Tavon Austin should be one of the Big 12's top receivers in 2012.
Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.
Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.
Conference realignment isn't a new phenomenon and Athlon Sports will prove it to you.
College football expansion has taken over the hearts and minds of college football junkies everywhere.
The sky is falling, rivalries are dead and the future of college football is in great peril. I am here to tell you that this just simply isn’t the case. Conference realignment has been taking place for more than a century and it won’t stop anytime soon. Teams have been switching leagues, conferences have been created out of thin air and college football has powered through all the criticism and into the playoff era.
How did the Athlon Sports preseason All-Big 12 team rank as high school prospects?
The 2012 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at all-conference teams from across the nation. But where did all these tremendous all-league performers come from and how did they get where they are today?
Can Geno Smith lead the Mountaineers to the Big 12 title?
Landry Jones might have been a first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft. Instead, he’s still a Sooner, giving Oklahoma an elite quarterback and the inside track to the Big 12 title. Jones already owns 13 school passing records and must be considered a Heisman candidate.
Athlon Sports ranks the Top 25 best coaches in college football for 2012.
Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an x's and o's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach?
Athlon's College Football top 25 countdown for 2012 continues with No. 19 Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are the defending Big 12 champs, but must replace quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon.
Can Oklahoma State Repeat as Big 12 Champs with a True Freshman Quarterback?
The onus of maintaining the recent wide receiver tradition in Stillwater falls to Moore this fall. After Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon moved on to the NFL, the Tulsa product needs to build on the best season of his career. Last fall he set career highs with 45 catches, 672 yards and four touchdowns. Mike Gundy needs Moore to be a dependable, stabilizing force on the outside for freshman quarterback Wes Lunt.
Elkins’ story is one of the more intriguing on this roster. The young tackler did not play football until an open tryout at Blinn Junior College for the 2009 season. Eklins earned playing time in his first season on a football field — for the NJCAA champions led by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. After an all-conference performance as a sophomore, the 6-foot-3, 222-pounder signed with Oklahoma State. He stepped right in and finished second on the team in tackles with 90 total stops. He registered his first career sack in the Bedlam Series and his first career interception in the Iowa State game. In only his fourth season playing the sport, Elkins has a chance to show marked improvement.
It is unfortunate that an All-American dual-threat specialist like Sharp will be remembered for one missed kick. Sharp earned Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year after landing on the top all-conference team as both a kicker and a punter. He made 22-of-25 field goals, 79-of-80 extra points and led the nation with 61 touchbacks. However, his 37-yard miss against Iowa State was the most infamous kick of the year. Sharp is a fantastic kicker, one of the best in the nation, and should not be blamed for the loss to the Cyclones.
After 16 straight starts (13 in 2010, 3 in 2011), Rush was lost to injury in the come-from-behind win over Texas A&M. He didn’t play again last fall and was granted a sixth year from the NCAA. His game experience and leadership will be invaluable for a unit that needs to be completely reworked. The 6-foot-4, 284-pounder came to Stillwater from Kileen, Texas, and was a huge part of the record-setting 2010 offense.
The Midwest City, Okla., product was forced into the starting line-up when expected starter Johnny Thomas was disciplined for the entire season. All he did was lead the team in tackles with 97 total stops as only a sophomore. The 5-foot-11, 198 pounder also tied for the team lead with three forced fumbles. He posted two huge sacks in the 12-point road win over Texas and intercepted Heisman winner Robert Griffin III in the blowout win over Baylor.
Taylor has been a steady performer throughout his career and will be the leader for Oklahoma State's offensive in 2012. He has started 36 career games entering his final season and is an first-team academic All-Big 12 as well as honorable mention All-Big 12 blocker (2011). The 6-foot-3, 328-pound hog molly from Arlington, Texas, has been a staple along the offensive line for arguably the three best offenses in school history. Well, at least since some guy named Sanders was running the ball.
The speedy junior has proven he can be a major contributor in a variety of ways for the Pokes. And he earned second-team All-Big 12 honors from the media because of it. He is tied for the NCAA’s active lead with four return touchdowns and ranks No. 2 all-time in Oklahoma State history with 1,401 kickoff return yards. He exploded on the defensive side of the ball as well with five interceptions, 10 passes broken up and 59 total tackles. After four tackles, one interception and 136 yards on four kick returns, Gilbert was given Fiesta Bowl MVP honors in Oklahoma State’s only BCS bowl ever.
Few linebackers can boast the athletic ability and big-play skill that Lewis has shown in two short years on campus. He earned his way into the starting line-up only halfway through his freshman season and has 119 total tackles and 17.5 tackles for a loss in his young career. The Missouri City, Texas, product has a nose for the football and finds his way into plays at an alarming rate. The undersized — 5-foot-11 and 222 pounds — tackler has five interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, to go with four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in his career. Look for another explosive season from the speedy tackler.
Both the media and the coaches awarded the breakout coverman with first-team All-Big 12 recognition in 2011. He finished second in the Big 12 in interceptions with five and finished third nationally with 1.54 passes defended per game. The smallish defensive back, who is listed at 5-foot-8 and 183 pounds, produced 59 solo tackles of his 68 total stops last fall. The Houston, Texas, native will return as the leader of the Pokes secondary now that Markelle Martin has exhausted his eligibility.
In his first season as the starter, and as only a sophomore, Randle placed himself securely into the Oklahoma State record books. His 24 rushing touchdowns and 150 points scored trail only Barry Sanders for the single-season school record. He scored in all but two games of the year and is already No. 6 on the Pokes all-time rushing touchdown list (26 TDs). The 6-foot-1, 194-pound do-everything tailback from Wichita, Kan., is also a big part of the high-flying Pokes passing attack as he caught at least 37 passes in each of his first two seasons. In 290 career carries, Randle has averaged a hefty 5.8 yards per carry.
Justin Gilbert is one of the top kick returners in the Big 12.
The Oklahoma State Cowboyscheck in at No. 19 in Athlon's college football 2012 top 25 countdown. Here's a look at our predictions for the most valuable players, games to watch, breakout candidates and other key categories for 2012.