Riley, Murray Honored with FWAA Rookie Awards
NORMAN — Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley and Kenneth Murray are two of the three Big 12 Conference representatives on the 2017 Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team that was announced Monday. Riley was named the FWAA First-Year Coach of the Year, while Murray, a linebacker, was one of 13 defenders on the squad.
Riley set the OU record for wins in a debut season as head coach, directing the Sooners to a 12-2 mark, the program's 11th Big 12 championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff as the No. 2 seed.
Under Riley's guidance, the OU offense led the nation in yards per game (579.6), completion percentage (.714), passing efficiency rating (202.7) and first downs (361). The Sooners set school records for total offense (8,114 yards; 579.6 per game), passing yards (5,065; 361.8 per game), yards per play (8.3) and completion percentage.
Riley became just the fifth coach in FBS history with no previous head-coaching experience at a four-year college to win at least 12 games in his debut season as head coach.
Murray, who was Co-Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, finished the season with 78 tackles to rank second on the OU squad. He tied for second with 7.5 tackles for loss and added a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The FWAA honor is the second freshman All-America accolade for the Missouri City, Texas, product, who was also named to the USA Today Freshman All-America Team. Also an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection, Murray became the first true freshman in 42 years to start an OU season opener at inside linebacker. He started all 14 games.
Only seven of the 13 defensive players on the FWAA's Freshman All-America Team, including Murray, were true freshmen.
The other Big 12 member on the 2017 FWAA Freshman All-America Team is TCU redshirt freshman defensive tackle Ross Blacklock, who was a teammate of Murray at Elkins High School.