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Big 12 Football: One Newcomer to Watch For Each Team in 2023

As the football season nears, and the draft ends, many teams have a lot to replace. With the addition of the transfer portal that becomes a lot easier to do. While some teams have improved through the portal, some have been poached, and others have built primarily through high schools.

So here’s one newcomer I’m excited to watch this season from each team, some being freshmen, and others incoming transfers.

Baylor – Sawyer Robertson, QB

Okay, this one is risky, after all, Baylor does have Blake Shapen, who won the 2021 Big 12 Championship game, but they desperately lacked depth in their QB room last season. Eight of the Ten teams in the Big 12 started multiple Quarterbacks last season, and adding a former four-star QB is a big boost for Baylor should they need him. Shapen also wasn’t that impressive last season and Robertson can definitely push that QB room forward in 2023, and possibly usurp Shapen.


BYU – Aidan Robbins, RB

Thank you to BYU for recruiting a big body, transfer running back that got 209 carries last season, for making this pick easy. After failing to catch on at Louisville, Robbins went for 1,011 yards on 209 carries, scoring 9 touchdowns in 2022 with UNLV. He was also effective as a receiver, tallying 23 receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown. This is a huge addition for BYU coming off a disappointing season, and will certainly alleviate the pressure on Kedon Slovis, while providing a capable check-down option.

Cincinnati- Jordan Young, CB

Not much has gone right for the Bearcats this offseason, and their Head Coach hire hasn’t inspired much confidence. Cincinnati’s 2023 recruiting class is lackluster, ranking 7th in the American, not the Big 12, the American. However, Jordan Young is coming in as a redshirt sophomore transfer from Florida and could be a bright spot in what looks to be a rough season. Young was a former four-star, and saw action in six games for Florida last season, while he won’t replace the 2021 corners. Young is a talented guy with three years of eligibility left and will be a fun player for Bearcat fans to watch grow.

Houston- Donovan Smith, QB

With Clayton Tune gone, and the Cougars having to adapt to a new conference, in what could be a brutal season, they got a guy with Big 12 experience. While Smith is limited passing-wise, he is a gamer. In Lubbock, Smith won just four games as a starter but they were big ones. In 2021, he beat Iowa State to clinch a bowl berth, before beating Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl. In 2022, he actually knocked off Houston, earning Big 12 offensive player of the week, and beat Texas in overtime. He won’t elevate Houston to the top of the Big 12 this season, as he has more development to do, but he’ll win them games and could put them in a position to contend in 2024 if things fall into place.


Iowa State- Abu Sama, RB

This one may be a reach, as he may not feature a ton as a Freshman, but he’s an exciting prospect, and could very well see meaningful carries this season. He has a track background posting a sub-11 100-meter dash, and could be a good speed threat for Iowa State. He’s a high three-star, and a top 10 player out of Iowa for the 2023 class, considering Iowa State’s history of running backs, he’s in good hands.

Kansas- Dylan Brooks, EDGE

A transfer out of Auburn, Brooks is 6’4, with a big frame, long arms, and explosion off the line. It’s a huge addition for a Kansas team that struggled on defense last season. Brooks used to be a four-star recruit out of the class of 2021 but struggled to get major snaps at Auburn, as he saw action in six games last season, totaling six tackles, and a sack. He should be an instant contributor to Kansas and could be a problem for opposing offensive lines.

Kansas State- Treshaun Ward, RB

The Wildcats will need to replace Deuce Vaughn if they hope to repeat as Big 12 Champions this year, and they found a good one in the portal in Ward. He’s been in school since 2019 but just started seeing the ball consistently at Florida State the last couple of seasons, breaking the 500-yard mark both times. Last season he had 95 carries, for 628 yards and 7 Touchdowns. While he only caught six passes last season, he did catch 21 the previous year, he’s a big get for Kansas State.


Oklahoma- Peyton Bowen, S

There were a few offensive players I considered, but considering how absolutely woeful that Oklahoma defense was last year, I had to pick someone in the secondary. Bowen is a five-star recruit out of Denton Guyer, whose brother happens to be a 2024 four-star corner. While the secondary room is crowded in Norman, Bowen played well in the spring game, even picking off Dillon Gabriel. The hype train has not slowed in Norman, while we don’t know just how much he will factor in his freshman season, I’d expect him to play the majority of the games, and see vital snaps deep into the season.

Oklahoma State- Alan Bowman, QB

The title of this article wasn’t positive newcomers, as going from Sanders to Bowman is admittedly a downgrade. However, Bowman showed flashes at Texas Tech, knows the Big 12, and already had one stellar performance in Stillwater. Injuries and decision-making derailed Bowman’s once extremely promising career, but he’s a likely starter for a Big 12 team, and a couple of years without hits, and in the Michigan QB room could help both of those. As a sixth-year player, he’s been praised for his leadership and experience, which will be important with so many newcomers to the Pokes. Will he be his pre-injury self, except with decision-making, or will he look like a guy that’s been on the sidelines the past two seasons? 

TCU- Tommy Brockermeyer, OT

TCU needs to replace a ton this season, and they got a few guys from Alabama to do it. After redshirting in 2021, Brockermeyer saw action in two games for Alabama and could see a much bigger role in Fort Worth this season. A former five-star recruit, and still a four-star as a transfer, he’s listed at 6’5, 305, and is a huge boost to a TCU offensive line. This is especially important as it looks like Chandler Morris will replace Duggan, and isn’t quite as durable as Duggan. 

Texas- Johntay Cook II, WR 

Can people please stop saying Arch will start this season? Sure, he’s an extremely talented QB prospect, but he’s not going from Louisiana private school football to starting over Ewers. Speaking of Ewers he has an exciting new toy, in incoming receiver Johntay Cook. It’s fair for Texas fans to think I should’ve picked someone else, after all, they have six incoming five stars, but Cook could be the most plug-and-play of all these guys. I’d expect Cook to see time in the slot this season, though at 6’0 he could move outside later. He doesn’t have great top-end speed but has really good functional speed, and Ewers will likely enjoy having him as a target.

Texas Tech- Deandrae McCray, WR

I was debating going with Steve Linton here, but I think McCray just opens up so much on this Red Raiders offense. Zach Kittley likes speedy receivers, and Texas Tech didn’t have a ton of that last season, but McCray will fit right in. McCray tallied over 1,000 yards at Austin Peay last season on 75 catches, including 92 yards on 12 receptions at Alabama. He provides a legitimate speed threat to an already talented receiving core, expect Shough or Morton to put up big numbers in Kittley’s offense this season.

UCF- Rian Davis, LB

A former four-star linebacker from Georgia is a pretty easy pick here. The pick gets even easier when you see that he saw action in 14 games for Georgia last season, and tallied four tackles against Auburn. He wasn’t likely to catch on in Athens, but seeing minutes and working with the other linebackers for Georgia is a good sign. Overall UCF had a good recruiting class and got transfers that can compete in the Big 12. If UCF finishes toward the top of the league, expect Davis to play a huge role in that.

West Virginia- Rodney Gallagher, Receiver

Another Freshman on this list Gallagher is by far the headliner of this 2023 West Virginia class. Gallagher’s a four-star from Uniontown, PA, just under 30 miles from Morgantown, he stands at 5’10” and is a good option in the slot for West Virginia this season. He should add a good option for Garrett Greene as he takes the reigns in Morgantown.

Did we get this right? Make sure to give us your thoughts in the member forum.

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