Oklahoma State's Josh Stewart
Five Big 12 teams had the nation's top 10 passing offenses last year.
That 2012 season highlighted a dizzying display of aerial shows from Texas to West Virginia. And despite more than half of the league's starting quarterbacks now gone, we expect similar results this year.
Because the Big 12 is where receivers shine.
This year is ripe for surprises. Can West Virginia rebuild its corps after losing its three top receivers? Can Oklahoma regroup after losing Kenny Stills to the New Orleans Saints? Which team in Oklahoma has the best receivers?
Which Big 12 team has the top receivers?
Before we completely write off Kansas as another rebuilding team—and make no mistake, it is—there are some positives.
Kansas did a good job of running the ball and chewing up the clock last season. Yes, its offense was anemic but it still managed to scare Kansas State in the first half of last year's contest before finally folding in the second half.
Dayne Crist did not impress at quarterback. The offense failed to score one passing touchdown. Last year the Jayhawks' top receiver was Kale Pick—he was ranked 26th in the Big 12. But help is on the way.
There will be touchdowns thrown by former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps. Running back Tony Pierson may be his go-to-guy.
Two of the league's top three receivers are off playing in the NFL—Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. West Virginia's top returning receiver is running back Andrew Buie. There's a huge concern over an offense that only returns three starters even if this offense is masterminded by head coach Dana Holgorsen.
We'll see some great offense, but nowhere near what 2012 offered. Be prepared for a toned-down offense with a lot of growing pains.
Iowa State isn't exactly known as a passing team—the Cyclones' strength is their defense. But the passing game must be addressed at some point.
Aaron Horne (39 REC, 370 YDS, 3 TD), Josh Lenz (31 REC, 451 YDS, 6 TD) and Chris Young (38 REC, 411 YDS, 2 TD) have exhausted their eligibility. They were also the team's top three receivers.
Redshirt senior tight end Ernst Brun Jr. returns and will probably be the leader of the unit. Arizona Western Community College-transfer E.J. Bibbs will also help out.
Quenton Bundrage and Tad Ecby will share the receiving duties. Quan West has recovered from ACL surgery and Albert Gary will have to step up his production.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury wants big-time receivers. From College Football News:
Kliff Kingsbury needs receivers for his high-powered offense to work with, and he got them led by Dylan Cantrell, a big, fast playmaker. Devin Lauderdale and tight end Gary Moore are just a few of the good pass catchers with a high ceiling.
It's always tough to project an offense undergoing a new scheme under a new head coach. But Kingsbury is a coach who mentored Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Are we expecting too much? Probably.
This team is still comprised of former head coach Tommy Tuberville's players. We can expect an offense that is more fun to watch but let's not expect Kingsbury to perform miracles in one season.
We do love his great sense of humor.
Heisman finalist Collin Klein is gone but the offense still has some playmakers. Tyler Lockett had 44 receptions for 692 yards and four touchdowns last season.
Tramaine Thompson also is back. The solid receiver accounted for 37 catches, 526 yards and four touchdowns. Receiver Chris Harper's absence will be felt but this is a Bill Snyder team.
No matter who is at quarterback—Daniel Sams or Jake Waters—the Wildcats should continue to exceed our expectations.
Two of the team's top three receivers, Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson, are gone. Boyce was the school's career touchdown reception leader and declared early for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Brandon Carter had 36 catches for 590 yards and six touchdowns last year and he looks to be the leader of the receiving corps. LaDarius Brown and Cam White also return with experience.
While Boyce's early departure created an extra hole, TCU should actually be fine.
Former Florida receiver Ja'Juan Story has transferred to TCU and he could be a huge weapon for either Casey Pachall or Trevone Boykin.
Baylor lost its three biggest weapons: quarterback Nick Florence and receivers Lanear Sampson and Terrance Williams.
No need to panic as quarterback Bryce Petty looks locked and loaded to go this fall. Tevin Reese was the team's second-leading receiver and he does return. Reese caught 53 passes for 957 yards and nine touchdowns. He's got some help from Levi Norwood and Antwan Goodley.
Keep your eyes on incoming freshman Robbie Rhodes—he's a special receiver who may not use up a red shirt.
Texas looks to be in good shape here.
Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley are back. Davis had 57 receptions for 939 yards and seven touchdowns. Shipley had 59 catches and 737 yards and six touchdowns.
There is also depth in the reserves. This is the season where there is no quarterback controversy after spring—David Ash is the man.
See David pass. See David's receivers score touchdowns. End of story.
Why do we even bother here?
This is Oklahoma State. The entire team could graduate and somehow head coach Mike Gundy would pull out an offensive juggernaut the following season.
The league's fourth-leading receiver returns. Josh Stewart had 101 receptions for 1,210 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Tight end Blake Jackson also comes back. So do Charlie Moore and Austin Hays. Jackson racked up almost 600 reception yards and three touchdowns.
Close your eyes. Now guess which Big 12 team will produce one of the biggest aerial show this season?
The Oklahoma Sooners are without their top two receivers Kenny Stills and Justin Brown. Is it time to hit the panic button?
Last season Sterling Shepard racked up 621 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Trey Millard caught 30 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns. Damien Williams had 34 receptions for 320 yards and one touchdown. Jalen Saunders had 62 receptions for 829 yards and three touchdowns.