Big 12 Football Players Primed for a Breakout in 2014
Who knew that when quarterback Clint Chelf got benched midway through Oklahoma State's season-opening game against Mississippi State that he would re-emerge later in the year as the starter?
Or, that Desmond Roland would become the Cowboys' newest bell cow at running back?
When Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson went down with a season-ending torn pectoral muscle, how many projected his replacement, Dominique Alexander, would become the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year?
Breakout stars were all over the place in 2013. Because of injuries and player turnover, the Big 12 had its fair share of new faces rise to the occasion.
So who is in line for a breakout season in 2014? Here are five names to keep an eye on.
Baylor Running Back Shock Linwood
Besides having perhaps the best name in the conference, Baylor running back Shock Linwood may be the best at his position next year.
As a freshman, Linwood immediately broke into the running back rotation; however, it wasn't until Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin got hurt against Oklahoma that Linwood's production spiked. Against the Sooners—and then against Texas Tech the following week—Linwood had 52 carries for 369 yards and a touchdown.
He finished second on the team with 881 yards.
Like so many of Baylor's skill players, Linwood has excellent speed, but he can also run up the middle and get the tough yards too. Though listed at 5'8" and 200 pounds, he has all the makings of a complete running back for the Bears.
As long as Baylor's new-look offensive line holds up and as long as he stays healthy, Linwood should be in line for a 1,000-yard season.
TCU Athlete Trevone Boykin
While it hasn't been determined where Trevone Boykin will fit in TCU's offense in 2014, he seems comfortable at wide receiver with a little bit of running back mixed in.
Boykin was forced into quarterback duty last year and in 2012 while starter Casey Pachall dealt with a broken arm and personal issues, respectively. Boykin is obviously gifted athletically, but he regressed as a quarterback in 2013.
Boykin moved back to wide receiver/running back in late October when Pachall returned from his arm injury.
The sophomore immediately showed his potential, hauling in 26 passes for 204 yards.
Boykin's physical ability will allow the coaching staff to be more creative with him. With an offseason to improve and a pair of new offensive coordinators—Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie—Boykin should thrive for the Frogs in 2014 in his more natural position.
Iowa State Linebacker Luke Knott
Knott showed he was capable of big things as a redshirt freshman, starting five games for Iowa State. Unfortunately, a season-ending hip injury cut that freshman campaign short.
Once he's fully recovered, though, Knott should be even better in 2014.
Knott finished with 45 tackles in just six games, including double-digit tackle performances against Texas and Texas Tech.
Knott is a former quarterback, but he's made an impressive transition to defense and looks a little like his older brother, Jake, who was a great linebacker for the Cyclones not too long ago.
The last name "Knott" is familiar in Ames, and it should be familiar to everyone in Big 12 country by the end of next year.
Texas Wide Receiver Marcus Johnson
Other than Mike Davis, Marcus Johnson was the best deep threat Texas had at the wide receiver spot in 2013. With Davis gone, and with strong-armed quarterback David Ash returning from a concussion, Johnson can become the primary downfield target for the 'Horns.
Johnson had 22 catches for just 350 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season, but both scores were of at least 59 yards.
Johnson has to be more consistent to be a true No. 1 receiver, but he has the tools to be successful. With the Longhorns ready to run the ball under new head coach Charlie Strong, Johnson could be a major weapon in the play-action passing game.
Oklahoma State Cornerback Kevin Peterson
Kevin Peterson actually had a nice year for Oklahoma State. As a sophomore, he finished with 24 tackles, four pass breakups and a pair of interceptions.
Because the Pokes' secondary featured Thorpe Award finalist Justin Gilbert and senior safety Daytawion Lowe, though, Peterson got overshadowed a bit.
Not anymore, though.
Oklahoma State has to replace a ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball, meaning Peterson will return as one of the group's best playmakers. How defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer does in his second year when he's not coaching up a veteran unit will be fascinating.
Keep an eye on Peterson, though. He may become the next great corner in a conference that will be moving on from Gilbert and TCU's Jason Verrett.