2012 Big 12 Conference Newcomers
By KEVIN LONNQUIST
This is the weekend where every Big 12 team will be reporting and starting preparations for the 2012 season. While returning impact players are expected to deliver the usual, each program would cherish the influence of a newcomer or a new face. Rattle and Hum provides a glimpse of a player from each program who should make an impact.
Oklahoma – Trey Metoyer, WR: He was tabbed by most of the Big 12 media as the preseason nominee for this category. His arrival to OU was delayed until this year because he spent the fall of 2011 at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, VA. But he should be the Sooners’ version of Ryan Broyles. Metoyer is exceptionally fast and had at least 15 TDs for three consecutive years at Whitehouse
Baylor – Lache Seastrunk, RB: The Temple product transferred back to the state from Oregon last August. Baylor was denied an appeal for a hardship waiver but it should be worth the wait. Art Briles has a running back friendly offense. The Bears are deep at that position this year. But once Seastrunk steps on the field, he should be fun to watch. Don’t be surprised if he evolves into the starter.
Texas – Johnathan Gray, RB: The record-setting high school running back should transition to the college game because he’s that good. Texas has some quality running backs led by Malcolm Brown. But Gray wasn’t recruited to redshirt this fall. What makes him special is that he can make every run. In my 22 years of watching Texas high school football, he’s the best running back I’ve ever seen – better than Adrian Peterson.
Texas Tech – Will Smith, LB: The Tech coaches saw him as a lightly regarded junior college prospect. There just wasn’t a lot of interest. But they were. When he arrived in Lubbock and went through spring workouts, he made a distinct impression on Tommy Tuberville. Tech has him playing on the inside where it wants him to be relentless on the field and take an immediate leadership role.
TCU – Keivon Gamble, CB: Originally signed with SMU, he wound up spending the last two years at Trinity Valley Community College before the Horned Frogs swooped in and took him away from the Mustangs. Good thing because TCU will have a lot of questions with its secondary this year due to so many losses. Gamble will likely be backing up Jason Verrett but he can play and will get on the field this year.
Iowa State – Quenton Bundrage, WR: You can call this a “newcomer” per se because Bundrage redshirted in 2011. Bundrage is a big target at 6-2. The expectations are so high that he’s ahead of a senior and a junior on the depth chart. Cyclone quarterbacks Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett shouldn’t have a problem finding him.
Kansas – Dayne Crist, QB: He has a new lease on life after leaving Notre Dame and he can help establish something at Kansas and make Jayhawk football relevant again. He’ll have only year to do it since he’s a senior, but he has a history with coach Charlie Weiss. That’s an advantage. Crist can make all the throws. He’s coming off an impressive spring.
Kansas State – Tavon Rooks, RT: He signed out of the Junior College ranks and the Wildcat coaching staff expects him to be one of the anchors of the offensive line. At 6-5, 270, he should be a force to help the reliable running game sustain its success and protect quarterback Collin Klein where Klein roams.
West Virginia – Jordan Thompson WR: Sure, the talk centers on dynamo receiver Tavon Austin. But watch Thompson emerge this year. Nicknamed “squirt” because he’s only 5-7 and weighs about 160, Austin stepped up during the Mountaineers’ spring game. He led all receivers with eight receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Oklahoma State – Wes Lunt, QB: Mike Gundy has backed his phenom signal caller because he can move in the pocket and has a solid arm. And last week at the Big 12 meetings, Gundy continued to express his support for Lunt. That kind of confidence is exceptional. That doesn’t mean that the other youngster J.W. Walsh won’t see playing time. But it will be fun to see Lunt develop in the OSU offense.