As we gear up for a (hopeful) 2020 college football season, there are always new names and faces you need to learn. That’s the beauty of college football, when big names and key contributors move on to the NFL and/or graduate, someone has to fill the void. Let’s go team-by-team in the Big 12 Conference and discuss some of the possible break out stars for each Big 12 football program.
Baylor Bears: WR Tyquan Thornton
This may not be the one you define as “breakout”, but I believe Thorton is going to go from “solid contributor” to “First-Team All-Big 12” product. Last season he was an All-Big 12 honorable mention as he appeared in all 14 games on the year, starting 11 of those, finished with 45 receptions for 782 yards and five touchdowns. But the last two seasons he has not been the No. 1 option behind the likes of Denzel Mims and Jalen Hurd. Now is his time to shine and he will be a known commodity to the average college football fan by season’s end.
Iowa State Cyclones: DT Latrell Bankston
Iowa State needs to replace Ray Lima on the interior of its defensive line. While Lima didn’t pile up big stats, he was the massive body at nose tackle that played a huge role in the effectiveness of Jon Heacock’s defense. Latrell Bankston can be that replacement as he comes to Ames as a First-Team NJCAA All-American when he had had a monster sophomore campaign, tallying 63 tackles, 22.0 TFL and 11.5 sacks in 2019. At, 6′, 300 pounds, he rated as the No. 12 junior college player nationally and No. 3 defensive tackle in the nation by 247Sports.
Kansas Jayhawks: Safety Davon Ferguson
Ferguson came on late last season with at least five tackles in four of the last five games after not recording more than three tackles in a game in the first half of the season. KU lost a ton of production and experience in the secondary with Bryce Torneden, Mike Lee and Hasan Defense all out the door. Ferguson will need to be one of the many players to step up and given the high-octane offenses in the Big 12, he and his unit will be challenged right away.
Kansas State Wildcats: TE Briley Moore
Moore is a former Northern Iowa tight end who agreed to transfer to Kansas State earlier this offseason. A talented tight end who was an FCS pre-season All-America candidate before a season ending injury in the 2019 opener derailed his season, Moore gives Chris Klieman and Skylar Thompson an experienced weapon. He picked K-State over Baylor and Missouri. In 2018, his last healthy season, he had 39 catches for 536 yards and four touchdowns in 2018 for the Panthers.
Oklahoma Sooners: WR Theo Wease
Gone is CeeDee Lamb to lead the OU wide receivers. And OU had a great wide receiver class in 2019, led by Theo Weese, who had eight receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns last season. Now it’s his time to step up and develop his connection with likely signal caller Spencer Rattler. Weese was an Under Armor All-American and was the 11th-ranked overall prospect in the country by Rivals, 33rd by ESPN and 37th by 247Sports, while rated the No. 3 wideout in the country by ESPN and Rivals and No. 4 by 247Sports, and was regarded as the No. 2 recruit in Texas by Rivals.
Oklahoma State Cowboys: WR Langston Anderson
Is Anderson the next in a long line of stud wide receivers in Stillwater? Sure, Tylan Wallace is back with All-American capabilities, but it’s possible he will draw plenty of double teams. There is depth behind him with Dillon Stoner, Landon Wolf and Braydon Johnson, but Anderson might be the name many don’t know now who could become a familiar name and major threat to other Big 12 teams. He is a redshirt freshman who hauled in 63 passes for 1,120 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior at Heritage HS in Texas. 247Sports had him ranked as a Top 100 player in the Class of 2019 and a Top 20 wide receiver prospect coming out of high school.
Texas Longhorns: WR Joshua Moore
We are going wide receiver for a third-straight team with Moore, who returns from a year-long suspension. His freshman season in 2018 was cut short by injuries, but he was contributing the first several games of the season. Coming out of high school he was named second-team “Tops in Texas” by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, rated No. 12 in the Fab 55 by the Austin American-Statesman, rated No. 45 nationally (No. 5 ATH) and No. 5 overall in Texas by ESPN. He was also a former State Champion long jumper in the state of Texas, so his freakish athletic ability with Sam Ehlinger slinging it around with Mike Yurcich’s offense could be fun.
TCU Horned Frogs: RB Zach Evans
In one of the wildest recruitments in recent memory, TCU added a five-star stud prospect in Zach Evans. He was the first five-star prospect to come to TCU and was a Top 20 player nationally and No. 2 running back in America. TCU does not have a star in the backfield and Evans will have every opportunity to give QB Max Duggan the running game he needs to stay balanced and improve a TCU offense that has held the program back for the last two seasons.
Texas Tech Red Raiders: LB Krishon Merriweather
Texas Tech loses a first-round NFL Draft pick at linebacker in Jordyn Brooks and Merriweather is one of the players being tasked with filling the hole. He led the nation in tackles as a sophomore en route to garnering NJCAA All-America second team honors. He totaled 153 tackles over 11 games, including 10.0 for a loss and 3.5 sacks. He was listed as the No. 5 JUCO inside linebacker by 247Sports and will hopefully create a nice 1-2 punch with Riko Jeffers.
West Virginia Mountaineers: QB Jarret Doege
Some of you might view this as a cop out, but I don’t think so. Doege was so solid down the stretch of the season, helping the Mountaineers close the season with a 2-1 stretch. I know Doege is considered to be in a QB battle with Austin Kendall, but I see no way that Doege doesn’t win the job based on what we saw on the field from both players last fall. The Bowling Green transfer had command of the offense and the leadership and confidence that any player needs to be successful at the position. He could end up as a quarterback we consider being in the top half of the Big 12 by season’s end.