We'll take a look at some of the Big 12's breakout stars this spring, but we'll move forward with a series looking at guys who will be stepping into bigger roles this season and what they have to provide. Some are going from being role players to starters. Some are going from starter to star. Some from stars to bona fide superstars.
Let's move on with Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State's spring step forward: CB Kevin Peterson
Oklahoma State brings back 14 starters from last season's eight-win team, the third most in the Big 12. Even with the uncertainty at quarterback, there's not a ton of turnover for the Pokes, but there's one open spot in the secondary that will likely be filled by a second-year sophomore in Peterson.
Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert had a disappointing 2012 season, but Brown graduated and Gilbert elected to return in a mild surprise and improve upon a disappointing second season as a starter. Peterson earned a ton of playing time as a true freshman last year and a homegrown talent who was a one-time Oklahoma commit and one of the state's best prospects. He made his first career start in the regular-season finale, a narrow loss to Baylor.
With Brown gone, Peterson will have to step forward and progress from a spot player and solid young contributor to the lone new full-time starter in a secondary with strong talents in Gilbert and safeties Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary. Peterson has good instincts and good size for a corner at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, but we'll see how much work he puts in this offseason when he takes the field in the fall. His 20 tackles were the most of any true freshman for the Pokes last season, and all but three of those were solo tackles. He also added two pass breakups.
You need great corner play to have a great defense in the quarterback-heavy Big 12. Peterson's showed some potential to be a great starter at this level, but next season is all about proving it and carrying over some of Oklahoma State's solid progress as a defense from 2011 to 2012, even though it didn't force nearly as many turnovers last year as it did on the way to the Big 12 title in 2011.