Obviously, I'm taking a huge leap here. But it's also darned near impossible to pick a single quarterback to light up the Texas schedule. Bo Wallace had his moments, but also turned the ball over a ton. The only Big 12 starters who have started 10-plus games are Casey Pachall and Jake Heaps, each of whom sat out most, or all, of last year. And many other schools in the league are still locked into stiff quarterback battles. But I'm bullish on Petty for two reasons. First, I think his talent is considerable. And second, I think Briles's system is almost on autopilot right now. If Petty stays healthy, he should put up monster numbers, just as the quarterbacks before him have done.
RB: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
The only other back under consideration here was Kansas's James Sims, but Sims lacks the explosion that Seastrunk has. By now, it's pretty much been beaten into the ground, but perhaps no college football player was as hot at the end of the season as Seastrunk was, rushing for 831 yards and six touchdowns over the final six games. For the year, he ran for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging a hefty 7.7 yards per carry and putting up eight plays of 30 yards or longer. Not only does Seastrunk have devastating speed, but he's so difficult to prepare for because of the way the Bears spread teams out, creating vertical seams for Baylor's runners.
Just how stacked is the Texas schedule for wide receivers? Eleven Texas opponents were selected on the Biletnikoff Watch List, and that doesn't count the players who could emerge this season. But with all due respect to New Mexico State's Austin Franklin, BYU's Cody Hoffman and Oklahoma State's Josh Stewart, all of whom had more than 1,200 receiving yards a year ago, I'm picking Moncrief, in part because he gave the Longhorns so many issues a year ago, catching seven passes for 144 yards and a touchdown, and in part because he's a 6-foot-3, 226-pound matchup nightmare who seemed to truly figure things out late. He hit a whole 'nother plane of playing in the Rebels' last two regular season games, throwing up a monster 13-catch, 334-yard, five-touchdown stretch over two contests.
Amaro showed glimpses of his talent last year, putting up strong tight end receiving numbers despite missing six games with injury. Amaro (6-5 260) caught five passes for 156 yards against West Virginia, and for the seven-game season, had 25 catches for 409 yards and four touchdowns, averaging a whopping 16.4 yards per catch. Multiply his averages out over a full season, and Amaro would have had roughly 46 catches, 760 yards and seven touchdowns. He might be the most intriguing system fit in the Big 12 because he plays in Tech's Air Raid system, one that hasn't typically utilized a traditional tight end. Could he put up even bigger numbers this year, particularly in the red zone? You bet. That potential's there. The second-best tight end Texas will face will probably be BYU's Kaneakua Friel, who had 30 catches for 308 yards and five touchdowns last year.
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
Baylor? Again? Yep. In Richardson, Baylor has the Big 12's top offensive lineman, narrowly edging guys like Oklahoma's Gabe Ikard and Kansas State's Cornelius Lucas and B.J. Finney. Richardson is a dominating head-up blocker who not only does a great job of protecting Baylor's quarterbacks against defensive tackles, but who also has the ability to root-hog defenders away in the running game. The massive (6-5 340) Richardson moved inside after starting all 13 games at left tackle in 2011, becoming a key cog of an offensive line that helped Baylor lead the Big 12 in rushing. Per Baylor's coaches, Richardson achieved an average grade of 89.8, including a grade over 90 in each of the Bears' last six games, while posting a team-high 105 knockdowns on the year. For his efforts, he was named second-team All-America by the AP, and he starts 2013 as a popular pick for a first-team All-America spot.