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Big 12 Football Players Under Most Pressure for 2014 Season

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2014

Big 12 Football Players Under Most Pressure for 2014 Season

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    eric gay/Associated Press

    College football is a pressure-packed world, and the Big 12 is by no means an exception. 

    Expectations run the gamut throughout the conference. Texas wants Charlie Strong and Co. to start a resurgence, while Paul Rhoads at Iowa State may very well be in a do-or-die season in Ames. 

    Ultimately, it's the players who face the most pressure under the lights, as their performances mostly determine wins and losses. 

    So, let's check out the players throughout the Big 12 who are facing the most pressure this upcoming season. 

Jake Waters

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    After Daniel Sams transferred to McNeese State to get more playing time under center, the full load of the quarterback job at Kansas State fell squarely onto Jake Waters' shoulders. 

    He looked great in the Wildcats' bowl game against Michigan and was presumed to be the full-time starter over Sams after the two split snaps last year. 

    But some in Kansas believe that Sams was the better option, as he was the more dynamic playmaker at times, especially on the ground. 

    So the pressure is on Waters to prove his detractors wrong and show Bill Snyder and Co. that he can be entrusted with the offense in his senior campaign. 

Shock Linwood

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Shock Linwood had a great freshman season, rushing for 881 yards and eight touchdowns for the Bears en route to Baylor's first-ever Big 12 title. 

    But he was part of the three-headed monster that was Lache Seastrunk, Glasco Martin and Linwood. Now Seastrunk and Martin are gone, so the load of the running game falls squarely on Linwood's legs. 

    He is a very talented back, but Baylor's offense hinges upon the balance between Bryce Petty's prolific arm and its multifaceted rushing attack. If Linwood proves unable to handle the load on his own, Baylor could take a step back offensively. And that would spell huge trouble for the Bears. 

Sam Richardson

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    USA TODAY Sports

    It seems like forever ago that Iowa State has had a quality quarterback running the show. 

    Now coming off a dreadful three-win season, the Cyclones' backs are to the wall. If they don't want to fall to the depths of the FBS and the Big 12, the quarterback play will have to improve before all else. 

    Currently, Sam Richardson is the favorite to win signal-caller race between him, Grant Rohach and Joel Lanning. But Richardson has the most experience among the group, and the rising junior is under the gun to establish himself as a bona fide leader for the Cyclones. 

    He had an incredible finish to his freshman season, starting the last three games and throwing for eight scores. But he took a step back last year, which led Paul Rhoads to have him split snaps with Rohach. 

    Neither proved successful. 

    In the end, if Iowa State wants to turn a corner, Richardson has to take control in Ames. Otherwise, it'll be another long year for the Cyclones. 

Trevor Knight

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    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    The question on every Oklahoma Sooners' fan's mind is this: Which Trevor Knight will show up in 2014-15? 

    Will it be the one who threw for just five touchdowns and four interceptions in the entire regular season and only passed for more than 100 yards twice? 

    Or the one who torched the Alabama secondary in the Sugar Bowl to the tune of 348 yards passing and four touchdowns? 

    If it's the former, Oklahoma's dreams of winning yet another Big 12 title under Bob Stoops could quickly vanish. If it's the latter, the Sooners could end up in the College Football Playoff, and Knight could go to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation. 

    Either way, he is under a tremendous amount of pressure to prove that he's the man for the job in Norman. 

David Ash

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    USA TODAY Sports

    David Ash has been marred by inconsistency throughout his career. Many fans in Austin, Texas, feel that it's time for the Longhorns to move on from him and that Charlie Strong should peg Tyrone Swoopes as the starter. 

    Ultimately the job is Ash's to lose, but one or two missteps could force Strong's hand in replacing him. 

    Texas fans want better out of their quarterback after missing out on recruits like Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel. If Ash doesn't start churning out the wins early and often, his career could go up in flames once and for all

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