The college football season is finally here. Below are the five players in the Big 12 we're most looking forward to seeing in action during Kickoff Week:
Shane Buechele, QB, Texas: It's been awhile since an incoming Big 12 true freshman was discussed as much as Buechele has been this offseason. Although he has already been billed as the answer to Texas' quarterback woes, it's still unclear at this point whether Buechele will even get the first snap Sunday against Notre Dame. Either way, he's going to play. And if he shines, the Longhorns could be well on their way to finally turning the corner in Charlie Strong's third season.
Jesse Ertz, QB, Kansas State: For the second season in a row, Ertz has emerged from a preseason quarterback competition. Last year he won the job, but suffered a season-ending injury in the opener. This August, Ertz beat out Joe Hubener and Alex Delton again to become the starter. Ertz has already won over the locker room, having been voted a captain without having ever played a meaningful snap in his career. If he can translate that leadership to the field, while giving the Wildcats consistent playmaking from behind center, K-State could become a dangerous team this season.
Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State: This offseason, the outside focus of the Oklahoma State backfield centered on Stanford transfer Barry J. Sanders, the son of the Cowboys' 1988 Heisman Trophy winner. But this preseason, it's been under-the-radar incoming freshman Justice Hill who has been turning heads the most with his vision and explosiveness. The Tulsa native has already worked his way into the running back rotation. He could eventually push for the starting spot.
Kenny Hill, QB, TCU: There's not a player in the Big 12 with a bigger gap between his ceiling and floor than Kenny Hill. The Texas A&M transfer was fabulous in his Aggies debut two years ago, before quickly falling out of favor in College Station. The Horned Frogs have the pieces elsewhere to contend for the Big 12 title. But whether they do will hinge on how close Hill can come to reaching his enormous upside.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE/LB, Oklahoma: Oklahoma's pass-rush contingent from last season was completely gutted because of the departures of Eric Striker, Devante Bond and Charles Tapper. That has placed enormous responsibility on Okoronkwo to replenish the pass rush for the Sooners in his first season as a key part of the defense. Okoronkwo has all the tools and athleticism to be a lethal force off the edge. But it's difficult to envision the Oklahoma defense realizing its potential unless Okoronkwo begins to realize his.