In this week's Big 12 Take Two, we debate who will be the newcomer of the year in the Big 12:
Take 1: Jake Trotter -- West Virginia QB Will Grier
I'm taking two leaps of faith here. One, that Grier will be eligible for the start of the season, as Dana Holgorsen has suggested he would be. And two, that Grier will return to the form he flashed two seasons ago at Florida before the PED suspension.
But Grier has two major advantages working in his favor in the Big 12 newcomer of the year race. One, playing time; he's the overwhelming favorite to win the starting job, provided, again, that he's eligible. And two, he'll be playing for a coach with a tremendous track record of calling explosive offenses.
The combination of those two factors could lead to a big year for Grier in his first behind center in Morgantown. Which makes him my early favorite for newcomer of the year.
Take 2: Mitch Sherman -- The Field
This conversation always starts at quarterback. Grier sits atop the list, for sure, but he’s not the only quarterback in the running. Kansas' Peyton Bender, who transferred from Washington State via junior college, and Arizona transfer Anu Solomon at Baylor will bid this spring to unseat freshmen starters from 2016.
Bender or Solomon could take the honor of top newcomer just by reversing the fortunes of their teams in 2017.
If pressed, yes, I’d take Grier over both. But I wouldn’t pick him over the rest of the league. The sheer number of candidates don’t favor the West Virginia quarterback.
Look at the receivers set to debut with Big 12 teams this year. There's top juco transfers Marquise Brown at Oklahoma and Matthew Eaton at Iowa State, LSU transfer Tyron Johnson at Oklahoma State and Kansas State's Carlos Strickland, formerly of Cal.
Running back Marcelias Sutton will get a look to fill a marquee spot for Oklahoma.
Defensively, juco linebacker Gary Johnson was a huge recruiting score for Texas. And safety Elijah Walker and defensive end Xavier Davis appear well positioned to help a league title-contending team at Kansas State.
Quarterbacks steal the spotlight. They’re always the favorites in a discussion like this six months before the season. I’m expecting Grier to make a major impact with the Mountaineers. The likelihood that a newcomer elsewhere outshines him by December, I think, is strong.