Two Oklahoma Sooners, Baker Mayfield and Orlando Brown, have made the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award, which is given annually to college football’s most outstanding player. Brown was one of only four offensive linemen to make the 85-player list. Additionally, Oklahoma linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and cornerback Jordan Thomas have been named to the watch list for the Bednarik Award, which is given annually to the nation’s most outstanding defensive player. Both awards are given out by the Maxwell Football Club.
In 2016, Mayfield set a new NCAA single-season record for passer rating (min. 15 attempts/game) and finished third in the Heisman balloting. The Austin native finished the season with 3,965 pass yards, 40 touchdown passes, eight interceptions, a 196.4 passer rating, 11.1 yards/attempt and a completion percentage of 70.9. Mayfield will likely win the award if he does that again.
At 6-8 and 340 pounds, Brown is arguably the most physically-imposing player in all of college football. He has a tendency to lose his cool and draw penalty flags, but I’ll gladly take the good with the bad. If he can eliminate the bad, however, I’m sure Lincoln Riley would appreciate.
Okoronkwo was highly successful as a pass rusher in his first season as a starter, but he can easily improve on last year’s numbers (67 tackles and 9.0 sacks). Oklahoma’s success in 2017 will largely depend on his ability to pressure the quarterback.
Thomas is considered to be one of the better pro prospects at the cornerback position, but he has a bit of work to do before he hears his name called. He struggled at times in 2016, giving up big plays down the field much more often than he should have. However, Thomas is as gifted as any defensive back in the nation, and he could easily contend for some awards if he can find some consistency.