NCF Nation: Rashad Bobino

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are some links to send you hurtling into the Super Weekend -- just like the Nebraska walk-on candidates are doing.

  • About 40 Nebraska students showed up before daybreak on Thursday to chase their dreams as walk-on players for the Cornhuskers, Lincoln Journal Star reporter Brian Christopherson writes.
  • Is coffee only for the closers? If so, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford might deserve exalted status not just for his play on the field but also for his ability to recruit standout wide receivers, Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler writes.
  • Former Texas players Rashad Bobino, Henry Melton and Chris Ogbonnaya are still smarting from their BCS title game snub, the El Paso Times' Bret Bloomquist writes. All are in El Paso this week for Saturday's Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game.
  • The Tulsa World's Guerin Emig wonders where's the angst among Oklahoma fans after the Sooners' BCS title game loss to Florida?
  • Georgia-Oklahoma State and Oklahoma-Miami make John Walters' list of 2009's five most intriguing nonconference games.
  • Topeka Capital-Journal beat writer Austin Meek suggests a thorough examination of Kansas State president Jon Wefald's tenure. While some of his recent athletic decisions have been blasted, Meek still remembers Wefald's passion as a guest lecturer in his freshman history class.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

 
 Kenny Felt/Icon SMI
 Colt McCoy has thrown 32 touchdown passes this season.

The decision by Texas quarterback Colt McCoy to return for his senior season might be the biggest piece in the puzzle of pushing the Longhorns into the role as a favorite for the national championship next year.

McCoy's decision was reported Monday in the Austin American-Statesman. It provides the Longhorns with an experienced senior quarterback who has already started for three seasons.

The Longhorns will lose running back Chris Ogbonnaya and top receivers Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley. But redshirt freshman Malcolm Williams looked explosive in his limited playing time and tight end Blaine Irby should return from a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the season.

Senior guard Cedric Dockery will be the Longhorns' only departing offensive lineman. And while the defense will lose key players like Brian Orakpo, Roy Miller, Rashad Bobino and Ryan Palmer, Will Muschamp should have a more experienced unit in his second season working with the team.

It's not clear whether Sam Bradford will be returning to Oklahoma or declare for the NFL draft. If he leaves, the Longhorns should assume the role as favorites in the Big 12 South.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

 
 Brett Davis/US Presswire
 Kansas LB Joe Mortensen had 15 tackles for a loss last season.

There aren't many national standout linebackers in the Big 12 this season. The conference's proud history featuring key players like Derrick Johnson, Dat Nguyen and Mark Simoneau that dominated action from the position seems a long way away.

Part of that is because of the preponderance of spread offenses that have diminished some of the effectiveness of linebackers throughout college football. And good linebackers are becoming increasingly hard to find.

But there are still a few good ones left. Here are the players I think are the Big 12's top linebackers this season.

1. Joe Mortensen, Kansas -- Thrived after moving inside to middle linebacker to key Jayhawks' defense. He led the conference with 15 tackles for losses last season.

2. Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri -- Lightly regarded product from Jasper, Texas, has blossomed into one of conference's most consistent defensive playmakers. His 127 tackles led all of the Big 12's returning defensive players.

3. Mike Rivera, Kansas -- Produced three sacks, 7.5 tackles for a loss last season in first as starter outside.

4. Ryan Reynolds, Oklahoma -- If he's healthy, he could blossom into one of OU's dominating middle linebackers like Curtis Lofton and Rufus Alexander before him.

5. Patrick Lavine, Oklahoma State -- Consistent producer who leads all Oklahoma State returnees with 81 tackles from last season. Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman hopes he will emerge as the Cowboys' key defender this season.

6. Marlon Williams, Texas Tech -- It will be interesting to see if his tackle numbers remain strong with the increasing defensive talent around him.

7. Joe Pawelek, Baylor -- Most valuable player on Bears' defensive team will be starting for his third-straight season.

8. James Holt, Kansas -- Underrated because he's sometimes overshadowed by Mortensen and Rivera on his own team.

9. Brock Christopher, Missouri -- Space-eating MLB who always seems to be around the ball.

10. Rashad Bobino, Texas -- Bruising 238-pounder will be counted for senior leadership and his hitting ability by new coordinator Will Muschamp.

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