Log in Fall Special

Big 12 spring wrap: Players to watch from each team


A look at football players in the Big 12 Conference this spring who are poised to have standout seasons this fall, when the league will have 14 teams with the additions of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF:

BAYLOR: WR Ketron Jackson Jr. is a former four-star recruit out of Texas who transferred from Arkansas after being a starter for the Razorbacks last season as a sophomore. If several highlight moments during spring drills are any indication, he could become a big part of the Baylor offense.

BYU: QB Kedon Slovis is a graduate transfer from Pittsburgh who previously played three seasons at Southern California. With their projected backup a junior college transfer with no major college experience, the Cougars need Slovis to be effective. He threw for 3,502 yards and completed 72% of his passes in 2019, his first season at USC, but has since had injury issues.

CINCINNATI: QB Emory Jones is with his third team in as many years. The dual-threat player who spent three seasons at Florida before playing for Arizona State last year could be in position to start for the Bearcats with last year's starter Ben Bryant in the transfer portal.

HOUSTON: David Ugwoegbu played 51 games as a linebacker in the Big 12 for Oklahoma the past four seasons. The Cougars are switching him to the defensive line as an edge rusher. He had 212 tackles during his career with the Sooners, 109 of those last year.

IOWA STATE: WR Jayden Higgins is an Eastern Kentucky transfer who helps cushion the blow of Xavier Hutchinson’s departure. Higgins broke out in his second season for the Colonels with 58 catches for 757 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns. At 6-4 and 200 pounds, Higgins should fit nicely into the split end role and be a complement to top returning receiver Jaylin Noel.

KANSAS: When QB Jalon Daniels was healthy, the Jayhawks flew to a surprising spot in the Top 25 last season. But a shoulder injury sidelined him against TCU, leading to a long slide over the second half of the season. Daniels’ snaps were managed during the spring, but he played well in their showcase to wrap up practices. He's the clear-cut starter ahead of Jason Bean, who might play a bit of running back and wide receiver.

KANSAS STATE: The Wildcats lost do-everything All-American Deuce Vaughn to the NFL Draft, but they found a capable replacement in RB Treshaun Ward, who ran for 1,143 yards and 11 TDs over the past two seasons at Florida State. DJ Giddens backed up Vaughn a year ago and looks to be the No. 2 again this season.

OKLAHOMA: DL Trace Ford transferred in from rival Oklahoma State, where he started six games as a freshman in 2019 and nine games in 2020. He missed the 2021 season due to injury, then played nine games last year before missing the last four due to injury. When healthy, he at times has been a dominant performer.

OKLAHOMA STATE: QB Alan Bowman could be a starter in the Big 12 again after Spencer Sanders transferred to Ole Miss. Bowman is a transfer from Michigan who started his career at Texas Tech, where he passed for 5,260 yards and 33 touchdowns in 19 games from 2018-20. Coach Mike Gundy’s son, Gunnar, is among several other QBs in the mix, none with as much experience as Bowman.

TCU: QB Chandler Morris went into last season as the starter, but got hurt in the season opener. Max Duggan regained his role as the No. 1 quarterback, and went on to be a Heisman Trophy finalist while helping lead the Horned Frogs to the national title game. Coach Sonny Dykes said Morris took advantage by sitting back, watching and learning, and that Morris is more mature and more focused than he was a year ago.

TEXAS: It looks like QB Quinn Ewers will remain the Longhorns starter, and he has a big new target. Georgia transfer WR Adonai Mitchell had the highlight of the spring game with a one-handed touchdown catch. Pair him with WR Xavier Worthy and TE Ja’Tavion Sanders and Ewers has plenty of options.

TEXAS TECH: WR Loic Fouonji could be primed for a standout senior season if he can stay healthy. The speedy 6-foot-4 Fouonji had 34 catches for 451 yards and three TDs while dealing with a shoulder injury last season. He also missed a chunk of spring practice with a hamstring injury, but had three catches for 103 yards in the spring game.

UCF: Former Ole Miss QB John Rhys Plumlee returns for a second season as the Knights’ starter after completing 63% of his passes for 2,586 yards, 14 TDs and eight interceptions last season. He was also UCF’s leading rusher with 862 yards and 11 TDs.

WEST VIRGINIA: CJ Donaldson arrived a year ago as a 240-pound tight end and converted to running back during fall camp. The freshman made an immediate impact by blocking a punt and rushing for 125 yards on just seven carries in the season-opening loss at Pittsburgh. He finished with 526 yards and eight touchdowns in a year cut short by a concussion and later a season-ending lower leg injury that required surgery.


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