What you need to know ...
Gone are the days of the old Wildcat offense that was
quarterback run, running back run, quarterback run. There's not
going to be a true spread attack, but there should be some
hybrid of styles that opens things up a bit more for the passing
game. After three quarterbacks transferred, it's up to Dylan
Meier and freshman Josh Freeman to run the show. The receiving corps, one of the fastest in the Big
12, should shine with more passes their way, while the backfield
has interesting but uncertain options. The key to the season
will be the performance of a line that suffered from major
inconsistencies and injuries last season.
Passing: Allan Evridge
102-213, 1,365 yds, 6 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Thomas Clayton
137 carries, 637 yds, 5 TD
45 catches, 669 yds, 8 TD
Star of the offense: Junior WR Jordy Nelson
Player that has to step up and become a star: The entire
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman WR Val Taylor
Best pro prospect: Nelson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Nelson, 2) QB Dylan
Meier, 3) RB Thomas Clayton
Strength of the offense: Wide receiver speed
Weakness of the offense:
The quarterback situation went from wide open to limited
in a heartbeat. Last year's top starter, Allan Evridge, left the
team early into fall practice. Allen Webb, the starter over the
first four games, also left. Now it's up to the toughness and passing
skills of Dylan Meier and
the size and arm of Josh Freeman to get by. Unfortunately, other than
Freeman, a true freshman who'll be more of an option next year,
all could start meaning it might be Meier or bust early on.
The key to the unit: Freeman must show early on that
he's ready in case Meier has issues. That'll be much harder than it
Quarterback Rating: 6.5
- Dylan Meier, Sr.
Meier should be the main man early on. Back
after a variety of injuries including a shoulder problem that
kept him out all of last year, he showed this spring that his
accuracy is back even if he doesn't have the best fastball
around. There are few tougher quarterbacks.
- Josh Freeman, Fr.
The quarterback situation got very interesting this off-season
when Freeman, one of the nation's top passing prospects, signed
on. He's a big 6-6, 238-pound bomber who has a huge arm and nice
Any plans of redshirting him are gone now that he's in the
hunt for the starting job with the transfer of Allan Evridge and
- Allan Evridge, Soph. - 102-213, 48%, 1,365 yds, 6 TD, 7
INT, 102 carries, 203 yds, 2 ypc, 4 TD
Evridge took over midway through last year and turned out to be
the offense. While he showed great promise, he ended up
transferring after it appeared that he'd be out of the
quarterback race early in fall practice.
- Allen Webb, Sr. - 62-105, 59%, 850 yds, 9 TD, 5 INT, 71
carries, 172 yds, 2.4 ypc
The starter for the first four games last year showed good
accuracy and production throwing two touchdown passes in each of
the first four games. He came off the bench in the season finale
against Missouri to go 10 of 14 for 93 yards and a touchdown
while running for 91 yards in the win. While he was an
experienced option, he chose to transfer this summer.
What you see on the depth chart might
not be what you get after the first few weeks. Thomas Clayton
has a next-level combination of skills, but off-the-field issues
and inconsistency as last year rolled on prevented him from
blossoming into a star. If he can get in the good graces of the
coaching staff, and if he looks better than he did this spring,
he could be the season's breakout performer. Carlos Alsup has
been around long enough to be a decent option, but Darren
Sproles-like Leon Patton and JUCO superstar James Johnson might
be the main men when they get to Manhattan late this summer.
The key to the unit: Keep everyone healthy and get
all the options some meaningful carries. There are more than
enough talented prospects to work with, but they'll need the
offensive line to be better and the passing game to take the
Running Back Rating: 7.5
- Thomas Clayton, Sr. - 137 carries, 637 yds, 4.6 ypc, 4
TD, 12 carries, 73 yds, 6.1 ypc, 1 TD
The nation's leading rusher over the first few weeks last year,
Clayton ripped off 177 yards and two touchdowns against FIU and
152 yards and a score against Marshall before getting into
trouble off-the-field. He didn't get back on track until late in
the year, and now he's not going to be able to build on the
momentum after being suspended for the season opener against
Illinois State thanks to a misdemeanor battery conviction. He has
home-run hitting speed and he's a strong 220 pounds, but he
has to prove he can be reliable.
- Carlos Alsup, Sr. - 30 carries, 96 yds, 3.2 ypc, 2
One time considered a speed back with power, knee injuries have
made him a power back with some speed. He's a good, reliable
leader who got one start last season and cranked out a few
yards, but he's not dependable enough to be counted on to carry
the workload for a full season.
- Leon Patton, Fr.
It's asking too much for the incoming freshman to be Darren
Sproles, but the 5-8, 175-pound speed back certainly looks the
part. He's as strong as any of the backs and there's no question
about his quickness. Can he be the workhorse that Sproles was?
He might get his chance early on when he arrives this fall.
- James Johnson, Jr.
With Thomas Clayton suspended, f you're looking for your
possible week one starter against Illinois State, Johnson might
be it. The JUCO superstar tore off 2,384 yards and 36 touchdowns
at Blinn College in Texas and now brings his combination of
inside power and outside speed to the backfield. At the very
least, he should develop into a good number two back.
The measurables are certainly there. If and when the
Wildcats go to a three-wise set with Jordy Nelson, Yamon Figurs
and Val Taylor, there won't be a faster trio in college
football. But can they play? Nelson is a rock-solid number one
target who's on the verge of All-Big 12 stardom if someone can
consistently get him the ball. Figurs and fellow starter
Jermaine Moreira regressed a bit last year and now has to deal
with a slew of promising receivers itching for time. JUCO
transfer Cedric Wilson could be an instant starter when he
arrives this fall. Tight ends Rashaad Norwood and Brett Alstatt
have all the talent in the world, but they have to start playing
up to expectations considering the coaching staff wants to use
get these two involved early and often.
The key to the unit: All the speed has to be used to
scare someone. There were several big plays made last year, but
not enough of them.
Receiver Rating: 7
- Jordy Nelson, Jr. - 45 catches, 669 yds, 14.9 ypc, 8 TD
The team's best offensive player last year, the 6-3, 210-pound
junior was the one steady receiver after making the switch from
defensive back. He can flat out fly and is surprisingly polished
considering the position change. Expect him to be used as a deep
threat as well as the key go-to receiver.
- Yamon Figurs, Sr. - 14 catches, 243 yds, 17.4 ypc, 1 TD
One of the team's fastest players, Figurs has to be used more
than just a top kick and punt returner. He didn't get too many
chances to show off his wheels on offense last season with only
one big play, a 52-yard touchdown catch against Texas A&M. The
coaching staff will find ways to get the ball in his hands more
as a runner.
- Jermaine Moreira, Sr. - 35 catches, 485 yds, 13.9 ypc,
The 5-11, 190-pound senior has the hands and the experience to
do more once he gets more passes his way, but he'll have to hold
off several good prospects to keep a starting job. He has been
the team's leading receiver over the last two years and has made
91 grabs for 1,168 yards and five touchdowns in his career, but
he saw his scoring production dip dramatically with only one
touchdown catch last year.
- Tight end Rashaad Norwood, Jr. - 13 catches, 160 yds,
12.3 ypc, 1 TD
He has the size at 6-5 and 240 pounds to go along with the
athleticism to grow into a good receiver, but he drops too many
passes even though he got better as last year went on. If he can
focus a little better, he could be a good weapon.
- Toney Coleman, Jr. - 3 catches, 34 yds, 11.3 ypc
Coleman overcame injury problems to see a little bit of work
last year. While he doesn't have the raw talent of some of the
other Wildcat receivers, he's a good athlete who'll get more
work behind Jordy Nelson.
- Val Taylor, RFr.
With track star speed, the 6-1, 180-pound Taylor is pushing hard
for playing time right away. He's a sprinter on the Wildcat
track team, but he's a football player and not a soft track man.
- Cedric Wilson, Soph.
Adding even more speed to the mix, the JUCO transfer comes over
from Garden City CC where he mostly played cornerback. Even
though he has the talent to be a starter in the secondary, he
was recruited by everyone as a wide receiver to use his
next-level athleticism to become a game-breaker..
- Tight end Brett Alstatt, Soph. - 1 catch, 23 yds
Possibly a year away from being a top contributor on offense,
the 6-5, 245-pound sophomore will mostly work on special teams.
A decent blocker, he'll have to grow into a stronger receiving
threat to hold off Nate Prater for the number two job.
On the plus side, head coach Ron Prince is great at
molding an offensive line. However, he has a lot of work to do to try to find
the right combination. As many as three steady starters from last year
could start the year on the bench as sophomores Gerard Spexarth at
tackle, Ryan Schmidt at center, and Matt Boss at guard are all healthy
and all ready to take on big roles. Add redshirt freshman tackle Derek
Meyer to the starting mix, and this should be a young, young, young
group that'll need time to jell. In time, this should be a good group.
The key to the unit: Limit sacks and do far more for
the running game. The Wildcats only averaged 3.5 yards per carry and
allowed 26 sacks. Things might get worse before they get better, but
this should become one of the team's strengths when everything comes
Offensive Line Rating: 6
- OT Derek Meyer, RFr.
Meyer almost saw time as a redshirt freshman, but he spent last year
working on getting stronger and more polished. He has a good
combination of size at athleticism at left tackle, but he'll have to go
through some growing pains and has to prove he can be a consistent pass
- OG Matt Boss, Soph.
The 6-4, 310-pound sophomore has the talent to grow into a star, but he
has to find a bit more of a killer instinct. Despite being banged up, he
ended up being a nice spot starter and a good-looking young run blocker.
He'll combine with John Hafferty on the left side.
- C Ryan Schmidt, Soph.
Is Schmidt ready? The 6-5, 290-pound sophomore was going to take over
the starting spot last season but hurt his leg in fall camp and missed
the entire year. He was good enough this spring to push incumbent Jordan
Bedore out of the number one job.
- OG Greg Wafford, Sr.
The former JUCO transfer didn't do much of anything in his first year
with the program and then grew into a consistent all-around blocker at
right tackle last season. The 6-2, 305-pound senior will move to guard
with the return of Gerard Spexarth and should be one of the team's top
- OT Gerard Spexarth, Soph.
All set to be a starter at a freshman, the 6-7, 290-pound Spexarth broke
his hand before the season started and wasn't able to keep up his
strength and weight. Now that he's all back healthy, he should grow into
a top right tackle with good size and athleticism. He's a great
competitor with next-level upside.
- OG John Hafferty, Jr.
Hafferty started every game at left guard and was solid, but not
spectacular. If he doesn't take back the starting job, he'll be a
tremendous reserve who can step in and be a tough, quick blocker at
- C Jordan Bedore, Soph.
The former defensive lineman ended up starting most of last year at
center after injuries hit up front, but he struggled in his consistency
and will have to battle with Ryan Schmidt for the job. The 6-3,
275-pound sophomore has no problems being physical and great on the
- OG Caleb Handy, Soph.
Can he get back a starting spot? The 6-1, 305-pound sophomore started in
the first eight games of last year seeing time at tackle and guard.
He'll end up finding starting time somewhere on the right side with his
most likely first spot behind Greg Wafford at right guard.