Big 12: Grant Garner

This week, we looked at the 2009 recruiting class' biggest surprises and biggest busts, and colleague Jake Trotter tackled 2008 last week.

You guys loved it. It's still a little soon to make generalizations about the 2010 class just yet, but you wanted more, so we looked at 2007.

Here's the first half from Wednesday. Now, it's time for the rest of the Big 12.

(Note: Players who signed and did not academically qualify are not eligible.)

OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

Best surprise: C Grant Garner. He was ranked in the middle of Oklahoma State's class, but became a huge piece of Oklahoma State's strong offensive line after impressing coach Joe Wickline early in his career. He was a two-year starter who was one of the Big 12's best offensive linemen and an All-Big 12 talent that helped Oklahoma State win the Big 12 title.

Biggest bust: WR William Cole. Only Dez Bryant and Richetti Jones were ranked higher than Cole in Oklahoma State's 2007 class, but Cole suffered a knee injury before his first season and after 2008 concluded, was dismissed from the team by Mike Gundy. He transferred to North Texas.

TCU HORNED FROGS

Best surprise: ATH Tank Carder. Carder came to TCU as an unranked athlete, but Gary Patterson helped turn him into the heart of TCU's defense in an undefeated Rose Bowl season in 2010. The Sweeny, Texas, native was a two-time All-American and a three-year starter for the Frogs out of nowhere.

Biggest bust: S Chez Thomas. Most of TCU's best recruits in this class turned into contributors, but Thomas was one of the ones who didn't. He redshirted his first season, but never made an impact. He was TCU's sixth-highest rated recruit in the class.

TEXAS LONGHORNS

Best surprise: S Earl Thomas. He came to Texas rated higher than just one recruit in Texas' 25-man class that included 12 players in the national top 150. He blossomed into a freshman All-American after one year as a starter and picked off eight passes during Texas' Big 12 title run in 2009, more than any player in the Big 12 since. He left Texas two years early and was the No. 14 overall pick.

Biggest bust: OL Tray Allen. He played out his career at Texas and started six games, appearing in 44, but expectations are higher for the nation's No. 1 offensive tackle and No. 21 overall recruit. Allen was OK on Texas' offensive line, but the Grand Prairie, Texas, native never made the kind of impact his recruiting ranking suggested he might, as the Longhorns' top overall recruit in the class.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Best surprise: OL Justin Keown. He was ranked higher than just four high school signees in Tech's class, but fought through injuries to be a three-year starter at center.

Biggest bust: OG Jerrod Gooch. He was Texas Tech's highest-rated recruit and a steal from Texas, but the Vidor, Texas, native transferred after a short career at Texas Tech. He was the nation's No. 14 offensive guard.

WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

Best surprise: "QB" Keith Tandy. Tandy was a Kentucky native and the nation's No. 207 quarterback, but turned into a strong three-year starter at cornerback for the Mountaineers. He led the Big East in interceptions with six in 2010. He had four more to finish third in 2011.

Biggest bust: QB Charlie Russell. The top of West Virginia's class was really solid in 2007, so it's hard to be very frustrated with this pick. WVU's top five signees all turned out solid, but Russell left the team to focus on his biochemistry studies after never appearing in a game. He was a local product from Morgantown, too.

Oklahoma State spring wrap

May, 9, 2012
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2011 overall record: 12-1
2011 conference record: 8-1

Returning starters: Offense 6; defense 8; P/K 2

Top returners
RB Joseph Randle, WR Tracy Moore, WR Isaiah Anderson, CB Brodrick Brown, LB Shaun Lewis, S Daytawion Lowe, LB Alex Elkins, CB/KR Justin Gilbert

Key losses
QB Brandon Weeden, WR Justin Blackmon, S Markelle Martin, DE Jamie Blatnick, C Grant Garner, RT Levy Adcock, WR Josh Cooper, WR Michael Harrison

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Joseph Randle* (1,216 yards)
Passing: Brandon Weeden (4,727 yards)
Receiving: Justin Blackmon (1,522 yards)
Tackles: Daytawion Lowe* (97)
Sacks: Jamie Blatnick (8)
Interceptions: Justin Gilbert*, Brodrick Brown* (5)

Spring answers

1. Handing the reins to the youngster: I had my doubts about whether OSU would actually pull the trigger and name a starting quarterback. For the Cowboys to name 18-year-old true freshman Wes Lunt is a big move, and proof of the staff's confidence that the Illinois native is the best man for the job. The summer will be about him establishing himself as the team's leader, but seeing how he handles the fall will be fascinating.

2. Rebooting the offensive line: You could say OSU must replace four starters on the offensive line, but sixth-year senior Jonathan Rush has plenty of experience while he returns from a knee injury, and Lane Taylor returns, too. Michael Bowie was a starter-quality contributor last year, and Parker Graham earned rave reviews for his work in the second unit last year, moving into a starter role for the final five games. Evan Epstein is the man at center, but replacing Grant Garner won't be easy. This is a unit hardly devoid of experience.

3. Emerging stars at receiver: OSU knew Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper would be gone this year, but Michael Harrison's exit from the team was a surprise. OSU needed talents to emerge in the spring, and they did. Josh Stewart was a big standout, as was juco newcomer Blake Jackson, in the mold of former Sooners star Jermaine Gresham. Charlie Moore exploded for 243 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the spring game.

Fall questions

1. How far can Lunt take the Cowboys? Oklahoma State will carry the banner of defending Big 12 champs for the first time in school history next fall. They'll do so with a wide-eyed true freshman making his way through plenty of unfamiliar territory and playing plenty of new faces for the first time. His ceiling is high, but Oklahoma State will start in the top 25 and is good enough to be a factor in the Big 12 title race. How far will Lunt carry them?

2. Who's filling in for Markelle Martin? Martin was the leader of the defense in 2011, but defensive coordinator Bill Young says replacing him will be done by committee. Lavocheya Cooper, Zack Craig and Shamiel Gary will be in the mix, but how will that rotation work out in the fall?

3. Can the defense carry more of the load? OSU forced 44 turnovers last season, the most of any team in college football. It also finished 107th nationally in total defense. The Cowboys won't have the same awe-inspiring offense in 2011, but the defense returns a lot of experience and a lot of talent. Defensive ends Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones leave holes in the pass rush. The defense should be better, but it has to be. The margin for error will be much smaller.

Thoughts on the Big 12 champs' depth chart

March, 9, 2012
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Oklahoma State kicks off spring practice next week, but the Cowboys released their pre-spring depth chart on Thursday.

You can see the full chart here.

A few thoughts:
  • Gundy made it official on the depth chart: It's a three-man race for the QB job, and right now, junior Clint Chelf doesn't have the advantage. Chelf and freshmen J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt will compete for the job in the spring and are all separated by an "or" on the chart.
  • Junior college All-America tight end Blake Jackson just signed with OSU and has already earned a bit of pre-spring hype, and he'll enter the spring as a starter. Not at tight end, though. He's starting opposite Josh Stewart at inside receiver. That's an interesting selection. Not many 6-foot-3, 238-pound inside receivers in the Big 12. Jackson was listed at 220 when he signed, too. Looks like he's packed on a lot of muscle.
  • Grant Garner leaves a huge hole in the middle of OSU's offense at center, but Evan Epstein will start the spring as his replacement. Parker Graham played a lot in 2011, but he'll replace Levy Adcock at right tackle after playing left tackle last year. Senior Michael Bowie will move to left tackle after playing a reserve role in 2011.
  • Cooper Bassett and Ryan Robinson slide up, as expected, to replace OSU's pair of departed defensive ends, but those jobs aren't settled. Nigel Nicholas and Tyler Johnson are newcomers to the position. Nicholas played DT last year and Johnson was a linebacker. Nicholas is a co-starter with Bassett and Johnson is No. 2 behind Robinson.
  • Lavocheya Cooper gets the first crack at replacing Markelle Martin at safety, but he's probably going to have a battle on his hands with Zack Craig for that spot. Cooper missed time with an injury last year, and Craig was the top reserve at the position.
  • Sad to see Michael Harrison not on the depth chart. A personal issue prompted the NCAA suspension and his decision to leave the team, but I hate to see potential go unfulfilled. Harrison had a whole lot, and he was my pick to be the next big-time receiver in the program.

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 21

February, 13, 2012
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Our countdown of the Big 12's top-25 players continues. The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we're revealing a new member of the list every day.

Here's a quick rundown on my criteria for this list.

No. 21: Grant Garner, C, Oklahoma State

2011 numbers: Anchored the middle of Oklahoma State's offensive line, which helped pave the way for 1,200-yard rusher Joseph Randle, as well as the nation's No. 2 passing offense and No. 2 scoring offense.

Most recent ranking: Garner was unranked in our preseason list of the top 25 players.

Making the case for Garner: He doesn't get the press of even the other players on his own line, but ask around the Big 12, and Garner's name continuously comes up as one of the league's most relentlessly underrated players. That cannot stand.

Garner grabs the nod at No. 21 on this list, based on his ability to coordinate OSU's often complex calls and blocking schemes, his No. 1 duty as the anchor of the Big 12's best offensive line. OSU doesn't blow people off the line like other O-lines across college football, but Brandon Weeden had an eternity to throw this season, and Garner's ability to assure blitz pickups was a big reason why. Every team wanted to rattle Weeden. No one truly did all season. OSU threw the ball 595 times this season. Only three teams threw it more often.

OSU gave up just 12 sacks, which ranked 12th nationally. The quick-release base of OSU's offense has something to do with that, but the offensive line up front was a huge reason, too. Garner made it all happen.

The rest of the list:

Offseason to-do list: Oklahoma State

January, 27, 2012
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We're taking a look at what each program in the Big 12 needs to deal with during the offseason, whether it be in the spring, summer or fall preseason camp. Maybe all three! Who knows?

Next up: The Oklahoma State Cowboys.

1. Don't get comfortable. Congratulations, you just won your first Big 12 title. Guess what? Now everybody wants to beat you a whole lot more. It took a whole lot of work for Oklahoma State to scale the league's mountain, and it has to remember how hard that was. Forget it, and get complacent? Ask Texas how easy it is to replace the number of big-time contributors on a team good enough to win the national title. The two biggest reasons for the Big 12 title run, Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden, are gone. New players have to work with that same sense of purpose.

2. Find a quarterback. Losing Blackmon and Josh Cooper isn't as big of a concern. OSU has a lot of talent at receiver. But at quarterback? For now, there's no question filling Weeden's void is a huge question mark. All three guys vying for the spot — Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt — have potential, but Weeden shattered all kinds of records and will be tough to replace. Additionally, will the offense change with more experience at running back? That's up to Todd Monken. This year will be a much tougher test than last year, which Monken compared to being handed the keys to a Ferrari.

3. Solidify the offensive line. You've got to like offensive line coach Joe Wickline's ability to make this happen, and there's plenty of promise in the rising offensive linemen. Parker Graham has especially impressed older players. Tackle Levy Adcock, center Grant Garner and guard Nick Martinez are all gone. Adcock was the most talented player on the line and Garner made the whole machine work. Like Weeden, they leave enormous holes. This group will have to do what the unit in 2010 did: Grow during the season after figuring who'll be in the lineup by the season opener.

More offseason to-do lists.

The Big 12 All-Interview Team: Local edition

January, 25, 2012
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I unveiled my All-Interview team this week, but I heard about as much feedback from that post as any we've had on the blog.

Folks wanted more.

So, here it is. I asked the local reporters for help: Tell us the story of players this season who provided one memorable interview for one reason or another, or consistently offered a look inside teams that few other players could duplicate.

Here they are:

David Snow, OL, Texas: Imagine what you'd expect a guy who grew up lifting hay bales and shooting deer in the small East Texas town of Giilmer to sound like. That's exactly the voice that comes from Snow, who spent every Longhorns media session spewing blunt honesty through his thick, slow drawl. If Texas stunk, Snow owned up to it, sometimes in PG-13 terms. If he didn't like an opponent (and he usually didn't) he had no problem describing his distaste. He was one of the few guys who seemed to genuinely enjoy talking to the media, and his listeners enjoyed it too. -- Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News

Javon Harris, S, Oklahoma: Came into the interview room for 30 minutes the Monday after that Baylor game, and answered every question honestly. -- Jake Trotter, SoonerNation

Shaun Lewis, LB, Oklahoma State It's not about quantity. It's about quality. You don't get a lot of words from Lewis, but he always helps make the story better. -- Bill Haisten, Tulsa World

Grant Garner, C, Oklahoma State: Excellent, both on topics specific to the offensive line and the big-picture condition of Oklahoma State football. -- Bill Haisten, Tulsa World

Richetti Jones, DE, Oklahoma State: Other than Weeden, Richetti was my favorite guy to chat with because he told you exactly how he felt about absolutely anything. He called out critics of the OSU defense when the Cowboys climbed to No. 2 in the nation. He ripped the BCS for the title game rematch that featured a team that didn't win its conference. But his jabs--or any answers he gave--were always entertaining. One of my interview highlights of the season was him describing how he thought the first earthquake that hit Oklahoma in November was paranormal activity in his bedroom. The dude is hilarious, and I'll miss talking with him. -- Gina Mizell, The Oklahoman

Gabe Ikard, OL, Oklahoma: I noticed you had Ben Habern, and that's a very fine selection from the Sooners. But Gabe Ikard is more than suitable as an addition. In fact, once, we interviewed Habern and Ikard together, sitting next to one another. It was their choice. They cut up and had a good time with it, but they also gave a lot of answers I could use. (I remember that being the day I was writing about walk-on Dominique Whaley's impact on the team and previously working at Subway to pay for school.)

Both of those guys, and Ikard in particular, are extremely engaging. Not only do they not mind interviews ... they seem to like them. That's rare, at least over the course of the long season. Ikard, who has a 4.0 I think, is very thoughtful and honest with his answers. Those two guys often fill your notebook, regardless of what you're working on. I appreciate their positive attitudes about media when we sometimes run into malcontents by, oh, sometime in October. -- Travis Haney, The Oklahoman

Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State: Not only did you feel like you were dealing with a grown up -- no age jokes allowed -- Weeden always gave every question sincere thought and provided a thoughtful answer. He showed up every week, after every game, ready and willing to talk. He should be hired by every team in the league to teach a Media 101 session. -- John Helsley, The Oklahoman

Jeff Woody, RB, Iowa State: Great knack for giving you insight to the game, and the emotion that goes into it - without throwing teammates under the bus. He described running back Shontrelle Johnson as a rabbit darting across the back yard, while being chased by a dog. -- Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register

Steven Johnson, LB, Kansas: No matter what the situation was, Steven Johnson was a guy we could count on for the truth. Whether it was after tough loss, a big win or the opening practice of the season, Johnson always told it like it was and rarely held back his emotions or expectations. Sometimes that meant him breaking down to the point of tears, other times it meant him holding out hope for winning the Big 12 or making a bowl game even though the Jayhawks were five or six games into a disappointing season. Johnson will go down as one of the classiest players to ever wear a KU uniform and he easily was this team's go-to guy for good quotes. -- Matt Tait, Lawrence Journal-World

Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor: Thoughtful with his answers, willing to answer difficult questions and very well-reasoned and well-worded responses. -- Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

R.J. Washington, DE, Oklahoma: Epic interviews in high school made us all eager to get some time with him. But after a redshirt year, he clearly had been taught to dial it back a bit. Still, he's very good. Almost always offers up something interesting, and it's frequently subject matter that you may not have asked about. He gets it. He knows not to be overly defensive or closed-down in interviews because he refuses to buy the company line that the media is out to get him. -- John Hoover, Tulsa World

Terrance Frederick, CB, Texas A&M: He seemed real -- appropriately serious but at times still light hearted -- as the season turned sour. -- Suzanne Halliburton, Austin American-Statesman

Steven Johnson, LB, Kansas: Looked like you already got him, but I'll put in another vote for KU's Steven Johnson. He was the guy you could count on to say what everyone was thinking. -- Austin Meek, Topeka Capital-Journal

Ter'ran Benton, CB, Iowa State: Benton is smart, funny and you never know where an interview with him will go. He might tell you why Louisiana Hot Sauce is the best hot sauce in the world. He might joking tell you that cornerback Leonard Johnson should be playing well because he has a light class load. He's great at explaining why things are, or aren't, working for the defense. He's an all-around great quote. -- Bobby La Gesse, Ames Tribune

B.J. Finney, C, Kansas State: The freshman center was the face of K-State football this season, at least at press conferences. He showed up at every single media availability and gave thoughtful answers to every question he was asked. Quite impressive when you consider he was the only football player to show up for a few of the midweek pressers and reporters desperate for a quote asked him about the opposing team's offense and what strategy the K-State secondary had for that week. He gets the perfect attendance award. -- Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle/Kansas City Star

Chris Harper, WR, Kansas State: Never afraid to speak his mind on a topic. Will respond to dull questions with incredible insight. A former quarterback, he can analyze every offensive position. By far the best and most entertaining talker on the team. But he lost points for criticizing the Pinstripe Bowl. Bill Snyder didn't care for that, and made him off limits to media for several weeks. -- Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle/Kansas City Star

Big 12 recruiting needs in 2012

January, 24, 2012
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Signing day is coming fast. Next Wednesday, the next round of players will sign up for their respective programs and start what could be storied careers.

Here's what each team across the Big 12 needs. You'll find Texas A&M and Mizzou on the SEC blog and West Virginia on the Big East Blog.

BAYLOR

Quarterback: This one's pretty simple. Robert Griffin III is taking his talents to the NFL early. Nick Florence is waiting to take over, and the Bears have Bryce Petty behind him, but more reinforcements at quarterback are needed. Dual-threat quarterbacks, ideally.

Defensive tackle: Baylor already was one of the nation's worst teams (102nd nationally) at stopping the run. Now it'll need to replace both its interior linemen, Nicolas Jean-Baptiste and Tracy Robertson.

Offensive linemen: Baylor's offensive line, meanwhile, has been solid. It loses junior college transfer and two-year starter Robert T. Griffin, as well as All-Big 12 center Philip Blake. John Jones, a reserve guard, also has exhausted his eligibility.

IOWA STATE

Receiver: This has been a weak spot for the team for several years, and its top overall talent, Darius Reynolds, is gone. Darius Darks is, too. Aaron Horne and Josh Lenz will be the team's best weapons in 2012, but the pair of shifty slot guys will be seniors. This position needs reinforcements.

Defensive back: The DBs have been a quiet strength for ISU, especially in 2011. Cornerback Leonard Johnson and safety Ter'Ran Benton both have exhausted their eligibility, though, and defensive backs coach Bobby Elliott left for Notre Dame. You'll see plenty of new faces in the Cyclones' secondary next year.

Defensive line: Experienced starters Stephen Ruempolhamer and Jacob Lattimer are both gone, and Iowa State has struggled to stop the run consistently the past few seasons.

KANSAS

Quarterback: Kansas landed high-profile transfers Dayne Crist (Notre Dame) and Jake Heaps (BYU), but this is still a huge position of need. Last year's starter, Jordan Webb, left the team. Quinn Mecham is out of eligibility. Heaps is sitting out his NCAA-mandated year after transferring. Crist is the starter, but he badly needs a backup, especially if Brock Berglund's transfer appeal allows him to leave.

Wide receiver: Kansas lacks a big threat at this position. It needs a talent upgrade in a big way. Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay is joining the team, but he's no guarantee to a) be granted immediate eligibility or b) become an impact player.

Defensive tackle: Kansas is thin here, too. Richard Johnson, Patrick Dorsey and Michael Martinovich are gone, and Kansas couldn't stop much of anything on defense. Some push up front could help make everything look better. A late addition to the 2012 class from a junior college seems like a no-brainer. The Jayhawks need physically mature players to contribute immediately.

KANSAS STATE

Offensive line: K-State's offensive line was much better in 2011 and could be again in 2012. It needs help replacing All-Big 12 lineman Clyde Aufner, though. Starter Colten Freeze is also gone.

Defensive line: Kansas State is bringing back about as many starters as anyone in the Big 12, but the biggest losses are along the defensive line. Kick-blocking specialist (five in 2011) Ralph Guidry is gone, along with tackle Ray Kibble. Juco transfer Jordan Voelker exploded onto the scene this year, but he's gone, too.

Defensive backs: Cornerback David Garrett leaves a huge hole behind. Tysyn Hartman may not be as talented as teammate Ty Zimmerman, but his experience leaves a big hole. Zimmerman will have to mentor a younger safety in the near future.

OKLAHOMA

Receiver: The Sooners are thin here in a big way. That was obvious late in the season when Ryan Broyles' storied college career ended a few weeks early with a knee injury. The team also lost Justin McCay (transfer) to Kansas. Jaz Reynolds and Kenny Stills are the likely top two targets, but they need help.

Tight end: This position inspired a bit of panic at the end of the season. Seniors James Hanna and Trent Ratterree are gone. Austin Haywood wasn't allowed back on the team, and two more tight ends left the team for various reasons. That left the Sooners suddenly without a scholarship player at the position returning in 2012.

Offensive line: Starting tackle Donald Stephenson must be replaced, as will guard Stephen Good, who moved in and out of the starting lineup throughout his career. The Sooners bring back a lot of talent and aren't dying for depth there, but those two will leave holes. Three more offensive line starters will be seniors in 2012.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Offensive line: The Cowboys need a whole lot of help here to fill in behind young players stepping into the starting lineup. Starters Levy Adcock, Nick Martinez and Grant Garner are gone. Backup center Casey LaBrue is gone, too. Those are two All-Big 12 linemen who leave big shoes to be filled.

Receiver: Justin Blackmon surprised no one by leaving a year early, and Josh Cooper leaves with perhaps the most underrated career of any receiver in school history. In OSU's offense, there's always room for depth here. Nine receivers had at least 19 catches in 2011. Blackmon and Cooper combined for 192, though.

Defensive ends: The pass rush was solid for Oklahoma State this year, but both starters, Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones, are gone. Replacing both is a necessity.

TEXAS

Receiver: Texas lacks a true game-changer at the position, though Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis may develop into that role in 2012. Former blue-chip recruit Darius White left for Missouri, too.

Quarterback: David Ash and Case McCoy didn't show a ton of potential at quarterback this year, though Ash may grow with an offseason to prepare as starter. Garrett Gilbert got a big chunk of the work in the spring, summer 7-on-7 and fall preseason camp. Even if Ash does grow, the Longhorns need reinforcements at the position.

Linebacker: Two senior impact players are gone. Texas is left trying to replace Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson, though Jordan Hicks may mature into a star in 2012.

TCU

Offensive line: TCU's offensive line is headed for some major turnover. OT Robert Deck, OG Kyle Dooley and OG Spencer Thompson are gone. Two more starters, OG Blaize Foltz and C James Fry, will be seniors in 2012.

Defensive linemen: TCU isn't losing a lot at this spot, but Ross Forrest and D.J. Yendrey will be seniors in 2012. The Horned Frogs would be well-served to prepare, and offer some depth next year.

Specialists: TCU will have to break in a pair of new starters on special teams next season. Kicker Ross Evans and punter Anson Kelton have exhausted their eligibility.

TEXAS TECH

Receiver: The Red Raiders' offense requires a lot of depth here. Tramain Swindall is the only loss at the position, but three more (Alex Torres, Cornelius Douglas, Darrin Moore) will be seniors. Douglas moved to cornerback this year after the team was racked with injury, but we'll see whether he moves back this offseason.

Offensive line: Tech has a huge need here. Four players won't be returning in 2012. Lonnie Edwards, Mickey Okafor and center Justin Keown must be replaced.

Defensive linemen: Tech's Donald Langley and Scott Smith are both out of eligibility, and juco transfer Leon Mackey will be a senior.

The 2011 Big 12 All-Bowl team

January, 13, 2012
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Here's the All-Bowl team from the Big 12, recognizing the best single-game performances from this year's bowls.

QB: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: Weeden threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns (it could have been four if a game-winning TD pass to Colton Chelf hadn't been overturned) on 29-of-42 passing. His first pass was intercepted, but he had an otherwise solid night and ran for his first career touchdown in the 41-38 win against Stanford.

[+] EnlargeTerrance Ganaway
AP Photo/Darren AbateBaylor's Terrance Ganaway rushed for five TDs in the Alamo Bowl.
RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor: The Big 12 rushing champion ran for 200 yards and five touchdowns in the Bears' 67-56 win against Washington in the Alamo Bowl.

RB: Ben Malena, Texas A&M: Malena stepped in for the injured Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael and had a solid game in the Aggies' 33-22 win against Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. He finished with 77 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, showcasing his physical running style. He also caught six passes for 36 yards.

FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma: Millard carried the ball four times for 21 yards but also helped pave the way for three Blake Bell touchdowns from the Belldozer formation.

WR: Ryan Swope, Texas A&M: Jeff Fuller had better numbers in the bowl, but it was aided by big catches late. Swope kept the Aggies offense humming for most of the game, with eight catches for 105 yards in the win against Northwestern.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: Blackmon was the best offensive player in the Big 12 bowls, spearheading Oklahoma State's offense in the Fiesta Bowl win with eight catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

WR: Colton Chelf, Oklahoma State: Chelf made two huge catches over the middle early and a third nearly won the game, but his touchdown was overturned. Still, OSU doesn't win its first BCS bowl without Chelf's 97 yards on five catches.

TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri: By Egnew's standards, it was a quiet game, but he played well with a 25-yard grab and three catches for 39 yards in Mizzou's win.

OL: Grant Garner, Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State's offensive line is keyed by Garner, who helped the Cowboys handle Stanford's blitzes well and give Weeden plenty of time in the Fiesta Bowl win.

OL: Philip Blake, Baylor: Baylor ran for 482 yards and scored 67 points in its win against Washington in the Alamo Bowl. Blake's the man who keyed it all.

OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State: Adcock's the best overall talent on OSU's line, and he showed it in the win against Stanford.

OL: Dan Hoch, Missouri: Missouri rolled over one of the nation's best rush defenses, North Carolina, for 337 yards on the ground.

OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M: The Aggies' offense was potent for most of its win against Northwestern, and Joeckel was solid in run and pass blocking for the balanced attack.

DEFENSE

DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas: Jeffcoat made five tackles, two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss in the Longhorns' 21-10 win against Cal. The Texas defense dominated, and the defensive line's play was the catalyst. He did it all with a torn pectoral muscle, too. He'll miss the spring after having it surgically repaired this week.

[+] EnlargeAdam Davis
AP Photo/Matt StrasenKansas State defensive end Adam Davis, 97, had two sacks and forced this first-half fumble by Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson in the Cotton Bowl.
DL: Adam Davis, Kansas State: Davis sacked Arkansas' Tyler Wilson twice and had three tackles for loss with a forced fumble in the loss to the Razorbacks.

DL: R.J. Washington, Oklahoma: With Ronnell Lewis ineligible, Washington showed up big in the win against Iowa. He had two sacks and made three tackles.

DL: Tony Jerod-Eddie, Texas A&M: Jerod-Eddie made eight tackles and had a sack in the win against Northwestern.

LB: Damontre Moore, Texas A&M: Moore was a monster in the season finale for the Aggies, making nine tackles and forcing a fumble on his lone sack.

LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State: Klein flew around for the Cyclones, making 15 tackles in a physical game against Rutgers, though the Cyclones lost.

LB: Jordan Hicks, Texas: Could this be a big piece of momentum heading into 2012? Hicks starred with seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup in the win against Cal.

CB: Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma: Fleming was the Big 12's best defensive player of the bowls and the best player on the field in the Insight Bowl, making seven tackles, intercepting a pass and returning it 21 yards. He also broke up three passes.

CB: David Garrett, Kansas State: Garrett made 10 tackles and had two tackles for loss in the loss to Arkansas.

S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas: He hates the nickname Machete, but Vaccaro was hacking away at Cal. He made three tackles, including two for loss and a sack.

S: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State: Even if it was illegal (it was), Martin had the hit of the bowl season with a huge blast on Stanford's Ty Montgomery that took Montgomery's helmet off on the opening drive. He finished with nine tackles and a tackle for loss, with a fumble recovery.

SPECIALISTS

P: Tress Way, Oklahoma: Way averaged 50 yards on his six punts, including a 67-yarder.

PK: Randy Bullock, Texas A&M: Bullock made all four of his field goal attempts, including two from beyond 40 yards.

PR: Dustin Harris, Texas A&M: Harris looked the part of the Big 12's best, returning a punt 35 yards and finishing with 54 yards on his four returns.

KR: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: Gilbert had a 50-yard return and returned his four kicks for a total of 136 yards.
PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Mike Gundy's been around football a long time. He's seen the story happen over and over.

Player shows up. Player works hard. Player gets good.

Too often, the next step isn't quite as encouraging.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma State's Justin Blackmon
Brett Davis/US PRESSWIREJustin Blackmon has built a reputation as a tireless worker at Oklahoma State.
"When you get guys that know they’re going to be top-10 picks in the draft, they don’t practice as well," Gundy said.

Justin Blackmon will almost certainly play his final game in an Oklahoma State uniform on Monday night in the Fiesta Bowl against Stanford. He has yet to officially declare for the NFL draft, but after going through Senior Day festivities before a Bedlam win against Oklahoma, despite being a junior, it figures to be a formality.

Blackmon being a top-10 pick is also a near formality, with production and physical prowess that outclasses just about any receiver in college football.

But ask around, and what sticks out about Blackmon isn't his two Biletnikoff Awards, or any of his 224 catches or 3,118 yards the past two seasons. It's not even a single one of his 35 touchdown catches over that same span.

"It's his work ethic," said receiver Isaiah Anderson.

It shows up in blocking drills, when rep after rep, he proves he's the team's best blocking receiver, even if he's the team's best everything else, too, when it comes to receivers. That endears himself to the big guys, too, who know "he's willing to get in there and do what you do every day," said center Grant Garner.

It shows up in one-on-one drills and team drills, when he refuses to run a route at less than 100 percent, which also helps the offense maintain its timing from week to week, said quarterback Brandon Weeden.

During practice, he doesn't go off to the side and take a break, Gundy said. He'll keep working.

"A lot of guys that are that successful and that good think they don’t have to work hard, but there’s no question that Justin Blackmon shows up to practice every day and he’s one of, if not the hardest worker," Garner said. "That’s what makes him good."

Said Weeden: "He’s one of those guys that I think every program wishes they had a lot of him. There’s a lot of 81 jerseys running around Stillwater and Oklahoma. Rightfully so."

Over and over, players and coaches said the same thing about what comes to mind when they think of what Blackmon has brought Oklahoma State during his career.

"Obviously, he’s made a million plays. Everybody knows that," Gundy said. "Everybody’s different. Kendall Hunter was good in that way, but Kendall wasn’t a guy who knew he was going to be a top-10 pick. Blackmon just had the ability to get on the practice field and compete, and he’s never slowed down. Everybody’s put together different, and Blackmon’s wired differently than most great players are."

It makes sense, though. It's what he's been going for over the course of his career.

How does he want to be remembered?

"Someone who worked hard and loved to go out there and compete," he said. "If you work hard and you buy into the system and you’re coachable, things will work out in your favor."

Mission accomplished.
PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- In Monday night's Fiesta Bowl, you'll see Brandon Weeden flip passes into tiny windows to athletic receivers who make acrobatic grabs. You'll see Joseph Randle shake a linebacker in the open field and turn a 5-yard gain into a 12-yard gain.

You might even see Justin Blackmon jump over somebody.

You probably won't see Oklahoma State's offensive line dominating, but that's because nobody watches what's been arguably the most impressive Cowboys unit over the past two seasons.

Maybe they should start watching.

Last year, the Cowboys were the Big 12's best line, and returned all five starters. In 2011, they've been just as good as expected, if not better, blocking for an offense that's tops in the league and No. 2 in the nation.

"We didn’t have to worry about coming into a new offense or anything like that," said tackle Levy Adcock, whose mullet you'll see poking out the back of his helmet before he cuts it next week and heads to the NFL. "All we had to do was mature on what we had, and in the spring we did that really well. In the summer, we worked together every day. We just kept getting better and communicating better and grew as a group."

Why the success? Every Cowboys offensive lineman pointed in the same direction: at offensive line coach Joe Wickline.

"We’ve got a really, really good coach. I think he’s incredible and he gets us on the right track," center Grant Garner, a first-team All-Big 12 selection, said of Wickline.

"If there was any kind of a glitch or a kink in our offensive line, he works it out, no matter what," Adcock said. "He’s just an old-school coach, and it’s never good enough, no matter how good it is."

For Oklahoma State, it's been pretty good, too. It's only gotten better since breaking in a brand-new offensive line at the beginning of the 2010 season, the first of consecutive 11-win seasons.

Why didn't they struggle longer than a few early games?

"You can give that to our coach, Joe Wickline," said left tackle Nick Martinez. "He's one of the best in the country. He's all about trying to make us one of the best offensive lines in the country."

Even after losing a top-10 pick in Russell Okung at tackle after the 2009 season, Wickline succeeded. When Oklahoma State loses three linemen who have started this season after the Fiesta Bowl, he'll try to do it again.

"Everybody was freaking out last year when we had to replace five starters, but this year, they really only have to replace two or three, and Wick is harder on the twos than he is on the ones, so I think it’ll be a seamless transition next year," Garner said. "As long as he’s here, that’s going to be the case."

AP All-Americans and the Big 12

December, 15, 2011
12/15/11
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Plenty of Big 12 players cracked the Associated Press All-America teams. Here they are:

FIRST TEAM
SECOND TEAM
THIRD TEAM
  • Levy Adcock, OT, Oklahoma State
  • Gabe Ikard, OG, Oklahoma
  • Grant Garner, C, Oklahoma State
  • Quinn Sharp, K, Oklahoma State
  • Emmanuel Acho, LB, Texas
  • Nigel Malone, CB, Kansas State
  • Brodrick Brown, CB, Oklahoma State

Preseason vs. Postseason All-Big 12 team

December, 14, 2011
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It's always fun looking back on what we thought in the preseason, and today, we'll take another look.

Here's who made the postseason team.

How did our All-Big 12 preseason team stack up at season's end?

OFFENSE

QB: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
  • Led the Big 12 with 4,328 passing yards and threw 34 touchdown passes. Only the postseason All-Big 12 QB, Robert Griffin III, had more. He was named the second-team All-Big 12 QB by both the coaches and media.
RB: Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M
  • Gray was sidelined late in the season with a stress fracture in his shoulder, but rushed for 1,045 yards and 12 touchdowns, his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. That ranked fifth in the Big 12, and Gray earned second-team All-Big 12 honors by the coaches and media.
RB: Christine Michael, Texas A&M
  • Michael tore his ACL against Oklahoma, derailing another likely 1,000-yard season. He still rushed for 899 yards and averaged better than six yards per carry.
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
  • Blackmon won his second consecutive Biletnikoff Award and earned unanimous All-Big 12 first-team honors after catching 113 passes for 1,336 yards and 15 touchdowns.
WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
  • Broyles caught 83 passes for 1,157 yards before tearing his ACL in the ninth game of the season. He still cracked the coaches' first team and my first team, but was relegated to second team by the media.
TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri
  • Egnew kept on keeping on, leading all Big 12 tight ends with 47 catches for 484 yards and three touchdowns, earning unanimous All-Big 12 first-team honors.
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
  • Adcock cracked a few All-American teams and earned unanimous All-Big 12 first-team honors.
OL: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
  • Osemele landed on SI.com's All-American team and earned unanimous first-team honors.
C: Grant Garner, Oklahoma State
  • Garner cracked SI.com's All-American team and landed on the media's first team, but was pushed to the second team by Baylor's Philip Blake on the coaches All-Big 12 teams.
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
  • Taylor didn't crack any All-Big 12 postseason first teams.
OL: Elvis Fisher, Missouri
  • Fisher suffered a ruptured patellar tendon before the season and didn't play, and is waiting on an NCAA waiver for a sixth year of eligibility.
We'll take a look at the defense later today.

Recruiting rewind: All-Big 12 Offense

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
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The season has come and gone, and brought with it an All-Big 12 team. But where do these guys come from? How easy is it for a no-name recruit to earn all-conference first-team honors?

Let's take a look at the All-Big 12 offense and see who surprises us.

You'll need ESPN Insider Insider to see each player's recruiting page from back in the day, but I excerpted a bit of what the scouts had to say about each player coming out of high school.

OFFENSE

QB: Robert Griffin III, Baylor
  • Griffin was infamously recruited as an "athlete" by top programs like Texas that may have moved him to safety or receiver. Scouts graded him as a 77 and the No. 40 quarterback. He committed to Houston before following coach Art Briles to Houston. One interesting note: He only threw for 1,734 yards as a high school senior. Development much? Scouts take: Griffin is a wonderful athlete with great size, solid arm strength and the ability to move to wide receiver if he doesn't remain at quarterback in college. He is long-legged, well built and is a smooth athlete. He's at his best when he is out of the pocket and can improvise. He will create when things break down and he shows very good presence to avoid the rush, use his feet to get on the perimeter and throw on the move.
All-purpose: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
  • Klein was graded as a 75 by ESPNRecruiting and the nation's No. 60 quarterback. He picked K-State over Colorado State, Utah and Air Force. Scouts take: Klein has prototypical size and a powerful arm. What you don't expect is how athletic he is and while he is a pocket passer, if he gets on the move, he can build momentum and create a few plays here and there with his legs. He can be unorhtodox in his delivery and mechanics can be inconsistent, but he is very productive and has a lot of physical tools to mold at the next level.
RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor
  • Ganaway played at Houston before transferring from junior college to Baylor. He was graded at the minimum grade of 45 and wasn't ranked by ESPN coming out of high school or junior college.
RB: Henry Josey, Missouri
  • Josey was a two-star recruit and the nation's No. 258-ranked athlete. He was also recruited by Baylor, TCU and UTEP. Scouts take: Josey flashes playmaker skills on both sides of the ball at the high school level and may get recruited on either side of the ball in college. We feel he is a bit of an overachiever and his weaknesses may get exposed at the major college level, but we like his foot-speed, quickness and overall savvy as a potential hybrid safety/Bandit type or change-of-pace back on offense.
FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma
  • Millard was a three-star prospect and the nation's No. 59 athlete in the 2010 class. He graded out at 78, and was also recruited by Syracuse, Iowa, South Carolina and Tennessee. Scouts take: Millard is a thick inside linebacker prospect with good mobility and downhill burst between the tackles. We like his athleticism as a future tight end or H-back as well. Has a large upper-body and overall frame. Carries his weight well and has above average lateral agility for a defender with his thickness.
WR: Kendall Wright, Baylor
  • Wright was No. 118 in the 2008 ESPNU 150 and was the nation's No. 12 athlete. He was also recruited by Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Scouts take: Wright is an athlete playing quarterback who belongs at either wide receiver or at cornerback at the next level. He is an athlete with great speed and acceleration. He is at quarterback because he is a playmaker and is very difficult to handle in the open field. With the ball in his hands, he has running back-type skills. (My take: Hey, remember this?)
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
  • Blackmon was the nation's No. 139 receiver and was also recruited by Colorado and Missouri, grading out at a 74. Scouts take: Blackmon is a smooth-looking, natural receiver prospect with well-rounded tools at the position. A potential sleeper at this time. He is tall, rangy and layered with good muscle tone. Shows great downfield, big-catch ability with his good size, hands and large catch radius. Displays very good concentration tracking the ball in tight coverage and plucks the ball smoothly in stride.
WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
  • Broyles was the No. 58 receiver and graded out at a 77. He committed to Oklahoma State before switching to OU just before signing his letter of intent. He was also recruited by Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee. Scouts take: This versatile athlete excels as both a cornerback and wide receiver but appears to be more of a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball at this stage. Broyles is a lean, sleek athlete who is very shifty and fluid in his movements. He has excellent straight-line speed and acceleration. He is a threat to turn a short gain into a big play but is also a vertical threat who plays bigger than his size. Has very good hands.
TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri
  • Egnew was a two-star recruit who graded out at 40 and wasn't ranked. He was also recruited by Purdue and TCU.
C: Grant Garner, Oklahoma State
  • Garner was the No. 20 center in the 2007 class and graded out at 72. He was also recruited by Iowa State and Vanderbilt. Scouts take: Garner is a good center prospect but will need to add bulk to his frame. He is going to need some time to properly get up into that 280-290 lbs. range. He looks to have a strong quick snap and can also adequately handle shotgun responsibilities. Once he snaps the ball, he does a good job of bringing his off hand and making good contact.
OL: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
  • Osemele graded out at 68 and was the nation's No. 149 offensive tackle in the 2007 class. He was also recruited by Arkansas, Houston and TCU. Scouts take: Osemele is a good sized prospect that can deliver a good initial blow. He gets good hand placement and displays the ability to get into a defender and push him off the line of scrimmage in the run game. He needs to work on his initial footwork coming out of his stance.
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
  • Adcock was a junior college recruit and not scouted by ESPN.
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
  • Ikard was the nation's No. 19 tight end and graded out at 78. He was also recruited by Notre Dame, Stanford and Oklahoma State. Scouts take: Ikard is a good football player and it is tough not to like him. He comes across as a smart, hard working, and productive player. He plays both defensive end and tight end in high school and is a legitimate recruit on both sides of the ball. He is a sound defensive end prospect.
OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
  • Joeckel was No. 83 in the 2010 ESPNU 150 and was a four-star recruit. He was ranked as the nation's No. 6 offensive tackle prospect. He was also recruited by Nebraska, LSU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Scouts take: Joeckel is a dominant offensive lineman. He has great size and is an intimidating force on the field. Exceptional run blocker that completely engulfs smaller defensive lineman. Has a real nasty streak and finishes his run blocks on a consistent basis. Does a great job of getting his hands into the frame of the defensive lineman and locks on like vice grips. Drives feet after initial contact and often puts defender into the turf due to his aggressiveness in finishing the block.

Fascinating stuff here. I enjoyed looking these guys up. The two most highly recruited players on the All-Big 12 team? Kendall Wright and Luke Joeckel. Shocking stuff.

ESPN.com's 2011 All-Big 12 Team

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
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Editor’s Note: Tune into the “AT&T ESPN All America Team Show” on Saturday (ABC, 1:30 p.m. ET) to see who ESPN’s writers and experts selected.

It's been a fun season across the Big 12, with a few big names who didn't play as well as we thought, and lots of unknowns who became household names by the end of the season.

I'll offer my comments below, but here's our All-Big 12 team for 2011.

OFFENSE

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Jerome Miron/US PresswireThe heroics of Robert Griffin III got Baylor to 9-3 and made him a Heisman Trophy finalist.
QB: Robert Griffin III, Baylor
All-purpose: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor
RB: Henry Josey, Missouri
FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma
WR: Kendall Wright, Baylor
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri
C: Grant Garner, Oklahoma State
OL: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

DEFENSE

DE: Frank Alexander, Oklahoma
DT: Dominique Hamilton, Missouri
DE: Alex Okafor, Texas
DE: Jamie Blatnick, Oklahoma State
LB: Sean Porter, Texas A&M
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
LB: Emmanuel Acho, Texas
NB: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
CB: Nigel Malone, Kansas State
CB: Carrington Byndom, Texas
S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
S: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State

SPECIALISTS

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
PK: Randy Bullock, Texas A&M
PR: Dustin Harris, Texas A&M
KR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

Finally, a few notes and explanations:

  • I loved the media's idea to craft an all-purpose spot to accomodate Collin Klein. The Big Ten did the same for Michigan's Denard Robinson last season. I followed suit, and did so on the defensive side of the ball with a nickel-back spot for Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson. Two players that missed first-team designation by the coaches, but clearly deserve to be recognized.
  • Additionally, I prefer the teams to reflect the Big 12 style of play, so the nickel back fits. Each team doesn't have 11 players, but there were deserving linebackers. The same with Egnew and Millard. Does every team use a fullback or a tight end? No, but both are standout performers. They'd rotate in anyway, just as Jefferson would in a theoretical package.
  • Tough call to leave Philip Blake from Baylor off my team, but Garner's been better. Blake is very, very close, though.
  • Hated to leave off Brodrick Brown and E.J. Gaines, but I went with a more traditional two corners and two safeties, rather than four corners like the media's team.
  • Steven Johnson and Arthur Brown would have been right behind my three linebackers. That race was probably closer than at any other position, except maybe cornerback. Difficult to leave either of those guys off my first team, but the three on the team were better. I gave Brown my Newcomer of the Year nod, though.
  • I don't like going with three defensive ends and one defensive tackle, but there wasn't a defensive tackle who deserved the honor more than Okafor, my third defensive end. Okafor was a defensive tackle last year anyway, so that's close enough, right? He moved from tackle to end before spring practice earlier this year. In the Big 12, an additional pass rusher is necessary, too, right?
  • I made a similar move with my offensive line. Went tackle-heavy, but the guards didn't have quite as many standouts.

Thoughts on the postseason Big 12 awards

December, 7, 2011
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The Big 12 announced its league awards on Wednesday, as voted on by the league's coaches.

Coach of the Year: Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Offensive Player of the Year: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Co-Defensive Players of the Year: A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State; Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma
Offensive Lineman of the Year: Grant Garner, C, Oklahoma State
Defensive Lineman of the Year: Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma
Offensive Freshman of the Year: Tyler Lockett, WR/KR, Kansas State
Defensive Freshman of the Year: Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas
Special Teams Player of the Year: Quinn Sharp, P/K/KOS, Oklahoma State
Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Aaron Horne, WR, Iowa State
Defensive Newcomer of the Year: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State

A few thoughts on the awards.
  • Well deserved honors for Snyder as the top coach and Alexander as the top defensive lineman. Both were runaway winners in my book. Garner is a solid selection as offensive lineman of the year.
  • Very surprised to see A.J. Klein share defensive player of the year awards. He had a great year, but you could definitely make the case that his teammate, Jake Knott, had one that was just as good. Iowa State's linebackers ascended to become the league's best by the end of the year, but Klein and Knott both surpassed 100 tackles. Klein had 101 tackles, two sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and an INT he returned for a score. Knott had 107 tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.
  • Lockett taking home the offensive freshman of the year award was a huge upset, but certainly, voters factored in his kick returning accomplishments. He caught 18 passes for 246 yards and three scores, but returned 16 kicks for an average of 35.2 yards and two scores. That average was almost 10 full yards more than any other player.
  • Still, I would have had a tough time picking between Texas running back Malcolm Brown and wideout Jaxon Shipley for that award. Both dealt with injuries late in the season (so did Lockett, though) and Brown had 707 yards rushing with five scores. Shipley caught 40 passes for 593 yards and three scores.
  • I doubt any player won an award by a wider margin than Quinn Sharp did for special teams player of the year. He was nearly the best at everything in every phase of special teams. Just an unbelievable year.
  • Not a lot of candidates for offensive newcomer of the year, but Horne is a good selection. The juco receiver made some huge grabs for Iowa State this year.
  • No question about Arthur Brown, though, clearly.
  • RG3 as the offensive player of the year is a no-brainer. He's Baylor's first winner in school history. He may soon be the school's first Heisman winner, too.

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