No one asked for my opinion, but here’s how I would have voted with the position designations used by the league.
QB: Sam Ehlinger, Texas
RB: Pooka Williams, Kansas
RB: Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
RB: Keaontay Ingram, Texas
WR: CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
WR: Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
WR: Jalen Reagor, TCU
TE/H-Back: Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
OL: Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
OL: Marquis Hayes, Oklahoma
OL: Lucas Niang, TCU
OL: Samuel Cosmi, Texas
OL: Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Wallace
After a ho-hum freshman season in which he caught just seven passes, it feels like Wallace is just scratching the surface of his potential. In last year’s breakout campaign, he caught 86 passes for 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns. With Tyron Johnson off to the pros, Wallace should see his number of targets increase this fall. I expect he will have a monstrous statistical year that can’t be ignored.
*The QB situation in the Big 12 is awfully muddled. I hope to have my thoughts on Ehlinger together soon for an article. The bottom line to me is that Tom Herman has done an excellent job marrying the Texas offense to his QB’s skill set. That union might have hit its ceiling from a production standpoint in 2018, but it’s still formidable.
Based on what I’ve seen out of Jalen Hurts as a passer, I can’t jump on board just yet with the idea he’s going to take off in OU’s offense. At least, not OU’s offense as we now know it.
Let’s see what Lincoln Riley cooks up for Hurts. For the time being, however, Ehlinger seems like more of a sure thing.
*What do the three running backs on this list have that Kennedy Brooks doesn’t? The backfield spotlight essentially to themselves. His absence from weeks of team workouts this summer also could hinder his start to the year.
*I went with Kolar over Grant Calcaterra because I don’t look at Calc as a true TE.
*News flash: The conference has some nasty receivers. My only real hesitation in the group came with Reagor. He’s an animal, but the QB situation for the Horned Frogs doesn’t instill much confidence.
*I’ll put my chips behind Marquis Hayes as OU’s next great offensive guard. In the limited opportunities I’ve had to watch Hayes, he’s always giving someone the blues. I think he takes over for Ben Powers as The resident soul-crusher.
*I didn’t know what to do with Parker Braun. He put together a solid portfolio at Georgia Tech, earning all-conference honors. On the other hand, I’d like to see how his skill set translates to Texas’ offense before we start saying things we can’t take back, ya know?
DL: Ray Lima, Iowa State
DL: Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma
DL: JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State
DL: Reggie Walker, Kansas State
DL: Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma
LB: Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
LB: Mike Rose, Iowa State
LB: Clay Johnston, Baylor
DB: Jeff Gladney, TCU
DB: A.J. Green, Oklahoma State
DB: Caden Sterns, Texas
DB: Brandon Jones, Texas
DB: Greg Eisworth, Iowa State
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Lima
In a change of pace, the Big 12 has a solid crop of defensive candidates this year. Even though he doesn’t have stats that jump off the page, Lima anchors the top D in the league. He’s a disruptive force up front for the Cyclones, with a knack for screwing up blocking schemes and causing havoc in backfields.
Lima probably isn’t the best defender in the conference, but I believe he’s the most important one.
- Easy to see why the Cyclones have become national darlings when you look at the defensive nods here. Do keep an eye on how teams adjust to their gradually less unique scheme this year. Doesn’t change the fact that ISU has well-coached players molded almost perfectly to their roles.
- Not much about the OU defense gives anyone much confidence at the moment, but Perkins and Gallimore are notable exceptions. Seeing as it’s a “contract year”, I’m expecting Big Canada to take a big step forward in the new system. Meanwhile, Perkins will get a chance to settle in at his natural position.
- Kenneth Murray has name recognition, but I admit I was surprised to see him as the pick for defensive player of the year. Frankly, even with two years of starting experience under his belt, the Sooners are hoping Murray develops into a far more consistent player this season. The bright side: If Murray does win this award at the end of the year, it means OU’s defensive reclamation project went swimmingly.