Dynasty Scouts Conference Review: Big 12

Rob Willette

It was a quiet week in the Big 12.  With Texas and Oklahoma both on bye and only five games on the docket, the league did not field quite the firepower it is accustomed to.  However, we did see the return of a long awaited breakout star as well as some other unheralded performances.  Below is a recap of the week which was.

Premier Conference Performers

WR Ishmael Zamora, Baylor Bears

Eight receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns

Returning from a three game suspension generated by an ugly incident with his dog, Ishmael Zamora took advantage of KD Cannon’s mid-game injury to torch Oklahoma State and cement his status as Baylor’s number two receiver.  While Blake Lynch has had a promising start to his career, he’s not quite ready to emerge as the Bears’ big receiver next to KD Cannon and Zamora’s presence proved a nice boon for Seth Russell, whose sluggish start to the season had some Baylor fans cursing Jarrett Stidham’s departure.  While not an electric athlete, Zamora is smooth and offers jump ball ability; one of his touchdowns Saturday was a jump ball play and he was an accomplished track athlete in high school.  Perhaps due to his run-heavy high school system, Zamora was not a huge high school recruit yet still offers enormous upside in his redshirt sophomore season.  He’s currently a pretty well-kept secret, though it could change in a heartbeat as he piles up in numbers on Baylor’s high-octane offense.

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QB Kenny Hill, TCU Horned Frogs

31/45 for 452 yards, two touchdowns and one interception

One of about twelve Texas A&M transfer quarterbacks littered across America, Kenny Hill seems to have found a home in TCU’s wide open offense.  Always equipped with a diverse toolkit, his dual-threat play has kept the Horned Frogs offense afloat following the departure of Trevone Boykin.  I’m not high on Hill as a prospect, but Boykin was not a great prospect in his own right and has a found a home (at least temporarily) as an NFL backup.  Hill’s combination of experience and athletic tools should at least give him some NFL exposure.

Rising Players

WR John Diarse, TCU Horned Frogs

Six receptions for 139 yards and one touchdown

A receiver escaping LSU must be akin to Tim Robbins absconding Shawshank.  John Diarse was an afterthought in Baton Rouge as third fiddle in a passing game which fails to feed its first fiddle, but he has found a home at a place which seems to have become Transfer University.  Always an intriguing talent with a sinewy build, Diarse may not be the true apex predator on TCU’s food chain but he’s part of a fairly talented rotation and has taken advantage of early opportunity.  At the very least, he is back on the radar after falling completely off during his Tiger career.

WR James Washington, Oklahoma State Cowboys

Six receptions for 89 yards

It is not as though James Washington was ever plummeting down the rankings, but he has rebounded from a start slowed by limited opportunity to re-emerge as one of college football’s premier playmakers, including absolutely humiliating Pitt’s secondary in week three.  A natural playmaker with room to grow as a technician, Washington has an excellent chance to hear his name called early in 2017.

Falling Playersshell

RB Rushel Shell, West Virginia Mountaineers

11 carries for 35 yards and two touchdowns

Some players just stick around the devy scene forever despite limited or absent production.  Barry Sanders Jr. did so due to name brand value, and Rushel Shell seems to have based on recruiting hype prior to his truncated career at Pitt.  While he has found a niche in the Mountaineer backfield, he has never looked anything more than pedestrian.  I don’t see him as a draftable prospect, or even a priority UDFA.

QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State Cowboys

27/45 for 279 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception

Mason Rudolph has had a solid, productive career at Oklahoma State.  But he has never taken the next step.  In an ideal opportunity in a big game against Baylor, Rudolph was up and down and missed some key throws.  There’s still a year and a half of eligibility left for Rudolph to clean up his game and really elevate himself, but as of now he has fallen into the second-tier of draft-worthy yet uninspiring quarterback options.

QB Seth Russell, Baylor Bears

18/28 for 387 yards, four touchdowns and one interception

Seth Russell was genuinely fantastic in 2015, with a 10.52 YPA and 29/6 touchdown to interception ratio in Baylor’s wide open attack.  2016 has been more of a mixed bag, with Russell struggling to find a rhythm as the Bears have rolled over personnel and seen their offensive depth eliminated by roster attrition.  It is not as though he has been bad; he’s just struggled to consistently make plays as he did last season, and might end up being more of a mid-round project quarterback, if teams are even willing to dive in a projected backup.

Freshman Spotlight

RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State Cowboys

20 carries for 122 yards and one touchdown

For all their offensive theatrics in the Mike Gundy era, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have yet to really produce an established, all-Conference type of back who can be relied upon week in and week out.  While he’s not nearly at the level required yet, Justice Hill – a true freshman and local product – offered promise when given the opportunity against Baylor this past Saturday.  Despite two key fumbles and a late game benching, he still earned a lot of work as the Cowboys tried to jumpstart a rather stagnant running game.  It worked, at least for one week, as Hill carried the ball 20 times and surpassed the 100 yard mark.  A speedy, slashing runner with excellent balance, Hill may be the Cowboys most talented back despite his youth, and he’s most certainly the most promising devy prospect in this backfield.  If he can build on his strong start and add some good weight to his frame, he will be another unheralded 2016 recruit worthy of a roster spot.


rob willette