ATLANTA ó On the evening before he travels to New York with teammate Baker Mayfield for Heisman Trophy festivities, Dede Westbrook got his postseason awards tour off to a successful start Thursday when he was named the first Biletnikoff Award winner in University of Oklahoma history as college football's outstanding receiver for 2016. Westbrook was presented the trophy at the Home Depot College Football Awards inside the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The event was televised live to an ESPN national audience.
Westbrook, who was also named a Walter Camp First-Team All-American Thursday, has been perhaps the most electric player in the nation this season. The senior from Cameron, Texas, was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year by both Big 12 coaches and the Associated Press this week, and was rated by ESPN last week as college football's No. 1 player. He leads all Power Five players in receiving TDs per game (1.33) while ranking second in receiving yards (1,354) and third in receiving yards per game (123.1). He also leads nation in receptions of 20-plus yards (26), 50-plus yards (7), 60-plus yards (6) and 70-plus yards (3).
Of his 1,465 receiving yards, 1,311 have come in the last nine games, as have all of his school-record 16 receiving touchdowns. Slowed by a hamstring injury in the season's first three games, he recorded at least 100 receiving yards in eight of OU's nine Big 12 games and 88 in the other.
Westbrook's 16 receiving touchdowns have covered an average of 48.8 yards, the highest average in the last 21 years among all FBS players with at least 12 TDs in a season. His 12 offensive TDs of at least 40 yards are the most in one season by an FBS player since at least 1996.
Westbrook led the Big 12 in conference play in receiving yards (145.7 per game; the next highest average was 95.7) and points (11.6 per game). He registered four straight games of multiple TD receptions to start October (two at TCU, three vs. Texas, three vs. Kansas State and two at Texas Tech).
Special teams were added to Westbrook's duties midway through the season. He started returning punts Oct. 15 vs. Kansas State and kickoffs Oct. 22 at Texas Tech. He is averaging 19.8 yards on his four punt returns (had a 71-yarder for a TD against Kansas) and 28.4 yards on his eight kickoff returns.
The Biletnikoff Award, presented annually since 1994 by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, is named after receiver Fred Biletnikoff, who played at Florida State and for the Oakland Raiders. Westbrook is the fourth Big 12 player to win the award, joining Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree (2007 and 2008), Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (2010 and 2011) and Baylor's Corey Coleman (2015).