Here are 14 football players to watch next season from current Big 12 Conference schools

Thu, Apr 25, 2024
NCAAF News (AP)

Here are 14 football players to watch next season from current Big 12 Conference schools

A look at football players in the Big 12 Conference this spring who could have breakout seasons in the fall, when Oklahoma and Texas will be in the Southeastern Conference. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah will come in from the Pac-12 to make the Big 12 a 16-team league.

BAYLOR: WR Hal Presley got sidelined by a lower-body injury after 17 catches while starting six games last season. The 6-foot-2 senior is a speedy receiver who can make tough and acrobatic catches, and showed that throughout the spring while working with a new offensive coordinator.

BYU: RB LJ Martin ran for a team-high 518 yards as a freshman last season, and with a bigger role could be the key to reviving what was one of the worst FBS rushing offenses last season when the Cougars went 4-8 in their Big 12 debut.

CINCINNATI: QB Brendan Sorsby is expected to take over as the starter with the departure of Emory Jones, who played for three schools over six seasons. Sorsby got in 10 games as a redshirt freshman last year at Indiana, where he threw for 1,587 yards and 15 touchdowns.

HOUSTON: RB Parker Jenkins returns after a solid freshman season where he led the team with 464 yards rushing on 99 carries. He wowed in the spring game when he had a 60-yard touchdown run, and should be another weapon for first-year coach Willie Fritz to pair with veteran QB Donovan Smith.

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IOWA STATE: Coaches and teammates called freshman RB Dylan Lee the star of the spring. His impressive change of direction and acceleration were on display as he ran 17 times for 80 yards in the spring game. Abu Sama III is the projected starter, but this offense likes to regularly use two or three backs.

KANSAS: DL Dylan Wudke transferred from Youngstown State and gives the Jayhawks some immediate experience at a position of need. Wudke had 20 tackles for loss and nine sacks over the past two seasons.

KANSAS STATE: QB Avery Johnson takes over for Will Howard, who transferred to Ohio State. The reality is that Johnson probably would have beaten out Howard for the starting job even if he returned to Manhattan. Johnson showcased a dynamic set of dual-purpose skills when he played last season, including a Pop-Tarts Bowl win over North Carolina State.

OKLAHOMA: Jackson Arnold became the starting quarterback for the Alamo Bowl after Dillon Gabriel left for Oregon. In his first career start, Arnold passed for 361 yards, with two TDs and three interceptions in the loss to Arizona. Now heading into his sophomore year, he passed for 233 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game for the SEC-bound Sooners.

OKLAHOMA STATE: The entire offensive line that helped Ollie Gordon II win the Doak Walker Award for the nation's top running back is back. Joe Michalski, Dalton Cooper, Preston Wilson, Jake Springfield and Cole Birmingham all started at least 10 games last season. Jason Brooks Jr. started seven. Behind them, Gordon ran for 1,732 yards and 21 TDs.

TCU: LB Kaleb Elarms-Orr transferred from California after ranking third in the Pac-12 with 8.4 tackles per game (92 overall). The junior could be an important piece on the unit for new defensive coordinator Andy Avalos.

TEXAS: Backup QB Arch Manning created the biggest buzz with his 355 yards passing and three TDs in the spring game. Coach Steve Sarkisian said Quinn Ewers remains QB1 after staying in school instead of entering the NFL draft. The spring scrimmage was Manning's first chance to deliver on his much-hyped promise and he did, assuring the Longhorns that the offense is in great hands if Ewers gets hurt again __ he missed part or all of six games the last two seasons.

TEXAS TECH: Edge rusher Amier Washington played only two games for the Red Raiders last season. That included their Independence Bowl victory over California when he had four tackles for losses, including two sacks, and forced a fumble, after being moved from defensive tackle. The 6-foot-2, 275-pound Washington was in that outside role for the bowl only after an opt-out and an injury, but now could be the starter as a redshirt freshman.

UCF: Arkansas transfer KJ Jefferson takes over at quarterback for the Knights after throwing for 7,923 yards and 67 touchdowns while also running for 1,876 yards and 21 TDs in 44 games the past five seasons in the SEC. He replaces John Rhys Plumlee, who helped UCF make the transition from the American Athletic Conference to the Big 12 last season.

WEST VIRGINIA: QB Garrett Greene emerged as a solid dual threat in his first full season as a starter. He threw for a career-high 391 yards against Houston and had three 100-yard rushing efforts as the Mountaineers, picked to finish last in the Big 12, went 9-4. The senior needs to work on his throwing accuracy after a 53.1 completion percentage that was among the lowest in FBS.

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