Attrition and finding replacements are a key part of any college football offseason. A coaching staff may find answers through the junior college ranks for a quick fix, or they may feel comfortable with a replacement that’s been on the roster waiting for his turn to step into the starting lineup. Regardless of how the player is replaced, all-conference and All-America talent departs every year, leaving big shoes to fill for coaching staffs at all 128 FBS teams.
The Big 12 nearly landed two teams in the playoff last season, and the conference is expected to be in good shape for a spot in 2015, as TCU and Baylor are among the nation’s early favorites for the four spots next season. Every team in the Big 12 has personnel losses to address, but some are bigger than others. Can Baylor find the next star quarterback? Will TCU reload on defense? How will West Virginia replace receiver Kevin White? Let’s take a look at the potential replacements for the 2014 standouts.
5 Players Replacing the Biggest Names in the Big 12 for 2015
Deante Burton, WR, Kansas State
Replacing: Tyler Lockett (249 career catches, 29 receiving TDs)
2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior
Kansas State’s offense will have a different look in 2015, as quarterback Jake Waters and receivers Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton expired their eligibility after the Alamo Bowl against UCLA. Lockett is arguably the biggest loss out of that trio, as the Oklahoma native was one of the nation’s most-explosive receivers and a dynamic weapon on special teams. In four seasons in Manhattan, Lockett caught 249 passes and scored 35 times (6 on special teams, 27 on receptions). Judah Jones (four receptions in 2014) was listed as Lockett’s backup but replacing his production simply won’t fall to one player. Burton ranked fifth on the team with 17 receptions for 171 yards last year and is expected to play an even bigger role in the offense without Lockett and Sexton as the primary options in 2015.
Matthew Romar, DT, Oklahoma
Replacing: Jordan Phillips (39 tackles, 7 TFL, 2 sacks in 2014)
2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore
Outside of finding a quarterback to run new coordinator Lincoln Riley’s offense, a major focus in spring practice for Oklahoma will be what transpires in the trenches. The Sooners lose four starters on the offensive line, including standout tackles Tyrus Thompson and Daryl Williams. The defensive side of the ball loses Chuka Ndulue (expired eligibility), while Jordan Phillips left Norman for the NFL. Romar is slated to replace Phillips on the interior in Oklahoma’s 3-4 scheme, and the Texas native is due for a bigger snap count after recording only 10 stops and one sack in 2014. Don’t expect Romar to post monster statistical numbers, but his development will be critical if Oklahoma wants to rank near the top (No. 2 in conference-only games in 2014) of the Big 12 against the run again next year.
Seth Russell, QB, Baylor
Replacing: Bryce Petty
2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior
Bryce Petty will be missed, but Baylor’s offense isn’t going to miss a beat with a new signal-caller at the controls. In each of the last five years, the Bears had a quarterback throw for at least 3,500 yards. And from 2011-13, Baylor signal-callers eclipsed the 4,00-yard mark. Coach Art Briles clearly has one of the top offensive systems in the nation, and Russell is expected to take control of the high-powered attack in 2015. In two years of playing time in Waco, Russell has completed 74 of 128 throws for 1,231 yards and 11 scores. The Texas native also has good mobility, rushing for 332 yards and six touchdowns on 56 attempts the last two years. Russell will be pushed by sophomore Chris Johnson and incoming freshman Jarrett Stidham. However, he should get the first opportunity to replace Petty in 2015.
Ranthony Texada, CB and Kenny Iloka/Derrick Kindred, S, TCU
Replacing: Kevin White (2nd TM All-Big 12), Sam Carter/Chris Hackett (All-Big 12)
2015 Year of Eligibility: Texada (sophomore), Iloka and Kindred (senior)
Despite the loss of standout cornerback Jason Verrett to the NFL, TCU’s secondary remained stingy in 2014. The Horned Frogs allowed 16 passing scores in nine Big 12 contests but limited opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of just 49.1. Coach Gary Patterson is known as one of the top defensive minds in the nation, and he has plenty of work ahead in spring practice to rebuild the secondary for 2015. Cornerback Kevin White and safeties Chris Hackett and Sam Carter have departed Fort Worth, leaving Derrick Kindred (FS), Ranthony Texada (CB) and Kenny Iloka (S) as the top options in the secondary. Texada had a standout freshman campaign, recording 31 stops, one interception and seven pass breakups in 2014. Kindred finished third on the team with 79 tackles, while Iloka recorded 15 stops in 13 games.
Jordan Thompson, WR, West Virginia
Replacing: Kevin White and Mario Alford (174 receptions in 2014)
2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior
Replacing Kevin White and Mario Alford’s production won’t fall strictly on Thompson’s shoulders. The 5-foot-7 inside receiver is coming off his best year in Morgantown, catching 49 passes for 598 yards and two scores. Prior to 2014, Thompson had just 35 career receptions and zero touchdown catches. The Texas native made considerable progress in 2014 and posted two of his three highest yardage outputs for the year with 2015 starter Skyler Howard at quarterback. In addition to getting more out of Thompson, West Virginia’s coaching staff will ask more from Shelton Gibson and Daikiel Shorts in the receiving corps next year.