Upon the final whistle of Conference Championship week, the college football calendar moves into a quasi-offseason. With schools making coaching changes, players determining their professional statuses, and deciding on sitting out or playing in bowl games, news comes and goes rather quickly in the weeks leading up to and after bowl season.
As we’ve done all year, Burnt Orange Nation aims to Keep Up with the Conference throughout the off-season. Check in here for the latest updates on the coaching carousel, and any player updates that impact the Big 12 and the Texas Longhorns.
The latest (January 19)
TCU adds a second graduate transfer. On Saturday, the Horned Frogs added former Gamecocks defensive end Shameik Blackshear. TCU lost both starting defensive ends from the 2018 season, so head coach Gary Patterson looked to add some experience at the position. How much Blackshear can really contribute is an open question, though — the 6’5, 270-pounder was never especially productive at South Carolina, but he did battle injuries for much of his career.
Oklahoma (defensive coordinator)
IN — Alex Grinch (OSU)
OUT — Ruffin McNeil and Mike Stoops (fired)
Grinch’s stay in Columbus ended after roughly a year, as Lincoln Riley tapped Grinch to become the next Sooners defensive coordinator, according to Bruce Feldman. A Broyles Award finalist in 2017 at Washington State, Grinch has experience as an Air Raid defensive coordinator.
IN — Les Miles (LSU)
OUT — David Beaty (fired)
In December, Kansas hired former Texas Tech outside wide receivers coach Emmett Jones as the wide receivers coach in Lawrence. A former South Oak Cliff head coach, Jones has tremendous recruiting ties to the Metroplex and did a phenomenal job developing Antoine Wesley and TJ Vasher this season.
IN — Chris Klieman (North Dakota State)
OUT — Bill Snyder (retired)
The hire of Klieman wasn’t received with a lot of positivity from Kansas State fans, but his success is undeniable — a 67-6 record in five seasons with the Bison, three FCS national championships, and a semifinal appearance in 2018.
IN — Matt Wells (Utah State)
OUT — Kliff Kingsbury (fired, now at USC as Offensive Coordinator)
Wells has basically brought his entire coaching staff from Utah State with him, raising questions about how well that group can recruit the state of Texas. However, Wells managed to land two commitments on Monday — three-star Houston Lamar cornerback Alex Hogan (who had de-committed from Tech just eight days earlier after originally committing to the Red Raiders in July) and three-star Odessa Permian offensive tackle and former Baylor commit Landon Peterson.
IN — Neal Brown (Troy)
OUT — Dana Holgorsen (Houston)
Houston mega booster Tilman Fertita had a plan all along — days after firing Major Applewhite following two seasons in charge, Fertitta was able to lure Dana Holgorsen away from West Virginia. The early January decision marks a major coup for the Cougars, as Holgorsen is one of the top offensive minds in college football.
In four years with the Trojans, Brown produced three 10-win seasons after producing a quick turnaround, including remarkable upsets over LSU and Nebraska. SB Nation is calling it a slam-dunk hire and wondering why it’s taken so long for Brown to land a Power 5 job. Clearly, he was waiting for the right opportunity.
With Brown taking over for Hologrsen in Morgantown, defensive coordinator Tony Gibson is out, too. One of the few purveyors of the 3-3 Stack defense, Gibson’s departure means that other conference schools won’t have to prepare for that unusual. New defensive coordinator Vic Koenning says that he will be multiple with his fronts based on his personnel, but will likely be much more conventional than Gibson.
Players going pro
Junior RB David Montgomery — On the heels of a second consecutive 1,000-yard season, Iowa State’s David Mongtomery declared for the 2019 NFL Draft on Monday, becoming the third Big 12 back to leave school early. The Cyclones do have some young options, but Kene Nwangwu gained less than 200 yards this season.
Junior RB Hakeem Butler — A day after teammate David Mongtomery declared for the NFL Draft on Monday, Iowa State’s best wide receiver joined him in leaving Ames early on Tuesday. Iowa State will return several contributors at the position, but none with the big-play ability of the 6’6, 225-pounder.
Junior RB Alex Barnes — In mid-December, the Big 12’s leader in rushing attempt and rushing yards announced his declaration for the 2019 NFL Draft:
At worst, Barnes was Kansas State’s third-best player behind senior offensive tackle Dalton Risner and senior cornerback Duke Shelley, so this is a significant loss for the Wildcats following a disappointing 5-7 season. The only two other running backs with carries this season were also seniors.
The Wildcats didn’t take a true running back in the 2018 class, but do currently hold commitments from a three-star South Carolina running back and electric in-state athlete Keenan Garber. With reported 4.44 speed, Garber has the look of an instant-impact player — and may have to be in running back room set to have limited depth.
Junior QB Kyler Murray — In a to-the-point tweet on January 14, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray announced his declaration for the 2019 NFL Draft after a weekend rife with speculation about his professional future. A Sunday meeting with Oakland, which signed him to a lucrative contract last summer, did not produce a favorable resolution for the A’s, but it’s still possible that Murray is simply using his declaration for the NFL Draft as leverage in his baseball contract negotiations.
I have declared for the NFL Draft.— Kyler Murray (@TheKylerMurray) January 14, 2019
Junior RB Rodney Anderson — The oft-injured running back suffered his third season-ending injury back in early September. And despite the significance of losing him, Oklahoma didn’t really miss a beat with Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks.
Junior WR Marquise Brown — Following a monster junior season that saw Brown produce more than 1,300 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns, the big-play threat for the Sooners is off to the NFL. Lincoln Riley has some depth and incoming talent at that position, but probably won’t be able to replace Brown’s electricity next season.
Junior OT Cody Ford — The Sooners will have to replace four starters along the line with the departure of the mammoth Ford. At 6’4 and close to 340 pounds, Ford was a mauling run blocker, but still athletic enough to hold up in pass protection — he won’t be easy to replace.
Junior OT Bobby Evans — Adjusting to the move from right tackle to left tackle proved an easy task for the athletic Allen product. As with Ford, the skill set and experience of Evans won’t be easy to replace.
Junior DL Amani Bledsoe — In the Kansas product’s first year as a full-time starter, he posted solid numbers with 37 tackles, four tackles for loss, and two sacks, but it was probably disappointing for the Sooners to lose a player who fell short of having a truly breakout season.
Junior RB Justice Hill — The Pokes will have to replace one of the conference’s top running backs. With the emergence of Canadian freshman Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State should be in good hands at the position moving forward.
Junior WR Tyron Johnson — Following a strong redshirt junior season, Johnson is heading off to the NFL. The former five-star prospect was an LSU transfer who will leave Oklahoma State looking to replace the team’s second-leading receiver.
Junior DE Jordan Brailford — After finishing second in the Big 12 Conference in sack with nine this season, Brailford opted to forego his final season eligibility, so Oklahoma State will lose one of the best edge rushers in the conference next season.
Junior WR Antoine Wesley — The Big 12 leader in total receptions and receiving yards is headed to the next level after a breakout junior season.
Junior LB David Long — One of the league’s top linebackers in moving on to the NFL after graduating. Long recorded 111 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, and seven sacks in a big-time season that somehow flew a little bit under the radar. His production and playmaking ability won’t be easy for the Mountaineers to replace.
Junior QB Alex Delton — With the retirement of Bill Snyder, Delton’s staunch defender, the running quarterback is moving on, leaving Skyler Thompson as the prospective starter as Klieman takes over. Delton has landed at TCU after Kansas State gave him a waiver to transfer within the conference.
Sophomore QB Austin Kendall — The Sooners landed graduate transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts, so Kendall opted to move on when it became apparent that Oklahoma was going to pass him over for a one-year rental. Despite reports that the Sooners were going to decline to grant Kendall a waiver to become immediately eligible with the Mountaineers, the program relented and Kendall will compete for the starting job in Morgantown.
Junior Alabama QB Jalen Hurts — This was a big addition for Oklahoma, as the former multi-year starter at Alabama becomes the latest in a line of transfer quarterbacks for the Sooners. The question is whether Hurts can approximate the passing game success of Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, but he will have plenty of weapons, provide a threat in the quarterback run game, and serve as an excellent leader.
Sophomore QB Shawn Robinson — The former elite prospect is leaving the program after suffering a season-ending injury. Penn transfer Michael Collins will have two more years of eligibility while he competes with star 2018 signee Justin Rogers and 2019 commit Max Duggan. Robinson landed at Missouri.
Junior QB Alex Delton — To help shore up depth at the quarterback position, the Horned Frogs were able to convince Delton not to reunite with former offensive coordinator Dana Dimel in El Paso, but it’s not clear how well the run-first quarterback will fit in the TCU offense.
Freshman RB Pooka Williams Jr. — In early December, the breakout freshman running back was arrested for suspicion of domestic battery, a charge that resulted in his indefinite suspension and could ultimately result in his dismissal.