Big shoes to fill: Kansas Jayhawks

We're moving on with a new series today looking at the players across the Big 12 who have to replace program legends. We might as well call this the Nick Florence Memorial team, but let's talk Kansas Jayhawks.

Big shoes to fill: Kansas' safeties

Bradley McDougald posed a strong challenge last season to James Sims as Kansas' best player, but McDougald is heading to the NFL and his position mate Lubbock Smith is gone, too. McDougald was a playmaker all over the field for KU's defense, but he leaves a hole that KU may not be well-prepared to fill. Somebody has to step up this spring. Dexter Linton and Ray Mitchell will probably get the first crack to do that next season after serving as reserves in 2012. Linton made 26 stops and broke up two passes a year ago, and Mitchell added six tackles of his own. Converted linebacker Victor Simmons could get a crack, too, after grabbing some time as a reserve in all 12 games last season. Look out for redshirt freshman Tevin Shaw, too. Juco transfer Isaiah Johnson may earn time or a starting spot as the only safety Kansas signed in its latest recruiting class. It'll be interesting to see if Charlie Weis skews young to help his team build and learn from experience, but there's no doubt that KU has to find a way to replace their most valuable defender in 2012.

See more shoes to fill.