The Preseason Big-12 team was released yesterday, and many familiar names highlight the selections. Baker Mayfield, James Washington and the rest of the Big-12 First Team are broken down in detail. OU and Texas led the way with 5 selections, followed by Kansas State, OSU with 4.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma – After being a back-to-back Heisman Trophy Finalist, its no surprise to see Baker Mayfield earn the spot at Quarterback. With new Head Coach Lincoln Riley still calling the plays, and an even better Offensive Line, look to Mayfield to be elite once again.
Justice Hill, Oklahoma St.- As a Freshman, Hill Tore up the Big 12, running for nearly 1200 yards and 6 touchdowns, while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Hill looks to dominate the touches, and keep defenses in check while battling the Cowboys pass heavy offense, but it will be no surprise when Hill lights it up again for the Cowboys.
Justin Crawford, West Virginia – West Virginia lost a lot of their offensive firepower, but Crawford will look to be a familiar face for Mountaineer fans. Last year, Crawford ran for 1184 yards and 4 touchdowns. Florida transfer Will Grier will be behind center and will take some time to learn the system. Crawford and Grier will look to keep the Mountaineers afloat this season.
Winston Dimel, Kansas St. – Junior Winston Dimel is coming off the 2016 season, where he earned all conference honors after scoring 12 touchdowns, tied for third in the big 12, and it’s no surprise to see him in this slot coming into 2017. He is a powerful, blocking fullback for a veteran Wildcat offense. K-State looks to bolster a premier offensive line, and DImel is an extension of those guys, blocking for Alex Barnes and run-happy quarterback Jesse Ertz.
James Washington, Oklahoma St.- Arguably the top wideout in the country, and a top NFL prospect, Washington will look to improve on an incredible 2016 campaign where he caught 71 passes for almost 1400 yards and ten touchdowns. Mason Rudolph will look to involve Washington early and often. Washington is a down field threat, a short field threat, and everywhere in between.
Allen Lazard, Iowa St.– Lazard is a monster. At 6 foot 5, Lazard is a potent vertical threat for a lacking Iowa State offense. Lazard was a 1,000 yard receiver last year as the NO. 1 option for the cyclones, and is in no threat to lose that title. This season he is on pace to break the all-time receptions record, yards record, and potentially their touchdown record.
Keke Coutee, Texas Tech, After the exit of 1st rounder, Pat Mahomes, Coutee looks to build off a great end to 2016 with an even more impressive 2017. Coutee was Tech’s second-leading receiver with 55 receptions and 900 yards. With Biletnikoff finalist Jonathon Giles transferring, Coutee will be Tech’s go-to target game one.
Mark Andrews, Oklahoma – Andrews has spent the last two seasons a top target for Mayfield, and with the departure of DeDe Westbrook, he looks to step up as the potential number one option for Mayfield. Andrews is a big, versatile target for Mayfield, stretching linebackers across the field with his speed. Andrews has 7 touchdowns in each of his two seasons, and in the Red Zone, it will be tough to imagine Mayfield not looking for him every time.
Orlando Brown, Oklahoma – OU’s lone unanimous decision on this list, Brown looks to continue building his resume for the NFL blocking for Baker Mayfield. Brown was also named to the Maxwell Award watch list, and could be the first Sooner drafted next spring. Brown was voted the Big 12 Linemen of the Year, and was voted on the Second Team ALL America list.
Conor Williams, Texas – an All-American Left Tackle last season, Williams will look to help block for a resurging Longhorn team looking to make an impact in the Big 12. Horns247 said that Williams is the “best pro prospect of the upperclassmen on the roster.”
Dalton Risner, Kansas St.- Risner is the Swiss Army Knife of the elite K-State O-Line, after starting all 13 games at RT last season, and starting all 13 games at Center the year before. Risner and the rest of the line helped the Wildcats break the school record for yards per carry(5.29).
Austin Schlottmann, TCU – Schlottmann, the Center of the group is already a candidate for the Rimington trophy, awarded to the nation’s best center. Schlottmann did not allow a single sack and surrendered just one quarterback pressure in his 752 snaps on the field.
Zach Crabtree, Oklahoma State – Crabtree is the rock of the OSU line, starting in each and every game the last two seasons at right tackle. With a flourishing offense behind him, Crabtree will continue to use his size and agility to get Justice Hill moving in the backfield.
Clayton Hatfield, Texas Tech – Hatflied was extremely accurate for the Red Raiders last semester, putting 13/14 field goals through the uprights, including a long of 43. He did miss 5 extra points, but ranked 10th in the country in extra points made with 65. Hatfield looks to get a ton of chances to improve behind an extremely high scoring Red-Raider offense.
Kavontae Turpin, TCU – Coming off a knee injury that held him out of spring practice, Turpin looks to step back on the field and make a difference not only on special teams, but as a part of the offense as well. Turpin has a punt return TD in each of his first two seasons. His break way speed will play a huge role in a big season for Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs.
Dorance Armstrong Jr., Kansas – Voted the 2017 preseason Big -12 Defensive Player of the Year, its no secret that the foundering Jayhawks are home to one of the Big-12’s best talents. He was a unanimous first-team selection last year after he finished his season with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. During their victory against Texas, he had 11 tackles, two sacks and both a forced and recovered fumble.
K.J. Smith, Baylor – Smith was a star for the Baylor Defense last season en route to an Big 12 First Team selection. He finished the year with 7 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. He is a two-year starter for the Bears, and looks to anchor their line. His 12 career sacks ranks ninth in Baylor history. The past two seasons he has split time between edge rusher and tackle, but this season he will be the staple end for their program.
Reggie Walker, Kansas St. – Walker finished last season as the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the year, even behind Jordan Willis and his 11.5 sacks. Walker will take over as the impact guy on their defensive line, and build on his 6.5 sacks. He also forced 3 fumbles and had 11.5 tackles for loss.
Poona Ford, Texas – Last season, Ford started all 12 games for the Longhorns and was an anchor for the middle of their defense. He was all Big-12 Second team last season, and was fourth on the team with 54 tackles, and he blocked two PAT’s. Texas and new head coach Tom Herman look to improve on both sides of the ball, and Senior leader Poona Ford will be one reason why it happens.
Malcolm Roach, Texas – Roach only started 5 games a freshman last year, and will be looking for a larger role playing next to above mentioned Poona Ford. He had 8 tackles for loss, which is tied for 10th for freshman in school history. He is one of only 3 sophomores to make the preseason list, so his future at Texas is not only bright, but it is just beginning.
Travin Howard, TCU – TCU’s leader in tackles last season with a staggering 130 total looks to enter his senior season with the Bednarik on his mind. He was all over the field, with 6 sacks and two picks to round out his season. He even had a career high 19 tackles against Texas Tech. The TCU linebacker core is rounded out by partner in crime Ty Summers who was second to only him in tackles with 121.
Ogbonna Okornkwo, Oklahoma – Obo took over as OU’s best pass rusher last season after Striker’s departure from the University, and he took it in stride. Dominating off the edge, “Obo” had 9 sacks, two forced fumbles and 12 tackles for loss. His 9 sacks earned him a tie for most single season sacks by a linebacker. Oklahoma looks to field a much improved defense, with Bednarik Finalist Obo leading the charge.
Malik Jefferson, Texas – Jefferson joined Texas as the top recruit in the state, and his impact on the field was felt immediately. He makes an impact on stopping the run, as well as in the secondary. He was a semi-finalist for the Butkus Award after totaling 62 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He is also a finalist for the Bednarik Award.
D.J. Reed, Kansas St.– the 2016 Big -12 defensive newcomer of the year will look to build after a terrific season, where he picked the ball off three times and broke up a conference leading 19 passes. He also was second for the Wildcats with 75 tackles. Reed was placed on the 2017 Bednarik Watch list.
Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma – Thomas had a bit of an off year, watching his interception total shrink from 5 to 2 in a secondary that saw loads of problems. He always makes his presence felt, breaking up 15 passes last season. He is a two time All-Big 12 member, and looks to build off the past two years during his senior season.
Tre Flowers, Oklahoma St. – Flowers is currently the active tackles leader, and the veteran voice for this Cowboys defense. Flowers is the only Cowboy selected on the defensive side of the ball, where they have their most question marks. The rest of the secondary is overall inexperienced, so look for Flowers to be all over the field. Last season, along with his 61 tackles, he broke up 7 passes and forced two fumbles.
Kamari Cotton-Moya, Iowa St.- Cotton-Moya was a Big 12 Second Team selection last season, and was the Big 12 defensive freshman of the year in 2014, so the expectations continue to rise. He will be the best defender for the Cyclones and hopes to build on a stat filled season where had 75 tackles, and two interceptions including a pick-six against Texas Tech.
Nick Orr, TCU – Orr lead the Horned Frogs with 4 picks, and made 86 tackles last season. A second-team All Big 12 safety last season, Orr looks to disrupt the elite passing across all across the conference. He is teaming up with Niko Small to form one of the scariest safety duos in the Big 12.
Michael Dickson, Texas – Fresh off the best punting season in Texas football history, Dickson being on this list makes perfect sense. Dickson was also recently named to the Ray Guy Ward watch list. He averaged a booming 47.4 yards per punt, and downed 28 inside the Red Zone. The Australia Native punted a career-long SEVENTY FOUR yarder against TCU.