1 Freshman to Watch For on Every Big 12 Football Team in 2014
As the world of college football recruiting continues to develop, the significance of impact freshmen continues to rise as well.
Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston were both freshmen when they won the Heisman Trophy, and there are plenty of other examples of players who tore it up on the gridiron their first season on campus.
In the Big 12, guys like Trey Millard and Shaun Lewis had their impacts immediately felt on their respective squads.
With that, let's check out one freshman to pay special attention to this season for each Big 12 team.
*All recruiting information from 247Sports unless otherwise noted.
Baylor: WR KD Cannon
A 5-star wideout from Mount Pleasant, Texas, KD Cannon was the nation's fourth-rated receiver of the 2014 class.
It's only right that he'll find a good home in Baylor's prolific passing offense, run by head coach Art Briles and gunslinger Bryce Petty.
At 6'0" with a 4.58 40-yard dash time, Cannon is the perfect fit for the spread offense.
The Bears are legendary for spreading the ball around—six players had 20 or more receptions last year—so Cannon is bound to make his name heard around the conference his first year in Waco.
Iowa State: WR Allen Lazard
A homegrown product out of Urbandale, Iowa, Allen Lazard is one of the most highly touted recruits the Iowa State Cyclones have had on campus in ages.
A 4-star recruit who stands at nearly 6'5", Lazard had offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Iowa and Nebraska, but he turned all of them down to play for Paul Rhoads and the Cyclones.
The Cyclones haven't had a decent offense for as long as anyone can seem to remember, and much of it has had to do with the lack of receiving threats.
Lazard could very well change that and give whomever wins the ongoing quarterback battle in Ames a much-needed target.
Kansas: LB Kyron Watson
A 3-star linebacker with plenty of hype, Kyron Watson could quickly bolster a Kansas Jayhawks defense that also includes Ben Heeney.
Heeney is a senior, so the Jayhawks are likely prepping Watson to be the guy to replace his production.
Hailing from East St. Louis, Watson had offers from Illinois, Cincinnati and Syracuse.
He ultimately settled on the Jayhawks, and he could see the field early and often as Charlie Weis looks to continue to try to rejuvenate the fledgling program.
Kansas State: RB Dalvin Warmack
A 4-star product of Blue Springs, Missouri, Dalvin Warmack may very well be the salvation at running back that Bill Snyder has been looking for this offseason.
With the departure of John Hubert, the Wildcats are starved for a running back to complement wideout Tyler Lockett and the passing game.
Warmack signed with K-State in February, turning down offers from Missouri and Northern Illinois to join a program with the same Powercat logo as his high school.
Warmack will have to beat out DeMarcus Robinson, Charles Jones and Jarvis Leverett for playing time. But Snyder plays no favorites, and if Warmack proves himself worthy in fall camp, he'll see the field.
Oklahoma: RB Joe Mixon
It's no secret at this point that Joe Mixon is one of the most hyped running back recruits in the country.
However, why he's being paid attention to lately is for all the wrong reasons.
Mixon, a 5-star recruit out of California, is instead not a part of fall camp in Norman for the time being, according to Chip Patterson of CBS Sports. Instead, he is being investigated for allegedly punching a 20-year-old woman and breaking bones.
No charges have been filed in the case, but the investigation is ongoing, and the Sooners seem willing to separate themselves from Mixon until further developments are made.
If Mixon is absolved, he could make a huge impact for the Sooners, who have a desperate need at running back. If he's charged, his college career may come to an end before it ever began.
Oklahoma State: QB Mason Rudolph
Last year, fans were divided about whether or not J.W. Walsh or Clint Chelf was the man for the quarterback job in Stillwater.
With Chelf graduated, Walsh now seems to be in full control of the quarterback position. Or is he?
Mason Rudolph is a 4-star prospect out of South Carolina with a cannon of an arm and great physical attributes.
Should Walsh disappoint, Mike Gundy may pull the trigger and put in either Rudolph or Arizona transfer Daxx Garman.
It's unclear what type of impact Rudolph will actually make for the Cowboys in his freshman campaign.
If nothing else, he provides a guy nipping at Walsh's heels in practice, and competition is always good for development.
TCU: RB Shaun Nixon
This 4-star running back originally committed to Texas A&M, but he flipped to the Horned Frogs late in the process and is now set up to be a prime-time back for TCU.
According to Ryan Gerbosi of The Dallas Morning News, Shaun Nixon could end up being the best option at the No. 2 running back slot behind B.J. Catalon.
Nixon, who is a product of Austin, Texas, is the prized offensive recruit of this year's class for TCU. Expect him to make at least some sort of noticeable impact in his first year.
Texas: DE Derick Roberson
Charlie Strong needs to bolster his pass rush this fall to complement Cedric Reed, and his answer may very well be highly touted freshman Derick Roberson.
That has to be a promising sign for a team that is dealing with a litany of dismissals and suspensions as Strong cleanses the program.
Roberson will have a great teacher and teammate in Reed to build off, and he already has the physical attributes of a chiseled veteran.
Expect Roberson to make a run at many of the conference's freshman honors.
Texas Tech: CB Nigel Bethel II
Nigel Bethel II made headlines for all the wrong reasons this offseason after getting in a fight with a women's basketball player.
He was originally dismissed from the team, but after video of the altercation surfaced, he was reinstated and then suspended for three games.
Nevertheless, Bethel II is still a very promising recruit for Kliff Kingsbury and Co., and if he can get his act together off the field, then he could start producing immediately on the field.
With the Big 12 being such a pass-happy league, additional support in the secondary is always welcome throughout the conference.
Expect Bethel II to make an impact once his suspension ends.
West Virginia: FS Dravon Henry
According to Bob Cohn of TribLIVE, free safety Dravon Henry is standing out the most among the freshmen in Morgantown.
“He's big and fast and changes direction good and has a good mentality and picks things up pretty quick. He's ahead of the curve for a true freshman," West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said, per Cohn.
Henry has a great mentor in teammate Karl Joseph, one of the best defensive backs in the Big 12. So he's bound to learn quickly and efficiently in his first season.
If Holgorsen is already this impressed with his freshman safety, the ceiling can only go up for Henry.
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