Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield has been named the Preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year by the media, the conference announced Wednesday. Additionally, Mayfield, Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Jordan Thomas have been named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team, and OU’s total of five is tied for the league high with Texas. Kansas defensive lineman Dorance Armstrong has benn named the Preseason Defensive POY, while West Virginia quarterback Will Grier has been named Preseason Newcomer of the Year.
It doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that Mayfield took this honor, especially when considering that he won the postseason award in 2015 and has been a Heisman finalist. The other four seem pretty straightforward, as well. I think guys like Ben Powers, Steven Parker, Caleb Kelly and potentially a skill position player could end up on the real list in December. It’ll be tough for a guy like Marquise Brown or Jeff Badet to beat out Grier for Newcomer of the Year, but I suppose it’s doable.
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 beat out Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph if he puts up those numbers again.
At 6-8 and 340 pounds, Brown is arguably the most physically-imposing player in all of college football and has as much potential at the offensive tackle position asyone has in quite some time. Brown won the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year Award last season, and it’s reasonable to expect him to claim it again in 2017. Brown was one of three unanimous selections to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team along with Kansas’ Dorance Armstrong and Oklahoma State’s James Washington.
Okoronkwo, who is on the preseason watch list for the Bednarik Award, was highly successful as a pass rusher in his first season as a starter in 2016. Andrews is on the preseason watch list for the Mackey Award and should probably win it if he plays up to his potential in 2017. Thomas has a ton of upside and it liked by NFL scouts, but he’ll need avoid giving up the big play in 2017 — something he often struggled with in 2016.