Just as quarterbacks look like a weakness on offense in the
Big 12, so too are defensive lines on that side of the ball. There are a
handful of players who are legitimate stars along the defensive line, but
stellar lines in general will be scarce. And once again, this bodes well for all
of the powerful ground attacks that should take the field in this Big 12 this
1. TCU: Probable
starters are Jon Koontz, Chucky Hunter, Davion
Pierson, and Devonte Fields. Hunter, Pierson and
Fields are returning starters. The latter two were freshman phenoms
in 2012, and given that players typically improve most between their freshman
and sophomore seasons, Pierson and Fields could be too much for most offensive
lines to handle in 2013. Fields, in particular, is an outstanding pass rusher,
much in the manner of former Texas A&M star Von Miller. Jon Lewis provides good depth inside.
2. Texas Tech: Probable
starters are Kerry Hyder, Dennell Wesley, and Dartwan Bush. Returning starter Delvon Simmons transferred
to Southern Cal, but this could almost be a case of addition by subtraction.
Hyder is probably the best interior defensive lineman in the conference and
Bush is one of its better pass rushers on the outside. Jackson Richards will be
in the thick of this rotation as well.
3. Oklahoma State: Probable
starters are Jimmy Bean, James Castleman, Calvin Barnett, and Tyler Johnson. Castleman, a former Texas
Tech commitment from Amarillo, and Barnett, are returning starters. Barnett is
Kerry Hyder’s top competition for the title of best
interior defensive lineman in the Big 12. Defensive end Bean looked good before
suffering a season-ending injury midway through last season.
4. Texas: Probable
starters are Jackson Jeffcoat, Malcolm Brown, Ashton Dorsey, and Cedric Reed. Defensive ends Jeffcoat and
Reed are returning starters. Jeffcoat, along with
TCU’s Devonte Fields, is probable the best pass
rusher in the Big 12. As per usual, Texas’ other starters were high school All Everythings, but so far have not translated those accolades
into D1 stardom.
5. Baylor: Probable
starters are Terrance Lloyd, Javonte Magee, Beau Blackshear, and Chris McAllister. Defensive ends Lloyd and McAllister are
returning starters, and both are good players, with McAllister a potential
star. He was coming on toward the end of 2012.
6. West Virginia: Probable
starters are Will Clarke, Shaq Rowell, and Kyle Rose. Clark and Rowell are
returning starters with the six-foot-seven Clarke being the unit’s bellwether.
Given the likelihood that the Mountaineers will struggle severely on offense in
2013, West Virginia’s hopes for a good season will pivot on the play of the
7. Oklahoma: Probable
starters are Mike Onuoha, Chuka
Ndulue, Jordan Phillips , and
Geneo Grissom. Tackle Nduleu
is the only returning starter, but he’s a good one. Nevertheless, the defensive
line can hardly be classed a strength for the Sooners. And that fact, combined with Blake Bell’s limitations at quarterback
mean that Oklahoma could be one of the surprise teams in the Big 12. And not in a good way.
8. Iowa State: Probable
starters are Willie Scott, Collin Bevins, Brandon Jensen, and Cory Morrissey. Only defensive end Scott is a returning starter. This
group is hardly good enough to help make up for what should be an anemic
9. Kansas: Probable
starters are Jordan Tavai, Ty McKinney, Keon Stowers, and Ben Goodman. Defensive
end Tavai is the lone returning starter. Probable
starter Chris Martin was arrested for armed robbery and dismissed from the
team. At Kansas, the margin for success is slim, and the loss of a starter cuts
it even narrower.
10. Kansas State: Ryan Mueller, Travis Britz, Chaquil
Reed, and Marquel Bryant are probable starters. None
are returning starters, and only Mueller, a former walk-on, played extensively
last season. KSU’s offense may have to carry the Wildcats until this group
comes together. If
it comes together.