OU picked to win the Big 12; Mayfield is player of the year

Oklahoma Quarterback Baker Mayfield has been named the preseason offensive player of the year in the Big 12 Conference and the Sooners were picked to win the conference title.

OU got 24 of 26 votes first-place votes in the preseason media poll. TCU was second and Oklahoma State placed third.

OU coach Bob Stoops, who is getting ready to start his 18th season in Norman, has led OU to Big 12 titles in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and last season. No other program has won more than two Big 12 titles during Stoops’ tenure.

The Sooners return 13 starters from last year’s 11-2 team that went 8-1 in the Big 12 and became the league’s first program to be selected for the four-team College Football Playoff. OU welcomes back 92 percent of its total offensive yards from last season and 63 percent of its tackles.

Mayfield was one of nine Sooners on the all-conference preseason team. The Sooners on the list are kicker Austin Seibert, tight end Mark Andrews, offensive tackle Orlando Brown, linebacker Jordan Evans, defensive back Steven Parker, running back Samaje Perine, defensive back Jordan Thomas and defensive lineman Charles Walker.

Mayfield was named the 2015 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and to the All-Big 12 First Team while leading the Sooners to the Big 12 Championship. The redshirt junior completed 68.1 percent of his passes in 2015 for 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.

The only player to repeat from last year’s preseason squad, Perine ran for 1,349 yards a year ago with 16 touchdowns. Perine has 3,062 career rushing yards and needs 1,056 to tie Billy Sims as OU’s all-time leader.

In his first season last year, Andrews emerged as a red-zone target. Of his 19 receptions, seven went for touchdowns. He finished with 318 receiving yards and averaged 16.7 yards per catch, earning All-Big 12 Second Team honors from the league’s coaches.

Brown started every contest last year at left tackle and became one of 10 freshmen in OU history to start a game at offensive tackle.

The lone returning starting linebacker for OU, in 2015 Evans had 83 tackles (his 7.5 stops per game ranked sixth in the league), including 5.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack, four pass breakups, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown.

Walker was also tabbed for the All-Big 12 Second Team a year ago. He is OU’s leading returner in both tackles for loss (10.0) and sacks (6.0). He recorded 36 tackles, one forced fumble and a pass breakup as a sophomore.

Parker started all 13 games last season with eight coming at strong safety, three at free safety and two at nickelback. He produced 60 tackles to go with 4.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, four pass breakups and a fumble recovery.

With five interceptions a year ago, Thomas is tied for the most picks of any returning player in the Big 12. Thomas registered 46 tackles with four pass breakups in addition to his interceptions.

OSU had three players, wide receiver James Washington, defensive tackle Vincent Taylor and safety Jordan Sterns on the preseason list.

Sterns and Washington were both All-Big 12 Second Team selections last season.

Washington is the conference’s only returning 1,000-yard receiver and led all returning Big 12 wideouts in yards per game and touchdowns last season. With 1,087 receiving yards, he became one of only four underclassmen ever at OSU to post a 1,000-yard receiving season, joining Rashaun Woods (2001), Dez Bryant (2008) and Justin Blackmon (2010)

Sterns had 103 tackles in 2014 and 108 in 2015 and is the first Cowboy since Keith Burns in 1992 and 1993 to post consecutive seasons with 100 tackles or more. He has started every game at safety each of the past two years and led the team in tackles both seasons.

Taylor’s 48 tackles and 5.0 sacks were the highest totals for any interior defensive lineman during the Mike Gundy era. He started all 13 games at defensive tackle and tallied 8.5 tackles for loss.

Malik Jefferson was second for the Longhorns with 61 tackles. Jefferson led the team with six quarterback pressures and was fourth with seven tackles-for-loss. After sitting out last year as a transfer, Kenny Hill begins his first season for TCU. He started eight games for Texas A&M in 2014 with 2,649 yards and 23 touchdowns. Hill completed 214-of-321 attempts for a 66.7 completion percentage.

Big 12 Preseason Selections

Offensive player of the year Baker Mayfield, OU
Defensive player of the year Malik Jefferson, Texas
Newcomer of the year Kenny Hill, TCU

Offense

Quarterback Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Running back Mike Warren, Iowa State
Running back Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
Full back Winston Dimel, Kansas State
Wide receiver K.C. Cannon, Baylor
Wide receiver Allen Lazard, Iowa State
Wide receiver James Washington, Oklahoma State
Tight end Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Offensive line Kyle Fuller, Baylor
Offensive line Patrick Vahe, Texas
Offensive line Connor Williams, Texas
Offensive line Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
Offensive line Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia
Placekicker Clayton Hatfield, Texas Tech
Kick returner KaVontae Turpin, TCU

Defense

Defensive line Will Geary, Kansas State
Defensive line Jordan Willis, Kansas State
Defensive line Charles Walker, Oklahoma
Defensive line Vincent Taylor, Oklahoma State
Defensive line James McFarland, TCU
Defensive line Josh Carraway, TCU
Defensive line Noble Nwachukwu, West Virginia
Linebacker Elijah Lee, Kansas State
Linebacker Jordan Evans, Oklahoma
Linebacker Malik Jefferson, Texas
Defensive back Dante Barnett, Kansas State
Defensive back Steven Parker, Oklahoma
Defensive back Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma
Defensive back Jordan Sterns, Oklahoma State
Defensive back Davante Davis, Texas
Punter Austin Seibert, Oklahoma