The list of graduate transfers, junior college transfer and usual sit-out-a-year transfers who could make a big impact in the Big 12 this season is impressive and long. Narrowing that list down to the top five difference-makers was surprisingly difficult. But these are the five Big 12 transfers you need to know, plus 15 more to keep an eye on entering 2016.
1. TCU QB Kenny Hill: A year out of the spotlight after such a high-profile exit from Texas A&M has been a good thing for Hill. TCU hasn’t named him its starter yet, but his coaches are clearly excited about his playmaking ability. “There’s a couple times in the spring where he could elude guys in the pocket and make some really exceptional throws,” TCU co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie said last week. Going into his final start at A&M, Hill ranked No. 2 in FBS in completions and passing yards. He can be that prolific all over again in this offense with all the talent the Frogs have accumulated around him.
2. Texas Tech WR Derrick Willies: Willies left Iowa after 2014 and found stardom at Trinity Valley CC last season, racking up 1,115 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on a whopping 23.6 yards per reception. He showed that same big-play potential in his first spring with the Red Raiders. “When you’re 6-foot-3 and can do that and jump like he can, it’s a big deal,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said this spring. “It’s fun to see him go get that ball.” Willies will operate out of the "X" outside receiver spot with Devin Lauderdale and should become a favorite target of Patrick Mahomes.
3. Oklahoma State RB Barry J. Sanders: Mike Gundy and his coaches have tried to be cautious not to overhype Oklahoma State’s favorite son. The Stanford grad transfer still has some catching up to do. “We know he's very intelligent,” Gundy told reporters. “He's been durable. He can catch the ball. He'll block. And there are clips of him being very elusive at times on the field.” After logging 51 carries last season as Christian McCaffrey's backup, Sanders gets a chance to be a feature back and a star for an offense that lacked a reliable rushing threat in 2015.
4. Kansas State WR Byron Pringle: The 22-year-old sophomore’s playing career got sidetracked by a number of issues, but he finally put it all together last year and caught nine touchdowns at Butler CC. Bill Snyder and his coaches took a chance on Pringle, and he rewarded them with a shining performance in their spring game (nine catches, 163 receiving yards, one TD). “Not a day goes by without him making an incredible catch,” quarterback Alex Delton told the Kansas City Star. The 6-foot-2 wideout can do it all and instantly upgrades the Wildcats’ passing game.
5. West Virginia RB Justin Crawford: When Wendell Smallwood left for the NFL, the Mountaineers went looking for a running back. They settled on bringing in the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year. Crawford racked up more than 2,000 total yards and 22 touchdowns last year at Northwest Mississippi CC and has impressed his new coaches with his preparation. “His learning curve is way ahead of what I thought it was going to be,” West Virginia running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider told reporters. He’ll be a talented complement to Rushell Shell who will make guys miss.
More transfers to watch: TCU WR John Diarse (from LSU), Texas K Trent Domingue (LSU), Oklahoma LB Kapri Doucet (juco), Kansas State CB Cedric Dozier (Cal), West Virginia CB Maurice Fleming (Iowa), Kansas WR LaQuvionte Gonzalez (Texas A&M), Texas Tech DE Kolin Hill (Notre Dame), TCU LB Tyree Horton (juco), Oklahoma WR Geno Lewis (Penn State), Kansas State OL Breontae Matthews (juco), Iowa State DB D'Andre Payne (juco), TCU DB Markell Simmons (juco), West Virginia DB Kyzir White (juco), Oklahoma State OL Larry Williams (juco), TCU WR Taj Williams (juco).