Big 12: Iowa State Cyclones

The list of positions that need improvement at Iowa State is much longer than head coach Paul Rhoads would like to see.

The Cyclones need better play from just about every position on the roster if they hope to wash away the memories of their 2-10 season in 2014. ISU has a few playmakers on offense, including receivers Allen Lazard and D’Vario Montgomery, along with Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Kamari Cotton-Moya at safety and cornerback Nigel Tribune providing a talented pair in the Cyclones secondary. For Rhoads to get things turned around, the Cyclones need help in the trenches, starting with the defensive interior.

Position to improve: Defensive tackle

Why it was a problem: Dismissals and departures put the Cyclones behind the eight ball before the 2014 season even began with Rodney Coe and David Irving among the interior line options who were dismissed after the 2013 season. ISU turned to youth at the position with sophomores and freshmen, led by Mitchell Myers, manning the defensive tackle spot. The group struggled to be disruptive, finishing with a Big 12-worst 58 tackles for loss in 12 games.

How it can be fixed: The defensive tackle rotation should naturally improve with a year’s worth of experience under the belt of Myers, Vernell Trent and the remainder of the returning underclassmen at the position. Add ESPN JC50 defensive tackle Demond Tucker -- who turned down offers from Kansas State, TCU, Arizona State and others -- into the mix and the defensive tackle spot looks a lot stronger heading into 2015 than it did before the 2014 campaign.

Early 2015 outlook: It would take a major leap for ISU’s defensive tackles to become among the Big 12’s best but the group looks like it is on the road to providing a much-improved foundation for the Cyclones to build a defense around. If Tucker lives up to his recruiting hype and becomes a force in the middle, it would allow the young defensive tackles on the roster to gradually improve without being asked to be the anchors in the middle. Improved production from the Cyclones defensive tackles would be the first step toward an improved ISU defense.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

January, 26, 2015
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It's the most wonderful time of the year! Signing day is less than 10 days away. The second-to-last official visit weekend is in the books. Here's where the Big 12 recruiting classes stand entering the final stretch:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 18
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 27th
The latest: The Bears added a fourth offensive lineman to their class on Sunday in the form of Ringling, Oklahoma, guard Riley Daniel. He chose Baylor after an official visit this weekend and a trip to Texas Tech last weekend. Baylor is also battling the Red Raiders for three-star Louisiana cornerback Henry Black, who visited Waco over the weekend.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 18
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Iowa State is searching for a running back to replace Devine Ozigbo, who flipped to Nebraska earlier this month. Might the answer be Joshua Thomas? The three-star back from Buford, Georgia, appears to be down to Iowa State and Wisconsin. A decision is expected soon. Thomas visited the Badgers this weekend. Another recruit to keep an eye on: Julian Good-Jones, the Cyclones' tackle commit who visited Louisville this weekend.

KANSAS
Total commits: 24
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Kansas picked up five intriguing pledges from the state of Texas in the last week -- DE Dorance Armstrong, WR Jeremiah Booker, WR Steven Sims, LB Osaze Ogbebor and former Tulsa CB commit Shola Ayinde -- but also lost two significant commits over the weekend. On Sunday, three-star receiver Kevin Thomas flipped to SMU and three-star athlete Arico Evans made his flip to TCU.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Kansas State will be a finalist for one Georgia prospect on signing day and will have to do some work to ensure another stays in the fold. Three-star defensive end G.G. Robinson, a Louisville commit, visited K-State over the weekend and hails from Lilburn, Georgia. Meanwhile, three-star OLB commit Mohamed Barry took an official visit to Nebraska and will make his final decision between KSU, Nebraska and Miami on Thursday.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 20
ESPN 300 commits: 8
ESPN JC50 commits: 3
Class rank: 17th
The latest: The Sooners are likely going to part ways with ESPN 300 defensive tackle Marquise Overton, whose ACT score has the OU staff concerned he won't qualify. A key target to take his place in the OU class is four-star Darrion Daniels. The Dallas defensive tackle visited Iowa this weekend and is expected to decide this week, though Texas Tech might be the favorite at the moment.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 18
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 35th
The latest: The Cowboys moved quickly to land ESPN 300 athlete Louis Brown after he parted ways with Texas last weekend. Brown took an official visit to OSU and made his commitment on Saturday night. The Burton, Texas, native will likely play defensive end. OSU also held its first junior day for the 2016 class this weekend.

TCU
Total commits: 24
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 37th
The latest: The Horned Frogs loaded up on speed this weekend. First they secured a commitment from Kavontae Turpin, an electric receiver and returner from Monroe, Louisiana. Then came the commitment from Arico Evans, who'd pledged to Kansas earlier this month. He accounted for 34 total touchdowns as a quarterback at Dallas Hillcrest this season.

TEXAS
Total commits: 23
ESPN 300 commits: 9
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 9th
The latest: Texas had a big-time weekend with five-star DT Daylon Mack, ESPN 300 running back Soso Jamabo and ESPN 300 athlete Kai Locksley in town for official visits. Mack and Jamabo will announce their decisions on signing day. Locksley, an important QB target for Texas after losing Zach Gentry to Michigan, will go home and mull over whether he should flip from Florida State. The Horns also brought in Georgia DB commit Deandre Baker and Dominique Reed, the nation's No. 4 juco receiver. Texas also picked up a re-commitment on Monday from ESPN 300 wide receiver John Burt, who'd backed out earlier this month to reconsider Auburn.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 33rd
The latest: The Red Raiders picked up a commitment last week from three-star offensive lineman Cody Wheeler of powerhouse Allen High School in Texas. He was one of the many official visitors in Lubbock over the weekend, a list headlined by ESPN 300 running back Chris Warren III. Three-star defensive end pledge Lonzell Gilmore visited Baylor over the weekend.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 24
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 25th
The latest: In addition to landing a commitment from three-star lineman Rob Dowdy, West Virginia had a big-time weekend with three Florida studs visiting Morgantown: four-star Miami pledge RB Mark Walton, four-star Georgia commit WR Shaquery Wilson and ESPN 300 receiver Antonio Callaway. Another Florida native, four-star athlete Jordan Cronkrite, will decide between WVU and Florida on signing day.

Best of the visits: Big 12

January, 25, 2015
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Another busy weekend on the recruiting trail as visits and commitments are starting to give shape to each school’s recruiting class. The second-to-last weekend before signing day brought plenty of intrigue and some consternation (particularly in Austin, Texas).

Oklahoma State landed a commitment from ESPN300 athlete Louis Brown during his visit to Stillwater, Oklahoma, over the weekend. The Burton (Texas) prospect boasts offers from Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oregon and others. A 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Brown is a raw talent with extremely high upside and should be a good fit in OSU’s defense. The No. 267 player in the ESPN 300, Brown was a long-time UT commit who parted ways with the Longhorns during his official visit last weekend.
The Cowboys weren't the only team having success on the trail this past weekend, with TCU landing a pledge from Monroe (Louisiana) Neville's Kavontae Turpin. The receiver prospect picked the Horned Frogs during his visit to Fort Worth. At 5-foot-8, 145 pounds, Turpin could be a good fit for TCU's slot receiver role in its high-scoring attack. Three-star cornerback Henry Black spent his weekend in Waco, Texas, checking out Art Briles' program. A recent Bears offer, the Shreveport (Louisiana) Woodlawn prospect is a relatively raw talent with good size at 6-foot, 182 pounds. Iowa State is searching for help along its defensive line so seeing Jacksonville (Florida) Christian defensive lineman Josh Coleman in cardinal and gold is a good step forward. The Cyclones are hoping Coleman is a hidden gem that picks ISU in the end. Coleman is expected to visit Fresno State on Jan. 30. Texas hosted several top recruits over the weekend including ESPN 300 athletes Soso Jamabo (Plano, Texas/West) and Kai Locksley (Baltimore, Maryland/Gilman). Jamabo is the No. 28 player in the ESPN 300 and could kick start UT's offense by providing an immediate big play threat. Locksley, a Florida State commit, is the No. 289 player in the ESPN 300 and could project to several different positions in college including quarterback. West Virginia has its eye on rounding out its recruiting class with three-star prospect Gary Jennings. The Stafford (Virginia) Colonial Forge athlete spent the weekend in Morgantown, West Virginia, and could be a good fit at receiver in Dana Holgorsen's offense. Jennings, who boasts offers from Wisconsin, Notre Dame and others, is a prospect to keep on eye on during the home stretch of this recruiting cycle.
This week, we've been counting down the Big 12's top 25 players of 2014. Friday, we'll unveil our top five players.

But before then, we want to mention the players who narrowly missed the cut.

The unfortunate part of our top 25 ranking is that only 25 players can make the cut. But we considered at least a dozen other standouts who were also worthy of inclusion.

SportsNation

Who has the biggest gripe being left off the Big 12 top 25 player ranking?

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    45%
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    9%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,725)

Standouts like Baylor's KD Cannon, who totaled more than 1,000 receiving yards as a true freshman; Texas' Jordan Hicks, who led a stout Longhorns defense in tackles; West Virginia's Mario Alford, who was a big-play threat on offense and special teams; Kansas State's Curry Sexton, who was third in the league in receptions despite playing alongside Tyler Lockett; Baylor's Shock Linwood, who finished second in the Big 12 in rushing; and Texas' John Harris, who finished fifth in the league in receiving.

But there were five other players who proved most difficult to leave out.

Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard most definitely would have made the top 25 had he not suffered a groin injury that severely limited him late in the season. Still, with more than 900 receiving yards before November, Shepard almost made the cut anyway.

So did his teammate, offensive right tackle Daryl Williams. The first-team All-Big 12 selection helped pave the way for the Sooners' powerful running game. His tackle cohort Tyrus Thompson, however, did crack the top 25 at No. 20.

Like Shepard, Baylor wideout Antwan Goodley would have been a lock had it not been for an early-season injury. After totaling more than 1,300 yards receiving last year, Goodley finished with just more than 800 this season. Still, Goodley re-emerged as one of the most dominant pass-catchers during Big 12 play, placing seventh in the league in receiving during conference games. He had 158 yards receiving and two touchdowns in Baylor's critical 61-58 victory over TCU.

The final two players who nearly made the list didn't play for prolific teams, but they stood out nonetheless. Iowa State tight end E.J. Bibbs tied for seventh in the Big 12 with eight touchdown receptions. Kansas' JaCorey Shepherd, meanwhile, surfaced as one of the top cover corners in the conference for an underrated Jayhawks defense. Shepherd was fourth in the country with 18 pass breakups.

So we put the question to you in our weekly Big 12 poll.

Of Shepard, Williams, Goodley, Bibbs and Shepherd, who has the biggest gripe about being left out of our Big 12 top 25 player ranking?

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

January, 19, 2015
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These final few weeks of this recruiting cycle should be fun to watch. Here's the latest on each Big 12 team's recruiting efforts:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 26th
The latest: The Bears hit the ground running out of the dead period with three commitments in the past week. A trio of linebackers decided to play college football at McLane Stadium with Waco (Texas) Midway's Lenoy Jones Jr., Richmond (Texas) Foster's Eric Ogor and Paris (Texas) High's Jordan Williams picking the Bears. Jones is a three-star prospect who had an offer from Houston, Williams is a unranked prospect with an offer from Sam Houston State and Ogor is a unranked prospect with offers from Lamar, Louisiana-Lafayette and McNeese State.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: The Cyclones had a solid start to the home stretch of this recruiting cycle with commitments from Jenks (Oklahoma) receiver Carson Epps, Citra (Florida) North Marion linebacker De'Amontae Jackson and Lithonia Georgia Military College safety Jarnor Jones during the past week. Jackson, a three-star prospect, is the top-rated of the trio and stands as the Cyclones' highest-ranked high school recruit on the pledge list.

KANSAS
Total commits: 21
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Did David Beaty and Rob Likens land Kansas' quarterback of the future this week? The Jayhawks grabbed a pledge from Vero Beach (Florida) quarterback Carter Stanley, who has experience running an uptempo spread offense. He passed for over 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns as a high school senior.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Bill Snyder's program could look back upon this weekend as a key stretch of this recruiting cycle after Metairie (Louisiana) Archbishop Rummel defensive tackle Tyrell Jacobs visited Manhattan, Kansas. The three-star prospect, who reports a lengthy offer list that includes Oklahoma, Arizona State and Tennessee, has plans to visit Missouri and Illinois. He would be a terrific anchor for K-State's defense if Snyder's team can secure his signature.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 19
ESPN 300 commits: 8
ESPN JC50 commits: 3
Class rank: 18th
The latest: The Sooners hosted several prospects over the weekend, including Dallas Kimball cornerback Antoine Stephens, who decided to commit to OU during his visit. The three-star prospect picked the Sooners over reported offers from Texas Tech, Baylor, Louisville and others. Stephens has the chance to bring size (6-foot-1, 187 pounds) and versatility to OU's secondary.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 2
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 34th
The latest: It was a key weekend for Oklahoma State with several prospects including a pair of potential ball carries in Rockwall (Texas) running back Chris Warren III and Dallas South Oak Cliff running back Jordan Stevenson visiting Mike Gundy's program. The running back position is a key need for the Cowboys, who lose two-year starter Desmond Roland this offseason.

TCU
Total commits: 22
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 36th
The latest: The Horned Frogs are trying to flip Miami commitment Terrell Chatman, who made an official visit to TCU over the weekend. The Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Central receiver is the No. 254 player in the ESPN300 and would bring another tall, lanky option alongside Josh Doctson in TCU's offense at 6-3, 176 pounds if the Horned Frogs are able to land him.

TEXAS
Total commits: 26
ESPN 300 commits: 11
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: Eighth
The latest: LSU commitment Nick Brossette took an official visit to Austin, Texas, and Charlie Strong's program left an impression with the four-star prospect as the Baton Rouge (Louisiana) University running back tweeted the visit "gave him a lot to think about." He is the No. 121 player in the ESPN300.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 31st
The latest: It was the first of several key weekends for Kliff Kingsbury's program as several prospects including offensive linemen Semisi Uluave and Riley Daniel visited Lubbock, Texas. Daniel is an unranked tackle from Ringling, Oklahoma, while Uluave is a three-star guard from Honolulu, Hawaii.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 24
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 26th
The latest: With the bulk of its 2015 class secured, West Virginia has an eye on the future, becoming the first school to offer Class of 2017 linebacker David Adams. The Pittsburgh Central Catholic prospect averaged 6.6 tackles per game during his sophomore season.

Best of the visits: Big 12

January, 18, 2015
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The third weekend in January is always a busy -- if not the busiest -- weekend in the recruiting cycle. College coaches are allowed to contact recruits face-to-face again and the college football season is over, so both players and coaches have turned their attention to the final few weeks of recruiting. It was a busy weekend around the Big 12 with almost every conference program hosting recruits on official visits. Here’s a look at some of the best of the best form those visits.

ESPN 300 running back Nick Brossette has been a longtime LSU commitment, but that hasn’t stopped him from giving Texas a long, long look. Texas would like to land an impact running back in the 2015 class, and Brossette remains one of its best options. Brossette has built a great relationship with Horns coach Charlie Strong, and from all indications he had a good time in Austin this weekend.


Oklahoma landed a much-needed commitment from Dallas Kimball three-star cornerback Antoine Stephens on Sunday. The 6-foot-1, 187-pound Stephens was also offered scholarships by Texas Tech, Baylor, Louisville, SMU, Washington State and others.


After losing five commitments in the past few weeks, Iowa State received positive news from three-star inside linebacker De'Amontae Jackson over the weekend. The 6-foot, 235-pounder was a big get for the Cyclones out of the Sunshine State. At one point in time, Jackson had offers from Alabama, Florida State, Kentucky, Miami and others.


It also looks like Iowa State did a very impressive job with No. 10 junior college offensive tackle Jaypee Philbert this weekend. He posted about loving his time at the Kansas-Iowa State basketball game and also posted a picture of him hanging out with Cyclones offensive coordinator Mark Mangino.


Three-star defensive tackle Tyrell Jacobs joined fellow Louisianan Reggie Walker on an official visit to Kansas State this weekend. Jacobs, who visits Missouri and Illinois the next two weeks, was also accompanied by his mother.


Texas Tech had a large group of visitors on campus this weekend, including Kansas three-star athlete pledge Arico Evans. The 6-1, 190-pounder from Dallas Hillcrest seemed to be having a good time on his trip to Lubbock.


Oklahoma State also had some big prospects on campus, including eight players who were already committed to the Cowboys. This includes players like three-star safety Za'Carrius Green, who definitely liked what he saw with the black Oklahoma State uniform.

In Friday's Twitter mailbag, we talk recruiting, instant impact freshmen and whether TCU will be able to handle the offseason hype.

On to the 'bag:

Trotter: Considering TCU and Baylor are loaded, and Texas and OU have quarterback problems, it probably won't be next year. But Charlie Strong and his staff have been killing it on the recruiting trail, while OU shook up its offense for the good by bringing in new coordinator Lincoln Riley. Would I be stunned if Texas and OU were the top two teams in the Big 12 again by 2016? No. But they also have plenty of work to do before getting there. Trotter: That's a great question, but I think they will. Gary Patterson does a great job of keeping his team grounded. The fact they came out playing with a chip on their shoulder in the bowl game is a great sign, too. TCU has never really been in this position before. But the leadership on this team starting with Trevone Boykin seems to be something that will help them wearing the target on their chests next year. Trotter: Some non-All Big 12 players this past year who could have big 2015 seasons: TCU DT Davion Pierson, Oklahoma State S Jordan Sterns, Oklahoma DT Charles Walker, Texas Tech CB Nigel Bethel II, West Virginia CB Daryl Worley, Kansas State LB Elijah Lee and Texas S Jason Hall. Trotter: Snyder said just last week that at his age he can only take it one season at a time. All signs point to him coaching again in 2015. Beyond that, it will come down to his health. But even at 75, Snyder seems to still be going strong. Trotter: The easy answer is Kansas State. The Wildcats graduated their QB, their two best receivers, their best offensive lineman, their best defensive lineman and their best linebacker. Because of Snyder, K-State might not take that big of a step back. But it's going to be tough. Trotter: Not bad. The Big 12 definitely needs a new One True Slogan. I've recommended, "We Play Everybody," since that's what the league originally intended to say with "One True Champion." Trotter: I read up on Spangler's high school football career, and apparently he could fling the ball around a bit. At 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, he could run a little "Belldozer" package, right? Trotter: Pancakes. Call me weird, but I especially like pancakes made from cornmeal. Trotter: It's the only hole on the offense going into next year. But it's a massive hole. Rennie Childs is a solid back, but I don't know that he's an every-down starter on a championship-caliber offense. Sione Palelei has major knee injury concerns, so who knows about him. In my opinion, Oklahoma State really needs to land a premier back in this class. They're working on it. ESPN 300 back Chris Warren III is on an official visit to Stillwater this weekend. In addition, the Cowboys are attempting to flip a commitment from the likes of Nick Brossette (LSU), Jordan Stevenson (Wisconsin) and Chris Carson (Georgia). Trotter: Iowa State fans are beginning to forget that Rhoads led the Cyclones to bowl appearances in three of his first four years. That said, the frustration is understandable. The Cyclones have been trending in the wrong direction these last two years, and the recruiting this year has been a reflection of that. 2015 is a big year for Rhoads and Co. He needs to get Iowa State back on track next season. Trotter: Baylor's Jarrett Stidham, Texas' Zach Gentry and Kansas State's Alex Delton will all be walking into quarterback situations lacking defintion. None will be a favorite to win the job going in, but the chance is at least there. ESPN 300 DT Breiden Fehoko has the opportunity to start at Texas Tech Day 1. Malik Jefferson has the talent to immediately work into Texas' rotation at linebacker. West Virginia's Miramar, Florida, haul of WR Jovon Durante, CB Tyrek Cole and S Kendrell McFadden could warrant early playing time, as well.

Top recruiting targets in the Big 12 

January, 16, 2015
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Here's a team-by-team look at some remaining targets for Big 12 teams.

Big 12's top recruiting visits 

January, 16, 2015
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The third weekend in January is annually the biggest official visit weekend of the recruiting cycle and that’s definitely true for 2015 and in Big 12 territory. All but a few conference schools are expected to host prospects on campus this weekend and there will be plenty of major news to come following these trips, especially at places like Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa State.

[+] EnlargeNick Brossette
Gerry Hamilton/ESPNTexas is looking to flip Nick Brossette's commitment to LSU.
Texas to host around eight visitors
The Horns will have a solid group of visitors in Austin this weekend, including a number of touted commitments like ESPN 300 prospects Louis Brown and DeShon Elliott. But what makes the weekend significant is three visitors that have yet to make up their minds. LSU commitment and No. 12 running back Nick Brossette is coming to town, along with ESPN 300 defensive backs Kris Boyd and Holton Hill. Brossette is giving Texas a serious look despite his pledge to the Tigers, and he’s built a great relationship with Charlie Strong. Boyd and Hill are two key defensive back targets the Horns would love to reel in.


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Plenty of firepower will depart the Big 12 during this offseason, from Baylor's Bryce Petty to Kansas State's Tyler Lockett, some of the nation's top offensive players called the league home in 2014.

But the conference Offensive Player of the Year is poised to return and several young players had breakout seasons. Here's a look at ten Big 12 offensive players to keep an eye on heading into 2015:

TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin: If Boykin makes the same jump he has in the past 12 months, he will cement a spot as a Heisman finalist in New York. He will enter the season with plenty of fanfare and has the skill set that leaves defenses searching for answers. If they try to pressure Boykin and he escapes into the open field, he’s like a running back. If defenses sit back, he can distribute the ball through the air like a veteran. Boykin is the clear favorite to repeat as Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year after accounting for 4,608 total yards in 2014.

[+] EnlargeSamaje Perine
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsWhat will Samaje Perine do for an encore after setting the FBS single-game rushing record as a freshman?
Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine: New OU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley must be licking his chops at the thought of having Perine at his disposal. The physical, yet speedy Sooners running back will automatically make defenses account for his run threat. Tasked with jump-starting the passing game, Riley could end up creating even more running lanes for the talented ball carrier if OU's pass offense takes off. Perine probably won’t match his 1,713 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman but he should be able to get close to those numbers.

Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard: He was one of the nation’s top receivers before a leg injury derailed his junior season. Shepard finished with 51 receptions for 970 yards and five touchdowns despite making just two of those receptions after his 15-catch explosion against Kansas State on Oct. 18. He should be one of the Big 12's top pass-catchers and the Sooners' No. 1 target.

Baylor receiver Corey Coleman: The junior-to-be is a big play waiting to happen. Coleman can catch the deep ball, turn a short pass into a long gain and remains a threat on kick returns. His 15-reception, 224-yard, two-touchdown performance against OU was a glimpse at his big-time potential. He finished the season with 64 receptions for 1,119 yards (17.5 yards per catch) and 11 touchdowns.

Baylor receiver KD Cannon: As soon as defensive backs see Cannon they would be wise to start to backpedal. He had a amazing true freshman season with 1,080 receiving yards and eight touchdowns as he repeatedly ran by defenders as if they were standing still. Cannon’s speed creates problems but his competitiveness when the ball is in the air really separates him. He has the potential to be even better as a sophomore.

TCU running back Aaron Green: The Nebraska transfer is the ideal backfield mate for Boykin, as both playmakers are among the Big 12’s best in the open field. Green had four 100-yard games in the final half of the season as the Horned Frogs called upon him to fill the void after B.J. Catalon's injury.

Kansas running back Corey Avery: New coach David Beaty is going to need playmakers and Avery fits the bill. Don’t be surprised if the Jayhawks make it a priority to get Avery involved in the offense, as he’s one of the few proven playmakers on the roster after finishing his debut season with 631 rushing yards and five touchdowns. His 18 receptions show his versatility, which could make him an even more valuable piece in KU’s version of the Air Raid during his sophomore season.

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph: He completely transformed the Cowboys fortunes in the final three games of the season. But it’s important to remember he’s still a young quarterback coming off a great finish to his first season, much like OU quarterback Trevor Knight was at this time last year. Let’s not crown him as a future of the Big 12 quarterback position quite yet, but Rudolph shows all the signs of being able to lead the Pokes into title contention.

Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington: Coming off an overlooked 1,000-yard season, Washington makes the Red Raiders confident they will have balance in 2015. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry on his way to 1,103 rushing yards. Washington should continue to be one of the Big 12’s top playmakers this fall.

West Virginia running back Rushel Shell: The Pittsburgh transfer brings a physical presence to WVU’s offense and his success on the ground often directly impacted the Mountaineers' odds of winning. He finished with 788 rushing yards and seven touchdowns and could be counted on to play an even bigger role in 2015 with Kevin White headed to the NFL.

Next five: Iowa State WR D'Vario Montgomery; TCU WR Josh Doctson; Baylor RB Shock Linwood; Iowa State WR Allen Lazard; Texas Tech WR Jakeem Grant.

Overreacting in the Big 12

January, 15, 2015
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We're all guilty of the same crime from time to time: reading too much into one result, overreaching with some opinion, buying too much stock when it might actually be time to sell. It comes with the territory of covering this unpredictable game. Here's a look back at a few things we thought we knew during the 2014 Big 12 season. A lot of them were wrong.

Aug. 30: Oklahoma State almost beat Florida State!

Season openers can be consistently pretty good at making people look foolish. With all the prep time coaches have, the results can be about as meaningful and enduring as bowl games. In this instance, Oklahoma State played No. 1 Florida State a lot closer than most expected. The Seminoles won 37-31 at AT&T Stadium but almost squandered a 17-0 lead. That game was a coming-out party for Emmanuel Ogbah and Tyreek Hill, who went on to have great seasons, but the Pokes finished 7-5. We sensed that OSU's showing and West Virginia's close game against Alabama signaled that the Big 12 can play with anyone. That might be right, but the Cowboys' season didn't get much easier from there.

Oct. 18: Texas has its QB of the future!

[+] EnlargeTyrone Swoopes
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezIt was a seesaw-type season for Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes.
On the jump to conclusions mat, we hopped to this spot a couple of times during the season. Tyrone Swoopes definitely had his moments in 2014. Against Oklahoma, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, he threw for 300-plus yards in each game, and it appeared the Longhorns could lean on him for the future. In this particular week, against the Cyclones, he came up clutch by driving 68 yards in two plays to set up the game-winning field goal in a 48-45 win. The next week, Texas lost to K-State 23-0. His impressive showing against Oklahoma State was followed up by the debacle against TCU. In a year of highs and lows for Swoopes, it was probably unrealistic to make such bold and definitive statements.

Nov. 1: Sugar Bowl Trevor is back!

Speaking of quarterbacks with highs and lows, Oklahoma's Trevor Knight was also a tough dude to peg during the 2014 season. Once again, we witnessed a quarterback shred Iowa State and believed this meant progress. Knight was at his dual-threat best on Nov. 1: 230 yards passing, 146 rushing and six total TDs in a 59-14 beatdown in Ames. That "Sugar Bowl Trevor" label of how good he can be on the right day remains both unfair and elusive, though, as the Sooners' showing against Baylor the next week proved.

Dec. 2: TCU is making the College Football Playoff!

They really got us good with this one. We didn't make such a bold prediction at the time, but all the indicators were there, right? When the playoff committee boosted the Horned Frogs up to No. 3, ahead of Florida State, going into the final weekend of the season, it seemed reasonable to conclude that a blowout win against Iowa State would be enough to secure TCU's playoff bid. This ended up being a false hope, and it was heartbreaking for Horned Frogs fans. Baylor fans were angry at the time, too, but didn't need to be. A few days later, the playoff committee finally bumped the Bears ahead of TCU, which lost to Baylor in October.

Have you had enough yet? No? Here's a preview of a few talking points you're sure to hear about in the offseason that might in fact be regrettable overreactions. Only time will tell, really, but we have to discuss 'em anyway.

Mason Rudolph is a star!

The way Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph closed out the season with three inspiring starts, including the shocking upset of Oklahoma in Norman, is inspiring a lot of confidence about where the Pokes are heading in 2015. But he was a true freshman, and surely there will be speed bumps along the way as he grows in his sophomore year. Let's have a little patience, shall we?

Paul Rhoads is on the hot seat!

You knew this talking point was coming eventually. To this point, the job of beloved Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads has never really seemed to be in jeopardy, despite the on-field results (2-10). But the Cyclones just endured a winless conference season and have lost 23 of their past 29 games. Recruiting isn't going great, either. The pressure will build if Rhoads can't produce more promising results in 2015.

Maybe TCU and Baylor can both make the playoff!

Putting both teams in the top three of our Way-Too-Early preseason rankings might lead to this viewpoint, but it's probably a shaky one. Only one of these teams can go undefeated, and there are no guarantees for one-loss teams. Whoever wins their Black Friday showdown in Fort Worth should be in great shape. But who knows what that game will mean for the loser?
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There are 30 players committed to Big 12 schools in the final update of the ESPN 300 for the Class of 2015. That number is comparable to the Big Ten and the Pac-12, but definitely trails behind the ACC and SEC. What also has to be troubling is the lack of top-flight national recruits ending up at Big 12 schools. Only two top-50 players and seven in the top 100 are heading to Big 12 programs. The good news is that those numbers could change down the stretch as some good talent remains on the board in Texas and Oklahoma.


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Big 12 morning links

January, 14, 2015
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Well, I did not see this one coming. Your thoughts, Baylor fans?
  • The debut year of the College Football Playoff was a rousing success everywhere except Texas, writes Jerry Palm of CBS Sports. Well, he kinda has a point. While the college football world reveled in what a hit the inaugural playoff was, there are still a bunch of deservedly bitter TCU and Baylor fans out there. Palm argues that the playoff was only "a slight improvement" from the BCS era because of those No. 5 and 6 teams left behind, and he lays out some arguments for expanding the bracket. Personally, I think the four-teamer will survive at least a few more years, at least until a real tidal wave of controversy hits.
  • Cool story here from Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman on Bobby Jack Wright, the longtime Oklahoma assistant who has elected to retire. Wright held a news conference on Tuesday and regaled reporters with stories from his 16 years as a Sooner. I especially enjoyed the tales of recruiting road trips with Bob Stoops. It's nice to see that, in light of the staff shakeup at OU, Wright is going off into the sunset without much bitterness. He's earned the right for a respectable exit.
  • Former Oklahoma State athlete Tyreek Hill appeared in court on Tuesday, and his defense attorney claimed "my client is innocent, there is no question about that." Hill is still facing a felony charge of domestic abuse following his Dec. 11 arrest and has moved back to Georgia since being kicked out of OSU. No word on what his football-related plans are going forward, though the deadline to declare for the NFL draft is Thursday.
  • One of the Big 12's more sneaky interesting position battles for 2015 -- West Virginia's quarterback spot -- officially added two more contenders. True freshmen David Sills and Chris Chugunov joined the program as midyear enrollees on Monday. They join Skyler Howard, William Crest and maybe even Paul Millard in a competition that could be fierce. Sills is coming back from a broken ankle and Crest had a shoulder injury this season, but it sounds like they'll be OK for spring ball. WVU is looking deeper at QB now than at any time in Dana Holgorsen's tenure.
  • Iowa State receiver Jauan Wesley received an indefinite suspension on Tuesday after ISU police found him with marijuana in a car and charged him with operating while intoxicated. Wesley was one of just four true freshmen who saw the field for the Cyclones in 2014. He caught 10 passes for 107 yards and even earned one start.

Final 2014 Big 12 Power Rankings

January, 13, 2015
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» More Final 2014 Power Rankings: Top 25 | ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

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Big 12 recruiting scorecard

January, 12, 2015
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While the Buckeyes and Ducks have been preparing for tonight's College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T, the schools in the Big 12 have been busy putting the finishing touches on their recruiting classes. Here's the latest on each Big 12 team's recruiting efforts:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 25th
The latest: The Bears have a big visit coming up in two weeks from ESPN 300 prospect Holton Hill. The No. 19-ranked cornerback in the country, Hill is also considering LSU, Texas, Florida State and Alabama. The Bears are also in on another ESPN 300 cornerback in Kris Boyd, who has Baylor listed among his top five schools.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Iowa State's class took some majors hit last week. Three-star running back Devine Ozigbo flipped his commitment from the Cyclones to Nebraska. Days before that, 3-star defensive end Anthony Nelson changed his pledge from Iowa State to Iowa. With Ozigbo and Nelson bailing, the Cyclones have now suffered five decommitments to this class.

KANSAS
Total commits: 21
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: David Beaty announced the hiring of six members of his coaching staff last week, including Gene Wier as high school relations director. Wier is a coaching legend in the Kansas City area, having won six state titles at Olathe North from 1996-2002. Wier, who was former K-State standout Darren Sproles' high school coach, should give the Jayhawks a presence in Kansas City they've lacked in recent years.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: The Wildcats continue to look for help on the defensive line. They're scheduled to host 3-star DT Bryce English out of DeSoto, Texas, at the end of the month. English is a former Texas and UCLA commit who would fill a major spot on the checklist in the class. Three-star defensive end G.G. Robinson and 3-star DT Tyrell Jacobs are expected to visit Manhattan before signing day, as well.

OKLAHOMA

Total commits: 19
ESPN 300 commits: 8
ESPN JC50 commits: 3
Class rank: 18th
The latest: Fresh off his promotion to co-defensive coordinator, Jerry Montgomery continued his demolition of the recruiting trail, collecting commitments from ESPN 300 defensive tackle Neville Gallimore and 4-star defensive end Gabriel Campbell. The Sooners now have five defensive linemen committed in this class, including a trio of ESPN 300 prospects .

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 2
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 34th
The latest: Oklahoma State is getting one of the final official visits from ESPN 300 running back Chris Warren III, and the Pokes might have an ace up their sleeve in their pursuit. They've also offered his close friend and Rockwall (Texas) High teammate WR Xavier Castille, who will join Warren on the official visit this weekend. The two will also travel to Washington together before signing day.

TCU
Total commits: 22
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 36th
The latest: More great news for the Horned Frogs' ongoing chase for five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack: The Longhorns are out. Mack canceled his Texas official visit and will instead take trips to Texas A&M, Auburn and TCU before signing day. The Frogs get the final official visit for the Jan. 30 weekend and have to like their chances a little better now, especially since Mack does not have much of a relationship with Auburn beyond Will Muschamp.

TEXAS
Total commits: 26
ESPN 300 commits: 11
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 8th
The latest: Mack is off the table for now, but Texas still has lots of big-time targets for its final six scholarship spots. That includes WR John Burt, the recent decommit who will still take a trip to Texas on Jan. 30. Holding on to early enrollee ATH commit Tim Irvin, who will visit Auburn, is also a priority. This upcoming weekend, Texas is expected to host ESPN 300 DBs Holton Hill and Kris Boyd on campus.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 30th
The latest: The Red Raiders said goodbye to a receiver and hello to another last week. ESPN 300 wideout Carlos Strickland backed out of his commitment and now appears to be focusing on UCLA and Texas. But Tech did accept a pledge from four-star inside receiver Keke Coutee, a speedster who'd been committed to UT prior to Mack Brown's firing.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 23
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 26th
The latest: One intriguing athlete to watch as West Virginia closes out its class this month: Sihiem King. The three-star running back from Georgia will spend the final three weekends of his recruitment at Wake Forest, Washington State and then WVU. As a senior, King racked up 40 rushing touchdowns and more than 2,000 yards.

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