moving for the Cyclones.

3. Keep Mohamed Sanu as quiet as possible. Leonard Johnson, this is your cue. The Iowa State corner is one of the most underrated in the league, and he can change that with a big game here. He'll draw the attention of NFL scouts too, who are already watching Sanu, Rutgers' big-time receiver. He's caught 109 balls this season for 1,144 yards and seven touchdowns. Those are positively Big 12-ian numbers, despite an uncertain situation at quarterback. Johnson helped limit Oklahoma's Kenny Stills (5 rec, 70 yards), Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (10 rec, 99 yards, TD), and Kendall Wright (8 rec, 69 yards, TD) this season. Just another challenge. This won't be much harder than any of those guys.

Alamo Bowl: Three keys for Baylor

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
10:30
AM ET
We previewed the Valero Alamo Bowl early Thursday, and here are three keys for Baylor to win Thursday's game, which kicks off at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

1. Win first down on defense. Baylor has to get off the field, and this is the best way to do it. If Washington can, it'd love to pound the ball with Chris Polk. Getting the Huskies into a lot of second-and-8 and second-and-12 situations can make sure that doesn't happen. But second-and-5? Not good. Worst-case scenario for the Bears. Bottom line: Washington's defense isn't equipped to slow Baylor's offense. It has to keep the offense off the field. Running the ball and milking the clock is the best way to do that. This is up to the Bears' front seven.

2. Keep the playbook wide open. This is what Baylor does. It can't stop. Let RG3 do what he does. It opened the game with a double pass for a touchdown against TCU to open the season and beat Oklahoma with a barrage of deep balls. The Bears have had a month off. A lot has happened since then. None of it can change Baylor's approach. Break out the trick plays. Chuck it deep. This is what Baylor's offense is built to do.

3. Start strong. That'll be important in this one. Baylor's playing in San Antonio, and expect a heavily pro-Bears crowd in this one, as well as a crowd rooting on RG3. Look for some big play calls early and big plays to get the crowd involved. Baylor hasn't won a bowl game since 1992 and didn't come close last year, being shut out in the first half of a lopsided loss to Illinois in the Texas Bowl. Baylor's offense is a lot better this time around, and Baylor has to use it to build some early momentum.

Alamo Bowl: Baylor vs. Washington

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
9:00
AM ET
Baylor will play the role of favorite and take on Washington in the Valero Alamo Bowl in nearby San Antonio on Thursday. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. ET in the Alamodome. Here's what to expect.

WHO TO WATCH: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Obviously. He's the game's most electrifying player and the Heisman winner, which you don't see very often outside the BCS. He's been must-see TV for most of the season, engineering huge upsets of TCU on the season-opening weekend, leading the program's first win over Oklahoma and knocking off Texas to win the Heisman on the season's final weekend. He's the nation's leader in passing efficiency, and, if you haven't watched, he's more than able to make plenty of big plays with his feet, too.

WHAT TO WATCH: Baylor's rush defense vs. Chris Polk. Baylor is a nine-point favorite, but if the Bears lose this game, it'll be because they lose this matchup in convincing fashion. It's been a weakness all year for the Bears, who rank 102nd nationally in rush defense. Washington did it to Nebraska last year, and Polk enters this game with 1,341 yards and 11 touchdowns. The best part for Washington about winning this battle is it would keep a dangerous Baylor offense, which Washington is ill-equipped to stop, off the field. This is the best way for the Huskies to do it.

WHY TO WATCH: You like points, don't you? If you're reading this, you probably have a certain fondness for the Big 12, and I'd like to think a fondness for scoring is implied there. There will be lots of that in this one. Washington's Polk and quarterback Keith Price are dangerous, but Baylor's RG3 is flanked by Kendall Wright and Terrance Ganaway, the Big 12's leading receiver and leading rusher. Add to that each team's ranking in scoring defense (Washington ranks 98th, Baylor 109th) and you'll see why there's reason to believe we'll see fireworks.

PREDICTION: No. 12 Baylor 47, Washington 31: RG3 doesn't give many clues as to his future plans, but he'll look the part of an NFL quarterback in this one, sending Wright into the NFL with a big day. We expect plenty of offense in this one, and both teams should deliver. Polk will rack up big yardage on a suspect Baylor defense, but the Bears will pull away late.

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