NCF Nation: Martin Rucker
From the list:
- No. 5: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
- No. 7: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
Lewis could be this year's version of Von Miller, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. Lewis is a three-year starter at Oklahoma and had 109 tackles in 2010 and 362 in his college career. Lewis, who was a high school running back has the speed and athletic ability to play at the next level.
- No. 10: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Named after former Dallas Cowboys coach and Hall of Famer Tom Landry, Jones has the size and arm strength teams look for in quarterbacks but is not a good runner. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 38 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions in 2010. Oklahoma does a great job of coaching quarterbacks; former Sooner Sam Bradford was the No. 1 overall pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2010.
- No. 20: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
He has the speed and quickness to be explosive, much like the Eagles' DeSean Jackson. Broyles had 131 receptions last season for 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns
- No. 21: Kelechi Osemele, OT, Iowa State
He's a left tackle for the Cyclones who will likely play guard or right tackle in the NFL. Teams will make the trip to Ames to check this kid out.
- No. 25: Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri
- No. 42: Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M
- No. 44: Keenan Robinson, LB, Texas
- No. 49: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
- No. 57: Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M
- No. 71: Levy Adcock, OT, Oklahoma State
- No. 84: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
- No. 88: Kheeston Randall, DT, Texas
- No. 93: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
- All in all, it's a solid list. That's as high as I've seen Kendall Wright on any list, but he's a solid player with a whole lot of experience and even more speed. Brandt has him as the 14th-best receiver.
- I won't dwell on it, but my thoughts on Michael Egnew remain the same. If he goes that high, I'd be shocked. If somebody wants to tell me what separates him from Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman at the next level, I'm all ears.
- I was pretty surprised to see Travis Lewis that high. He's obviously got great toughness and even better football IQ, but I've never been very impressed with his speed in coverage. The comparison to Von Miller is one I haven't seen before. Clearly, he doesn't have that kind of speed, but if he proves himself a solid coverage linebacker as a senior, I could see him making a jump into the top half of the first round.
- Osemele is the only player NFL teams will be watching from ISU, but I also wonder if anyone from the Cyclones will catch NFL teams' eyes when they're in Ames getting a look at Iowa State's solid bookend.
- Cyrus Gray seems to be a little polarizing among NFL analysts, just like Landry Jones. I'd expect his production to suffer this year with Christine Michael back on the field, but there's no denying what he did at the end of last season. I always pegged Gray as a balanced guy that leaned toward speed as the lesser half of that duo, but he showed some nice power during his late-season tear. There's no such thing as easy yards against Nebraska and LSU.
The two championship teams were the best of the conference's last 10 years. Some of the other BCS title participants were good, but not necessarily among the very best teams during the conference's recent history.
Here's how I rank the Big 12's top 10 teams over the last decade.
1. 2005 Texas: A star-studded team paced by All-Americans Michael Huff, Jonathan Scott, Rodrique Wright and Vince Young ran off 13 straight victories, capping the season with a BCS title-game victory over USC. The team averaged 50.2 points per game en route to a then-NCAA record 652 total points, earning Texas’ first undisputed national championship since 1969. It was the greatest team that Mack Brown ever coached and arguably the best team in the rich football history of Texas.
2. 2000 Oklahoma: Bob Stoops claimed a national championship in his second season coaching the Trojans behind Josh Heupel, who finished second in the Heisman race that season. All-Americans Heupel, linebacker Rocky Calmus and J.T. Thatcher helped the Sooners notch the first undefeated season and national championship in Big 12 history. After winning three of their final four regular-season games by less than five points, the Sooners dominated Florida State in a 13-2 triumph in the Orange Bowl for the national championship.
3. 2008 Oklahoma: Sam Bradford won the Heisman Trophy with this team, which overcame a midseason loss to Texas and still claimed the Big 12 title in a 12-2 season that was marred by a 24-14 loss to Florida in the national championship game. The Sooners rolled-up a record 702 points as Bradford passed for 50 touchdowns, Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray each rushed for 1,000 yards and Juaquin Iglesias topped 1,000 yards receiving. The Sooners scored 35 points in each regular-season game and finished the regular season with five straight games of at least 60 points before the BCS title-game loss.
4. 2004 Oklahoma: The Sooners charged to 12 straight victories before a dropping a 55-19 decision to USC in the Orange Bowl for the national title. Freshman running back Adrian Peterson rushed for an NCAA freshman record 1,925 yards to finish second in the Heisman. Jason White claimed the Heisman the previous season and his numbers were down with Peterson's arrival, but he still passed for 3,205 yards and 35 touchdowns. This group had strength in the trenches with All-Americans like Vince Carter, Dan Cody, Jammal Brown and Mark Clayton as it claimed Bob Stoops’ third Big 12 title.
5. 2009 Texas: After streaking to a school-record 13-0 mark through the Big 12 title game, the Longhorns dropped a 37-21 decision to Alabama in the national title game in a contest that changed when Colt McCoy was hurt on the fifth play of the game. McCoy became the winningest quarterback in NCAA history during this season, repeatedly hooking up with favorite target Jordan Shipley, who snagged a school-record 116 receptions, 1,485 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Longhorns led the nation in rush defense, and All-American safety Earl Thomas tied a school record with eight interceptions. Lamarr Houston and Sergio Kindle also added playmaking abilities to the defense.
6. 2004 Texas: The Longhorns overcame a midseason 12-0 loss to Oklahoma to finish the season with seven straight victories in a season capped by a dramatic 38-37 victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl. The Longhorns ranked second nationally in rushing offense and seventh in total offense as Young gradually found his confidence as a passer late in the season. Cedric Benson rushed for 1,834 yards and 19 touchdowns, and Young chipped in with 1,079 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. This team showed a knack for comebacks, overcoming an early 35-7 deficit against Oklahoma State and also coming from behind in an early-season victory at Arkansas.
7. 2007 Oklahoma: Bradford led the first of two consecutive Big 12 championships on a team that enabled the Sooners to become the first Big 12 school to win back-to-back titles. The Sooners dropped road games to Colorado and Texas Tech but still overcame Missouri in the Big 12 title game behind a huge defensive effort keyed by Big 12 defensive player of the year Rufus Alexander. Bradford led the nation in passing efficiency, but the Sooners' bowl struggles continued in an embarrassing 48-28 loss to West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.
8. 2003 Kansas State: Don’t let the Wildcats’ 11-4 record fool you. After an early three-game losing streak to Marshall, Texas and Oklahoma State (by a combined margin of 15 points), Bill Snyder’s team won its final seven regular-season games by a combined margin of 271-66. That streak was culminated by a stunning 35-7 upset victory over Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game -- the last victory by a North Division team in the title game. The Wildcats ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing, scoring, total defense, scoring defense and pass defense as Darren Sproles rushed for 1,986 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Wildcats dropped a 35-28 Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State in a game they fell into an early 21-0 deficit and had a chance to tie on the final play of the game after a frantic comeback directed by Ell Roberson.
9. 2007 Missouri: Chase Daniel led Missouri into the Big 12 title game for the first time in school history, taking the team to No. 1 nationally heading into the conference championship game. The Tigers lost twice to Oklahoma during a 12-2 season that was capped by 38-7 beatdown over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. Tony Temple made that game memorable by rushing for a record 281 yards and four TDs that pushed Missouri to No. 4 nationally at the end of the season. A star-studded collection of talent including Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman, Martin Rucker and Sean Weatherspoon helped the Tigers rank among the top-10 teams nationally in passing, total offense and scoring and 11th in turnover margin.
10. 2007 Kansas: The Jayhawks earned Mark Mangino the national coach of the year award by running to an 11-0 start before losing to Missouri in the regular-season finale. The Jayhawks rebounded for a 24-21 victory over Virginia Tech in their first BCS bowl appearance in school history, finishing a 12-1 season that set a school record for victories. Todd Reesing passed for 33 touchdowns to highlight a high-powered offense that scored 76 points against Nebraska and scored at least 43 points in eight games. The Jayhawks were a balanced team that ranked second nationally in scoring offense, fourth in scoring defense and in the top 10 nationally in eight different team statistics. Anthony Collins and Aqib Talib earned consensus All-America honors.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
So much for a learning curve. New Missouri offensive coordinator David Yost will be facing several positional replacements in his first season in his new job with the Tigers.
Obviously, finding a new quarterback to take the place of Chase Daniel will be the biggest challenge. Sophomore Blaine Gabbert appears to have that task firmly at hand heading into preseason practice.
But another huge challenge facing Yost will be to replace wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman, two All-Big 12 receivers who were selections in the first three rounds of the NFL draft.
Those departures have Yost shuffling through various positional groupings as he attempts to sort out the changing demands he has for his receivers. The work will be important as the Tigers aim for their third straight appearance in the Big 12 championship game -- a feat that never has been accomplished by a North Division team.
How much has the talent you guys have accumulated over recent years provided you the opportunity to make your offense different from one season to the next?
David Yost: Coach [Gary] Pinkel is a very direct guy and he thinks things through and doesn't fly by the seat of the pants. And that's the beauty of this offense.
When we had [former Missouri quarterback] Brad [Smith] we ran him more. Then we got Chase Daniel in here who could run the football, but also could also lead us to more passing because of his talents. That helped us transform our offense into more of a passing philosophy.
At one time when we had [tight ends] Chase [Coffman] and Martin Rucker, we were running a lot of two-tight end offenses. Then we had a set of receivers, but not necessarily ones that would be as suited to running the spread. Then, we started recruiting guys like Jeremy Maclin and stopping using as much two-tight end sets.
Now, after losing Coffman and Maclin, we'll be a little thinner at wide receiver this season. Because of that, we're kind of adjusting what we're doing. We'll be using three wideouts and our tailback more as a rusher and a receiver.
We feel our offense gives us a chance to get our best 11 players on the field. And we can do things differently depending on the personnel we have on hand.