Missing starters, stickers and ESPN beef

Enjoyed the time off, and I hope you guys enjoyed the quick camp previews that ran while I was gone. No, I'm absolutely not doing away with lunch links, those of you who e-mailed me. But there won't be any when I'm away from the blog.

Thanks for the e-mails. The wedding was fun, but I'm back and 100 percent ready to go for the season, which is more than a few players around the Big 12 can say. Here's a few things we missed on the blog over the long weekend:

This is any fan of football's least favorite thing about the sport, but it happens every year. Always unfortunate, but a few players' 2010 seasons are over before they've begun.

  • Kansas coach Turner Gill announced on Monday that linebacker Huldon Tharp will miss the entire season with a foot injury. He was ready to join Drew Dudley as the stars of what could have been one of the Jayhawks best units. Now, his encore to his 59-tackle freshman debut will have to wait 12 months.

  • Another linebacker, Missouri's Donovan Bonner, will miss the year with a torn ACL. Though his tweet in response was admirable, his injury could be a big deal for the Tigers. Bonner was likely the top backup to weakside linebacker Andrew Gachkar, but now his absence could give a player like juco transfer and former USC Trojan Josh Tatum a chance to shine. Freshman Michael Brennan is listed behind Bonner on the depth chart.

  • Another notable backup won't be on the field this season, but not because of injury. Texas backup QB Sherrod Harris has left the team to focus on his degree, leaving freshmen Case McCoy and Connor Wood to backup sophomore starter Garrett Gilbert. It's worth noting that Harris says he'll stick around to help the young arms along when he can. Good to see that.

Buffs adding receivers

No receiving corps in the conference has seen more turnover this offseason than Colorado. The Buffaloes lost Andre Simmons to ineligibility and Markques Simas left the school after a suspension.

Stepping in: Two new players via California schools in the Buffaloes soon-to-be new conference. Paul Richardson was kicked off the UCLA team in June, but he'll join USC transfer Travon Patterson as the two newest targets for Tyler Hansen or Cody Hawkins. Richardson, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound freshman should be a nice addition along with Patterson, a speedy 5-foot-9, 170-pound slot receiver.

Also at Colorado, I enjoyed coach Dan Hawkins somewhat-gimmicky approach to fall camp. He's taken away his team's Buffalo logos on their helmets, forcing them to earn the insignia instead.

"You got to earn your Buff," Hawkins told local reporters last week. "That's part of it. I respect the heck out of this tradition and our guys do too. I just want them to earn it."

Freshmen safeties on display

Ahmad Dixon was the prize of Art Briles' 2010 class as the nation's No. 3 safety. Early in camp, he's impressed, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald:

After moving to the indoor practice facility for the second half of practice, Dixon delivered some turf-shaking tackles on Baylor's receivers. Imagine how Dixon will hit when they get to full pads.

That has to be a good sign for Bears fans. I'd be surprised if Dixon's doesn't log at least a couple starts this season.

Meanwhile, a few hours up I-35, Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson may start early in his freshman season.

"If we started today we would play Tony Jefferson as our starting nickel back," defensive coordinator Brent Venables told The Oklahoman.

That position is somewhat of a hybrid linebacker/safety spot a la former Sooner Roy Williams. He'll have to beat out Joseph Ibiloye, who made 15 tackles as a freshman, in camp to win the job.

Tech's Sheffield has beef with ESPN

Chalk this one up as by far my favorite story of the weekend.

When Texas Tech quarterback Steven Sheffield showed up to campus, his nickname of "Sticks" was pretty accurate for a 6-foot-4, 160-pounder. But like he told me at media days last week, he's up over 200 now, and he'd like people to take notice. Namely, his player profile on ESPN, which still lists him at 175 pounds.

"It kind of fluctuates, but that's a big difference from what I was playing at last season at 185 – or 180, some people had me 175. I was probably 175 but I didn't want to tell anybody that.

"If y'all can, tell ESPN to change their little thing, it says 175," Sheffield told the Dallas Morning News.

Sheffield's broken the same foot twice, and there's been some concern that his lanky frame could cause him to be injury prone--especially since he's more apt to run than his competition, fellow senior Taylor Potts.

"I'm still fluctuating quite a bit," he told the paper. "If I don't stay on it, I'll drop back to the high 190s, mid 190s. I've got to keep eating and if you keep working out through the weight gaining process you transition pretty well. So I think it's going pretty good."