The Big 12’s spring football period ended with Kansas State’s scrimmage last Saturday. In an offseason full of change around the conference, who were the headline grabbers and who had notable spring game performances around the Big 12?
Baylor: RBs shine
Playing on a windy Waco day on April 6, the new-look Bears seemed perfectly comfortable in bad conditions thanks to a running back duo that’ll be one of the Big 12’s best.
Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin combined for 22 carries for 204 yards and four touchdowns. Bryce Petty, the new quarterback, was 13 of 15 for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
While depth at defensive end is progressing, including the emergence of Penn State transfer Shawn Oakman, Baylor’s run defense appears to be a huge question mark, with very few plays made by the tackles in the scrimmage.
Iowa State: Rushing depth
The Cyclones might have a wealth of talent to choose from in the offensive backfield. The top rushers from 2012, James White and Shontrelle Johnson, return, but in the spring game it was redshirt sophomore DeVondrick Nealy (18 rushes, 142 yards, two touchdowns) and junior college transfer Aaron Wimberly (15 rushes, 89 yards) who stole the show.
New starting quarterback Sam Richardson had a pedestrian scrimmage, with 156 yards and two touchdowns on 9 of 12 passing.
Kansas: Big debuts
Both former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps and former Oklahoma receiver Justin McCay had big spring games in their KU debuts after sitting out a transfer year. Heap threw for 257 yards and four touchdowns on 20 of 28 passing. McCay was on the receiving end of eight of those passes, finishing with 99 yards and a score.
Kansas State: Starting over
The process of replacing Heisman finalist Collin Klein is underway. In Saturday’s spring game, both Daniel Sams (391 yards, four touchdowns) and Jake Waters (249 yards, three touchdowns) — the two Wildcats vying to start — put up impressive numbers.
With running back John Hubert out and Sams wearing the protective jersey, the emphasis was on the passing game. Tyler Lockett was the beneficiary of the air attack, finishing with nine catches for 231 yards and two touchdowns in what is sure to be a new-look offense after the departure of Klein.
Oklahoma: Belldozer watch
All eyes were on Blake Bell in Oklahoma’s spring game on April 13. The “Belldozer” was 14 of 23 for 213 yards and two touchdowns, but more important, he didn’t turn the ball over.
Wide receiver Trey Metoyer had another fantastic spring, finishing it off with a six-catch, 122-yard performance in the scrimmage. He had a big spring last year before a quiet fall, though.
Oklahoma State: Chelf emerges
Three players started at quarterback in 2012, and all three return with their eyes set on the No. 1 spot.
Clint Chelf (five starts), J.W. Walsh (three) and Wes Lunt (five) are in a heated battle, one that head coach Mike Gundy says might go all the way until the week of the season opener. In first-year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s up-tempo attack, Chelf came away as the leader for the starting spot after going 17 of 34 for 204 yards and a touchdown.
Cornerback Justin Gilbert had flashes of his great 2011 season with two interceptions.
Texas: Back on track?
For the first time in a while, there seems to be some certainty on the offensive side of the ball for the Longhorns. David Ash (17 of 25, 162 yards, two TDs, two INTs) is the guy at quarterback, Mike Davis (four catches, 66 yards, one TD) continues to play like an elite receiver, and the depth at running back might be the best in the conference.
Two headline grabbers on March 30 were freshman early enrollee Tyrone Swoopes and sophomore Duke Thomas. Swoopes impressed with his mobility at quarterback and showed he could run a specialized package similar to what Bell has done at OU. Thomas flipped from defensive back to receiver and looked dangerous, with three catches for 27 yards.
TCU: Pachall’s back
The Horned Frogs didn’t have a formal spring scrimmage, but what we know is that quarterback Casey Pachall is back after spending the bulk of the 2012 season suspended. With the senior from Brownwood on the field, TCU could find itself in the middle of the conference title race.
Texas Tech: Brewer takes over
In the April 20 spring game, sophomore Michael Brewer, a Lake Travis product, completed 26 of 43 passes for 282 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in what was an otherwise defense-dominated day.
Some new receiver targets are emerging: Sophomore Brent Mitcham and freshman Brad Pearson combined for 158 yards and a touchdown on 14 receptions.
West Virginia: Filling big shoes
Dana Holgorsen’s big challenge this offseason was replacing the big names lost to the NFL: quarterback Geno Smith and wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. West Virginia’s offense didn’t score until midway through the second quarter in the final spring scrimmage.
The jury is still out on who will be under center. Junior Paul Millard had the bigger spring game, going 16 of 27 for 185 yards and three touchdowns, but redshirt freshman Fred Childress is under heavy consideration as well.