The Big 12 has seen true freshmen take the conference by storm over the past few years.
Karl Joseph earned a reputation as one of the Big 12’s best hitters during his first year at West Virginia in 2012. Andrew Billings began to make his mark at Baylor while starting the final two games for the Big 12 title-winning Bears in 2013. Samaje Perine transformed Oklahoma’s offense in 2014. KaVontae Turpin brought explosiveness to TCU’s offense in 2015.
Year in and year out, true freshman step on campus and make an immediate impact. With that in mind, we’re going to take a team-by-team look at the most intriguing freshman on each Big 12 roster.
Today, we continue the series with Texas Tech:
LB Johnathan Picone: Few Big 12 true freshmen have a bigger opportunity to make an immediate splash than Picone. He enrolled early and participated in spring drills with Texas Tech, emerging from the spring as No. 2 on the depth chart behind Dakota Allen. With Allen’s dismissal, Picone moves into the spotlight. There’s no guarantee he will slide into the starting lineup, but he made a solid impression during his first spring after showing his willingness to be physical and aggressive. At the very least he should have a special teams and complementary role to play during his first season.
WR T.J. Vasher: A dual-sport star who also excelled on the basketball court in high school, Vasher seems like the ideal pass catcher to put up huge numbers in the Red Raiders' offense. At 6-foot-5, 195 pounds, Vasher has the length and ball skills to help Tech’s offense immediately. With Jakeem Grant no longer in a Red Raiders uniform, his 126 targets from a year ago are up for grabs. Vasher has the skills to demand some of those targets as Kliff Kingsbury looks to find more playmakers. He also is surprisingly elusive in the open field for a big receiver who can create immediate mismatches with his tall, lanky frame. To top it off, Vasher’s two-sport background makes his overall potential and upside particularly intriguing as a terrific athlete who will now focus on football and maximizing his potential on the gridiron.