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my time has come
Every year young players break out and make a name for themselves on the college football landscape. A special few carry the hopes and dreams of coaches and fans as they remind us of the promise of youth. Predicting which ones will sparkle and which ones will fade is an inexact, but exciting endeavor. This is our best guess at the few who will take center stage in the Big 12 in 2007. For the record: redshirts included.

1. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
One certainty in the upcoming 2007 college football season is that Texas Tech will spread the field with five wideouts in attempt to exploit the biggest mismatch on the field. With the loss of veteran receivers, Joel Filani, Robert Johnson and Jarrett Hicks, Crabtree is guaranteed to see his share of balls in Mike Leach's offense. Crabtree missed 2006 due to academic issues, but quickly emerged as the Red Raiders' best player this spring. While Tech's offense generally doesn't feature one receiver over the others, Crabtree might be the most talented receiver Leach has ever brought in, so look for him to explode onto the scene. Texas Tech fans have been salivating over this guy for a year, now it's time for the rest of the Big 12 to learn the name Michael Crabtree. Sick spring game highlight below.

2. DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
Murray is another guy who redshirted in 2006, but appears ready to breakout this season. The only thing standing in his way is a wealth of talent in the OU backfield. I simply refuse to feel sorry for the Sooners after the loss of Adrian Peterson, when they replace him with the likes of Allen Patrick, Chris Brown, DeMarco Murray and Mossis Madu. Not fair.

Murray might be the most exciting of the three with explosive speed and ridiculous, "I can't believe I just saw that"-type moves. He had an incredible spring that culminated with 103 yards on just four carries in the Sooners' spring game. While many question whether Murray has the ability to be an everyday back or to overcome OU's logjam at running back, there is no doubt that he will make an impact this fall. If you still have doubts check the video below.

3. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma Here we have another Sooner redshirt. It seems like that group could have competed for the Big 12 North title a year ago. Anyway, McCoy was the 2006 USA Today National Defensive Player of the Year and many thought he would quickly step into a role in Norman. Instead, the Sooners' depth on the defensive line allowed him the redshirt season. In 2007, he should see plenty of action in the rotation alongside DeMarcus Granger. McCoy has great quickness and all of the measurables NFL scouts crave. If the spring was any indication, McCoy should live up to the hype in 2007.

4. Richetti Jones, DE, Oklahoma State
With new facilities and Boone Pickens' money, the Cowboys are starting to make a big move in recruiting. Richetti Jones might be the most promising prize for their efforts to date. Oklahoma State lost all four starters from their 2006 defensive line, which gives Jones a chance to contend for early playing time. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound defensive end is extremely quick off the ball and very athletic. Those attributes allowed him to accrue 53 sacks during his high school career. Jones missed part of his senior campaign due to a hip injury, but should be fully recovered this fall. Expect to see him push for the starting job after making a name for himself early on passing downs.

5. Ryan Miller, OT, Colorado
Colorado opened the spring with just six healthy offensive linemen. With that type of help needed, the Buffs are fortunate to have Ryan Miller available this fall. Miller is 6-foot-8, 310-pounds and was considered a top offensive lineman recruit a year ago. A native of Littleton, Colorado, Miller spurned offers from USC, Notre Dame, Miami and many others to play for Dan Hawkins (pictured at right) in Boulder. While true freshman rarely offensive linemen rarely play in the Big 12, I'd be surprised if Hawkins' first big-time recruit didn't see the field a ton in 2007.

Other notable Big 12 freshmen:

Lamark Brown, WR, Kansas State

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri

Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

Sam Bradford, QB, OklahomaCody Hawkins, QB, Colorado

Chykie Brown, CB, Texas


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