After the early entries into the NFL Draft have been declared, and just before the second Signing Day is finished up and spring football, here’s the early ranking of all the Big 12 teams.
2018 Big 12 Pre-Spring Rankings
Coming off a solid year for the conference, it should be an even more interesting season with the stars up top likely reloading, the troubled teams from last year returning with a boatload of experience, and enough question marks to assume an Iowa State-like run from someone to step up and surprise.
These can and will change after spring ball and going into the season, but for now, as a starting point, welcome to your pre-everything early ranking of all the Big 12 teams.
There are options to play around with at quarterback, all the top running backs return, and the top seven wide receivers are back. Now the experience has to turn into steady production – finally. The biggest plus? The coaching staff went really, really young up front late last year, and it should pay off with all five starters back.
Top end Dorance Armstrong is leaving early for the NFL, but 11 of the top 12 tackles from last year are back – now everyone has to be better. Blowing off the stats from last year for a moment, the secondary should be a plus with a little help from the pass rush, and LB Joe Dineen is back; he’ll be among the Big 12’s most active all-around defenders. PK Liam Jones is back, but P Cole Moos is done.
– Kansas Schedule Analysis
9. Texas Tech
So who’s replacing Nic Shimonek under center? It’ll be a quarterback battle this offseason that might not be settled until the summer, and four of the top five receivers and leading rusher Justin Stockton are gone.
However, five starters return on the offensive line, and two are back on the defensive front. Getting LB Dakota Allen back for one more year is a huge break, and now the top nine tacklers return, along with both kickers.
– Texas Tech Schedule Analysis
There’s hope for a very, very fast turnaround in Matt Rhule’s second year. QB Zach Smith might have transferred to Tulsa, but this is Charlie Brewer’s job, anyway. Just about everyone else is back offensively, including the top backs from last year, the top receivers, and four starters up front.
The defense loses some key parts in LB Taylor Young and DE Brian Nance, but seven of the top nine starters are back. The pass rush has to be found, but it was a young line that has options now. Both kickers are back.
– Baylor Schedule Analysis
7. Iowa State
Can the Cyclones keep it all going? The veterans are there to potentially do it, but the quarterback situation needs to be settled, The school is still waiting for a decision on Kyle Kempt and another year of eligibility. If not, Zeb Noland will get the first look, but there are plenty of options. Three starters are back up front to pave the way for a loaded group of backs, but the receiving corps needs work after losing Allen Lazard and several top targets.
The line loses some good veterans, and heart-and-soul LB Joel Lanning is done, but it’s a good overall situation on the front seven. Two of the five starters in the secondary are back, but five of the top nine tacklers on the D are done. The kicking game will get a long look this spring after losing both starters.
– Iowa State Schedule Analysis
6. Kansas State
It’s a decent quarterback situation with both Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton back, but the real key is the line that returns all five starters. Top target Byron Pringle is turning pro early, but the other four top receivers are back, as is leading rusher Alex Barnes. The offense might be solid, but the defensive side has a ton of work to do
The linebacking corps has to do the most work, and losing tackle Will Geary hurts. However, it was a young line that should turn out to be fine, and despite the loss of corner DJ Reed early to the NFL, three starters are back in the secondary. Both kickers have to be replaced.
– Kansas State Schedule Analysis
Kenny Hill might be gone, but Shawn Robinson is a great-looking prospect who’ll have the inside track for the quarterback gig. The running back situation will be fine despite the loss of Kyle Hicks, and the receiving corps will be okay despite the loss of two of the top four targets. The big problem? Only one starter returns up front.
Leading tackler Travis Howard and three of the top four tacklers are gone, but the linebacking corps will be sound, and the line should have a decent rotation with a little bit of tweaking. Three of the five starting defensive backs are back, but losing corner Ranthony Texada is a problem. The kicking game returns intact.
– TCU Schedule Analysis
4. West Virginia
It starts with the return of QB Will Grier and top WR David Sills V – and three of the top four receivers – and go from there. Four of the top five starters are back up front, but who’ll handle the workload? Justin Crawford left early, but Kennedy McCoy is back after finishing with close to 600 yards with seven scores.
Three of the top five tacklers are gone, but there was a young and active secondary that should be able to overcome some key losses. Two starters are back on the front three, and enough overall talent is back to hope for more production from the run defense. Both kickers return, too.
– West Virginia Schedule Analysis
3. Oklahoma State
There’s plenty fo work to do on the offensive side. There are plenty of options to replace Mason Rudolph, but that’s a superstar quarterback the program loses. James Washington and Marcell Ateman might be does from the receiving corps, but Jalen McCleskey headlines another good group. Just two starters are back up front, but RB Justice Hill doesn’t need too much room to be effective.
Three of the top four tacklers are gone, but the linebacking corps should be solid, and the line gets back three starters – the pass rush will be there. Safety will be the big early concern in the secondary, but the corners will be veterans. Both kickers are back.
– Oklahoma State Schedule Analysis
Last year was supposed to be when it all really and truly started to come together for the Longhorns, and … nope. However, it seems like things might just turn in a hurry – the defense will still be a plus. Tom Herman is improving the talent level in some spots, but he needs to find a No. 1 quarterback to rely on, and he needs a star tackle to replace Connor Williams. However, Four starters are back up front, and the skill positions will be fine.
The defense loses most of the stars in the secondary, and leading tackler Malik Jefferson is off early to the NFL. However, six of the top nine tacklers return, and the line should be terrific with a little bit of time. With Michael Dickson going pro early, both kickers have to be replaced.
– Texas Schedule Analysis
The machine shouldn’t stop without Mr. Mayfield. Kyler Murray adds more of a rushing element, and he has RBs Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon to hand off to. Star OT Orlando Brown is done, but three starters are back, and three of the top wide receivers return. TE Mark Andrews, though, left early for the next level.
Two starters are back on the defensive front, but big Du’Vonta Lampkin is gone after being a good part of the rotation. Four of the top six tacklers are gone, but both corners return and the linebacking pair of Kenneth Murray and Caleb Kelly is a good one. Austin Seibert is one of the best all-around kickers in college football.
– Oklahoma Schedule Analysis