Big 12 Media Days are set for next week, and with them comes the release of major preseason awards. Over the next few days, we at DieHards will reveal our consensus picks for preseason All-Big 12 and the final Big 12 standings.
However, we start today with preseason all-conference awards. The Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year returns this season, which makes that decision easier. However, only five players from the All-Big 12 first-team defense are back.
Our team considered many options for the offensive and defensive individual player awards – including Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington and Oklahoma defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo – but the award for the top newcomer was an easy, unanimous pick.
Here are our picks for the Big 12 preseason awards.
Offensive Player of the Year: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Who else could it be? Baker Mayfield was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season and finished in the top 5 the year before. He threw for just shy of 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns, and he ran for 6 more touchdowns. Mayfield also set the NCAA all-time record for passer rating, crushing Russell Wilson’s record. Most importantly, the Sooners have won the Big 12 both years that Mayfield has been under center. Mayfield might be the best player in the nation this season, and he’s sure as heck the best offensive player in the conference.
Defensive Player of the Year: D.J. Reed, Kansas State
This spot was a little harder to choose, but Kansas State appears set to have the best defense in the conference in 2017. After transferring from Cerritos (Calif.) College, D.J. Reed took the conference by storm in 2016. Reed posted 75 tackles while sliding around at defensive back, and he led the conference with 19 passes defended. It’s impressive for a player to be able to cover that much of the field. For his efforts, he won Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and earned All-Big 12 first team honors. He should be even better in 2017.
Newcomer of the Year: Jeff Badet, Oklahoma
Oklahoma lost the bulk of its skill position talent. That includes Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Dede Westbrook and a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. Wide receiver Jeff Badet’s addition to the roster as a grad transfer from Kentucky could not be more welcome. Despite less-than-stellar play at quarterback at Kentucky, Badet caught 31 passes for 670 yards to lead the Wildcats last season. He posted a pair of 100-yard games against Mississippi State and Missouri before the Wildcats immersed themselves in the run. Back in an open system with a top-notch quarterback in Mayfield, Badet should be ready to contribute at a high level.