Thursday, December 10, 2015

My 2015 All-Big 12 Team

It's time to wrap things up with a summary of what the 2015 season's main actors have accomplished this season. Normally the All-Big 12 team is a place where the writers reward the league's best players by jamming them into whatever positions is necessary to make sure their season has been acknowledged.

I used to hate that style, since it typically results in a team that doesn't make any sense and which often ignores the contributions of important or even essential role players who don't put up gaudy stats that stand out. Now I've made my peace with it, but this list is going to aim for recognizing what the 22 main positions on the field are and who was most excellent this year in each role.

All-Big 12 Offense

QB: Trevone Boykin, TCU        
        Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Boykin gets the nod because he was the most dominant player in the league in the 10(?) games that he played to the extent that you could never count the Frogs out so long as he was on the field. He's probably the most powerful and most difficult to tackle QB I've seen in this league since Vince Young. He's your OPOY.

Mayfield had a brilliant season as well, the fact that he's coming back next year fills me with dread. Next man up for honors in my book would be Pat Mahomes, than Mason Rudolph.

RB: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
        DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech

I'll have to eat crow here as I had Aaron Green higher than Perine on my preseason list because I figured the move to the Air Raid would blunt Perine's effectiveness. I was right, and then they figured it out, and then Perine tore through the league. In the meantime he was a selfless blocker, which enabled their two-back game with Mixon in to work as well. Perine was truly impressive this season. I'd honor Smallwood but he fumbled too much, Warren was very good, Linwood was a great back as well.

Ancillary: Winston Dimel, Kansas State
                  Blake Jarwin, Oklahoma State

Jarwin grew enough as a blocker to replace Jeremy Seaton in the Cowboy offense while Dimel "the hammer" proved to be more of true fullback than did Gronk who's really more of an undersized tight end. Honorable mentions go to Kody Cook who played WR and Wildcat QB at a high level, Tyrone Swoopes and JW Walsh who ran brilliant "4th phase" units, and Joe Mixon who was a RB/WR/FB hybrid for OU this year.

X: Corey Coleman, Baylor
     James Washington, Oklahoma State

Corey Coleman was utterly dominant this season until injuries robbed the Baylor passing game of it's effectiveness. They probably catered too much to his dominance at the expense of utilizing the rest of their WR corps, I'm sure the rest will be unleashed next season. Washington grew into a true deep threat this season.

Z: Josh Doctson, TCU
     KD Cannon, Baylor

Doctson is only a hair behind Coleman as the most complete WR in the league and was equally brilliant winning over the top or running curl routes or zone beaters underneath. His injury was most unfortunate. KD Cannon has been something of a one-trick pony but his trick is pretty good (he's fast).

Slot: Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
        Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech

Shepard lined up all over the field, wherever OU wanted to attack a given opponent, and ran great routes from multiple positions. I'm putting him in the slot on this list but he deserves recognition up there with Coleman and Doctson. Grant was also brilliant this season, expanding his role beyond burning teams after the catch on screens and adding more deep and possession-style routes to his game.

LT: Spencer Drango, Baylor
       Cody Whitehair, Kansas State

These two guys, in addition to protecting the blind side, served as the de-facto lead guards for their teams' run game as both squads regularly ran behind these players. Honorable mentions go to Le'Raven Clark, who was also great, and Connor Williams who will be better than any of them before all is said and done.

LG: Adam Pankey, West Virginia
        Jonathan Alvarez, Oklahoma
Most of the better guards played on the right side this year and many of the better left guards missed time with injury. Kansas State's Boston Stiverson, for instance, was one of the better guards but missed a lot of time. This position will probably be better next season.

OC: Jamison Lalk, Iowa State
        Joey Hunt, TCU

The league had a lot more quality at center this year and OU's Ty Darlington and WVU's Tyler Orlosky were also good. Lalk was the anchor and main reason for Mike Warren's 1k yard season and Hunt helped TCU field a couple of big dudes at guard who were barely mobile walls of flesh.

RG: Nila Kasitati, Oklahoma
        Daniel Burton, Iowa State

Kasitati was the best all around OL for OU this year in my book, they might miss him next season. Mangino did a great job with the Cyclone OL, as is his wont and the reason his Kansas teams were good, and Burton had a really strong year. I really liked Michigan transfer Kyle Bosch as well and Patrick Vahe will eventually be the best guard in the league.

RT: Joseph Noteboom, TCU
        Marquis Lucas, West Virginia

Not much to recognize here, some of the right tackles for the Big 12 this season were downright poor. Kent Perkins was one of the better OL in the entire league but split time at LG, RG, RT, and on the bench with injuries.

All-Big 12 Defense

End: Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
         Charles Tapper, Oklahoma

Shawn Oakman failed to turn his freakish strength and length into great production this season but Ogbah had no such difficulties. Tapper had a great final season, having fully mastered at last the 4i technique at Oklahoma.

Nose: Andrew Billings, Baylor
          Will Geary, Kansas State

Honorable mention to Iowa State's Demond Tucker, who was very disruptive in bursts. Billings is your DPOY and his disruption inside and mastery of double teams was instrumental to all of Baylor's defensive success. Geary is one of my favorite players in the B12, he doesn't even look like a D1 lineman until the ball is snapped and he's whupping people in the trenches.

Tackle: Hassan 
Ridgeway, Texas
              Charles Walker, Oklahoma

Ridgeway was, at times, the best DT in the entire conference but his play was inconsistent and he struggled early and late with injuries and conditioning. Charles Walker didn't even start at OU (behind Matt Dimon) but he dominated games when he was on the field. Travis Britz was stout, as always.

Edge-Rusher: Eric Striker, Oklahoma
                        Malik Jefferson, Texas

You could qualify Obgah here but since he played with his hand in the dirt I decided to make him the defensive end. Striker had another great season at OU and really benefitted from the emergence of Bond opposite him and Parker behind him. Malik Jefferson didn't have a particularly big year numbers wise but opponents tracked his whereabouts very carefully and he destroyed Oklahoma.

Inside-backer: Jordan Evans, Oklahoma
                         Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma

Props to Will Davis, Peter Jinkens, Travin Howard, and Montrel Wilson but OU had the best ILB play in the conference by a safe margin, as well they should have considering both have been there for a few years now. Montrel Wilson could have been 1st team had he played more this season and should be excellent next season.

Outside-backer: Nick Kwiatkoski, West Virginia

                            Elijah Lee, Kansas State

Lee is about a year away from being one of the better defensive players in the Big 12 and he's proven to be a great fit for the Wildcat defense with his ability to handle playing in space and what he brings to the pass-rush. Kwiatkoski had a great season wearing a lot of hats for the Mountaineers.

Space-backer: Denzel Johnson, TCU
                         KJ Dillon, West Virginia

In the Big 12 my "outside backer" designation is basically becoming a space-backer while this position is more of a box safety. What I mean here are guys that play in the nickel but who rarely carry verticals and play as roamers and enforcers in space. Denzel Johnson was the best of that bunch and KJ Dillon also had a solid season doing that and also dropping into deep coverage.

Boundary corner: Xavien Howard, Baylor
                                Zach Sanchez, Oklahoma

Nod to Sanchez who was much improved in run-support this season and was up to his usual tricks in baiting throws and having flypaper hands to nab anything thrown at him. Howard was also very solid and gave Baylor some nice run-force on the edge in cover 2.

Cover safety: Duke Thomas, Texas
                       Steven Parker, Oklahoma

Duke Thomas played mostly nickel but also played at right cornerback, left cornerback, and finished the year at strong safety. He was great in coverage, physical and reliable as a tackler, and played with good leverage all over the field. Steven Parker was also fantastic in similar roles, these were two of the better DBs in the league this year.

Safety: Derrick Kindred, TCU
             Jordan Sterns, Oklahoma State

Kindred+Johnson was one of the only great things TCU's defense had going for them and I've detailed his great season here. Jordan Sterns is one of the best pure run-support safeties in the league.

Field corner: Daryl Worley, West Virginia
                       Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State

Special nod to Oklahoma's Jordan Thomas, who will probably be one of the best corners in the league next season, and to Texas' Holton Hill and Davante Davis who are going to be a fearsome combo in time. Worley had a great season when he wasn't asked to play man coverage on Corey Coleman and is particularly adept at playing a "don't get beat deep" technique and providing almost an extra safety with his pursuit and run-support. Peterson was solid as well and wore a few different hats for OSU this year.

That's all she wrote. Make note of your vehement condemnations of my choices in the comments!


  1. 8 for 12 of the Sooners on the list return. Plus Jordan Thomas at CB.

    Loss of Shepard and Striker will be key challenges for OU.OL and DL may actually be better.

    1. Indeed, and it's truly scary to think about the DL next season with Charles Walker back and the secondary returning Parker, Thomas, and Sanchez.

      I assume the Sooners will probably have some worthwhile options at OLB to keep the pass rush going and as fantastic as Shepard was, it's hard to believe they won't be able to find another good WR in that mix. Maybe they move Westbrook inside or perhaps Miciah Quick makes a leap.

      They are very much the Big 12's frontrunners for 2016.

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