Biggest shoes to fill in the Big 12
The Big 12 Conference is an offensive powerhouse year in and year out. This often results in record breaking careers and performances, with those players moving on to the NFL. There are several of these players not returning to college for 2020. There are also some standouts on the defensive side of the ball (Yes, there is defensive talent) who have moved on. Here are some of the biggest roles and players whose shoes need to be filled in 2020.
CeeDee Lamb has been the best wideout for the Sooners over the past few seasons, but he is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Charleston Rambo enters 2020 as the team's leading returning receiver. He will get help from UCLA transfer, Theo Howard. Howard is a former all-PAC 12 selection, who missed 2019 due to injuries. The two have a combined 38 starts between them, but have not made nearly the impact that Lamb did. It's also worth noting that Howard will be coming off a torn Achilles, which he suffered in January.
Oklahoma has had a history of good college signal-callers and has sent its past 3 starters drafted in the first 2 days of the NFL Draft. Last year's QB, Jalen Hurts, is now with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Sooners's current roster lists Spencer Rattler, Tanner Schafer, Colt Atkinson, and Tanner Mordecai as quarterbacks. Rattler was the number 1 QB in the 2019 recruiting class and will probably get the first shot. Whoever it is will have much to live up to, but Lincoln Riley knows how to create an offense for his players.
Last year, Denzel Mims seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of the top receivers in the Big 12, but he is also now in the NFL. The Bears will now have to replace a player that had the 6th most career receiving yards, 5th most career receptions, and 3rd most career touchdown catches in program history. R.J. Sneed, Tyquan Thornton, and Josh Fleeks have the most game experience. Thornton will likely be the leader as the team's top returning receiver from a year ago.
The duo of Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua (combined 4,042 career rushing yards, 36 career TDs) ios now gone. Anderson was a constant threat to run for over 1000 yards in a season (although he never got there), and Olonilua was a consistent power back, who could shoulder the load. TCU will now turn to a bunch of inexperienced, young players at the position, led by freshman Zach Evans, who is the first 5-star recruit in program history.
Yes I know, Kansas doesn't have a great football program, but they are still officially part of the Big 12. Last year's QB, Carter Stanley, left with the 5th most passing yards in school history. His single season total of 2,661 in 2019 was also the 6th highest mark. He is also 2nd in passing TDs and makes multiple appearances for single game passing yardage. I don't care how bad your program is historically, losing someone who ranks that highly in multiple statistical categories is a huge loss.
Baylor had one of the best d-lines in the conference in 2019, led by sack leader James Lynch. Lynch, along with fellow All-Big 12 honorees Bravvion Roy and James Lockhart, is now gone. Sophomore T.J. Franklin received the most playing time and had the most production of the returning d-linemen. The Bears will have to hope other promising prospects step up as well.
Michigan transfer Tarik Black will help here if he is eligible. The Longhorns lost the conference's top receiver, Devin Duvernay, and Collin Johnson to the NFL. The two had a combined 59 starts and over 2000 career receiving yards each. Junior Brennan Eagles and sophomore Jake Smith are the teams top returning players at the position.
Kansas State RB
The Wildcats got a bit of a spark in the running game from Ball State transfer James Gilbert in 2019. Gilbert led the team with over 700 rushing yards, finishing his career 10th in career rushing yards and 11th in career rushing touchdowns among active players. The current options for his successor have limited experience, so they may lean on QB Skylar Thompson to take on a bigger role in the running game. Although he was a Wildcat for just 1 season, Gilbert will be difficult to replace.
Texas Tech Linebacker
You don't think too much about the Big 12 and defense. The two have not been synonymous in recent history. Texas Tech had the 2nd ranked defense in the conference, thanks in large part to LB Jordyn Brooks. Brooks finished 3rd in the Big 12 in tackles, but he is now a Seattle Seahawk. The Red Raiders get back Riko Jeffers to take his place and will rely on transfers Brandon Bouyer-Randle and Krishon Merriweather on the outside. They also have a few younger guys, but much of their LB corps in still relatively untested.
Oklahoma LB- Kenneth Murray is a huge loss, but the Sooners have experienced players at the position.
Baylor DB- Chriss Miller and Grayland Arnold are gone, but Raleigh Texada is good enough to make up for them.