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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Need to Know

Five Transfers to Watch in the Big 12

Charlie Weis’ first recruiting class at Kansas included five F.B.S. transfers, including three from his old stomping grounds in South Bend. The remaining pair will sit out this coming season: Jake Heaps and former Oklahoma wide receiver Justin McCay will be key to K.U.’s success a year down the road, but neither will contribute to the Jayhawks’ cause come September. The three Notre Dame transfers, however, will serve in major roles for K.U. in Weis’ first season.

Dayne Crist is the Jayhawks’ unquestioned starting quarterback. While he arrived too late to participate fully in spring ball, it’s expected that Anthony McDonald will start at middle linebacker. Likewise for Mike Ragone at tight end, though he must prove to Weis and K.U. that he’s past the knee injuries that claimed his 2008 and 2011 seasons.

Kansas has cornered the Big 12’s transfer market heading into 2012, but K.U. isn’t the only team in the conference expecting big things from a new arrival — new with an asterisk, of course. Players like Crist and Ragone aren’t new to the F.B.S., just new to Kansas: unlike a freshman or even a JUCO transfer, F.B.S. transfers have a working understanding of how to succeed on this level of play.

Regardless of how they’ve arrived — F.B.S. or F.C.S. — there are several transfers in line for major roles in the Big 12. Here are five to watch, beginning with the linchpin of K.U.’s new offense under Weis:

QB Dayne Crist, Kansas (Notre Dame) Though not an entirely productive endeavor, it’s interesting to consider how Crist’s career in South Bend might have played out had Weis been retained following the 2009 season. One thing we know: Crist was not a good fit for Brian Kelly’s offense at Notre Dame. Instead, he’s better suited for an offense that plays to his strengths as a pocket passer — like the one Weis will run in Lawrence. Crist already stands as the program’s best option at quarterback since Todd Reesing capped his career in 2009. While it’s important to temper the expectations surrounding his one-and-done season at K.U., Crist clearly stands as a significant improvement over the quarterback play the Jayhawks landed from Jordan Webb over the last two seasons.

RT Tayo Fabuluje, T.C.U. (B.Y.U.) The Horned Frogs are rebuilding up front without both starting tackles and first-team all-M.W.C. left guard Kyle Dooley. Fabuluje, who sat out last season after transferring from B.Y.U., is the Horned Frogs’ likely replacement for Robert Deck at right tackle, though redshirt freshman Bobby Thompson is also an option. While he possesses prototypical size for an offensive tackle, Fabuluje’s lack of experience is a concern; he took a redshirt as a freshman at B.Y.U. before sitting out last season.

SS Shamiel Gary, Oklahoma State (Wyoming) Of the five transfers on this list, only Gary has proven himself to be a major player on the F.B.S. level. A Tulsa native, Gary left Oklahoma to play his college ball at Wyoming. An immediate starter, he earned freshman all-American accolades in 2009 and finished second in the Mountain West in tackles per game as a sophomore. Though Gary spent the spring embroiled in a three-way competition for the starting role at strong safety, neither Zack Craig nor Lavocheya Cooper can match his F.B.S. experience — though Craig did see the field quite a bit as Markelle Martin’s backup a year ago. If he does start, Gary will line up alongside free safety Daytawion Lowe, last year’s leading tackler.

RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (Oregon) On paper, this couldn’t have worked out much better for Baylor. Seastrunk transferred into Waco just prior to the start of last season; he sat out the year while Terrance Ganaway — still overlooked, by the way — racked up the finest rushing season in school history. A year later, the former five-star recruit is set to step into a starting role. There are two impediments in his way, however: one is his lack of experience, seeing that he has yet to play a down over his two seasons of college football; the other is senior Jarred Salubi, who broke out in Baylor’s bowl win over Washington. Based on his size and skill set, Seastrunk might not be a 250-carry back like Ganaway. Instead, Art Briles could use Salubi as a battering ram while using Seastrunk in space. Even in a by-committee running game, Seastrunk has the big-play ability to make a difference.

WR Tyson Williams, Texas Tech (West Texas A&M) The Red Raiders always need receivers. While Tech has a wonderful top three in Eric Ward, Alex Torres and Darrin Moore — offensive coordinator Neal Brown had nothing but praise for the latter during the spring — a player like Williams will be given the opportunity to move into the rotation. He showed a willingness to get dirty during the spring, putting his physicality to good use as a blocker, but Williams was also extremely productive as a pure receiver during his two years at West Texas A&M. He led the team in receptions in each year, making 96 catches for 1,321 yards during his all-American sophomore season.

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  1. sully says:

    Josh Doctson (sp?) transferred from Wyoming to TCU this offseason. 6’4 target for casey pachall. Probably just a situational guy since the TCU wr corps is pretty good already but still something to watch perhaps.

    Paul: Yeah, Doctson had a nice freshman season for Wyoming in 2011. Unfortunately, he will need to sit out this season as a transfer. That may be a good thing for him, seeing that he would have a hard time breaking into the rotation this fall.

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