Texas won its first football national championship in 35 years last season and the Longhorns don't want to wait that long for another one. But
Rhett Bomar is growing up and Adrian Peterson
is healthy, so Oklahoma appears on the verge of returning to its usual form.
Nebraska appears to be getting back to its old self. Even though field goal attempts in Ames, Iowa, are more traumatic than any place north
of Tallahassee, Fla., this could be Iowa State's year in the Big 12 North.
New coaches also hope to bring better results at Colorado and Kansas State.
Rivals.com takes a look at the teams, coaches and individuals who could emerge in the Big 12 next season.
The Cornhuskers seem to be getting the hang of that new-fangled thing called the forward pass. Coach Bill
Callahan has 18 starters
returning. The bowl victory over Michigan could propel them to new (or old) heights. Hey, it worked for Texas.
It has got to happen sometime, doesn't it? With elusive QB Bret Meyer and RB Stevie Hicks heading a solid offense, this
could be the Cyclones' year. Tough schedule includes Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech from the South.
Brad Smith is gone, but 19 starters return from the team that won the Independence Bowl. If a running back emerges and the new quarterback –
Chase Daniel or Chase Patton – isn't
overwhelmed, the Tigers could be in the thick of it.
Despite all the problems last season, the Buffs still emerged again as the North champion. The defense has some solid players and Hugh Charles is a tough runner. There's a big question at QB, but that's par for the course in the Big 12. And hey, Dan Hawkins won
in Boise, Idaho. Surely he can win in Boulder.
The Jayhawks have steadily improved under Mark Mangino and even won a bowl game. Find a quarterback
and that upward trend may
A bunch of starters will return on both sides of the ball (nine on offense, eight on defense). Will that matter with a new coach?
Big 12 South
Victory began and ended with Vince Young last season. Now, Young is NFL-bound. The Longhorns still have a lot of other players that
eventually will be, too, especially in the lines. That should be enough to help a young QB (whether it be Colt McCoy or Jevan Snead) succeed.
If issues in the offensive line get settled, the Sooners could win the championship and RB Adrian
Peterson would finally win that big
Losing safeties Dwayne Slay and Vincent Meeks will hurt, but Tech doesn't win with defense, anyway. The Raiders have a stable of thoroughbreds
at receiver in Joel Filani, Jarrett Hicks and
Robert Johnson. They also have a heralded - though unproven - QB in
Graham Harrell to throw to them.
The schedule seems favorable, but if the Aggies don't improve their woeful pass defense they could finish fifth or lower.
Face it, the Bears keep improving. The old pushover is pushing back. RB Paul Mosley is one of
the Big 12's most under-appreciated
If injury-prone QB Bobby Reid stays healthy the Cowboys will be better. How much better is up
Five players who will emerge this season
1. Graham Harrell, So, QB, Texas
Tech: Red Raiders quarterbacks
typically lead the nation in passing yardage. Harrell, easily Mike Leach's most heralded QB recruit, should be the latest.
2. Tony Hills, Jr., OT, Texas: He
must replace All-American Jonathan
Scott, but some observers think he may even be an upgrade.
3. Gerald McCoy, Fr., DT,
Oklahoma: Sure this guy's last name isn't
Selman? A Rivals.com five-star recruit, the 6-4, 305-pounder can bench 360 pounds, run a 4.9, and he dominated the U.S. Army
4. Adarius Bowman, Jr., WR, Oklahoma
State: A big target at 6-feet-4,
217 pounds, he sat out last season after transferring from North Carolina. He had 10 catches for 181 yards
and two touchdowns as a freshman for the Tar Heels.
5. Matt Herian, Sr., TE, Nebraska:
Don't say breakout season or any
other word with "break" in it near Herian. A broken leg and broken wrist kept the 6-5, 240-pounder sidelined for a year-and-a-half. He caught
22 passes in eight games in 2003.
Five Impact Newcomers
1. Maurice Purify, Jr., WR,
Nebraska: A big, physical receiver at 6-4, 215-pounds, he caught 56 passes for 1,200 yards and scored 19 touchdowns at City College of San
Francisco. He has 4.5 speed and figures to put up gaudy stats for the Huskers, too.
2. Gerald McCoy, Fr., DL,
Oklahoma: This 6-4, 305-pound manchild from Oklahoma City may be entrenched in the Sooners' interior for the next four years. Or
3. Jevan Snead, Fr., QB or Colt McCoy, Fr., QB, Texas: One of them is going to replace Vince Young. Snead has a big arm and
both quarterbacks run well. Following Young is no picnic, but whoever starts will be surrounded by excellent talent.
4. Moses Manu, Jr, DE,
Kansas State: The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Tongan had nine sacks last season at El Camino Junior College. He has only played football for three
years, so his potential is as big as he is.
5. Anthony Lewis, Fr., LB,
Texas A&M: The Aggies are desperate for help at linebacker and Lewis arrives with the speed of the cavalry. Rated a four-star prospect by
Rivals.com, the 6-2, 220-pound Lewis covers 40 yards in 4.6 seconds.
Colorado: Quarterback. Senior James Cox, junior Brian White and junior Bernard Jackson combined to
throw 29 passes last year. Well, sort of. Cox threw all of those passes. The point is, the competition is wide open. We'll learn who the QB
will be at about the same time as the receivers.
Iowa State: Kicker. Funny stuff, right? Not in Ames, where errant field goals have cost the Cyclones North championships the last two
seasons. Bret Culbertson kicked 12 of 16 field goals last season, but missed from 41 yards in
a crushing overtime loss to Kansas. He also misfired the previous season in the same situation against Missouri. Should someone else - perhaps
redshirt freshman Chris Mahoski - show consistency, there may be a new foot making those
Kansas: Quarterback. Senior Adam Barmann would expect to have the edge, although he
completed just 16 passes for 118 yards. Redshirt freshman Kerry Meier and true freshman Todd Reesing will make a run for the starting job.
Kansas State: Quarterback. See a trend starting here? Three players have started at least six games the last two seasons, including
Dylan Meier - the 2004 starter who was hurt last season. Allen Webb started five games and Allan Evridge
started six last year. Throw in highly touted freshman Josh Freeman, a Rivals.com
four-star recruit, and a new coach and anything can happen.
Missouri: Running back. The running backs will actually be running the ball. Go figure. Whether junior Marcus Woods (435 yards), junior Tony Temple (437
yards), sophomore Jimmy Jackson or redshirt freshman Connell Davis gets most of the carries remains to be seen.
Nebraska: Running back. Even though they throw now, running back is still a glamour position in Lincoln. Sophomore Marlon Lucky, a former Rivals.com five-star prospect, and junior college transfer Kenny Wilson, who averaged 11 yards per carry, will vie for that spotlight.
Oklahoma: Defensive end. C.J. Ah You, Calvin
Thibodeaux and Larry Birdine, who is back from an injury that forced him to miss last
season, have all started previously. There is also good depth behind them. Ah You was the Big 12's defensive newcomer of the year.
Oklahoma State: Quarterback. Sound familiar? Sophomore Bobby Reid has quick feet and a
strong arm, but his toes are a problem. Three dislocated toes forced him out of four games and limited him in others. He passed for only 602
yards and rushed for 139. He'll have to stay on his toes to stave off the challenge of redshirt freshman Zac Robinson, who threw for 1,495 yards and 15 touchdowns as a high school senior.
Texas: Quarterback. Redshirt freshman Colt McCoy and strong-armed true freshman Jevan Snead (a four-star prospect) vie to become Vince Young's successor. Both are good runners, but
not as good as their predecessor.
Texas A&M: Running back. The Aggies might have the league's best depth there. Courtney
Lewis has 1,000-yard credentials and burly Jorvorskie Lane posted back-to-back
100-yard games when Lewis was hurt last season. Add Michael Goodson (a Rivals.com
four-star recruit) and picking a starter will be a pleasant problem.
Texas Tech: Safety. Both starters are gone, so sophomore Lance Fuller and junior Joe Garcia will have first crack at starting jobs. However, speedy Darcell McBath switches over from
cornerback and sophomore Anthony Hines will also compete for playing time. High school
recruits Leonard Hewitt and Steven
Harris will get in the mix when they arrive in August.
Five teams with New Schemes
Baylor: New offensive coordinator Lee Hays will implement a spread look similar to that of
Texas Tech. Let's see if the results are similar.
Colorado: The coach changed, but the schemes have not. At least, not yet. It's a multiple offense and 4-3 based defense, but once Dan Hawkins sees exactly what he has to work with in spring drills he might start tinkering.
Kansas State: Under new coach Ron Prince, expect to see more pro-set and one-back packages
in Manhattan. Don't expect him to abandon the quarterback running game, but it may not be as prominently featured as it was under Bill
Oklahoma: The change in offensive coordinators could mean using quarterback Rhett Bomar
as a runner more often. But with Adrian Peterson still in the backfield, it probably won't be
enough to notice a significant difference.
Missouri: The overall scheme isn't expected to change. However, the loss of Brad Smith would indicate the running game won't be
centered on the QB.
Rivals.com is committed to covering Spring Football like no one else. Our national writers will be visiting campuses all over the country to bring you the very latest news and give you an inside look at Spring Practice. This is the first in a series of Spring Football conference previews.