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5 Freshmen Poised to Take Big 12 Football by Storm

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IMay 23, 2012

5 Freshmen Poised to Take Big 12 Football by Storm

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    The Big 12 may be losing Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, but it certainly isn't losing out on the amount of freshman talent entering the conference in 2012.

    Once again, Texas has reeled in another outstanding recruiting class, while Oklahoma and Texas Tech aren't far behind.

    Most college football fans have heard about the much-anticipated arrival of stud running back Jonathan Gray to Texas, but who are the other incoming freshman expected to make big impacts in the 2012 college football season?

    Let's break down five freshmen poised to take the Big 12 by storm in 2012...

    Bleacher Report Style!

Malcom Brown, Texas

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    Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor return in 2012 and should make up the top defensive end duo in the nation. But with the graduation of defensive tackle Kheeston Randall, the Longhorns have an opening on the interior of that defensive line, and they have an incoming freshman who is talented enough to step right in from day one.

    Malcom Brown is a 5-star recruit and the No. 5 defensive tackle prospect in the nation according to Rivals.com.

    Standing at 6'2", 280 pounds, Brown has great size and is surprisingly quick for his weight. In fact, he played some tight end in high school, which just goes to show what an athletic freak this kid really is.

    Don't be surprised to see Desmond Jackson and Calvin Howell start the season at the two defensive tackle positions, but Brown will be used in pass-rushing situations at the very least.

    The kid is far too talented to keep off the field, even as a freshman.

Dominique Wheeler, Texas Tech

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    It's not every day that you see Texas Tech snatch away a top-notch recruit from both Texas and Texas A&M. But that was the case when 4-star prospect Dominique Wheeler committed to Tech last summer, shocking the college football world.

    Wheeler has good size at 6'1", 180 pounds and blazing downfield speed, being clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

    Rivals.com ranks Wheeler as the No. 26 wide receiver prospect in the nation and the No. 23 player to come out of the state of Texas in this talented 2012 class.

    The Red Raiders do return a lot of talent at the wide receiver position with Darrin Moore, Alex Torres and Eric Ward, but Wheeler will find his way to the field, and when he does, the rest of the Big 12 Conference better watch out for this guy.

Jonathan Gray, Texas

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    It is possible that Texas could have the best backfield in college football next season, and its duo of running backs would have a combined one year of college football experience.

    After landing the nation's top running back last season, the Longhorns went ahead and did the exact same thing in 2012, bringing in Aledo High prospect Jonathan Gray, who broke the national record for career rushing touchdowns in his senior season.

    Gray is ranked as the top running back prospect in 2012 by essentially every prep ranking system around. In his senior season, Gray rushed for 3,435 yards and 59 touchdowns on 295 carries, which is an average of nearly 12 yards per carry. He owns the state of Texas records in carries, touchdowns, points, 100-yard games and single-season rushing touchdowns.

    Gray was honored as the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year in his senior season.

    The question for Gray may not be when he makes an impact for Texas, but for how long, before he heads to the NFL?

    This kid is that good.

Dominic Ramacher, Oklahoma State

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    Oklahoma State didn't bring in their best recruiting class by any means, but the Cowboys certainly landed a gem when they received a commitment from 6'3", 230-pound tight end prospect Dominic Ramacher.

    Ramacher played all over the field while staring at Guyer High School, but he looks best suited for tight end in college. With good size, speed and pass-catching ability, Ramacher being immediately implemented into Oklahoma State's fast-paced offense would be no surprise.

    If you look at the Cowboys' depth chart, their top returning tight end is Justin Horton, who caught a total of four passes in 2011.

    Remember how good Brandon Pettigrew was during his time at Oklahoma State?

    Ramacher could very well be the next big-time tight end in Stillwater.

Sterling Shepard

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    With Ryan Broyles off to the NFL, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops knew he had to do everything in his power to attempt to replace the Sooners' do-everything wide receiver.

    Stoops landed just the perfect candidate when Sterling Shepard pledged his talents to Oklahoma back in March, 2011.

    Like Broyles, Shepard isn't a big wide receiver, but he has the speed and athleticism to make an immediate impact in this Oklahoma offense the second he steps onto campus. The Sooners already have their home run threat in Kenny Stills, but if Shepard can come in and provide some explosion out of the slot receiver position and also contribute in the return game, this year's Sooners team could be a favorite to win a national championship.

    Don't let the fact that Shepard looks about 15 years old fool you. This kid is a big-time playmaker who will be leaving SEC defenders in the dust in 2012.

    How can you not with a name like that?

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