NCF Nation: Trey Metoyer


NORMAN, Okla. -- With nothing open from his initial reads, quarterback Blake Bell abandoned the pocket. But instead of attempting to truck his way into the end zone, the artist formerly known as the "Belldozer" rolled right.

Near the sidelines, he waited, and waited. And then when he couldn’t wait any longer, Bell stuck a pass into the chest of receiver Durron Neal for a three-yard touchdown.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiJunior Blake Bell, considered the front-runner to start for the Sooners before the spring, had the best day of all the QBs in OU's spring game.
Bell said after Oklahoma’s Red-White spring game that he wanted to show he could "sling it around a little bit, too."

And sling it he did, demonstrating that the power running that made him a fan-favorite the past two seasons is just one facet of his arsenal.

Bell completed 14 of 23 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns -- with no turnovers -- Saturday. He also showed the most poise and precision among the quarterbacks to seize momentum in the QB competition heading into the summer.

"I missed a couple throws," Bell said, "But overall, I thought I made some good plays, and was pretty accurate with the ball."

Bell displayed that accuracy from the opening possession, quickly moving the offense down the field with three completions to Jalen Saunders. The drive ultimately ended in a touchdown, when wide receiver Lacoltan Bester scooped up a Damien Williams fumble and raced 35 yards for the score.

(Read full post)

Mailbag: Fastest players, Tech-ISU, QBs

September, 28, 2012
9/28/12
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Thanks for all the emails this week. Should be a fun weekend of games. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.

On to this week's Mailbag:

Jason in Austin writes: David, I keep seeing you write about how fast Tavon Austin is, and as a Longhorn fan, I keep trying to compare his speed to Marquis Goodwin or DJ Monroe. Who, in your opinion, are the five fastest players in the Big 12?

David Ubben: This category is pretty tough. Ultimately, we can't know until we line these guys up and have them go at it. So, who's the absolute fastest? We have no real idea. It's a big group and I don't think you can narrow it down to just five. That said, there's a class of guys who are clearly among the elite. Here's who I've got as guys who have a case (in no particular order) as the fastest man in the league:
From what I've seen so far, Texas Tech freshman Jakeem Grant might join that group, but I want to see him with the ball in his hands a little more often.





ksucats44 in Manhattan writes: Hey DU,Could you post links to all the "where to go" articles somewhere so that we can look at them in preparation for away games?

DU: I've got you covered. I may tweet or post them during the week for every Big 12 school hosting a home game.


Here are the city guides you need for this weekend:


Big 12 Blog guides to:






The Old Scarlet and Black in Lubbock writes: You got to make up your mind Ubb's. First you put us on upset alert, then pick us to win. You say our WR's are deep but then do this talking about how WVU and Baylor as the best offenses in the league. Either take us out to dinner or stop texting us late at night! If we make it out of Ames with the win what are our chances of being the team that you think will do the upsetting next week instead of the team you think will be upset... again?

DU: It's kind of crazy, actually. People get more fired up about being put on upset alert than they actually do about me picking their teams to lose.

Here's how I approach upset alert each week: It's not necessarily a game that I think will be an upset. It's simply the underdog with the best chance to pull a surprise each week. TCU is going to take care of business this weekend at SMU. I don't think Baylor's got much of a chance to beat West Virginia and I think Texas rolls against Oklahoma State.

Tech was pretty much the only team left, and Iowa State at home is always scary. I don't necessarily pick my upset alerts in my predictions, but it's my game of the week that might go the opposite way experts expect. Nothing to get all bent out of shape about. Some weeks, there's more potential for upsets. Some weeks, there really aren't any, and I end up having to pick Texas State against Tech. Take it easy, folks.




Josh in Salina, Kan., writes: Not that it really matters much, but I wanted to ask about the shovel pass/fumble thing. I agree that super duper slow mo looked like Jones' hands were intentionally moving forward, but how many times have you seen a QB throw a shovel pass that falls incomplete and without any hesitation the QB starts to run after the ball?!? If he really had passed it, he would have just stood there and not put himself in harms way going after an incomplete pass. Who does that? ... Unless it was unintended...

DU: I've never seen K-State fans more fired up than when I insisted it was the right call. It was. This play, popularized by Dana Holgorsen in recent years, is technically a shovel pass, but it's sort of a hot potato play that's super dependent on timing.

Like we saw from Oklahoma, it can look terrible when it's done right. When Oklahoma State has done it the past two years and West Virginia does it with Geno Smith and Tavon Austin, it looks pretty good. Jones clearly possessed the ball and re-directed its path toward Roy Finch, who was completely oblivious and got an earful from receiver Trey Metoyer after the play.

As for Jones' reaction, when the ball's on the ground on a short pass like that, I'm sure his instincts just took over and he went after the ball. That doesn't mean it was a fumble.

It was incomplete, and it was the right call from officials.




Will in South Bend/Morgantown writes: Hey Ubbs. Which QB do you think goes the longest without throwing a pick among the current sans interception QBs? Which games do you think each makes their first blunder?

DU: I'm taking Geno Smith on this one. David Ash will throw a pick this weekend against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys secondary is too talented. Justin Gilbert or Brodrick Brown will get one, and Geno will be the Big 12's last man standing after this week against Baylor.




Lucien in Omaha, Neb., writes: First, you knew this was coming. You doubted Paul Rhoads (which you said never, ever, ever to do?again). Not only did you doubt Rhoads and the 'Clones but you picked TT to win by a fairly large margin. AND you've been touting how hard it is becoming to win in Ames. You know what I think it is? I think you're still a teenage boy at heart and are picking against the Cyclones just to defy your ISU alum father. I can't think of any other reason why you woul have Tech by such a large margin. When are you going to come to the same conclusion that the AP voters and Coaches have come to? Even Vegas says they are 3 point dogs. It's time to quit fighting it and give ISU it's due.

DU: Ha, I don't think that's the reason. I was never much of a rebel. I mostly think Iowa State won't be able to cover Tech's receivers, and that Seth Doege is criminally underrated around the league. With an offense back at full strength and clicking, he's going to have a huge game. Iowa State's defense has looked good of late, but that stat about nine consecutive games giving up fewer than 30 points in regulation? Let's break it down.

The first was against Tech, and yeah, that win was impressive. No qualms there. Holding Kansas under 30? Iowa State and just about everybody else last year. Oklahoma State? Impressive, but we've talked about the circumstances of that game plenty over the past few months. I'm not going to get into that any more than to say that it wasn't the same OSU team we were used to seeing.

Oklahoma? That game took place in about 40 mph winds and Oklahoma's receivers dropped about nine passes. That was in the post-Ryan Broyles era at OU, too. Kansas State? The Wildcats were seventh in the Big 12 in scoring last year and Iowa State held them just two points below their average. Rutgers? Come on.

It's an impressive stat, sure. But it's not indicative of some just amazing defense that Big 12 teams can't deal with. The Oklahoma State game was the most impressive of the lot by far, and we saw some inspired stuff from the Cyclones, but that 30-point streak ends this weekend.




Evan in Atlanta writes: What will you do if Baylor's defense pitches a shutout at WVU Saturday?

DU: Give up hope and give up this blog. If that happens, it will be official: I don't know anything about this game.

Instant analysis: OU 69, Florida A&M 13

September, 8, 2012
9/08/12
10:42
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NORMAN, Okla. – After a shaky opener in El Paso, Texas, the Sooners bounced back Saturday to trounce Florida A&M 69-13.

It was over when: QB Landry Jones hooked up with true freshman wideout Trey Metoyer in the corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown. The score put the Sooners up 35-10 with 36 seconds left before halftime.

Game ball goes to: Justin Brown, who was a playmaker as both a receiver and a punt returner during the first half. Two of his punt returns -- 43 and 62 yards -- led to OU touchdowns. A leaping 46-yard grab on third-and-10 set up another OU score.

Stat of the game: Junior-college transfer Damien Williams scored touchdowns on four of his first eight carries. He punched the ball into the end zone on his first two runs. Then on his first carry of the second half, Williams dashed 89 yards down the sideline for another score. In two games, Williams already has five touchdowns.

Unsung hero of the game: Wide receiver Kenny Stills had another big night, hauling in 10 catches for 120 receiving yards and a touchdown. Stills also finished with more than 100 receiving yards in OU’s first game and has quickly asserted himself as Jones’ No. 1 receiver.

What OU learned: That Williams is the team’s best running back, at least for the moment. Starter Dominique Whaley, who’s coming back from a broken ankle, sputtered before getting benched for fumbling for the second time in as many games. Williams, meanwhile, rushed for 156 yards on 10 carries and the four touchdowns.

What it means: Saturday’s performance wasn’t perfect. But the Sooners should feel reasonably confident going into their next game, a Big 12 showdown in two weeks with Kansas State. The Wildcats rolled past Miami 52-13 Saturday, but have not won in Norman since 1997.
Big 12 realignment forced Oklahoma to cancel its nonconference date against TCU -- only because the Frogs would host Oklahoma in December as Big 12 members.

The Sooners replaced that game with a seemingly harmless -- albeit awkward -- game on the road at UTEP that was postponed until a 10:30 p.m. ET kick because of heat.

Oklahoma's trip to the desert wasn't far from disaster. Even with the 24-7 win over the Miners, Oklahoma grabbed a spot as one of the nation's most disappointing teams on the season's opening weekend.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma's Bob Stoops
Jim Cowsert/US PRESSWIRE"Sometimes you're just not as sharp as you need to be," said Bob Stoops of Oklahoma's opener.
"Some of it is experience and time on the field. Some of these guys, that’s the first time (freshman receiver) Trey Metoyer's been in a live game," coach Bob Stoops said. "Guys will look and learn the more they play. That’s part of it, and just do a better job all of us, whether it’s on the field coaching or paying attention on the field."

Metoyer was a standout since enrolling in the spring, but was held without a catch in the first half. He finished with four catches for 21 yards.

The Sooners tied the Miners, 5-7 a year ago, 7-7 at halftime and carried just a 10-7 lead into the game's final quarter.

"Everytime someone has a close game, everybody says, 'Oh, they overlooked them.' No, that’s not the case. That’s not the case at all," Stoops said. "Sometimes you’re just not as sharp as you need to be. And maybe sometime the other team's a little better than most people think they are."

Quarterback Landry Jones completed just 21 of 36 passes for 222 yards and went without a turnover, but his completion percentage (58.3) was worse than every Big 12 quarterback but Kansas' Dayne Crist on the season's first weekend. Jones' mobility looked much improved, but he needed that mobility more often than most figured against a defensive line that should have been overmatched by the Sooners' size.

"We (ran) the ball overall over 5 yards a carry, so that’s good, but then there’s other instances where we’re just not as efficient as we ought to be," Stoops said. "A few times the protection breaks down and a guy is open, other times the protection’s there and we don’t have somebody open, so we just have to bring it together a little more."

Oklahoma's got plenty to work on after the close call against the Miners, but despite the offensive struggles -- Oklahoma ranked fifth nationally in total offense, UTEP ranked 104th nationally in total defense -- Stoops saw the bright side of the struggles, too.

"Everybody was positive and we came out in the second half and played better. I think there’s some things we can take from it. We’ve got a lot to correct here this week," Stoops said, adding his team left El Paso completely healthy, too. "Maybe you wouldn’t have seen that against somebody down in a different division or (FCS) and maybe that doesn’t show up. We understand you progress through the year and that’s what we’re after."

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 1

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
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Here's what I'm keeping an eye on in the Big 12 openers this weekend:

1. Close calls. It happens to somebody every weekend. You never know who, but some heavy favorite is going to get locked in a tight game. You can't really read into it too much later in the season, but you always know there's going to be drama somewhere when teams take the field after nine months off. Who's it going to be? Look out for unexpected excitement on Saturday.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireTexas will be counting on improvement from quarterback David Ash this season.
2. David Ash. No single player has more power to reshape the Big 12 preseason landscape. He might look like a whole new quarterback this season, or he might show the same old mediocrity. The odds probably favor the latter, considering how little experience Ash had in practice before starting last season. How much better will he be?

3. West Virginia's offense. The Mountaineers struggled with consistency last season, for those of you who didn't see WVU play a game before its Orange Bowl coming out party. For one, tune in to see how they look in Week 1. For two, I'm betting some of you have legitimately never seen Geno Smith, Tavon Austin or Stedman Bailey play before. Change that on Saturday. The Mountaineers are the only Big 12 game going at noon ET.

4. The youngest gun in the Big 12. Wes Lunt surprised a lot of folks when he beat out two older players to win the Oklahoma State quarterback job. He's got great running backs and should have some good targets. Few people have ever seen Lunt play in this offense. That changes this weekend.

5. Iowa State's quarterback(s). Steele Jantz has been named the starter, and he'll have a long leash, but how will he look? We didn't see much of him late in the season, and it's been a long time since this was really his team. It will be to start the season, but Iowa State's receivers need to help him out. Jantz needs to help himself out and control his turnovers, too. Nothing would put backup quarterback Jared Barnett on the field faster than turnovers.

6. Baylor's running back logjam. This one should be interesting. There's no telling just yet what Baylor will do, but it hasn't used a real committee since 2009, when it didn't have Robert Griffin III. Since then, the Bears have had a pair of 1,200-yard rushers, and Terrance Ganaway won the Big 12 rushing title last season. Will Lache Seastrunk, Jarred Salubi and Glasco Martin form a committee? Or will a featured back emerge? Ganaway broke out in a big way last season against TCU.

7. Kansas' new faces. I've got no idea what to think of Kansas this season. It's anybody's guess. Nobody's seen a complete overhaul this offseason like KU has. Charlie Weis saw a lot of work that needed to be done when he got to Lawrence and he did it. Big upgrades at quarterback and along the defensive line are the biggest change, but suspensions will keep running back Darrian Miller off the team forever, and James Sims for three games. What's Kansas look like? Here's guessing Dayne Crist holds the answer to that question.

8. Collin Klein's arm. Klein put in a lot of work this offseason to progress as a passer, and threw for 480 yards and six scores in the spring game. That's about all we've seen of Kansas State this offseason, but that was against the Wildcats' second-team defense. That said, it was more than a third of Klein's production through the air in all of last season. How much better has he gotten this offseason? We'll get a preview this weekend.

9. Oklahoma's young receivers. Kenny Stills will be the only eligible receiver on Saturday night who has ever caught a pass in a Sooners uniform. Freshman Trey Metoyer and Penn State transfer Justin Brown will start alongside Stills, and we know they'll have a good quarterback in Landry Jones. However, what can juco transfer LaColton Bester and freshmen Durron Neal and Sterling Shepard do? Shepard has already drawn comparisons to Ryan Broyles.

10. Texas Tech's health and new defense. Tech already lost one of its most talented special-teamers in camp, Aaron Fisher, but can the rest of these guys finally stay in one piece? Art Kaufman has a new defense in place, and we'll get our first look at Eric Stephens on Saturday after a horrific knee injury ended his 2011 season.

Big 12 power rankings: Week 1

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
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Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

The Big 12 power rankings are heavily influenced by what each team did in the previous week, and aren't necessarily a reflection of the Big 12 standings.

Think of it this way: As of right now, this is how well each Big 12 team is playing. Here's how I slot it to begin the season:

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners have an awkward opener, kicking things off on the road out in the desert against UTEP at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Still, we'll get a first look at a revamped offensive line and the new, young receivers Landry Jones will be throwing to all season. Look out for a coming out party from Trey Metoyer, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.

2. West Virginia: West Virginia plays Saturday's first game, kicking off against in-state rival Marshall at noon. The Big 12 newcomers have all the offense they need, but what will the pass rush look like with new defensive coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson?

3. Kansas State: K-State opens with Missouri State on Saturday night, with Collin Klein's revamped arm on display after an offseason of development. Everyone's watching that. What they should be watching? How does the offensive line look after replacing three starters?

4. Texas: The Longhorns settled on David Ash at quarterback, but the season opener Saturday night against Wyoming on the Longhorn Network. The defense will be fiendishly fun to watch this year, but how much better is Ash? We'll get somewhat of a feel in this one.

5. TCU: Oh, you poor Frogs. TCU is officially a Big 12 member, but has to sit and watch all Saturday as the rest of the Big 12 opens their respective seasons. It gives Amon G. Carter Stadium one more week to prepare for the debut of its facelift, but by the time it does next week against Grambling, 13 Big 12 games will have been completed.

6. Oklahoma State: The defending Big 12 champs are the sixth team in the mix for a Big 12 title in 2012, but their hopes rest on the 18-year-old shoulders of Wes Lunt, a true freshman we haven't heard much out of all summer or fall camp. The Pokes don't know who his top target will be just yet, but the defense that supports the offense should be improved from 2011. We'll see them open up against the poor saps at Savannah State (yuck) on Saturday night.

7. Baylor: The post-RG3 era doesn't officially kick off until Sunday, when Nick Florence takes a snap against Baylor's old Southwest Conference rival, SMU. Last year's opener against TCU proved to be one of the most memorable games of the season. Florence and receivers Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese have the firepower to outgun the Mustangs in a shootout. Hyped transfer Lache Seastrunk will make his long-awaited debut after coming back home from Oregon.

8. Texas Tech: Tech opens against Northwestern State on Saturday night. That's no big challenge. Staying healthy could be after two injury-riddled years to start the Tommy Tuberville Era. Keep an eye on how running back Eric Stephens looks after returning from a catastrophic knee injury last season.

9. Iowa State: The Cyclones should be challenged in their 3:30 p.m. visit fron Tulsa. Steele Jantz quarterbacked ISU to three fourth-quarter comebacks to open last season, and he may need another one. Paul Rhoads' Cyclones are a slight underdog in this windy weather showdown.

10. Kansas: Kansas' last coach, Turner Gill, opened with a disastrous 6-3 loss against FCS outfit North Dakota State two years ago. This time, Charlie Weis takes on South Dakota State. He's got a better team. Expect a better result Saturday for the former Notre Dame coach and a former Irish quarterback, Dayne Crist.

2012 Big 12 preseason predictions

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
10:30
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Time for one of my favorite posts of the year. Sometimes, you've got to go out on a limb.

To kick off the season, it's time for 10 fearless predictions to cover each team in the league. We'll grade these with a midseason checkup and return after the season for final grades.

Want to check how I've done in the past? Here are my grades for the past two seasons:
What about this season?

As it always goes in the Big 12, we'll start with the quarterbacks.

1. Landry Jones' interception total will be in the single digits. Jones has thrown 41 interceptions in almost three seasons as the Sooners' starter, including 15 last season. This year, though, Jones turns the corner and takes care of the ball better than he's ever done before, clearing 30 touchdown passes easily.

2. Wes Lunt will throw for 4,000 yards. Are we sure he's a true freshman? Can somebody get ahold of this kid's birth certificate? Lunt looks like that guy who came before him a whole lot more often than he looks like a kid who's in over his head. This is the beginning of a bright, bright future for the Illinois native.

3. David Ash will start 13 games for Texas. Ash was stuck in a rotation with Case McCoy last year, but this is the year the Longhorns quarterback takes control of the position and shows some signs of improvement. He's still no world-beater, but he's much, much better than he was in 2011, and the team's offense has its leader.

4. Trey Metoyer will lead Oklahoma in receiving. According to Oklahoma football historian Mike Brooks, only four freshmen receivers have ever led the Sooners in receptions. Malcolm Kelly (2005) was the last before Steve Rhodes in 1976. I don't know about receptions, but Metoyer narrowly edges Kenny Stills to lead the team in receiving yards. Lunt isn't the only impact freshman in the Sooner State.

5. Texas Tech will play Baylor for a chance to play in a bowl game. Both of these teams are better than this, but the Big 12's depth is going to hurt them. That's life playing in a league with six top-25 teams and three conference champions moving on in to the Big 12.

6. West Virginia will lose to an unranked team. You're fresh and new to the Big 12, but some of us have done our homework on the Mountaineers. Last year, it was Louisville and Syracuse. Syracuse and UConn got 'em in 2010. There were lots in 2008 and 2009. In 2007, a memorable (or was it forgettable?) loss to Pitt. South Florida in 2006. You have to go all the way back to 2005 for the last time WVU navigated a season without a loss to an unranked team. West Virginia's better this year, but not that much better. A word of advice: Look out for Iowa State in Ames.

7. TCU will reach the top five and then fall out of the top 20. There aren't many teams in college football that can get to 7-0. TCU will do it, thanks to its schedule, and ascend the polls. As the Big 12's most brutal finish to the season trudges on, though, the Frogs will find themselves outside the top 20. TCU must play at Oklahoma State, at West Virginia, Kansas State, at Texas and host Oklahoma to close the season. Good grief. No favors there from the Big 12 office.

8. Kansas will win a conference game, and Baylor will qualify for a third consecutive bowl game. The Jayhawks are more competitive this year, and somewhere along the line, it pays off. Meanwhile, so do Art Briles' and Nick Florence's efforts. Briles has turned Baylor's program around, and sustaining a winning season the year after his franchise player leaves is no small accomplishment.

9. Iowa State's Jake Knott and A.J. Klein will rank first and second in the Big 12 in total tackles. The Cyclones duo combined for 231 stops last year, but both are healthy and stay that way (sort of) to go out in style as seniors in Ames.

10. Kansas State will finish in the Big 12's top two in rushing offense. The Wildcats finished fifth a year ago and must replace three offensive linemen, but I've got faith in the SnyderCats here. Collin Klein's improved arm makes defenses respect him, and the Wildcats contend with tough competition in this stat from Oklahoma State and Texas.
We're taking a look at spring breakout players across college football today, and here's who made a big impact across the Big 12.

Trey Metoyer, WR, Oklahoma: Metoyer may have had the best spring of anyone in the Big 12. The physical freshman spent last season in prep school, but walked in this spring and essentially earned a starting job. Then three Sooners receivers were suspended indefinitely. Metoyer was already going to play and probably going to start. Now, with Oklahoma's passing offense and Landry Jones throwing the ball, it's a near certainty that he'll have a huge impact.

Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State: Lunt hasn't made an impact yet, but he's already made headlines. Lunt may be the first freshman to win a starting QB job in the spring in the history of the Big 12. The Illinois native beat out junior Clint Chelf and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh for the right to succeed Brandon Weeden, and quickly trended nationwide on Twitter after the announcement.

Will Smith, LB, Texas Tech: Smith came to Lubbock as a lightly recruited California juco transfer trying to find some playing time at outside linebacker. Midway through spring, he'd already established himself as the team's best linebacker and coach Tommy Tuberville moved him to the inside so he wouldn't have to leave the field during passing downs.

Jordan Thompson, WR, West Virginia: WVU is already loaded at receiver, albeit a bit top-heavy. Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin are bona fide studs, but Thompson should find a niche in the Mountaineers' offense after showing he could make an impact as an early enrolling true freshman. He's quick and has good hands, and the Houston native may resemble (gasp!) a young Tavon Austin next fall.

Brandon Moore, DT, Texas: Moore reportedly still needs to work on his conditioning, but the 6-foot-6, 330-pound juco transfer was a force in the middle of the line for the Longhorns, and could be a valuable pocket collapser and run stopper for a loaded Texas defense in 2012. That could blow up a lot of great Big 12 offenses. Think Nick Fairley vs. Oregon in the 2010 season's national title game.

Charlie Moore, WR, Oklahoma State: There was buzz surrounding Moore all spring, but he proved it in a big way as a spring game breakout star. The junior caught nine passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns in the game, and overshadowed yet another breakout star over the course of the spring, sophomore receiver Josh Stewart. OSU needed to find weapons this spring to replace Justin Blackmon, Josh Cooper, Hubert Anyiam and Michael Harrison at receiver. The Cowboys did exactly that.

Tony Pierson, RB, Kansas: Pierson made a small impact last season, but he's essentially the unquestioned starter at KU for now after Darrian Miller was kicked off the team and James Sims was suspended for the first three games of 2012. The East St. Louis native is dangerous in the open field and gives KU a much needed home run threat.
NORMAN, Okla. -- Even with its best player on the sidelines in tears, Oklahoma didn't know how bad it could get in the season's final month.

No player in the history of FBS caught more passes than Ryan Broyles. When the Sooners' receivers lost their leader and most productive member, one-loss Oklahoma went from Big 12 title contender gunning for an NCAA-most ninth BCS bowl appearance to Insight Bowl participant.

"I just felt like we didn’t know what to do once Ryan went down, to tell you the truth," receiver Kenny Stills said. "We never really saw that coming, and it hit us really hard."

[+] EnlargeKenny Stills
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiKenny Stills and the Sooners receivers will try to replace Ryan Broyles' production this fall.
After the loss, quarterback Landry Jones was shut out of the end zone for the season's final three games along with five interceptions. Oklahoma's sure-handed unit suddenly turned shaky, dropping passes more frequently than it had all season.

The Sooners started slow in a win over Iowa State, but were embarrassed in the regular season finale at Oklahoma State with the conference title hanging in the balance.

"We’re disappointed at the way we finished last season, I don’t think there’s any question," said co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jay Norvell, "and I think that’s motivated our guys to come out and really prove themselves and to step their game up."

That's been the task for Oklahoma's receivers this spring. After Broyles' injury, Stills moved to an unfamiliar slot position, and his discomfort showed. Despite Broyles' presence, Stills managed to top 100 yards receiving three times in his first six appearances of the season.

When the Sooners' needed him to replace Broyles' production, he didn't top 75 yards receiving.

"We were figuring out what to do with different people in different positions and now I feel like the spring’s helped us figure out what we want to do," Stills said.

He's playing some inside and some outside during the spring, but his preference is simple.

"Wherever the ball’s coming, I want to go," Stills said.

He'll get this offseason to learn how to live life without Broyles, whether it's leading off the field or producing on it. He'll also have plenty of reinforcements. Freshman Trey Metoyer has turned heads in the spring and coach Bob Stoops said he could "absolutely" start.

Come fall, freshmen Durron Neal, Sterling Shepard (two of the nation's top 10 receivers in the 2012 class) and Derrick Woods will join the team, along with highly touted juco transfer Courtney Gardner.

"Competition is the best motivator that you have. That’s Oklahoma," Norvell said. "You hear stories about back in the day when all the running backs were here and coach [Barry] Switzer was here, and there’d be another guy come in, and the way guys looked at each other.

"Good players, they have a lot of pride. And I just think we’ve tried to create that environment. We have a lot of guys that can make plays and that also push each other. I think guys get excited when they see somebody come in that has ability like that and it can help the team."

Norvell's message to his receivers this spring was accountability. Replacing Broyles is up to more than just Stills.

"We’ve talked a lot about (accountability), and I think we have to do a better job of that as a unit and as a team, playing hard for each other, and I don’t think we always did that, especially at the end of last year," Norvell said. "That’s what being a part of a team is, it’s the most special thing you can ever be a part of, especially because you know somebody has your back, and that’s exactly where we started this spring."
NORMAN, Okla. -- Expect plenty from Oklahoma in the days and weeks to come, but here's a few spare notes and thoughts from my time on campus Tuesday.
  • The hype machine shows no signs of slowing around incoming receiver Trey Metoyer. Coach Bob Stoops said the incoming freshman "absolutely" could start for the Sooners; co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell, who coaches receivers, laughed when he was asked if Metoyer could start. Look for more on him from SoonerNation soon. Metoyer will be a big piece for the Sooners. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder is speedy with great hands and jumping ability, a rare combo. Oklahoma needs a big, productive receiver, and Metoyer's proving early on that he could have the same kind of impact as a freshman that Kenny Stills did in 2010, when he broke the school's freshman record for receiving yards, with 786.
  • Trey Millard's best known for his work at fullback, but he's earned the nickname "Slash" from Stoops for his work at tight end, H-back and tailback, too. "I don't even know how he remembers it all, but he does," Stoops said. New defensive coaches Mike Stoops and Tim Kish have told stoops on multiple occasions that Millard "may be the best player on the team." His role reminds me a bit of Brody Eldridge's during the injury-plagued 2009 season. Eldridge was mostly a tight end, but played some fullback and about every position on the offensive line -- despite being just 260 pounds -- for the Sooners. You heard similar praise thrown his way.
  • Dominique Whaley was the team's top rusher a year ago before his season ended with a fractured ankle. Stoops called Whaley's progress to this point "very encouraging," adding he didn't know how exactly to quantify the senior-to-be's healing process from the injury.
  • What does Norvell think about younger receivers having to compete with a possible impact player in Metoyer? "That's Oklahoma," he said. Despite having four inches on the elder receiver Trey Franks, it's Metoyer who's earned the nickname "Little Trey." Such is life as a young gun. "That's how it goes," laughed fellow receiver Stills.
  • Stills also opened up about life after losing team leader Ryan Broyles, the FBS career leader in receptions. Stills' production slowed and the whole receiving corps suddenly started dropping passes as the Sooners lost two of their final three regular-season games. "Everything without Ryan was hard. I feel like everybody saw that," Stills said. "I hope that I can go in and step up and make the plays Ryan did."
  • Coverage wasn't different on Stills, but he was playing an unfamiliar slot position and struggled to maintain his production, much less fill the void Broyles left behind. "I was in a position I'd never played and then it was like, 'Kenny didn't step up,' which was true," he said. "I've got to make the plays when the ball comes to me."
Across our little blog village here at ESPN, we're taking a look at the top newcomers in college football this year. You (probably) don't know their names yet, but here's who you need to watch this fall in the Big 12.

Will Smith, LB, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders only found Smith while recruiting another possible impact transfer, running back SaDale Foster. The California juco transfer stepped on campus this winter and by the end of spring, coach Tommy Tuberville called him the team's best linebacker. He started playing outside, but Tuberville moved the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder to starting middle linebacker in the middle of camp so he'd be on the field even during passing downs. He'll be important to Tech's new 4-3 scheme. Think K-State's Arthur Brown, a Miami transfer who's almost the exact same size.

[+] EnlargeDayne Crist
Andrew Weber/US PresswireFormer Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist brings experience as a starter to Kansas.
Dayne Crist, QB, Kansas: You probably know this name, but Crist started nine games in 2010 for Notre Dame and appeared in 17 career games. He began 2011 as the starter, but was benched and transferred to KU to play his final season of college football for Charlie Weis, the coach who recruited him to South Bend as the nation's No. 2 quarterback and No. 22 overall prospect in the 2008 class. He threw 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2010.

Brandon Moore, DT, Texas: Moore is part of a changing world in Austin, thanks to a revamped coaching staff with some SEC sensibilites. He and OT Donald Hawkins were the first juco transfers to sign with Texas since 2002 and Moore may be the lynchpin of the Big 12's best defense this year. Teammates have described the "full-grown man" as "unstoppable." Such is life at 6-6 and 330 pounds. Moore has to work on his conditioning, but he's going to wreak havoc on Big 12 offensive lines when he's on the field this year. Look for him to collapse a pocket or two early and often this season.

Trey Metoyer, WR, Oklahoma: Metoyer spent a year in military school after not qualifying academically, but he's already made an impact this spring after finally arriving at Oklahoma. He was the nation's No. 8 receiver in the 2011 class and offers the Sooners some much-needed sure hands. The unit came down with the dropsies late last season, and the FBS career leader for receptions, Ryan Broyles, is NFL-bound. Metoyer is exactly what the Sooners need to keep their offense on pace with the league's best, and he'll be catching passes from a Heisman candidate in Landry Jones.

Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor: Seastrunk's short-lived career at Oregon was marred by a recruiting scandal, but he's back home, 30 miles north of his hometown in Temple, Texas, and ready for a fresh start. Baylor needs a replacement for Big 12 rushing champ Terrance Ganaway, and Seastrunk, the nation's No. 6 running back and No. 40 overall prospect in the 2010 class, is battling Glasco Martin and Jarred Salubi for the chance to be the man.

West Virginia and TCU: Have y'all heard about this? It's gonna be kind of crazy. After losing four teams since June 2010, the Big 12 poached the Big East and added the former Southwest Conference-dwelling Frogs and the Mountaineers, badly in need of a home away from the weakened Big East. Here's how we welcomed the Frogs and did the same for WVU earlier this year.
We looked at the biggest needs for each team in the Big 12 last week. Now it's time to see who filled them.

BAYLOR

Baylor needed a quarterback and defensive tackle, and delivered in both positions. Javonte Magee is on the way as the nation's No. 20 tackle, and the Bears grabbed former Kansas commit Seth Russell, the nation's No. 47 quarterback, from outside Dallas. The Bears also added the No. 78 defensive tackle, Zorrell Ezell, and Joey Sercy from junior college.

IOWA STATE

The Cyclones needed receivers and got them. Two of the team's top four signees are receivers, P.J. Harris and Quan West. The duo was just outside the top 100 nationally at the position and came from Florida and Texas, respectively.

KANSAS

The raw rankings won't tell you the strength of Kansas' recruiting class. Quarterback has been a huge weakness the past two years, and passers Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps arrive as transfers from Notre Dame and BYU, respectively. It also fulfilled a need by adding Tyler Holmes, the nation's No. 105 tackle.

KANSAS STATE

The biggest need filled for K-State is simple: defensive line. Two of the team's top signees (Travis Britz, Demonte Hood) are along the line, and the team added two more signees (Chaquil Reed, Wesley Hollingshed) from the juco ranks.

OKLAHOMA

The Sooners clearly filled their biggest need. The team's top three recruits (Trey Metoyer, Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal) are all receivers, which is huge for a team that found out it wasn't very strong at the position after Ryan Broyles' injury. It also added the nation's No. 19 receiver, Derrick Woods, to the class.

OKLAHOMA STATE

The Cowboys added a whole lot of volume at receiver. Time will tell how much noise it makes. OSU added six receivers in this class, but none ranked in the top 85 at their position. The team's top recruit, Dominic Ramacher, is the nation' No. 3 tight end and will surely be able to catch a few passes.

TEXAS

The Longhorns lost two starters at linebacker, and filled the void extremely well. The nation's No. 1 inside linebacker, Dalton Santos, is coming. As is Peter Jinkens, the nation's No. 5 outside linebacker, and the No. 12 outside linebacker, Torshiro Davis. It also added Tim Cole, the No. 27 outside linebacker and Alex De La Torre, the No. 11 inside linebacker.

TCU

The Horned Frogs' top two commits in their top-25 class are both on the defensive line, filling a big need. That includes Devonte Fields, an ESPNU 150 signee and the No. 11 defensive end. Joey Hunt is the nation's No. 18 defensive tackle. Both hail from Texas. The Horned Frogs also added James McFarland and Terell Lathan, two defensive ends in the top 85 at the position.

TEXAS TECH

The Red Raiders got big-time reinforcements at receiver, adding two of the nation's top 15 at the position. Dominique Wheeler and Reginald Davis are two of Tech's three ESPNU 150 signees in the top-20 class.

Oklahoma has received a letter of intent from juco receiver Courtney Gardner, who had been committed to Bobby Petrino at Arkansas since December, but switched his commitment after a visit to Norman last weekend.

The addition gives Oklahoma an even more loaded class at receiver, which includes two of the nation's top 10 receivers (Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal) in the 2012 class, as well as a five-star signee from last year (Trey Metoyer) who had to qualify academically.

From Bob Pryzybylo at SoonerNation:
Gardner tried to keep it quiet, but fellow commit Zack Sanchez (Keller, Texas/Central) let the cat out of the bag Monday in a radio interview by saying Gardner had committed to OU, too.

Gardner and Sanchez talked to each other for more than 90 minutes Saturday night at the hotel where both decided the Sooners were going to be the team for them.

For Gardner, he never thought OU would be an option. And at the beginning of the 2011 season, he really wasn’t considered. However, it became apparent as the season progressed that wide receiver was going to have to be a position of emphasis for 2012.

Safe to say: Mission accomplished for the Sooners on the receiver front.
Wide receiver Trey Metoyer has been cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse and is expected to join the Oklahoma Sooners any day now, SoonerNation has learned.

Metoyer signed with Oklahoma last year, but was forced to attend fall classes at Hargrave Military Academy after he was unable to qualify at OU.

Metoyer was the No. 8 overall receiver in the country last year and the No. 51 prospect in the ESPNU 150. The Whitehouse, Texas, native finished with 259 career receptions in high school, second all-time in Texas high school history.

Metoyer is not on campus at the moment, but is expected to be in school by the weekend.

Metoyer's clearance was first reported by David Smoak.

Updated 2012 Big 12 recruiting scorecard

December, 20, 2011
12/20/11
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So, the season gets, you know, kind of crazy. It's unrelenting, and recruiting plummets in priority. Thus, we haven't had a recruiting update since before the season.

Time to update.

Signing Day is less than two months away, and here's where each Big 12 team sits as we hit the recruiting home stretch before the big day in February.

All commit totals, rankings and stars via ESPN Recruiting, which updated its national recruiting rankings this week.

1. Texas Longhorns

National ranking: No. 1
Total commits: 25
ESPNU 150 commits: 10
Key commits: RB Johnathan Gray, DT Malcom Brown, WR Cayleb Jones, QB Connor Brewer
Class notes: Four of Texas' top five commits are skill position players, a huge need for the Longhorns. They're one of a handful of schools still chasing one of the nation's top recruits, too, receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Gray will come to Texas as the Gatorade National Player of the Year. Texas also has two juco transfers coming next year, OT Donald Hawkins and DT Brandon Moore, a rarity for the Longhorns.

2. Texas A&M Aggies

National ranking: No. 8
Total commits: 22
ESPNU 150 commits: 4
Key commits: OLB Jordan Richmond, RB Trey Williams, ATH Bralon Addison, QB Matt Davis
Class notes: Texas A&M's class is being spearheaded by Davis, who's spreading the "Agg Swagg Movement" via social media, and Texas A&M will enter the SEC with one of its best classes in recent history. It's a deep class, too. Eleven of the 22 commits earned four-star status on ESPN.

3. Oklahoma Sooners

National ranking: No. 9
Total commits: 17
ESPNU 150 commits: 5
Key commits: RB Alex Ross, WR Sterling Shepard, WR Durron Neal, OL Ty Darlington
Class notes: The Sooners are after DGB, too, but may have a sudden big need at running back after a handful of transfers over the past few months. ESPNU 150 signee from 2010 Trey Metoyer, a receiver, is expected to be in Norman next year after spending a year at Hargrave Military Academy. He'll offer some nice help, but will Landry Jones be throwing him the ball?

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders

National ranking: No. 17
Total commits: 22
ESPNU 150 commits: 3
Key commits: WR Reginald Davis, WR Dominique Wheeler, OT Michael Starts, QB Clayton Nicholas
Class notes: The Red Raiders added five commits since our last update, but Davis, Wheeler and Starts should all be nice pickups and additions to an offense that lacked a big-play threat this year when Darrin Moore was battling injuries. Tech is also adding five juco transfers, including two more receivers and a pair of pass-rushers.

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Total commits: 16
ESPNU 150 commits: 1
Key commits: TE Dominic Ramacher, OLB Jeremiah Tshimanga, QB Wes Lunt
Class notes: Texas swiped CB Kendall Sanders with a late recruiting push, following a few high-profile former OSU commits to go elsewhere. This year's class won't make many headlines, but it'll be interesting to see if the 2011 Big 12 title pays off in the 2013 recruiting class. OSU knows definitively now that it can be better than OU and Texas. Lunt, an Illinois native, is an uber-productive dual-threat. Former blue-chipper Calvin Barnett, a DT from Tulsa, spurned OSU for Arkansas on Signing Day 2010, but he's committed this year via junior college.

6. Baylor Bears

Total commits: 19
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: ATH Corey Coleman, OT Kyle Fuller, CB Terrell Burt, WR Kiante' Griffin
Class notes: Baylor added a handful of recruits just before the season to reach 18 commits, and added just one commit over the course of the season. Baylor's grabbed big-time recruits like Ahmad Dixon and Kendall Wright in the past that have been productive, but there's no big name in this class just yet.

7. Missouri Tigers

Total commits: 15
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: DT Donald Hopkins, QB Maty Mauk, ILB Donavin Newsom
Class notes: Missouri is chasing DGB too, but the story this season has been class attrition for the Tigers. They were in the top 20 but lost ESPNU 150 commit Evan Boehm, who decommitted. The Tigers fell out of the top 25 and fell behind Oklahoma State and Baylor. Running back Jonathan Williams took his four stars to Arkansas and OT Germain Ifedi moved to fellow future SEC member Texas A&M. Mauk, Hopkins and Newsom are the only remaining four-star recruits in the class.

8. Iowa State Cyclones

Total commits: 20
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: OT Daniel Burton WR P.J. Harris, WR Quan West, QB Grant Rohach
Class notes: The Cyclones added 11 commits since our last update. Three of the Cyclones top four commits are offensive skill position players, but Burton is the class' top commit. He committed on Sept. 29. A second QB, Luke Knott, committed way back in April. His older brother, Jake Knott, is a star linebacker for the Cyclones. Paul Rhoads' 10-year contract extension could help on the recruiting trail next year, too, offering parents some security that he'll still be coaching their sons for their whole careers. ISU has no four-star commits, but eight three-stars.

9. Kansas State Wildcats

Total commits: 11
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: WR Vernon Vaughn, DT Travis Britz, RB Jarvis Leverett, QB Tavarius Bender
Class notes: Kansas State added four commits since our preseason update. Seven of the commits are three-stars and just one is committed via junior college. Two commits are unranked.

10. Kansas Jayhawks

Total commits: 8
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: QB Seth Russell, TE Jordan Smith, OG Brian Beckmann
Class notes: ATH Bilal Marshall and DE De'Jon Wilson are no longer committed and new Kansas coach Charlie Weis has his work cut out for him. He says he doesn't want to be under scholarship numbers, but he doesn't want to offer guys just to fill scholarships with bodies. It'll be a tough balance. He's got catching up to do. WR Tre Parmalee and DT Keon Stowers are Weis' first two commits.

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