To be quite honest the Big XII isn't really stacked at the defensive back position. Guys like Ty Zimmerman, Aaron Colvin and Jason Verrett have moved on to bigger and better, leaving a void to be filled by the teams they left behind. Oklahoma and Texas are the top two secondary units in the conference and from there on you could pretty sum up the other eight teams as a gigantic question mark.
Its safe to say that there's more than a fair chance that Big XII passing numbers will rise in 2014. Here's how we've ranked the conference secondaries and, as usual, we're open to your comments below.
1. Oklahoma Sooners - Obviously we're high on OU's defense and we feel like it is with good reason. The only question mark on the defensive side of the ball for Oklahoma comes in the secondary. The Sooners are replacing All-Conference corner Aaron Colvin and free safety Gabe Lynn. Former Nickel back Julian Wilson is the odds on favorite to take over at the corner position opposite Freshman All-American Zack Sanchez and sophomore Hatari Byrd seems to have a bead on replacing Lynn at free safety. With senior Quentin Hayes returning at strong safety the Sooners have three returning starters in the secondary, although Wilson is at a new position.
2. Texas Longhorns - Senior Josh Turner steps in at free safety but the Longhorns are otherwise set with returning talent, having Quandre Diggs (SR) and Duke Thomas (JR) at corner along with Mykkele Thompson (SR) at strong safety.
3. TCU Horned Frogs - The Frogs return two starters in their secondary in corner Kevin White and safety Chris Hackett (2nd on the team with 88 tackles). They lose the Big XII Co-Defensive Player of the Year in Jason Verrett and could be using a redshirt freshman, Ranthony Texada) to replace him. JUCO transfer Kenny Iloka will most likely step in at free safety.
4. Kansas State Wildcats - Bill Snyder went the JUCO route to replace Ty Zimmerman and Kip Daily. Nate Jackson will line up opposite senior Randall Evans on the edge and Dylan Schellenberg steps in at free safety next to Dante Barnett on the strong side.
5. Kansas Jayhawks - Kansas has three of their four starting defensive backs returning in 2014. Strong safety Isaiah Johnson (JR), free safety Cassius Sendish (SR), and Dexter McDonald (SR) all return with experience while JUCO All-American Kevin Short steps in at corner.
6. Oklahoma State Cowboys - Outside of corner Kevin Peterson (JR) the Cowboys are starting over in the secondary. Junior Ashton Lampkin seems locked in at the corner spot opposite of Peterson while sophomores Jordan Sterns and Deric Robertson step in at strong and free safety.
7. Baylor Bears - Like the Pokes, Baylor has just one returning starter in their secondary coming into 2014. Junior corner Terrell Burt had 61 tackles, 4 pass breakups, and 2 picks in `13. Sophomore corners Xavien Howard and Terrence Singleton along with sophomore safety Orion Stewart all step into starting roles this fall. It looks to be a youth movement in Waco and it would be unrealistic not to expect some growing pains.
8. West Virginia Mountaineers - There's a big question mark around corner Travis Bell (45 tackles, 4 pass break ups, 1 pick in `13) who was suspended during the spring. Senior Ishmael Banks returns at the other corner spot and safety Karl Joseph (68 tackles, 4 pass break ups, 1 pick) at the boundary safety. If Bell is gone in `14 then look for sophomore Daryl Worley to get the nod. JUCO transfer Jaylon Myers looks to stand in at free safety.
9. Texas Tech Red Raiders - Three of the seven players that the Red Raiders are replacing this fall are in the secondary where sophomore strong safety Keenon Ward is the only returning starter. Sophomores Justus Nelson and La'Darius Newbold are slated to start at corner and junior JJ Gaines is the front runner to start at free safety.
10. Iowa State Cyclones - Junior corner Sam Richardson is really good...really good! However, the Cyclones are a question mark everywhere else. Redshirt freshman Kamari Cotton-Moya looks to start at free safety with JUCO transfer Qujuan Floyd lining up next to him at strong safety. Sophomore Nigel Tribune seems to be the guy tabbed to start opposite of Richardson at the other corner.