The 2020 Big 12 season still has one game left to go, but do we really need to see a rematch between the Iowa State Cyclones and Oklahoma Sooners to pick an all-conference team?
Here’s my take on the Big 12’s all-conference team for this season, as well as some award winners. I based my picks on an amalgam of the eye test, productivity and an unquantifiable impact on games. All selections are final.
Oddly, even though the Sooners are favored to take home their sixth consecutive Big 12 title on Saturday, you won’t find many from OU’s ranks listed below.
QB: Sam Ehlinger, Sr., Texas
RB: Breece Hall, So., Iowa State
H-back/TE: Charlie Kolar, Jr. Iowa State
WR: Tylan Wallace, Sr. Oklahoma State
WR: Marvin Mims, Fr., Oklahoma
WR: Erik Ezukanma, So., Texas Tech
OL: Creed Humphrey, Jr., Oklahoma
OL: Teven Jenkins, Sr., Oklahoma State
OL: Sam Cosmi, Jr., Texas
OL: Jack Anderson, Jr., Texas Tech
OL: Colin Newell, Jr., Iowa State*
(*The original version of this article erroneously listed Iowa State OL Trevor Downing instead of Newell.)
Offensive Player of the Year: Hall
Hall led the entire country in rushing this year and scored 19 touchdowns in 10 games. His ability to make something out of nothing and consistently pick up yards played a key part in sustaining the methodical ISU offense. He was undoubtedly the most productive offensive player in the Big 12 in 2020.
Offensive Freshman of the Year: Mims
OU’s promising rookie wideout caught seven TDs this season, the most in the Big 12. He came up big for the Sooners in two of their biggest games of the season, catching four balls for 52 yards and a score versus Texas and grabbing three passes for 65 yards in the Bedlam game versus Oklahoma State.
Ultimately, Mims’ ability to stretch the field augmented the explosiveness of the OU offense. He also proved to be a dangerous punt returner over the course of the season.
Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State (Okay, I admit this feels like cheating, but Vaughn is a freshman. That technically makes him a newcomer)
I had to come up with a way to pay my respects to KSU’s dynamic, do-everything running back. The Sooners learned the hard way that Vaughn was as much of a threat lined up wide as when he came out of the backfield.
(For the record, given that OU’s Spencer Rattler played some in 2019, I didn’t consider him for the latter two awards.)
*If you asked me which Big 12 quarterback I’d want behind center for my team, I’d take Rattler. Nevertheless, Ehlinger was close to a one-man gang for the Longhorns this season. To me, that makes him the more valuable player at the position.
Too much boom or bust from Iowa State’s Brock Purdy.
*Kolar would have faced stiff competition from Austin Stogner at tight end, but Stogner couldn’t overcome his absence late in the season.
*For the first time in a while, the receiver position didn’t really pop off the page in the Big 12. Wallace was an easy choice. The options thinned out quickly after that.
You could make a solid case for ISU’s Xavier Hutchinson if you were so inclined.
*Frankly, the offensive linemen didn’t present many clear picks, either. Seems like a theme on this side of the ball.
DL: JaQuan Bailey, Sr., Iowa State
DL: Wyatt Hubert, Jr., Kansas State
DL: Darius Stills, Sr., West Virginia
DL: Isaiah Thomas, Jr. Oklahoma
LB: Garrett Wallow, Sr., TCU
LB: Mike Rose, Jr., Iowa State
LB: Joseph Ossai, Jr., Texas
DB: Rodarius Williams, Sr., Oklahoma State
DB: Jalen Pitre, Jr., Baylor
DB: Tre Sterling, Jr., Oklahoma State
DB: Trevon Moehrig, Jr., TCU
DB: AJ Parker, Sr., Kansas State
Defensive Player of the Year: Rose
Up is down: The 2020 campaign featured significantly more standouts on defense than offense in the Big 12. Rose beat out a slew of legitimate contenders for this award, including his own teammate in Bailey.
What separates Rose from the pack is his usefulness in every aspect of the ISU D, the conference’s best this year. He led the Cyclones with 81 tackles, the third most in the league. His 10 tackles for loss speak to his value as a disruptor. Meanwhile, Rose picked off four passes this season, the most in the Big 12, which is a testament to his skills as a dangerous coverage defender.
Defensive Freshman of the Year: Khari Coleman, TCU
TCU coach Gary Patterson has a knack for matching physical traits and skill sets to specific roles in his defensive scheme. In this case, he plugged in Coleman as a 224-pound defensive end and let the freshman go to work. Coleman responded by notching 15 TFLs, which ranked second in the Big 12.
Defensive Newcomer of the Year: Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma
He didn’t rack up big numbers from his spot at nose tackle for OU, but no interior defensive lineman in the Big 12 impacted games like Winfrey did this year. The JUCO transfer’s ability to create chaos in opposing backfields contributed significantly to the overall improvement of OU’s DL this year. If Winfrey comes back for another season with the Sooners, he could shoot up into the first round of the NFL draft in 2022.
*We’ve reached a point where so many teams are using players in hybrid roles that the traditional position categories are losing their meaning. I did my best to replicate what the standard Big 12 defenses look like, though.
*OU defensive end Ronnie Perkins missed the first half of the season, so I had to leave him off. He was one of many tough omissions in the front seven. How often can you say that about the Big 12?
Other deserving candidates on the defensive line: OU’s Winfrey; Ochuan Mathis of TCU; ISU’s Will McDonald; KSU’s Drew Wiley; and WVU’s other Stills brother, Dante.
*Ossai may be the single best defensive player in the league. That sucks for OU JACK linebacker Nik Bonitto, who turned up after a slow start to the year.
*I really wish there was room for OSU’s inside linebacker duo of Amen Ogbongbemiga and Malcolm Rodriguez. Also hard to leave off WVU’s Tony Fields and DeMarion Overshown of Texas.
*Thin year for cornerbacks, although WVU’s Alonzo Addae also put together a solid season.