It’s Take Two Tuesday, when we give our takes on a burning question in the league.
Today's Take Two topic: Which Big 12 freshman that redshirted last season will have the biggest breakout season in 2014?
Take 1: Brandon Chatmon
Bryce Petty was the Big 12 offensive player of the year as Baylor earned its first conference title.
Yet, the argument could be made that Lache Seastrunk was the MVP of the Bears’ offense. His game-breaking ability kept defenses honest, allowing Petty and the Bears’ receivers to put up eye-popping numbers in 2013.
Now Seastrunk is NFL-bound, and Baylor is looking to replace his big-play ability.
Johnny Jefferson, a redshirt freshman running back, could be ready to step into the void.
Don’t expect Jefferson to unseat Shock Linwood as the Bears’ starting running back, but Jefferson should have an impact on Baylor running attack. A former Texas A&M pledge who redshirted during his first season in Waco, Texas, Jefferson appears ready to contribute, and the Bears are going to need to replace the quality depth that left the program when Seastrunk and Glasco Martin moved on.
He’s already making a strong early impression this spring, compiling 12 carries for 65 yards in the Bears’ first scrimmage. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Jefferson brings a combination of speed and size that could help spread the carries and make sure that fresh legs are always alongside Petty in Baylor’s backfield this fall.
Three different running backs had at least 120 carries for Baylor in 2013, meaning Jefferson should have the opportunity to secure a role in the Bears’ offense this spring despite the return of Linwood, who finished seventh in the Big 12 in rushing yards (881).
Linwood might provide a roadblock in Jefferson’s road to a starting spot, but the redshirt freshman running back has the skills and versatility to be a key contributor and breakout performer on one of the Big 12’s most explosive offenses in 2014.
Take 2: Jake Trotter
Enter Ra'Shaad Samples.
Samples was the Cowboys’ highest-rated recruit in the 2013 class and had offers from everyone in the Big 12, along with offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC.
Because they had Stewart in the slot, the Cowboys didn’t need Samples last season. That redshirt season allowed the once extremely slight Samples to fill out a bit.
His speed, however, still appears to be alive and well.
In fact, outside track star Tyreek Hill, Samples might be the fastest player on the roster (he reportedly ran a 4.32-second 40 last summer).
But Oklahoma State will be leaning on Samples to become one of the go-to guys inside. He has the talent to become a big-time playmaker for the Cowboys there.