For this week's Take Two, we're looking ahead to spring ball and two of the Big 12's most intriguing early enrollees.
Take 1 -- Max Olson: Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown
The Sooners are certainly reloading at the wide receiver position this offseason, and I love what they’re bringing in with incoming freshmen Charleston Rambo and Cedarian Lamb. They were two of the very best players in the state of Texas as high school seniors and will get a shot to make a splash right away.
But Brown is the early enrollee that intrigues me most in the Big 12 because he’s going to become one of Baker Mayfield's favorite targets this spring. The 5-foot-11, 175 playmaker from College of the Canyons in California brings the kind of speed and quickness that is already evoking comparisons to Dede Westbrook from coach Bob Stoops.
"Love the way he goes after the ball and his competitiveness," Stoops said on signing day. "He’s got that exceptional quickness. We’re hoping he can be a similar type of player."
A quick look at his junior college highlights shows Brown can really turn on the jets, plays with a ton of confidence and promises to be a difference-maker in the return game. He’s going to put on some muscle, too, during Oklahoma's offseason conditioning program.
Brown really is stepping into a perfect situation. The Sooners have one of college football’s best quarterbacks and significant vacancies at receiver. I don’t doubt he’s going to take over as a starter in the slot in rapid fashion and make some plays in their spring game that will get everybody’s attention.
If Brown puts in the work this spring and keeps improving, I think he’s got a chance to be the newcomer that has the biggest impact on the Big 12 title race.
Take 2 -- Mitch Sherman: TCU QB Shawn Robinson
An important distinction here is that we’re looking for the most intriguing early enrollee, not the most high-impact newcomer. Though I expect Robinson to make an impact simply through his presence in Fort Worth -- he already has, in fact -- the intrigue that accompanies his arrival from DeSoto High School, fresh off a 6A state title, is significant.
With Kenny Hill back as a senior and perhaps poised to finally play the role of steady leader amid a balanced roster, Robinson might not even play next season. Buzzkill? Not necessarily.
Considering TCU’s offensive woes late last season, followed by the January transfer of Foster Sawyer, spring practice with Robinson in the mix makes for an appetizing plot.
At minimum, the heralded recruit, who totaled nearly 5,000 yards as a high school senior, will continue to excite TCU fans as comparisons to former four-year starter Trevone Boykin persist. Robinson could actually start for four years himself without playing in a game in 2017.
Now that’s intriguing.
It’s also intriguing, of course, to envision a scenario in which he does play next fall -- perhaps first as Hill’s backup, then in a larger role if some of the inconsistency that plagued TCU in 2016 hits again. If Robinson wins the backup quarterback job before the season, the cries for playing time from the seats at Amon G. Carter Stadium will inevitably grow loud at some point in the fall.
TCU has other quarterbacks. Among rising junior Grayson Muehlstein and redshirt freshmen Jordan Kitna and Brennen Wooten, who enrolled early a year ago, one might emerge. But no one else at the position for TCU, or around the league, packs the same level of intrigue as Robinson, widely viewed as the quarterback of Horned Frogs’ long-term future -- if not the short term.