Big 12 offenses are among the most explosive in college football. Even though the conference is losing dynamic playmakers like West Virginia’s Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, along with Baylor’s Terrance Williams, several explosive skill players will return to cause havoc for Big 12 defenses in 2013.
Here’s a look at the top five explosive playmakers returning this fall (returning players who finished atop the Big 12 in scrimmage plays of 30 yards or more):
WR Tevin Reese, Baylor
Explosive plays in 2012: Reese had 12 plays of 30 yards or more for the Bears in 2012. The definition of lightning in a bottle, Reese is a nightmare in the slot. His sheer speed can test the middle of a defense and his quickness makes it difficult to be physical with him at the line of scrimmage. The junior has 20 plays of 30 yards or more heading into his final season at Baylor.
Could Reese have more explosive plays in 2013? It could be difficult. With Williams and Lanear Sampson completing their eligibility and the Bears replacing their quarterback for the second straight season, Reese could become the focal point of Big 12 defensive game plans. But if Lache Seastrunk is able to help get BU’s running game clicking, Reese could be the biggest benefactor.
WR Mike Davis, Texas
Explosive plays in 2012: Davis had 11 plays of 30 yards or more for the Longhorns, including three receptions more than 60 yards. At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Davis brings terrific size and athleticism to the receiver position. He has the speed to test defenses deep, the open-field ability to catch a screen pass and break a big gainer along with the ball skills to outleap defenders in jump-ball situations. He has 17 plays of 30 yards or more during his UT career.
Could Davis have more explosive plays in 2013? As David Ash continues to mature, Davis’ explosive playmaking ability could become even more apparent. And with the Longhorns looking to turn up the tempo in 2013, more offensive plays should mean more opportunities to see Davis’ dynamic talent on display.
WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Explosive plays in 2012: Lockett had eight plays from scrimmage of 30 yards or more and that doesn’t even include his 100- and 96-yard kick returns for touchdowns. Undersized but undeterred, Lockett has been a big play waiting to happen in his two seasons in Manhattan, Kan. At 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Lockett consistently finds a way to make big plays, particularly in big games.
Could Lockett have more explosive plays in 2013? The Wildcats will need him to. With former quarterback Collin Klein no longer spearheading the offense, Lockett should garner added defensive attention. Expect KSU to continue to be creative in finding ways to get him the ball and he’ll do the rest.
WR Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
Explosive plays in 2012: Stewart had eight plays from scrimmage of 30 yards or more but he’s not a deep threat with his 75-yard touchdown catch against Oklahoma standing alone as his only big play over 50 yards. Yet he consistently makes game-altering plays in OSU’s offensive attack with his willingness to go over the middle and ability to break tackles.
Could Stewart have more explosive plays in 2013? That depends on how seamlessly new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich makes the transition into the program and the Big 12. Stewart is OSU’s top playmaker and can make defenses pay with his quickness and ball skills so Yurcich just needs to find ways to get him in the open field to work his magic.
HB Damien Williams, Oklahoma
Explosive plays in 2012: The lone running back on the list, Williams had seven plays from scrimmage of 30 yards or more including four touchdown gallops of 65 yards or more. He displays game-breaking speed when he gets into the secondary and can be difficult for defensive backs to bring down in the open field.
Could Williams have more explosive plays in 2013? It’s quite possible with the Sooners set to add more quarterback run game into their offense with mobile quarterbacks Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson battling for the starting job this spring. With a quarterback who can make defenses pay with his feet alongside him in the Sooners' backfield, Williams could find even more open running lanes this fall.