Biggest Holes to Fill for Big 12 Teams in 2022
Baylor Running Back
Baylor had a top ten rushing attack behind a combined 2,539 yards from Abram SMith and Trestan Ebaner and an additional 405 from quarterback Gerry Bohanon. Both those running backs are off to the NFL and Bohanon has transferred to South Florida after losing the quarterback competition to Blake Shapen. That leaves Taye McWIlliams (30 career carries), Craig Williams (247 career rushing yards), and converted woide receiver Josh Fleeks as the top candidates to start in the backfield in 2022.
Baylor Wide Receiver
All the starters are gone and tight end Ben Sims is the only returnee who had more than one catch last season. Additionally, the current roster only lists three players who are upperclassmen. It's a group with little experience that will need to find its most productive players quickly.
Three starters (Raleigh Texada, Jalen Pitre, and JT Woods) have gone to the NFL. Woods led the conference with five interceptions last season, while Pitre was an All-Conference player and Texada was among the team leaders in tackles. Luckily, Al Walcott, Chrisitan Morgan, and Mark Milton have all been key contributors with starting experience, but the unit is still replacing many quality players.
Iowa State Running Back
It's never easy to replace a star runner, and it's even more difficult when that guy was the first running back selected in the NFL Draft. Breece Hall was possibly the best back in school history with multiple All-America selections, top ten finishes in Heisman voting, and11 school records among many other accolades in his career. To state the obvious, a player of his caliber will be missed. Junior Jehrl Brock appears to be the next man up.
Iowa State Quarterback
His career may not have ended the way he wanted it to, but at one point Brock Purdy was being talked about as a first-round prospect. He ended up being selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the final pick of April's draft (known as Mr. Irrelevant) after four All-Big 12 seasons in which he totaled 12,170 yards and 81 touchdowns. The team has added former NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year Nate Glantz from Iowa Western, but sophomore Hunter Dekkers remains the only quarterback with Division I experience.
Iowa State Tight End
The Cyclones became one of the rare teams to see two tight ends head off to the NFL in one offseason in Chase Allen and Charlie Kolar. Kolar was the team's second-best receiver while Allen took on the more complementary TE2 role and finished with the fourth most receptions. Iowa State has used its tight ends often in recent years. The returning players have almost no college production between them, and special teamer Easton Dean and redshirt freshman Tyler Moore seem like the top candidates to take over as receiving tight ends.
Spencer Rattler was though of as a superstar by most "experts" entering last season, yet a slow start led to him being replaced by freshman Caleb Williams. Both have since transferred with Rattler heading to South Carolina and Williams following head coach Lincoln Riley to USC. That could leave new head coach Brent Venables with a massive decision to make in his first season at the helm. Rattler threw for almost 5,000 yards during his time in Norman, and Williams threw just four interceptions against 21 touchdowns last season. Both also brought a unique running ability to the position.
Luckily, Oklahoma has landed a big-time player form the transfer portal in former UCF signal-caller Dillon Gabriel. He'll have to fight off Pittsburgh transfer Davis Beville and sophomore Micah Bowens, but I think the job is as good as his at the moment.
Oklahoma Defensive Line
Jalen Redmond is the only returning starter along the defensive front after LaRon Stokes, Perrion WInfrey, and Isaiah Thomas left for the NFL. The team does get a boost from Tulane transfer Jeffrey Johnson at defensive tackle, but the other two spots are up for grabs. Brent Venables also runs a much different scheme than the Sooners ran last year, so we'll have to see how well they can adjust.
Oklahoma State Running Back
Jaylen Warren and his 1,216 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns are gone as is RB2 Dezmon Jaqckson. Their departures leave quarterback Spencer Sanders as the Cowboy's returning leading-rusher. Oklahoma State pivoted to a more run-oriented approach part way through last season, and that, along with a stellar defense, led the team to an appearance in the Big 12 title game and a New Years' Six Bowl win. This year, junior Dominic Richardson enters as the projected starter in the backfield.
Oklahoma State Linebacker
Oklahoma State deploys a two-linebacker system on defense and both of last year's starters have departed. Malcolm Rodriguez and Devin Harper were the top two tacklers on the team in 2021 and had decorated careers in Stillwater. Rodrgiuez was a captain, All-American, and three-time All-Big 12 selection who ammased over 400 tackles and had impeccable instincts. Harper entered the starting lineup last season-- making great use of an extra year of eligibility from COVID. In that one season, he was also elected a team captain and finished among the team leaders in tackles, sacks, and TFLs. Neither can easily be replaced.
TCU Defensive LIne
The big absence here is Ochaun Mathis, who transferred to Nebraska after bypassing a shot at the NFL. Mathis was one of the top transfers according to most rankings services this offseason and had 15.5 sacks for the Horned Frogs during back-to-back All-Big 12 seasons. Dylan Horton slides into Mathis's spot while Terrell Cooper returns on the other edge. Both players have some starting experience, so the real question mark is the nose tackle position. Ourlads projects Soni Misi-- who only has five career tackles-- as the new starting nose.
Texas Offensive Line
This was not a particularly strong unit last season, and the Longhorns are projected to start three sophomores along the offensive line in 2022. Center Jake Majors, guard Junior Angilau, and tackle Christian Jones are returning starters, but the rest of the candidates have just one start between them at the college level.
Texas Tech Wide Receiver
Lead receivers Erik Enzukanma and Kaylon Geiger have embarked on their pro careers as has tight end Travis Koontz. The tight end position should be fine with the addition of Texas A&M transfer Baylor Cupp, but the wide receiver position is wide open. Myles Price finished third in receiving in 2021 and becomes the new No.1 receiver, while Trey Cleveland, JJ Sparkman, and Loic Fouonji will compete for the remaining two spots in the Red Raiders' starting lineup.
Texas Tech Linebacker
The Red Raiders' defense will have to replace Colin Schooler,Riko Jeffers, and Brandon Bouyer-Randle. Schooler was a particularly underrated player and finished his career with the fifth-most tackles in NCAA history. Similarly, Jeffers was a tackling machine himself with nearly 300 of them while serving as a team captain for three years and becoming the heartbeat of the defense, while Bouyer-Randle was in and out of the lineup. As for 2022, Texas Tech will rely on Krishon Merriweather (52 tackles last season) to lead the unit. He'll be joined by junior Jesiah Pierre and former Vanderbilt linebacker and Missouri State transfer Dimitri Moore.