Freshmen have taken the Big 12 by storm in 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 in 2013, starting the final two games for the Big 12 title-winning Bears. Samaje Perine transformed Oklahoma’s offense in 2014. KaVontae Turpin brought explosiveness to TCU’s offense in 2015.
Year in and year out, freshmen step on campus and make an immediate impact. With that in mind, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the most intriguing freshmen on each Big 12 roster.
Today, we continue the series with Kansas:
CB Kyle Mayberry: The Jayhawks could use help in the defensive backfield and Mayberry has the confidence and talent to make an immediate impact. A quick and competitive cover man, Mayberry could play early, either on special teams or on defense. At 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, Mayberry has good size and room to grow and mature as a player. Kansas returns some talented players at the position, including Brandon Stewart, but Mayberry could be tough to keep off the field and should be a future leader for David Beaty's team.
WR Evan Fairs: A 6-foot-2 receiver, Fairs brings size to Kansas’ offense. Beaty has recruited well at the position with several sophomores joining Texas A&M transfer LaQuvionte Gonzalez to give Kansas a bevy of options. Beaty wants to have a high-tempo attack with plenty of passing targets, so Fairs should get the chance to impress and show he can make an immediate impact.
LB Maciah Long: Long is another player in the mold of Mayberry as a potential leader and immediate-impact player. With Marcquis Roberts and Joe Dineen Jr. at linebacker, the Jayhawks don’t need Long to play right away. He excelled at several positions in high school, including quarterback, and the Jayhawks plan to use him as a linebacker where his leadership abilities and instincts could shine. It might not be a smooth transition to a new position, but Long could be too hungry and talented to keep off the field. He could help on special teams right away.