It was a quiet week in the Big 12, as only eight of the league’s ten teams took the field with only Baylor versus Oklahoma approaching anything close to a marquee game nationally. The Sooners continued to roll, mopping up on a reeling Baylor squad, while West Virginia sneaked past Texas to keep their Big 12 title hopes within reach. It has been a frustrating year for the Big 12 for many reasons, but we’ve seen plenty of established players cement their draft stock while younger talent helps replenish the talent pool.
Premier Conference Performers
RB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma Sooners
14 carries for 124 yards and one touchdown; five receptions for 63 yards
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Joe Mixon returned from suspension to display the dominant all-around game which makes him such an intriguing physical talent. He was all over the field against Baylor, and for all the talk of his all-around game, he’s also a 226 pound back who can effectively work between the tackles and fight through defenders. Were his off-field baggage absent, I’d be comfortable expanding the top tier to include him; he’s a legitimate three-down presence at the next level. The interview process and vetting of his background will be huge for Mixon, although we have seen teams overlook plenty if a player is talented enough. This is all assuming he declares, of course. Mixon still has two years of eligibility left and could opt to join a still talented yet potentially less deep class of 2018 runners.
WR KD Cannon, Baylor Bears
7 receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns
Even though Baylor has fallen apart and has now shuffled to their back-up quarterback, KD Cannon has still managed to thrive in Baylor’s offense and is on track to set career highs in receptions and touchdowns despite missing nearly two full games due to injury. Cannon has easy acceleration and excellent long speed, and he has added a bit more nuance to his game over the past two seasons; he can work in the underneath game and plays tough in traffic despite his sinewy build. The high draft slot of Will Fuller showed NFL teams are willing to overlook flaws if they believe a player can stretch the field vertically and hit splash plays, and Cannon has better hands than the aforementioned Texans rookie. If he can support his game speed with an impressive forty time, he has first round potential.
WR Allen Lazard, Iowa State Cyclones
10 receptions for 120 yards and one touchdown
Who else couldn’t sleep knowing the Kansas-Iowa State game was on Saturday morning? I know I had issues. This game of the century lived up to its billing as a one score contest, with Allen Lazard spearheading the Cyclones offense in a 31-24 win. What he lacks in style he makes up for in substance; big receivers who can run routes and make plays in traffic are nearly impossible to defend. The 2017 receiver class is often described as fairly mediocre but its second-tier is making a case for this dubbing to be eradicated, with several Big 12 receivers leading the charge in this regard.
RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State Cowboys
18 carries for 126 yards and one touchdown
Despite being a quality program under Mike Gundy, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have really lacked a notable runner since Joseph Randle left the program in 2012. Justice Hill appears poised to rectify this, as he posted his fourth one hundred yard game of the season against Texas Tech and has become a heavily used players despite a diminutive frame at 5’10”, 171 pounds. He’s got excellent speed and packs more wallop than you’d expect from a smaller back. Early returns are positive, and if his physical development maintains a positive trajectory, he could mature into one of the Big 12’s better backs.
RB Shock Linwood, Baylor Bears
DNP – Suspension
You can get away with a lot of things when you’re an A+ prospect. When you’re a fringe NFL prospect, any little thing can send you into oblivion. The suspension of Shock Linwood for what was only referred to as “attitude issues” by Jim Grobe is a disturbing development for a back who had failed to separate himself as a day three prospect. Once a devy darling following a productive redshirt freshman season, Linwood is off the NFL radar at the moment.
WR Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State Cowboys
DNP – Redshirt
It is a foot injury which ultimately washed away the 2016 season for Marcell Ateman. After having a career best season in 2015 and emerging as the ideal complement to the speedy and explosive James Washington, Ateman had become a draftable prospect. He is going to return in 2017 and – assuming Washington goes pro – will do battle with Jalen McCleskey and LSU transfer Tyron Johnson to be the Cowboys’ top receiver.
WR Blake Lynch, Baylor Bears
Six carries for 58 yards; two receptions for 21 yards
With the aforementioned suspension of Shock Linwood and a variety of other issues at running back, the Baylor Bears turned to an unexpected place for rushing production: wide receiver Blake Lynch. A former option quarterback in high school, Lynch has had a productive season catching passes yet was able to display excellent footwork and athleticism as he filled in for a depleted backfield. While his future is still at receiver, getting a chance to audition versatility is never a bad thing and shows he has some serious RAC skills. He remains one of the most under-the-radar devy players in the nation.
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