NCF Nation: Rylan Reed
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Every team is green someplace. Here are the specific areas of the most inexperience for each Big 12 team.
Baylor offensive tackle: The Bears need to break in two new starters after losing Jason Smith and Dan Gay.
Colorado defensive line: Help is needed along the defensive front where the Buffaloes lose starting defensive end Maurice Lucas, starting defensive tackle George Hypolite and starting nose tackle Brandon Nicolas.
Iowa State defensive line: Coach Paul Rhoads desperately wants somebody to emerge on the defensive line where the Cyclones lose starting defensive tackle Michael Tate, starting defensive end Kurtis Taylor and top backup defensive back Travis Ferguson.
Kansas linebackers: Even as Mark Mangino is contemplating going to a two-linebacker base defense because of the Big 12's spread offenses, he still needs to find those two players. The Jayhawks lose starters James Holt, Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen at the position from last season.
Kansas State quarterback: Josh Freeman departed for the NFL early, leaving Carson Coffman and junior college transfer Daniel Thomas to compete for the starting job. It's not a pleasant introduction back to football for returning KSU coach Bill Snyder.
Missouri skill-position players: The Tigers need a quick infusion of playmakers after losing quarterback Chase Daniel, wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman. All of them arguably were the greatest players at their respective positions in Missouri history. Blake Gabbert will receive first look at quarterback and Andrew Jones will work at tight end. It could take several players to fill in for what Maclin did.
Nebraska quarterback: It will be tough for the Cornhuskers to replace all that Joe Ganz did for them, both as a playmaker and a leader at quarterback. Zac Lee will get the first shot, along with freshman Cody Green and redshirt freshman Kody Spano. Maybe the Cornhuskers really could use former Miami quarterback Robert Marve next season.
Oklahoma offensive line: The departure of starting center Jon Cooper, tackle Phil Loadholt and guards Duke Robinson and Brandon Walker means that Sam Bradford will have an inexperienced group protecting him next season. Trent Williams moves to left tackle and Bob Stoops likes his incoming talent, if not its early work habits.
Oklahoma State defensive tackles: The Cowboys ranked last in the conference in sacks last season and lost starting defensive tackles Tonga Tea and Jeray Chatham. It will mean that new defensive coordinator Bill Young will need somebody to step up in the trenches to help shore up that weakness.
Texas defensive line: The major question dogging the Longhorns' national title hopes will be rebuilding a defensive front that loses All-American defensive end Brian Orakpo, defensive tackle Roy Miller, defensive tackleAaron Lewis and defensive end Henry Melton from last season.
Texas Tech offensive line: New quarterback Taylor Potts will be relying on a retooled offensive line protecting his blind side after left tackle Rylan Reed, left guard Louis Vasquez and center Stephen Hamby all departed from last year.
Texas A&M running backs: The Aggies' offensive backfield will need to restock players: Michael Goodson left school early to declare for the NFL draft and fullbacks Jorvorskie Lane and Nick LaMantia are gone. Look for Cyrus Gray to get most of the work this spring with heralded freshman Bradley Stephens arriving in the summer.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Happy Friday. Although I'm thinking that college football has nothing to match the excitement of Selection Sunday, college basketball's regular season pales in comparison with football's.
College basketball is effectively a three-week long season for many fans. College football lasts through the entire fall.
So while I'll be watching the bracket announcement Sunday afternoon like everybody else, I still wouldn't change much about college football.
Except maybe create a four-team playoff at the end of the season in place of the Bowl Championship Series.
But that's for another day. Here are some tasty Big 12 football morsels to get you ready for the weekend.
- Hard-luck Texas Tech offensive lineman Rylan Reed was carted off the field at his school's pro day after suffering a knee injury while running the 40-yard dash, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports.
- CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd doesn't think that Mack Brown sounds like he's ready to retire.
- With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Corn Nation claims that after checking with the Pirate's Guild, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was selected as the Big 12 coach they would most like to run through and feed to sharks.
- Injuries to Derrick Washington and Gilbert Moye left Missouri down to one scholarship tailback at their workouts on Thursday, according to Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune.
- Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds tells the Oklahoman's Berry Tramel that he's interested in bringing up discussion about a change in the Big 12's football tiebreaker system.
- Brian Christopherson and Steve Sipple go to video to analyze Nebraska's defensive line before the Cornhuskers' start of spring practice on March 25.
- Veteran Boulder Daily Camera columnist Neill Woelk doesn't expect Colorado's No. 1 quarterback to emerge until practice in mid-August.
- Dallas Cowboys chief executive officer Stephen Jones told the Dallas Morning News' Jeff Mosier that he hopes to stage up to 10 college games per season in the Cowboys' new stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12 led all conferences with eight selections to the Walter Camp All-America team that were announced Thursday night.
Among the Big 12's selections were Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, Oklahoma guard Duke Robinson, Texas Tech tackle Rylan Reed, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo and Missouri return specialist Jeremy Maclin.
McCoy was also named the Walter Camp Player of the Year.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are the choices for my All-Big 12 team for the 2008 season.
QB - Colt McCoy, Texas
RB - Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
RB - DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
WR - Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
WR - Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
TE - Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
OL - Duke Robinson, Oklahoma
OL - Jason Smith, Baylor
OL - Rylan Reed, Texas Tech
OL - Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
C - Jon Cooper, Oklahoma
DL - Brian Orkapo, Texas
DL - Brandon Williams, Texas Tech
DL - Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
DL - Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma
LB - Joe Pawelek, Baylor
LB - Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
LB - Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
DB - Darcel McBath, Texas Tech
DB - Darrell Stuckey, Kansas
DB - Lendy Holmes, Oklahoma
DB - Daniel Charbonnet, Texas Tech
AP - Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
KR - Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State
PR - Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
K- Jeff Wolfert, Missouri
P- Justin Brantley, Texas A&M
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Taurean Henderson's hotly debated touchdown against Oklahoma in 2005 was more significant than merely providing Texas Tech with a controversial victory to finish that regular season.
The Red Raiders' conquest in that game was the first time that Mike Leach had beaten his mentor Bob Stoops in six tries. Most significantly, it helped establish belief that the Red Raiders could play with the Sooners on a consistent basis.
"That was a huge play for this program," Tech running backs coach Seth Littrell said. "It gave us a lot of confidence that we could play with anybody. And if you can beat those guys, you've got a chance to be really special."
|Douglas Jones/US Presswire|
|Mike Leach and the Red Raiders visit Oklahoma riding a 12-game winning streak.|
The Red Raiders have taken that play and used it to skyrocket to a place among national powers. They enter Saturday's game in Norman with a school-record 12-game winning streak this season and are sniffing at the school's first Big 12 South title and their first berth in a BCS bowl if they can keep winning.
But in order to continue their improbable run to an undefeated season, they will be facing the tallest of orders. Namely, to snap the longest home winning streak in college football as try to subdue the two-time defending Big 12 champions.
In the past, such thought would have been laughable considering the earlier struggles that Leach's team had with the Sooners.
Leach lost his first five games against the Sooners in games that were seldom competitive by a combined margin of 200-89. The Sooners outgained the potent Tech offense by an average of 138.5 yards per game the first four times that Leach coached against Stoops. Leach's pass-heavy offense barely dented a ferocious Oklahoma defense in its first three games against it, producing 8.7 rushing yards per game as the Red Raiders averaged 0.4 yards per carry in those games.
But the change in attitude among the Tech program is noticeable to Littrell, a former Sooner player who arrived in 2005 and has seen Tech's attitude transformed in recent seasons.
"It's always important to get that first win and that game was huge in that respect," Littrell said. "It got us to believing that those things are possible."
From there, the Red Raiders' confidence has only soared. They ran off 17 straight points in Norman in 2006, leading at halftime before losing 34-24.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Before venturing away from the friendly confines of Owen Field, there were some lingering questions that persisted about Oklahoma.
Considering Oklahoma had notched a 1-7 record in its last eight games west of Norman, the Sooners' road struggles were well chronicled. It led Oklahoma players preparing for the upcoming road season by wearing "Built Road Tough" t-shirts in the past several weeks.
The inspiration must have worked. The Sooners delivered a masterful 55-14 thumping of Washington on Saturday that ranked as the Huskies' worst home loss since 1929. That performance had Daily Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel writing about how the Sooners are legitimate contenders for the national championship.
It won't be easy. The Sooners' remaining opponents have a combined record of 21-3 so far this season. And DT DeMarcus Granger picked up a nasty-looking injury to his left leg when he was involved in a scrum with three Washington defenders a play after he had been flagged for a personal foul.
But Tulsa World Oklahoma beat writer John Hoover said this squad appears to be different than recent Oklahoma teams after it returned to the top two in the nation in both major polls for the first time since 2004.
Whether the Sooners can maintain that ranking through the Big 12 schedule remains to be seen. But it's about as good a start as Bob Stoops could have asked for coming into the season.
Speaking of good starts, here are some nourishing links to get Big 12 fans through a Monday morning.
- Despite rolling up 693 yards against SMU in a 43-7 victory, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach wasn't happy with his team's offensive performance. Leach kept individual standouts Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree from postgame interviews because quarterbacks and wide receivers were "holding us back." The Red Raiders' offensive line is getting healthier with the return of G Louis Vasquez and the most extensive playing time of the season for T Rylan Reed.
- San Antonio Express-News columnist Mike Finger writes about some undetected early weaknesses in the Big 12, despite a strong early record.
- Bo Pelini saw glimpses of what he thinks are the real Cornhuskers, particularly his team's strong secondary play against New Mexico State.
- Iowa State was kicking itself after pushing the ball inside the Iowa 30 six times, but only producing a field goal. But Gene Chizik was impressed with the Hawkeyes' defense.
- Baylor's convincing victory over Washington State -- the Bears' first over a nonconference BCS opponent since 1998 -- opened some eyes around the country.
- Despite having two producers with more than 10 catches against South Florida, Kansas coach Mark Mangino was peeved about his wide receivers. The Jayhawks' heralded defense was doomed by a 20-minute lull against South Florida.
- The Lawrence Journal-World's Eric Sorrentino hands out his weekly Big 12 awards.
- There was no letup in Missouri's offense against Nevada, as the Tigers made quick work of the school's record book against the Wolf Pack. And the Columbia Tribune's Dave Matter writes the Missouri offense might be the nation's best.
- Louisville FB Brock Bolin is preparing for a physical game Wednesday against Kansas State.
- Oklahoma State's sizzling offense has piled up an average of 536 yards per game in its last three contests. And it has already scored 152 points so far this season -- a standard it didn't reach until the eighth game last season.Three OSU backs reached 100 yards against Missouri State on Saturday with none playing in the fourth quarter.
- Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls offers a tongue-in-cheek look at the proposed Longhorn Television Network.
- Dallas Morning News columnist Chuck Carlton says that USC's dominating performance against Ohio State could help the Big 12.
- Freshman WR Jeff Fuller and Ryan Tannehill have emerged as vital cogs in Texas A&M's sputtering pass offense.
- Colorado is preparing for West Virginia's unconventional swarming 3-3-5 defense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
My love of charts is a well-known habit I've nurtured over the years. That's why this one developed by Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Tech sports information department is so interesting.
To illustrate his story on Texas Tech offensive lineman Rylan Reed this morning, George and the Tech staff came up with a list of the oldest active college football players. It has a couple of Big 12 players represented with Kansas State's Alesana Alesana at fourth-oldest college player and Reed at eighth.
Here's the list.
|Age||Player||School||Position||Class||Hometown||Date of Birth|
|32||Brandon Crawford||Ball State||DE||Jr.||Fort Wayne, Ind.||Aug. 16, 1976|
|29||Al Hawkins||Louisiana Tech||QB||Sr.||Linden, N.J.||Jan. 1, 1979|
|29||Ryan Pretorius||Ohio State||K||Sr.||Durban, South Africa||May 2, 1979|
|28||Alesana Alesana||Kansas State||OL.||Sr.||Malie, Western Samoa||Dec. 10,1979|
|27||Clayton Johnson||Nevada||OL||Sr.||Gilroy, Calif.||July 24, 1981|
|26||Adrian Baker||Bowling Green||DL||Sr.||Maplewood, N.J.||Sept. 20, 1981|
|26||Edwin Lopez||Arizona||H-back||Jr.||Puerto Rico||Sept. 20, 1981|
|26||Rylan Reed||Texas Tech||OL||Sr.||Plano, Texas||Nov. 18, 1981|
|26||Ben Woodward||Washington St.||TE||Sr.||Cheney, Washington||Jan. 4, 1982|
|26||L.J. Brown||UTEP||DL||Jr.||Fort Lauderdale, Fla.||March 29, 1982|
|26||Gerald Washington||Southern Cal||DE||Sr.||Vallejo, Calif.||April 23, 1982|
|26||Tripper Johnson||Washington||FS||Jr.||Bellevue, Wash.||April 28, 1982|
|26||Vaughn Lesuma||Washington St.||OL||Sr.||Laie, Hawaii||June 16, 1982|
|26||Peter Fardon||Buffalo||P||Fr.||Brisbane, Australia||June 19, 1982|
|26||Tony Fein||Mississippi||LB||Sr.||Port Orchard, Wash.||July 13, 1982|
Source: Dallas Morning News and Texas Tech SID office research
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It's the quiet before the storm today, still two days away from the games this weekend.
After all the excitement of last week's opening games, I'm wondering why the Big 12 doesn't have at least one Thursday night game every week during the nonconference part of the season. It would be a great opportunity for the conference to build some awareness.
The bigger Big 12 schools traditionally have not wanted to move their games around. But it would seem that a school itching to build some national notoriety -- are you listening Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Kansas State? -- would like to jump into a programming slot where a lot of people would be watching their games.
Thursday night has emerged as the unofficial kickoff point of the week. And because of the glut of games on Saturdays, playing a game early gives a school a chance to stand out and build some national awareness. Look at what it's done for ACC and Big East schools.
But then again, considering the weak games across the conference this week, I could understand why the less national exposure might be better.
Here are some links to get you through the pregame hungries.
- The Houston Chronicle's Joseph Duarte describes the Big 12's Krispy Kreme diet of nonconference foes this week.
- Texas' heralded "Q Package" got off to a quiet start in its opening game.
- Brent Zwereneman of the San Antonio Express-News profiles Texas A&M QB-turned-WR Ryan Tannehill, who led the team in receiving yards in the Aggies' season opener against Arkansas State.
- Jimmy Burch's Big 12 notepad in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram talks about Texas Tech's early struggles, Sam Bradford's new sense as a leader and how Colt McCoy has eschewed drinking a Dr. Pepper for nine years.
- The Fort Worth Star Telegram's Brad Gray describes Texas WR Jordan Shipley's emergence as the Longhorns' deep threat.
- Oklahoma State's red-zone struggles appear to have returned this season after sputtering offensive performances near the goal line in the Cowboys' opener.
- Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News has a good story on the adversity that Texas Tech T Rylan Reed has overcome to reach the Red Raiders' starting lineup.
- The Omaha World-Herald has a strong video package to break down the Cornhuskers' upcoming game with San Jose State.
- The Oklahoman's John Helsley writes about the evolution of Matt Clapp into Oklahoma's fullback and also lists the school's top fullbacks in history.
- Baylor hopes to build on a paltry pass rush that notched only one sack last week -- a safety blitz by Jeremy Williams.
- The combination of high altitude and Colorado's no-huddle offense could be a nightmare for nonfamiliar opponents.
- Preparing for two potential Iowa State quarterbacks -- Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates -- is much more difficult than preparing for one, according to Cyclone opponents.
- Former top 10 national recruit Michael Keck has left the Missouri program.
- Missouri has already sold a record number of more than 40,000 season tickets -- 5,000 more than the previous record.
- Overlooked WR recruit Dezmon Briscoe has blossomed after arriving at Kansas, producing three TDs in the Jayhawks season opener.
- Topeka Capital-Journal Kansas State beat writer Austin Meek consults the 8-ball to get some hot sports opinion about the Wildcats and Jayhawks.
- Don't expect much of a challenge for Missouri against Division I-AA Southeast Missouri State, which struggled to post a 35-28 victory over Division II Southwest Baptist last week -- a team that was 0-11 last season.
- Former standout Kansas State QB Jonathan Beasley returns to Manhattan as an assistant coach for Montana State.
- Iowa State must have better tackling if they hope to avenge last season's loss to Kent State on Saturday.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
And people thought it was known just for its jazz history and barbecue.
Kansas City is undoubtedly the northern hub of the Big 12. It was always the center for the old Big Eight Conference and some of the locals still haven't forgotten the interlopers from Texas who pushed the Big 12's offices to Dallas when the conference opened.
But "The City of Fountains" is bigger than just a few fax machines and file cabinets. And it will be proved again today when Iowa State and Kansas State announce they are coming soon.
Multiple newspapers reported this morning that the Cyclones and Wildcats will move 2009 and 2010 games to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Sources told the Topeka Capital-Journal the two teamswill receive payments of at least $1.8 million per game. KSU nets about $1 million from a normal game in Manhattan, according to the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle.
Kansas City is on a roll attracting Big 12 events. Arrowhead Stadium will be the site for the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 6. The breathtaking new Sprint Center was the host for the Big 12's men's basketball championships in March and will be solidly in the rotation for future tournament events. And the venerable Municipal Auditorium, with its stately art-deco ambience, is the best arena around for the women's title.
It's surprising that more regular-season Big 12 games don't end up in facilities like Arrowhead Stadium. The Missouri-Kansas game last season was one of the most ballyhooed sports events I've ever seen and the atmosphere lived up to the hype.
That game was bigger than any Texas-Oklahoma game I had ever attended because it had significant championship ramifications penned solely on that game. Now if we could get those Kansas City engineers to figure out how to get traffic moving a little faster, the next time might be easier.
The Kansas City Chiefs' organization appears more than willing to shell out big guarantees for games that it feels will be successful. I'm surprised that Nebraska hasn't convinced an opponent to move a home game to Arrowhead for those kind of windfall profits after a successful game there in 1998 against Oklahoma State.
So don't be surprised to see more Big 12 events end up at "The Paris of the Plains" in the future.
Just save a few extra cinnamon rolls for me at the legendary Stroud's Restaurant when you get there.
Until then, here are some tasty Big 12 links. They are almost as habit-forming and not nearly as gooey on your fingers.
- Club Med in cleats? Colorado prepared for its opener against Colorado State earlier this week by playing dodge ball, having a diving/belly flop contest, a 3-point basketball shooting competition and playing video games at a Boulder-area restaurant. "I just really believe there is so much magic in the world and so much magic in people, and sometimes we let life trample that down," Colorado coach Dan Hawkins told the Boulder Daily Camera.
- Missouri TE Chase Coffman was back catching passes for the first time Wednesday as he recovers from a broken right pinkie finger. Coffman scored touchdowns on consecutive red-zone plays.
- After watching Usain Bolt perform in the Olympics, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach believes that Jamaica could be a recruiting and vacation paradise. (Tip to the Dallas Morning News)
- Heralded Nebraska WR prospect Khiry Cooper talks about his early practices in a video interview with huskers.com.
- The Oklahoman's Jake Trotter details how important Bob Stoops has been in turning the Oklahoma program solidly in the black financially. "We can tie everything back to Bob Stoops," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione told the newspaper. "The success of our football program has been like the high tide in the harbor that has raised all of the boats."
- Billionaire financier T. Boone Pickens is pumping up support for Oklahoma State across Nebraska.
- The Tulsa World's Guerin Emig writes about Oklahoma backup QB Joey Halzle, who earned his teammates' respect with a strong relief performance last season against Texas Tech.
- The dog days of training camp brought a water balloon fight to Texas A&M on Wednesday. "Humor is one of the greatest components of having great chemistry when you can laugh at things together," A&M coach Mike Sherman told the Bryan-College Station Eagle.
- Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger expanded on his comments about his team's opener with Texas with the San Antonio Express-News' Natalie England. "I was trying to explain to the kids on campus here that the University of Texas has a long tradition of winning," Schnellenberger said. "They have such great players. There's no way we're going to match up with as good as players as they have, but we're coming down there to try and win the game."
- Massive 305-pound T Rylan Reed is back healthy for Texas Tech after suffering a serious ankle injury in last year's Gator Bowl.
- Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley are set as Texas' top receivers. But after that the Longhorns' receiving rotation is a jumble, Austin American-Statesman's Alan Trubow reports.
- Colorado and Colorado State appear to have different ideas where they want future games in the series to be played, according to B.G. Brooks of the Rocky Mountain News. The Buffaloes want games played at Boulder to provide a six-game home package of games, starting next season. The Rams are interested in continuing the series in Denver.
- WR Howard Morrow's return from an injury could settle one of Texas A&M's biggest questions, San Antonio Express-News reporter Brent Zwerneman writes.
- Brent Nickerson and LaRon Moore are emerging as likely replacements for injured starting Texas Tech CB L.A. Reed, whose condition remains undetermined.
- Nebraska offensive line coach Barney Cotton told the Lincoln Journal-Star he's energized after spending last season as a volunteer assistant coach at Ames (Iowa) High School. "As hard as it was getting fired," said Cotton, who previously was an offensive coordinator three years at Iowa State, "it was also a blessing in disguise, because it kind of gave me a chance to re-energize myself and refocus on why I was a coach."
- Nebraska QB Joe Ganz tells the Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel that he grew up in suburban Chicago wanting to be Tommie Frazier.
- NFL scouts are telling Kansas State coach Ron Prince that QB Josh Freeman could be the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. "That's what NFL people tell me," Prince told the Manhattan Mercury.
- Iowa State freshman DE Cleyon Laing, a Canadian native, is adjusting to American football before the new culture. "I haven't really had time to get culture shock yet," Laing told the Ames Daily Tribune. "It's just practice, sleep, meetings, sleep, and repeat. It's football 24/7."
- Baylor coach Art Briles is intent on boosting production from a running game that ranked 113th nationally last season and last in the nation in 2006.
- Heralded freshman TB back Darrell Scott sprained his left thumb at Colorado's morning practice, but returned for the Buffaloes' afternoon work.
- Lawrence Journal-World columnist Tom Keegan predicts that Kansas still will have a productive running game this season, despite the loss of two starting offensive tackles and leading rusher Brandon McAnderson.
- Missouri coach Gary Pinkel expects his younger players will receive most of the snaps Thursday at his team's final training-camp scrimmage.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
|Ronald Martinez/Getty Images|
|Oklahoma's Duke Robinson is the Big 12's best offensive lineman.|
They were famously called "the big uglies" by veteran ABC-TV play-by-play announcer Keith Jackson over the years. But there's nothing unbecoming about the group of Big 12 offensive linemen who dominate in the trenches.
Here's my group of the conference's 10 best offensive linemen heading into the upcoming season.
1. Oklahoma G Duke Robinson: Could have made a lot of money by turning pro last season after grading out at 85 percent in 2007. But is poised to be a No. 1 NFL draft pick with a big senior season.
2. Oklahoma T Phil Loadholt: Dogged at times by inconsistency, but still the biggest, baddest offensive tackle in the league.
3. Texas Tech G Louis Vasquez: Started 24 games in his career. Has emerged as anchor of the Red Raiders' line that allowed only 18 sacks last season.
4. Colorado T Ryan Miller: Had bang-up season as a freshman last year and should be poised for even more after earning most-improved honors from his coaches over the spring.
5. Texas Tech T Rylan Reed: Might be ranked a tad low, although he's coming off major ankle surgery after his injury in the Gator Bowl. Former pitcher in the Chicago White Sox organization who has beaten cancer and broken the school's bench-press record.
6. Missouri T Colin Brown: Former walk-on who emerged as Tigers' most consistent blocker last season on a line with two four-year starters.
7. Texas G Derrick Dockery: Struggled at times since 2006 season, but could be poised for a monster senior season.
8. Oklahoma C Jon Cooper: Started 29 games in his career, leading Sooners with 798 plays and 136 knockdowns last season.
9. Nebraska G Matt Slauson: Most experienced Cornhusker offensive lineman started at right guard and both tackle spots last season.
10. Texas G-T-G Chris Hall: The conference's most versatile offensive lineman after starting at least one game at every interior line spot last season, including four at left guard. He's likely slated for center this season, but in a pinch could fill in almost anywhere.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Good morning from the Cornhusker State. New coach Bo Pelini conducts his first news conference later Monday morning before fall practice begins this afternoon. It's a momentous time. Media outlets from across the state are tripping over themselves to try to outdo the next. There will be streaming media shows from a number of sources as Pelini breaks down his thoughts heading into his first fall camp.
I'll be there too, which makes me feel like I'll be witnessing history. Hard to believe the Cornhuskers finished 5-7 last season with their worst defensive team in history.
Most of the Nebraska citizenry think that Pelini will fix that. I'll be interested to hear his thoughts about his task at hand.
Pelini-mania dominates the news as a couple of other teams across the conference have started practice this weekend. Here's a breakdown of some of what people are talking about.
- Pelini's resuscitation plans for Nebraska's defense. along with a sidebar about his reaching back to the roots of the Cornhuskers' walk-on program, are detailed in a big spread written by Steve Wieberg in USA Today. It doesn't get much bigger than that, does it?
- Baylor coach Art Briles is weighing his options as he decides on a starting quarterback. "It might be decided as we jog out on the field for pregame," Briles told Chad Conine of the Waco Tribune-Herald. "Seriously, I wish I was kidding."
- Missouri QB Chase Daniel has a clear goal this season. "I want to play in Florida," Daniel told the Kansas City Star's Mike DeArmond. And he's not talking about the Gator Bowl, either. The BCS title game will be staged in Miami.
- The Columbia Tribune's Dave Matter ratchets up the pressure on Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and the Tigers. He picks them to finish second nationally and play for the national championship against USC. Matter also predicts Oklahoma to face its third-straight BCS buster as the Sooners will draw BYU in the Fiesta Bowl in his preseason predictions.
- Sure, Missouri's offense will score a lot of points. But with 10 starters back from a team that led the Big 12 in total defense in conference play last year, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the Tigers' defense will determine how far the team goes this season. And he's right.
- Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star said that Pelini isn't intimidated by facing all of the Big 12's potent spread offenses. "We try to have an offensive mentality on defense," Pelini told Sipple. "We want to dictate to the offense as much as it's trying to dictate to us." Easier said in August than when facing Bradford, Daniel, Harrell, etc., later this season.
- The Oklahoman's John Rohde almost was turning cartwheels after Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops purged his roster of WR Josh Jarboe.
- Oklahoma State has been successful starting seasons against Pac-10 teams on the road. The Tulsa World's Jimmie Tramel said that the Cowboys set the tone for bowl seasons with double-digit victories at Arizona State (1984), Washington (1985) and UCLA (2004). The Cowboys travel to Seattle to face Washington State on Aug. 30.
- Although Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford somehow didn't attend last month's Big 12 media days, the San Antonio Express-News' Mike Finger did a nice job of gauging his importance for the Sooners' hopes of claiming their third-straight Big 12 title.
- Texas A&M reported for practice Sunday without two freshmen who signed in February. TE Blake Chavis and DB/WR Derrick Hall didn't meet NCAA eligibility requirements. And several Texas newspapers reported that DE Mike Bennett, who missed the Alamo Bowl last season because of academics, will be eligible for his senior season this year.
- The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal breaks down Texas Tech's roster with a depth chart as the Red Raiders' practices begin Monday. Notable points of interest include Rylan Reed back starting at LT, Stephen Hamby ahead of incumbent Shawn Byrnes at C and Aaron Crawford, Baron Batch and Shannon Woods listed as co-starters at RB. On defense, heralded transfers Brandon Sesay and McKinner Dixon both are listed as third-string at DE.
- The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel says improvements at "The Boone Bowl" will take your breath away. That's a big step forward from the old days when I thought Lewis Field was the worst stadium in the Big 12.
- Hawaii-born LB B.J. Beatty is continuing Colorado's rich tradition of recruiting in the islands. And he's a pretty good football player, too. There's also a great picture of Beatty's flowing red hair on the Boulder Camera's Web site.
- Iowa State coach Gene Chizik is looking for more production from a puny offense that scored a conference-worst 18.2 points per game last season. It may start with reinvigorating a running game that ranked 95th nationally -- a big decline from the Cyclones' salad days under former coach Dan McCarney.
- Forget about losing CB Aqib Talib to the NFL. The Oklahoman's John Helsey says that Kansas' biggest loss from last season will be the departure of wizened coordinator Bill Young to Miami. His protégé, Clint Bowen, tries to fill his shoes. Young was an underrated element of the Jayhawks' 12-1 record and Bowen will be sorely pressed to match that production -- particularly against a much-tougher schedule.
- Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman said Oklahoma is searching south of the Red River for more players than in recent teams coached by Bob Stoops. Oklahoma is slated to start eight Texans this season, compared to six Oklahoma products. Looks like Stoops has been studying the blueprint that Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer employed to turn the Oklahoma program into a monolith -- lots of great players from Texas.
- Suzanne Haliburton of the Austin American-Statesman lists a lengthy to-do list
for Texas coach Mack Brown during fall practice. The Longhorns started practice this morning almost as early as a typical ESPN.com conference blogger this morning -- beginning at 6 a.m.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
|Sam Greenwood/Getty Images|
|Texas Tech's Rylan Reed isn't showing any ill effects from last season's broken ankle.|
One of the biggest questions coming into the season for Texas Tech's offense was the playing condition of mammoth 314-pound tackle Rylan Reed, who suffered a broken ankle in the Red Raiders' Gator Bowl victory over Virginia.
Reed apparently is showing few lingering effects from the post-season surgery after he lifted a school-record 625 pounds on Monday afternoon.
"It felt like the weight of world was lifted when I racked it," said Reed, a former pitcher in the Chicago White Sox's system who overcame cancer before beginning his college football career.
Reed has been limited in his lower body workouts as he recovers from the ankle injury, but has done some leg work. His recovery has enabled him to have more time to work on his upper body strength.
Tech officials said Reed bench-pressed 225 pounds 35 times in March -- accomplished while balancing with one leg elevated and one on the ground. The NFL's benchmark for linemen at their annual combine is 25 reps of 225 pounds.
"My teammates were there for me through the whole thing," said Reed, a senior from Dallas who is expected to practice when the Red Raiders being preseason training camp next Monday. "My family, sister, mom and brother-in-law all provided support. They kept telling me that I would come out of this better than I was before."