New Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley has one big advantage in his first season – the best quarterback in the Big 12.
OU senior quarterback Baker Mayfield was named the offensive player of the year and a first-team selection (for the second year in a row) on the 2017 Preseason All-Big 12 Football Team, as chosen by media representatives who cover the league.
Mayfield was a 2016 Heisman Trophy finalist and named to the All-Big 12 First Team while leading the Sooners to their second-straight Big 12 Championship and a win over Auburn in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. He is the only player in OU history to register at least 5,000 career passing yards (7,665) and rushing yards (582). Last season, Mayfield set the FBS single season pass efficiency rating record with a mark of 196.4 and also led the nation in completion percentage (70.9) and yards per pass attempt (11.1). He threw for 3,965 yards and 40 touchdowns against just eight interceptions.
Riley replaced former OU coach Bob Stoops, who retired.
Five Sooners were named All-Big 12. That includes Mayfield, tight end Mark Andrews, offensive lineman Orlando Brown, linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and defensive back Jordan Thomas.
Brown started every contest last year at left tackle and earned second-team All-America honors from the Associated Press and Football Writers Association of America. He became the first sophomore to be named Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year as he allowed just one sack over the course of 659 snaps.
Andrews was named to the All-Big 12 First Team by the league’s coaches and the AP in 2016 after catching 31 passes for 489 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished second among Sooners in touchdown catches, third in receiving yards and fourth in receptions. Of his 50 career receptions, 14 have gone for touchdowns, giving him a TD-to-catch ratio of 28.0 percent.
In his first season as a starter last year, Okoronkwo had a team-high 12 tackles for loss and tied the OU record for sacks by a linebacker with 9.0. He also added 71 tackles, two forced fumbles and three pass breakups en route to earning second-team All-Big 12 recognition by the coaches and AP.
Thomas broke up 17 passes and intercepted two more in 13 games. His 1.5 passes defended per contest tied for fifth most nationally. A first-team All-Big 12 honoree by the coaches and AP, Thomas finished the season with 49 tackles, including 2.0 for loss. His 17 breakups tied for third most in OU single-season history and were eight more than he had in his first two seasons combined.
Oklahoma State had four All-Big 12 selections – running back Justice Hill (from Tulsa), wide receiver James Washington, offensive lineman Zach Crabtree and defensive back Tre Flowers.
Washington is ranked by Mel Kiper as the No. 1 senior receiver in the country and is listed as the best returning receiver in college football heading into 2017 by ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg and by Athlon Sports. His 26 career receiving touchdowns mark the highest total among all active FBS players heading into 2017, and he leads all active receivers from Power Five conferences with 2,923 career receiving yards and 19.2 career yards per reception.
Hill was the 2016 FBS freshman rushing champion with 1,142 yards, which makes him Oklahoma State’s all-time leading freshman rusher. That total also marked the fifth-most for a freshman in Big 12 Conference history. In addition to being the only OSU freshman to ever surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a season, Hill is the only freshman in school history to rush for 100 yards in six games and no other Cowboy freshman has done it more than three times.
Crabtree has 34 career starts entering his senior season. He was also the leader of an offensive line that paved the way for a substantial uptick in the running game over the course of the past two seasons.
Flowers has more career tackles than any current member of the team with 200. He was a second team All-Big 12 selection by the coaches last year and his seven pass break-ups led the team. He’s been in the Cowboys’ starting lineup since his freshman season.
OU and Texas had the most Big 12 selections with five players picked. Oklahoma State, Kansas State and TCU each had four players on the team.
The honorees include 14 seniors, 12 juniors and three sophomores. Only three players were unanimous selections at their position with Kansas defensive lineman Dorance Armstrong Jr., Oklahoma offensive lineman Orlando Brown and Oklahoma State receiver James Washington. Fourteen were named to the 2016 All-Big 12 First Team while eight were on the second team.
Lineman Dorance Armstrong Jr. (Kansas) is the Defensive Player of the Year and quarterback Will Grier (West Virginia) was chosen Newcomer of the Year.
Armstrong was a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection in 2016 as a sophomore. He registered 10.0 sacks to place second in the Conference and 18th nationally. His 20.0 tackles-for-loss led the Big 12 and was the fifth-best total in the NCAA.
Grier begins his first season as a junior signal caller for West Virginia after sitting out 2016 to fulfill NCAA transfer requirements. He played in six games and started five as a redshirt freshman at Florida in 2015, completing 106-of-161 passes for 1,204 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Preseason All-Big 12 Team
Offensive player of the year – Quarterback Baker Mayfield, OU
Defensive player of the year – Defensive end Dorance Armstrong, Jr., Kansas
Newcomer of the year – Quarterback Will Grier, West Virginia
Quarterback – Baker Mayfield, OU
Running back – Justice Hill, OSU
Running back – Justin Crawford, WVU
Fullback – Winston Dimel, KSU
Wide receiver – James Washington, OSU
Wide receiver – Allen Lazard, ISU
Wide receiver – Keke Coutee, Texas Tech
Tight end – Mark Andrews, OU
Offensive line – Orlando Brown, OU
Offensive line – Connor Williams, Texas
Offensive line – Dalton Risner, KSU
Offensive line – Austin Schlottmann, TCU
Offensive line – Zach Crabtree, OSU
Kick/punt returner – KaVontai Turpin, TCU
Defensive line – Dorance Armstrong, Jr., KU
Defensive line – K.J. Smith, Baylor
Defensive line – Reggie Walker, KSU
Defensive line – Poona Ford, Texas
Defensive line – Malcolm Roach, Texas
Linebacker – Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OU
Linebacker – Malik Jefferson, Texas
Linebacker – Travin Howard, TCU
Defensive back – D.J. Reed, KSU
Defensive back – Jordan Thomas, OU
Defensive back – Tre Flowers, OSU
Defensive back – Kamari Cotton-Moya, ISU
Defensive back – Nick Orr, TCU
Punter – Michael Dickson, Texas