Well, the Big XII may have lost a little of it's luster with the absences of Nebraska, Colorado and a conference championship game, but with no championship game, everyone will play everyone and it should give us a better idea of who's the best in the Big Twelve. The talent level hasn't taken much a hit, either, and here are some players to watch in the coming weeks as we approach the start of the college football season.
Baylor: Wide receiver Terrance Williams
Although Williams is a possession receiver, he put up decent numbers his sophomore year and could garner a lot more attention from Robert Griffin depending on how long suspended wide-out Josh Gordon is out; and how much newcomer Tevin Reese contributes.
Iowa State: Quarterback Steele Jantz
Besides having an awesome name, Jantz will be front and center during pre-season practice because he'll be involved in a quarterback competition with Jerome Tiller. Jantz, a JUCO transfer, wasn't brought in to do nothing, so he could very well be the guy come the opener against Northern Iowa.
Kansas: Tight end Tim Biere
Biere could very well emerge as the number one target for who we presume will be Jordan Webb. Kansas won't be pretty to watch this year, but Biere could be the team's one bright spot.
Kansas State: Running back Bryce Brown
Brown transferred from Tennessee and hasn't exactly gotten on coach Bill Snyder's good side with his work ethic. He's definitely someone to keep an eye on during the pre-season to see if he earns the starting gig because he has the talent to have a breakout year.
Missouri: Quarterback James Franklin
There's no question that all eyes are on the sophomore as we enter fall practice. All of the pieces from last year's 10-3 are coming back on offense with the exception of top ten pick Blaine Gabbert, and we'll soon find out if the comparisons to Brad Smith are warranted.
Oklahoma: Wide receiver Kenny Stills
Some off-season troubles may be cause for concern, but Stills is undoubtedly the man who will line up opposite of Ryan Broyles for the Sooners' offense. With all the attention defenses will have to focus on Broyles, Stills should build on his impressive freshman campaign.
Oklahoma State: Running back Joseph Randle
The sophomore back will assume a big role now that Kendall Hunter is gone. With a lot of the focus going to the passing game, Randle has a chance to fly under the radar and put up some big numbers. Oh yeah - and he was the fourth leading receiver last season for the Cowboys.
Texas: Wide receiver Jaxon Shipley
That's right - another Shipley is making his way through Austin. With two receivers expected to start out for the season (Marquise Goodwin, redshirt and Malcolm Williams, family issues), we could now see Shipley get significant playing time, although we're unsure of who exactly will be throwing to him.
Texas A&M: Wide receiver Ryan Swope
Just like at Oklahoma (and Oklahoma State, for that matter), the receiver opposite of the big named receiver has a chance to seize the opportunity. At Texas A&M, that man is junior receiver Ryan Swope, who will play alongside Jeff Fuller. The Aggies receiving corps in general will be exciting to watch this season.
Texas Tech: Quarterback Seth Doege
We've seen it time and time again at Texas Tech. It seems like one guy after the other puts up monstrous numbers at quarterback for Tech and the junior Seth Doege could very well be the next one to do it. He isn't locked in at the position yet, so keep an eye on pre-season practices over the next couple weeks.