Six Big 12 players have elected to go pro and try their luck in the 2015 NFL draft. What does that mean for the program they're leaving behind? Here's a closer look at players who could be tasked with filling these vacancies.
Leaving: Oklahoma WR Dorial Green-Beckham
Replacement: Michiah Quick
There is no replacing Green-Beckham. In terms of matching DGB’s size, second-year receivers Jeffery Mead and Dallis Todd come close. Mead, a 6-foot-6 wideout who needs to bulk up considerably, played in eight games in 2014 but didn’t log a catch while the 6-5 Todd ended up redshirting. The Sooners will have a new receivers coach, so both will have to work hard to prove they belong on the field.
But if we’re talking about production, Quick is the safest bet to have a breakout season in new coordinator Lincoln Riley’s offense. The speedy slot receiver put up a team-best seven catches in the Russell Athletic Bowl and caught 25 balls on the year. Quick looks like the biggest beneficiary in terms of targets now that DGB is out of the picture, and he’s going to do some real damage in this scheme.
Leaving: Texas DT Malcom Brown
Replacement: Hassan Ridgeway
Losing nose tackle Desmond Jackson to a season-ending injury was a difficult blow for Texas last season. The only upside? Finding out what the Horns have in Ridgeway, who flashed potential of being a monster in his 10 starts.
Ridgeway racked up six sacks and 11 tackles for loss while lining up next to Brown. At 6-4 and 307 pounds, he can be just as imposing a presence as Brown was going forward. If you’re looking for the guy who can command double teams and open the field up for everyone else, it’s going to be Ridgeway.
Leaving: Oklahoma DT Jordan Phillips
Replacement: Matthew Romar
That's the name Bob Stoops has circled for this spot. "I think that definitely that Matt Romar as a freshmen has played really well," Stoops said this month when asked who's taking over for Phillips. Charles Walker and Jordan Wade are in line to benefit, too, from Phillips' decision to go pro, but Romar has a big opportunity to take over this spring.
The redshirt freshman isn't nearly as big as Phillips at 6 feet and 287 pounds, but he showed signs of big potential as a redshirt freshman in a reserve role with nine stops and a sack in 12 games.
Leaving: TCU S Chris Hackett
Replacement: Kenny Iloka
Iloka, whose brother George Iloka plays for the Bengals, was an under-the-radar find from Tyler Junior College who’s been on campus a full year now. He played sparingly in all 13 games and logged 15 tackles this season while playing behind one of the most talented safety groups in the country.
He doesn’t have to match Hackett’s seven interceptions in order to have a similar impact. There are a lot of nice young pieces to work with here, too, but Iloka and Derrick Kindred, both seniors, can help provide some critical leadership in the secondary now that Sam Carter and Kevin White have graduated.
Leaving: TCU RB B.J. Catalon
Replacement: Kyle Hicks
Whether Catalon came back, you knew Aaron Green was going to be the established feature back after his star turn to end the 2014 season. He’s proven to be an incredible fit for where this TCU offense is heading. So let’s focus on who can complement him.
Trevorris Johnson did a nice job in 2013 as the power back option -- the thumper who can pick up tough yards. But keep an eye on Hicks, who contributed 160 rushing yards and 118 receiving yards in a limited role as a redshirt freshman. He’s not going to be the returner that Catalon was, but his versatility can be put to good use to help keep Green fresh.
Leaving: Kansas WR Nigel King
Replacement: Kevin Thomas
You would think first-year coach David Beaty will take a special interest in a Kansas receivers group that does not bring back many proven options. Sophomores Bobby Hartzog Jr., Darious Crawley and Derrick Neal (if he moves back to offense) could be relied upon as the top insider receiver options. But what about the guys on the outside?
Thomas, a three-star recruit who comes from powerhouse DeSoto (Texas) High School, should get a chance to prove he can play right away as a true freshman. Our ESPN scouts have high praise for his size, speed and hands. Chase Harrell, another true freshman whom Beaty flipped from Houston when he landed at KU, could also get a real look at entering the lineup early.