Big 12: Texas Tech Red Raiders

In today's Big 12 mailbag, we discuss the Top 25 player ranking, the looming QB derbies in Waco and Manhattan, the Texas recruiting wars, Oklahoma State running backs and, curiously, Kurt Russell.

On to the 'bag:

Trotter: We're big fans of Washington here on the blog. We made him a second-team All-Big 12 selection. But the top 25 player ranking was a tough list to crack. A number of other terrific players like Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard and Baylor's Antwan Goodley didn't make the list, either. Washington has a chance, though, to open next year on the preseason top 25 list as one of the league's top returning running backs.

Trotter: Rennie Childs is the obvious bet at this point, since he's the only healthy scholarship running back currently on campus. But I think the Cowboys land a marquee back before signing day. Oklahoma State has a powerful pitch to make, and that's immediate playing time. Keep an eye on Chris Carson, who is an ESPN Junior College 50 prospect. Carson has been committed to Georgia since August, but he's reportedly taking a visit to Stillwater this weekend. Because they can offer playing time -- and Georgia can't having Nick Chubb -- I think the Cowboys have a decent chance to flip Carson.

Trotter: I believe that Briles believes or was told that. But after Heather Dinich spoke with College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, it doesn't seem very likely that Briles got good info, considering the playoff votes are taken via secret ballot over computer.

Trotter: The Red River Showdown hasn't been the league's most important game in seven years. I don't see why next season would be any different.

Trotter: "Miracle." But "Death Proof," "Escape from L.A.," "Tombstone," "Poseidon" and even "Overboard" have high rewatchability.

Trotter: Yes, but only if he's not the best quarterback. If he is, Baylor should start him. That would give him four seasons.

Trotter: I think so. Incoming freshman Alex Delton is an intriguing prospect, but Bill Snyder isn't prone to playing true freshmen anywhere, much less at quarterback. Joe Hubener has three years in the system, which gives him a huge advantage over the others. He has good size, good speed and a good arm, from what I hear. If he takes care of the ball he will be tough to unseat.

Trotter: No latest. If you read my Q&A with commissioner Bob Bowlsby from earlier this week, you'll know that there are no immediate plans for either. The only change I see the Big 12 making is eliminating the "co-champions" rule. Otherwise, expect status quo.

Trotter: I already did a too-early Big 12 power poll for 2015, and I had Oklahoma State third. The Cowboys clearly have something that OU, Texas, Kansas State and West Virginia don't at the moment, and that's a quarterback (Mason Rudolph).

Trotter: Pretty good. Last I checked, Trevone Boykin is still on the roster.

Trotter: He will if he flips the gem of Texas A&M's recruiting class, Kyler Murray who is the nation's No. 13 overall player and top dual-threat quarterback, to Texas. That would send a strong message to College Station.

Big 12's top recruiting visits 

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23
We've reached the final few weeks of this recruiting cycle and things are starting to heat up nationwide. From surprise visits to flipped commitments, nothing seems certain with signing day on the horizon. It should be another intriguing weekend in Big 12 recruiting.

Big weekend for Baylor

It's a big recruiting weekend for the Bears with several prospects and commitments set to check out Art Briles' program. Three-star Henry Black (Shreveport, Louisiana/Woodlawn) is a recent Baylor offer who could provide depth to the Bears secondary. Meanwhile, Ringling (Oklahoma) offensive tackle Riley Daniel is a rising prospect who has picked up offers from Florida and Kansas State in recent weeks. Baylor will be hosting the bulk of its current commit list this weekend as one of several schools who elect to bring in the majority of their class on the same weekend. More than anything, it's important for Baylor to keep its commitment list intact as players flip their commitments during the home stretch of the recruiting cycle.

Big 12 morning links

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22
Marcin, it was nice knowing ya.
  • Well, Baylor coach Art Briles made national news again Wednesday. During an interview with a group of reporters, Briles noted "a source" told him that his Bears fell short of the fourth and final playoff spot by an 8-to-4 vote. "We were close this year," Briles said. "We were an 8-to-4 vote getting in from the No. 4 spot. Whether that's public or not, I don't know, but it is now. Unless I'm getting bad information, and I won't give you my source." Briles might have been handed some bad info, at least according to College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, who said an "8-4 vote would not be possible under the committee's protocol," since teams are only examined in groups no smaller than three. Hancock added that all votes are taken confidentially via secret ballot, as well.
  • This is a cool idea: Kansas State is considering playing its spring game off-campus at Kansas City’s Sporting Park, according to the Kansas City Star's Kellis Robinett. The soccer venue of Sporting Kansas City would host the spring game instead of Bill Snyder Family Stadium with construction of the new Vanier Football Complex in the north end zone well underway. I'm all for schools holding spring practices or scrimmages off campus. Texas Tech (in Midland) and West Virginia (in Charleston and Wheeling) have done this in recent years.
  • Could the Longhorns be on the verge of a recruiting coup, at the expense of their old instate rival no less? Possibly. Kyler Murray, the nation’s No. 13 overall player and top dual-threat quarterback, and ESPN 300 receiver DaMarkus Lodge took an impromptu unofficial visit to Texas on Wednesday, causing a stir among recruiting circles. Murray has been the gem of the Texas A&M commitment class since May 28. Lodge was previously pledged to the Aggies as well before re-opening up his recruitment, though he's still believed to be considering A&M. If the Longhorns landed either or both, what a message it would send to College Station.
  • To Texas Tech fans worried that commit D’Vonta Hinton might waver, have no fear. The three-star inside linebacker from Texas City, Texas, got a special haircut to reaffirm his pledge to the Double T. The Dallas Morning News has more on how the Red Raiders' recruiting class is going here.
  • The Dallas Morning News' Ryan Gerbosi also examined how TCU's recruiting has been going, which includes pursuit of five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack. With longtime stalwart Chucky Hunter graduating, the Horned Frogs have an open spot in their rotation along the defensive line. Either way, Gerbosi writes, with only a couple spots left TCU is putting the finishing touches on a solid class coming off its 12-1 season.

Roundtable: Big 12 recruiting

January, 20, 2015
Jan 20

With signing day just a couple weeks away, we delve into the recruiting storylines around the league in this week's Big 12 roundtable:

Which class has impressed you the most?

Chatmon: It’s hard not to like what Charlie Strong is doing with his first full class at Texas. It’s packed with defensive talent including three ESPN 300 linebackers in Malik Jefferson, Anthony Wheeler and Cameron Townsend. Add five offensive linemen to help address UT’s issues up front and it looks like the Longhorns are on their way to a strong recruiting haul. The cherry on top would be ESPN 300 quarterback Zach Gentry becoming the future behind center.

Olson: Texas has the best class of the Big 12. But I'm also really impressed by what Baylor has done on offense and what Oklahoma is doing on defense. The Bears are loading up again, and I really like Jarrett Stidham, Ja'Mycal Hasty, Devontre Stricklin and Blake Lynch. The Sooners still need linebackers but are stacked everywhere else on D with this group. The group of defensive backs they've landed -- P.J. Mbanasor, Will Sunderland Jr., William Johnson, Kahlil Haughton and Antoine Stephens -- promises to be killer.

Trotter: Texas obviously has the most impressive class, but you have to also be impressed with what Oklahoma has done, despite the mediocre season and the coaching changes. Jerry Montgomery has been an absolute terror on the trail, loading up the Sooners with a trio of ESPN 300 prospects along the defensive line.

Who really needs a strong finish?

Chatmon: Oklahoma State needs some good things to happen in the home stretch of this recruiting cycle. Ronald Jones' decommitment was a crippling blow as he looked like the ideal fit with the chance to become a dynamic quarterback-running back-receiver trio with Mason Rudolph and James Washington. Instead Jones is USC-bound and the Cowboys are searching for answers at the position. OSU’s offense was at its peak when it had NFL running backs carrying the ball, so it’s critical the Cowboys land a running back such as Chris Warren, Jordan Stevenson or juco RB Chris Carson.

Olson: Texas is in a fascinating spot here with two weeks left. The Longhorns have eight spots left to fill in their class and are recruiting a ton of big-name players for those scholarships. Defensive backs Holton Hill and Kris Boyd and running backs Chris Warren III and Nick Brossette are right at the top of that list. All four could end up in Austin. All four really could go elsewhere. Texas still needs another quarterback, too, and Charlie Strong's staff must fight hard to make sure no other commits flip to other schools.

Trotter: I'm with Brandon, Oklahoma State has to land a running back here in the final two weeks. If not, the Cowboys are going to be stuck with Rennie Childs and not much else in the backfield. With Rudolph settling in at quarterback, the Cowboys have no other weaknesses offensively. But to keep the balance Oklahoma State wants to play with, the Pokes have to go out and land a back, whether it's Warren, Carson or somebody else.

Who will be the instant impact freshman recruit in this class?

Chatmon: Jefferson has the athleticism and versatility to slide right into a role in Texas defense. He’s a playmaker who should be ready to play as a true freshman on special teams and on defense. As the No. 31 player in the ESPN300, Jefferson has all the tools to help the Longhorns at a linebacker spot that is losing 222 combined tackles from Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond this offseason.

Olson: How wild would it be if five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack does end up signing with TCU? The former longtime Texas A&M commit is still strongly considering the Aggies, but Gary Patterson and his coaches have done a deft job of staying in this race throughout. At the Under Armour All-America Game, Mack proved he's ready to wreck college offensive lines right away. Securing the nation's No. 6 recruit would be a heck of a cherry on top of the Frogs' dream season.

Trotter: Texas Tech desperately needs help on the defensive line, and ESPN 300 DT Breiden Fehoko has the talent to bring help right away. But keep an eye on QB Jarrett Stidham. Baylor has an heir apparent to Bryce Petty in Seth Russell, who has been a solid backup the last two seasons. But Stidham has the ability to make a move on the job should Russell struggle this spring or during the season.

The 2014 season is over and done. This week, we're going to rank the top 25 players in the Big 12 from the past season.

We're including our top 25 preseason rankings of each player too. In some cases we were on the money with our preseason player projections. In others, our prognostications were completely off the mark.

Criteria for these rankings were based solely on performances from 2014, not a culmination of previous seasons. Pro potential was not a factor. Neither was preseason hype.

On Tuesday, we continue with players 16 through 20:

16. Le'Raven Clark, T, Texas Tech (preseason rank: 10): The Red Raiders finished No. 2 among FBS teams in sack percentage, and Clark was a major reason why. The anchor of on offensive line that allowed 13 sacks in 2014, Clark has started 38 straight games. He also played a key role in DeAndre Washington's 1,000-yard season. The 6-foot-6, 313-pound junior has been among the Big 12’s best players since his sophomore season.

17. Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia (NR): Arguably the Big 12’s fiercest hitter, Joseph plays with a physical style, yet has been one of the Big 12’s most durable defenders. The senior-to-be has started all 38 games he has played in a Mountaineers uniform and has vastly improved as an all-around safety since his true freshman season. He finished with 92 tackles in 2014, including 4.5 tackles for loss, 62 solo stops, three forced fumbles, one interception and three pass breakups.

18. Chris Hackett, S, TCU (NR): Hackett just seemed to come up with big plays when the Horned Frogs needed them, recording his best games of the season against Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas State and West Virginia. He finished with 75 tackles, 13 passes defensed, seven interceptions and one forced fumble in 2014. It was hard to watch TCU’s defense in action without noticing Hackett’s No. 1 jersey all over the field.

19. S Sam Carter, S, TCU (14): Numbers can’t possibly represent Carter’s importance to the Horned Frogs. His veteran leadership helped carry TCU to a 12-1 record in his final season and his statistical numbers were pretty solid with 55 tackles and four interceptions. Essentially a coach on the field, Carter played a critical role on a TCU defense that finished atop the Big 12 in most defensive categories.

20. Tyrus Thompson, T, Oklahoma (NR): Thompson finished his OU career with a stellar senior season. He earned first-team All-Big 12 honors as a key contributor on an offensive line that carried the Sooners to the Big 12 rushing title with 261.15 rushing yards per game. The Sooners also led the nation by allowing only nine sacks in 13 games.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

January, 20, 2015
Jan 20
Oklahoma landed much-needed secondary help, Oklahoma State hosted a ESPN300 running back and Texas put its hat in the ring for a fast-rising Californian.

These, and more, in this week's Big 12 recruiting weekend recap:

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Big 12 recruiting scorecard

January, 19, 2015
Jan 19
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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
The 2014 season is over and done. This week, we're going to rank the top 25 players in the Big 12 from the past year.

We're including our top 25 preseason rankings of each player too. In some cases we were on the money with our preseason player projections. In other cases, our prognostications were completely off the mark.

Criteria for these rankings were based solely on performances from 2014, not a culmination of previous seasons. Pro potential was not a factor. Neither was preseason hype.

Now, without further ado, the first five names in the countdown:

21. Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma (preseason rank: 4): Striker didn’t live up to the monster preseason expectations that came with his three-sack performance in last year’s Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. But he was still a dominant player off the edge at times, finishing fourth in the Big 12 with nine sacks and 17 tackles for loss.

22. Bryce Hager, LB, Baylor (19): Hager capped his fabulous college career with another standout season. He finished fourth in the Big 12 with 114 tackles and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors for a third consecutive season. Hager had only one interception on the year, but it was a pivotal one, as he picked off Oklahoma and returned the ball to the 1-yard line to ignite the Bears’ 48-14 rout in Norman. The road victory propelled the Bears to their second straight Big 12 title.

23. Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas (18): Diggs was the vocal leader of one of the Big 12’s top defenses. He was the Longhorns’ most reliable performer in the secondary, finishing with three interceptions, 67 tackles and a pair of sacks. Diggs also helped usher in the Charlie Strong era at Texas, with his strong public backing of the first-year coach going all the way back to the summer. Replacing Diggs in the locker room will be just as difficult for Strong as replacing him on the field.

24. Dante Barnett, SS, Kansas State (NR): He successfully replaced Ty Zimmerman as the anchor of what proved to be a stout K-State defense. Barnett finished second among Big 12 safeties with 11 passes defended and was a major reason why the Wildcats ranked second in the Big 12 in pass defense. He was also second on the team with 77 tackles. With the likes of linebacker Jonathan Truman, end Ryan Mueller and nickelback Randall Evans graduating, the Wildcats will be asking even more out of Barnett in 2015.

25. Pete Robertson, LB, Texas Tech (NR): The Texas Tech defense might have been one of the worst statistical units in Big 12 history, but Robertson did everything he could to try to keep the Red Raiders afloat. Operating out of the bandit position in the Tech defense, Robertson topped the Big 12 with 13 sacks and was third in the league with 15.5 tackles for loss. Only a junior, Robertson will give new defensive coordinator David Gibbs a big piece to work with as he attempts to rebuild the Red Raiders defensively.

Coming Tuesday: Nos. 16-20

Best of the visits: Big 12

January, 18, 2015
Jan 18
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
Jan 16
Here's a team-by-team look at some remaining targets for Big 12 teams.

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Big 12 morning links

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
Now this makes way too much sense; I'm a big fan. I still haven't totally made up my mind on this.
  • Have you ever been so fired up that you punched yourself in the face over and over again? New Oklahoma State assistant Dan Hammerschmidt knows the feeling. Kyle Fredrickson of The Oklahoman reports on the Cowboys' defensive backs coach who made quite an impression on his Colorado State players in 1997 with that tactic. Hammerschmidt coached at Houston last season and appears to be filling the vacancy Van Malone left when he departed for SMU.
  • Baylor has filled its coaching staff vacancies. Two-time Pro Bowler Cris Dishman was hired to coach the Bears' secondary. He takes over for Brian Norwood, who took a position at Tulsa. Baylor will also have a new receivers coach in Tate Wallis, who played quarterback for SMU under Phil Bennett and has worked in football ops for Baylor for the past three seasons. I figured Baylor might hire a quarterbacks coach and let offensive coordinator Kendal Briles remain in charge of receivers, but it's no surprise Art Briles preferred to promote from within.
  • We've passed the deadline for underclassmen to enter the NFL draft (more on that later this morning in the blog) and Texas Tech must be pleased to know Le'Raven Clark is coming back. The two-time All-Big 12 offensive tackle is valuable for a whole lot of reasons. With Clark back, Tech has four returning starters on its offensive line. DeAndre Washington, the Red Raiders' first 1,000-yard rusher since 1998, should be just as thrilled as quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb. Getting one more season out of Clark should do a lot of good for Tech's offense.
  • Now this is crazy. The father of quarterback Connor Brewer told the Austin American-Statesman's Ryan Autullo they would "absolutely entertain" the possibility of coming back to Texas in 2015. Brewer transferred from Texas to Arizona in the summer of 2013 but never cracked the starting lineup. He's leaving the Wildcats as a graduate transfer with two seasons left. The knock on Brewer in 2013 was that he lacked the arm strength to thrive at this level, but I don't think that matters in Texas' current predicament. Any quarterback who's eligible this fall is worth at least considering.
  • Finally, here's a thorough and very thoughtful analysis of expanding the College Football Playoff from the great Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. In an effort to ensure perfectly qualified teams like Baylor and TCU get in, Silver suggests expanding to a six-team playoff or an eight-team one with automatic bids. Silver does a terrific job here of breaking down what we've witnessed from 1998 to 2014 and makes some compelling points. Readers, what do you think?
Few recruiting battles are more intriguing than the ones going on in Texas for high-profile players such as Daylon Mack, Soso Jamabo and Chris Warren III. What schools they pick could tilt recruiting supremacy in the Lone Star State moving forward

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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.
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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