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June 24, 2010

Ranking the Big 12: Newcomers to watch

Every season, there are at least a handful of fresh faces that take the Big 12 Conference by storm. Looking over the latest crop of junior college transfers, redshirt freshmen and incoming recruits, this year shouldn't be any different. Today, HI.com takes a look at five newcomers to watch heading into fall camp.

Other Rankings: QB l RB l WR l TE l OL | DT | DE | LB | CB | S | K/P | KR/PR | DC | OC

1. Toney Clemons, Colorado, WR, 6-2, 205, Jr.
Michigan transfer Toney Clemons was already expected to play a big role in Colorado's receiving corps this season, and now with CU losing two of its top wide outs to transfer and suspension, it will need Clemons more than ever. Playing in 19 games at Michigan before transferring last year, Clemons will start along side senior Scotty McKnight and will provide the only real experience the Buffaloes have at receiver, which was supposed to be a position of strength this season.
2. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma, WR, 6-1, 175, Fr.
The star of Oklahoma's spring game, freshman Kenny Stills looks to be well on his way to becoming the next standout Sooner wide receiver. His natural route running and impressive hands and awareness make him an immediate contender to see significant playing time this year. After enrolling early in the spring, Stills developed great chemistry with OU quarterback Landry Jones, and it showed with his game-high six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown in the annual spring scrimmage.
3. Scott Smith, Texas Tech, DE, 6-7, 278, Jr.
Ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 4 junior college prospect in the country, defensive end Scott Smith signed with Texas Tech in December but took his time before officially joining the team because he wanted to see how its coaching change would play out. When the defensive-minded Tommy Tuberville came to Lubbock, the El Dorado (Kan.) Butler County C.C. star was more than ready to come aboard. Smith is expected to contribute right away this season, if not earn a starting job. With Tuberville's aggressive defensive scheme, Smith could flourish.
4. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M, OT, 6-6, 280, Fr.
Texas A&M may have plenty of experience at its offensive skill positions, but it will come down to two true freshmen to lead the way up front on the offensive line. Freshman Luke Joeckel all but locked up the starting left tackle job with a strong performance this spring, and he'll likely line up along with fellow freshman Jake Matthews when he arrives in the fall. A Rivals100 selection last year, Joeckel gained invaluable experience this spring, and his progression will be crucial for A&M to live up to its lofty expectations offensively.
5. Chris Whaley, Texas, RB, 6-3, 245, RFr.
A high school All-American and three-time all-state selection in Texas, everyone knew Chris Whaley was good. Now, it looks like the stars are aligned for him further prove that point with the Longhorns. Not only has his powerful running style impressed UT coaches, the fact that the Longhorns are shifting more towards a power running game this year makes a back like Whaley a dangerous weapon. The younger brother of Nebraska linebacker Alonzo Whaley, Chris should become pretty familiar with the end zone this season.

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