Defensive Player of the Year is definitely an interesting choice, and one that inspires a lot of discussion. No, that's not a euphemism for "bad." Prince Amukamara doesn't have the numbers that show up on a stat sheet, but all he does is blanket every receiver he lines up across every week. Gotta love that. Nebraska sent out a stat -- last week or a bit earlier, I believe -- that he had been thrown at 40 times this year, and gave up 11 receptions. Five of those came via the Offensive Player of the Year Justin Blackmon. That's impressive. Guys like Von Miller, Orie Lemon, Lavonte David and others were racking up the tackles and fumbles and plays that get the fans going, but I don't have a problem with Amukamara winning the award. It all comes down to what you value. The Associated Press awards and All-Big 12 teams are scheduled for release on Thursday. My guess is the media won't vote the same way.
I sense that what happens late in conference play isn't as weighted as what happens early. The two victims in this case are Nebraska kicker Alex Henery and Colorado running back Rodney Stewart. Oklahoma State's Dan Bailey made his first 18 kicks (more than Henery attempted all year), but missed four kicks in three games before last week's Bedlam game. He was the runaway winner early in the season, but Henery's lack of attempts (15-of-16 on the year) isn't his fault. Additionally, as a member of the All-Big 12 second team as a punter, the combination should have given him enough oomph to best Bailey. I don't have a major gripe with the selection, but if it were up to me, Henery deserved Special Teams Player of the Year.
Stewart's absence is my biggest gripe, and the timing of his rise has a lot to do with it as well. Stewart ranks third in the Big 12 in rushing yards (1,310) and leads the league in carries with 290, and though he's a low-profile player in the league, he didn't get enough respect with his late charge. Nebraska limited him to 88 yards, but in the three games prior, he racked up a combined 493 yards and five touchdowns. I can deal with him being left off the first team, but it's unbelievable he was left off even honorable mention. Roy Helu Jr. has a gaudy 6.75 yards a carry, which landed him on the second team, but I've got no idea how Stewart didn't at least garner honorable mention.
DeMarco Murray's spot on the first team was a little surprising at first, considering he ranks sixth in the league in rushing, but the coaches rightfully took his receiving prowess under consideration. Murray leads all running backs with 64 receptions for 535 yards, which is a good season for any receiver, and Murray topped 1,000 yards rushing, too. The next-best running back when it came to catching passes was Oklahoma State freshman Joseph Randle, with 35 catches for 399 yards. Most of Murray and Randle's yards came on screen passes and swing passes, but those are extensions of running plays that aren't much different than pitches. Murray has accounted for 1,598 yards of offense with 19 touchdowns.
Just how important is recruiting for Turner Gill? Look no further than the Jayhawks lack of a single player on the first or second teams, and just three players earned honorable mention. Worse, one of them was a kick returner and another was a punter. The other was defensive lineman Jake Laptad. Seriously, the importance of the next couple February signing days cannot be understated for Kansas.
I'm a little surprised at Landry Jones absence on the first or second teams, especially considering his performance in conference play, but I imagine it was pretty close between him and Robert Griffin III for the final spot. Jones probably deserved a spot, but there's no doubt that Griffin is infinitely more important to his team's success. My guess is the coaches took that under consideration. We'll see how the media votes later this week.
All in all, a pretty good set of teams. Snubs like Henery and Stewart are minor complaints, but it's not difficult to see the reasons why the guys above them were given the nod.
Here's a few guys I didn't mention who were All-Big 12 caliber, but would be tough to argue over players who did make the team: Byron Landor, S, Baylor; Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado; Ryan Miller, OL, Colorado; A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State; DeJon Gomes, DB, Nebraska; Keith Williams, OL, Nebraska; Andrew Gachkar, LB, Missouri; Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma; Keenan Robinson, LB, Texas; Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M; Michael Hodges, LB, Texas A&M; Trent Hunter, DB, Texas A&M; Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M; Cody Davis, S, Texas Tech; Lyle Leong, WR, Texas Tech