Every Big 12 Football Team's Top Freshman to Watch in 2013
The Big 12 lost a lot talent this offseason due to transfers, the NFL draft and players graduating. Only two teams return at least 15 starters, while the other eight are left to study the depth chart and ask younger players to step up.
This is where freshmen come into play.
The 2013 recruiting class was kind to the Big 12, as many teams landed top recruits out of high school and others picked up valuable JUCO players.
There are plenty of freshmen wide receivers to keep an eye on and one Big 12 powerhouse has a safety who could start his first season.
Robbie Rhodes, WR, Baylor (True)
Baylor has produced a couple of terrific wide receivers in Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams. Well, Robbie Rhodes has the potential to join that company and gain the attention of NFL draft scouts.
Rhodes is so fluid in his route-running to the point it looks like he's gliding. He takes long strides and can get down field in a hurry. While his athleticism and smoothness are sure to impress you, Rhodes also has terrific hands and is stronger than his 6'1", 190-pound frame would indicate.
The 5-star recruit will likely start this season and is sure to turn heads.
Charlie Rogers, CB, Iowa State (Redshirt)
Charlie Rogers came to Iowa State as one of the most versatile players in the country. He played wide receiver, quarterback and cornerback in high school. He will play defensive back for the Cyclones and projects to be a solid player, per Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register.
“He’s really a coachable player,” Rhoads said. “Guys like that improve at a quicker rate, and he’s done that coming off his redshirt freshman season.”
Rogers is big for his position at 6'1" and extremely athletic. He high points the ball well and shows quick feet. Iowa State's pass-defense finished sixth in the Big 12 (265 yards) last season and Rogers will have a chance to improve those numbers.
Colton Goeas, LB, Kansas (True)
Kansas may not use linebacker Colton Goeas much this season, but he has big potential moving forward.
The first thing you notice about the 3-star recruit is his wide frame at 6'2", 245 pounds. He carries that weight well and is able to fly to the football and actively pursue ball-carriers. He's effective in run support and is a strong tackler. Goeas does a nice job of moving around and has great instincts.
Kansas recruited several JUCO players who will play immediately, but Goeas will be worth watching due to him being here for the long haul.
Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State (True)
Just watch the video to see how quickly Jordan Willis fires off the ball.
Are you impressed?
You should be.
Willis is one of the most athletic defensive ends of the 2013 recruiting class and could end up starting at some point this season. Kansas State is desperate for quality defensive players and Willis has the potential to be very special. What's scary is that his 6'5", 250-pound frame has plenty of room to develop.
Keep an eye on Willis, you won't be disappointed.
Hatari Byrd, S, Oklahoma (True)
Hatari Byrd is certain to see the field for Oklahoma this season due to the issues defensively.
He's a long safety at 6'1", 195 pounds and has impressive speed for that size. Byrd does a nice job of reacting to the ball and is productive when coming into the box to play the run. He sheds blocks well and doesn't mind lowering his shoulder into a ball-carriers chest.
Byrd brings the physicality that Oklahoma's defense needs, and he could earn a few starts as a true-freshman.
Ra'Shaad Samples, WR, Oklahoma State (True)
Oklahoma State continues to snag great offensive players to play in the spread offense and it is simply not fair. Ra'Shaad Samples will have no problem blossoming into the next great Cowboy receiver, and he'll start as early as his freshman season.
Samples doesn't have elite speed, but he's quick enough to get open down field and make the big play. He's most known for his impressive route running and ability to make plays after the catch. He's shifty in the open field and can make tough catches in traffic. His size at 5'11" also allows him to lineup to play anywhere on the field.
Oklahoma State is deep offensively, but Samples will make his mark this season.
Kyle Hicks, RB, TCU (True)
Kyle Hicks picked TCU after heavily leaning towards Texas. The Horned Frogs won't waste much time putting him on the field, as he should get plenty of carries as a true-freshman.
Hicks is built well at 5'10" 190 pounds. He has great strength and arm-tackles rarely bring him down, but he's also quite elusive and can make players miss in space. He sees the field well and doesn't mind lowering his shoulder if it helps his team move the chains.
TCU picked up an intriguing prospect and would be wise to get the most out of him right away.
Curtis Riser, OG, Texas (Redshirt)
Curtis Riser was one of the top recruits of the 2012 class and is now fighting for a starting position on the Texas offensive line. He's competing with Sedrick Flowers at offensive guard and could steal the position if the redshirt sophomore isn't careful.
Riser is a solid run-blocker with great flexibility and balance. He has a wide frame at 6'4", 285 pounds and is quite athletic. Riser also has experience at tackle, but his issues in pass protection could force him to remain at guard.
Whether or not Riser wins the starting job this season, he will be a critical backup and key to the Longhorns' success.
Gary Moore, WR, Texas Tech (True)
Texas Tech has no choice to keep a close eye on Gary Moore, as he's one of the most versatile players in the country. He could play inside or outside receiver, defensive end or linebacker.
At 6'6", 221 pounds, there's really no limit to what he can't do, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Moore play both sides of the ball at some point in his career. He's extremely athletic, has fabulous hands and covers a lot of ground with long strides.
Moore is a game-changer and will turn many heads when he's on the field.
Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia (True)
West Virginia took a major hit at wide receiver when it lost Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to the NFL draft. Due to the lack of depth, Shelton Gibson should see the field early and often.
He isn't as fast as Austin (Who is?), but his 4.48 40-yard dash time is fast enough to take the top off a defense. He is an explosive receiver with great hands and knows how to find the crease in the secondary to make a play.
West Virginia needs playmakers to step up, and Gibson has the skill set to help fill that void.