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Way-too-early look at the Big 12 football rosters

The transfer portal has certainly resulted in the loss of some key pieces for WVU. Between the portal, graduation and the draft, most teams will be looking to fill some holes before kickoff next Fall. This two-part article will analyze each Big 12 team and look at some of the holes in each roster.

Baylor

The reigning Big 12 champions have been dealt some major blows on offense this offseason. The major holes for them are currently in the running back room. Their star running back, Abram Smith, is graduating and heading to the NFL Draft. Smith set Baylor’s all-time single-season rushing record in 2021 with 1,601 yards. He also set the new single-season record for 100-yard rushing games with nine. 

They will also be losing Tristan Ebner, their second-leading rusher. Ebner finished the season with 799 yards on 148 carries with two touchdowns as a fifth-year senior. He has declared for the draft, but is expected to be undrafted.

These losses pose some serious obstacles for the Bears. Baylor had the highest rushing attempts per game (40.8) in the Big 12. They also had the lowest passing attempts per game (32.3). A team losing their top two running backs is never good for them. This is especially true for Baylor, as their identity has been centered around the running game.

TCU

TCU’s larger losses come from the receiver room. Derius Davis, the team’s second-leading receiver and Taye Barber, the third-leading receiver both put their names in for the NFL Draft. Davis finished last season with 518 yards on 36 receptions while Taye Barber had 499 yards on 30 receptions,

The Horned Frogs will still have their leading receiver from last season Quentin Johnston. Receiver depth still remains a serious issue for the team. There is a 317-yard drop-off between the yard total from Johnston and their next leading receiver that is still on the roster. Johnston was still the primary receiver last season with six touchdowns and 19 yards per reception, but it is hard to imagine anyone carrying a receiving corps this thin next season.

Kansas

The Jayhawks have lost several key pieces from the front seven this offseason, most notably Kyron Johnson. Johnson was a super senior this past season with the Jayhawks and led the team in tackles-for-loss with 8.5 as well as sacks with 6.5. He led Big 12 defensive linemen in tackles with 61. Johnson has declared for the NFL Draft.

The transfer portal has also not been kind to the front seven. They have lost some depth pieces that did not show up on the stat sheet as much, but played in most games. This front seven that allowed 151 rushing yards per game and tallied only 15 sacks has gone even further downhill.

Texas

Texas has lost some key players from their secondary. Their interception leader, safety B.J. Foster transferred to Sam Houston. Foster tallied 46 tackles and had three interceptions. Another defensive back that will not be on the team next year is Josh Thompson. Thompson declared for the draft after five years with the Longhorns. Thompson racked up 34 tackles last season along with a 27-yard pick-six. 

Texas was stout on defense last season, only allowing 16 passing touchdowns and 224 passing yards allowed per game. They also defended the Red Zone decently well, giving up 29 touchdowns on 51 trips for the opponents.

With their interception leader only having three, it is easy to see that Texas struggled in the turnover battle. On the season, they were -3 in the turnover plus/minus category and only had seven total picks. Even with their success last season, the Longhorns have improvements to make along with holes to fill in the secondary.

AP Photo, Roger Steinman

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