OU Leads the Way in All-Big 12 Selections
NORMAN — Head coach Bob Stoops, wide receiver Dede Westbrook and offensive lineman Orlando Brown each took home individual honors and a conference-best seven Sooners were named to the All-Big 12 First Team as the Big 12 announced its football awards Wednesday. Selections were made by the league’s coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own players.
Stoops was named the Chuck Neinas Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his career and the second year in a row. No coach has won the award more than Stoops, and Kansas State’s Bill Snyder is in second place with four such honors. Now in his 18th season, Stoops led the Sooners to their 10th Big 12 championship this year behind a 10-2 overall record and a perfect 9-0 mark in league play. He has also guided Oklahoma to a berth in the Allstate Sugar Bowl where the No. 7 Sooners will meet No. 14 Auburn on Jan. 2 in New Orleans.
A senior, Westbrook was tabbed the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. He joins teammate Baker Mayfield (2015), Sam Bradford (2008), Jason White (2003 and 2004) and Josh Heupel (2000) as the only OU players to win the honor, and Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon (2010) as the only receivers to earn the award. A finalist for the Heisman Trophy and Biletnikoff Award, Westbrook has caught 74 passes for 1,465 yards this year to go along with a school-record 16 receiving touchdowns. He leads all Power 5 players in receiving TDs per game (1.33) while ranking second in receiving yards and third in receiving yards per game (123.1).
Brown was highlighted as the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year, joining Jon Cooper in 2008 as the only Sooners to win the award. Brown is the first sophomore to take home the honor since it was first introduced in 2006. He has helped anchor an offensive line that helped OU to the No. 3 total offense (557.3 yards per game) and scoring offense (44.7 points per game) in the country, the No. 11 passing attack (319.8 ypg) and the No. 21 rushing offense (237.5 ypg). OU is averaging 7.55 yards per play, which ranks No. 1 among Power 5 schools this year and second all-time in program history.
Oklahoma’s seven overall first-team selections were the most of any Big 12 school, as were the five offensive selections. With three more honorees on the second-team offense and two more on the second-team defense, OU boasts 12 all-conference players overall. Oklahoma State was second with 11 overall honorees, followed by TCU with seven. Kansas State and Iowa State each had six, while Texas had five, Baylor and West Virginia each had four and Kansas and Texas Tech placed two.
Westbrook and Brown were named to the All-Big 12 Football First Team Offense along with junior quarterback Baker Mayfield, sophomore running back Joe Mixon and sophomore Mark Andrews, who was recognized as the league’s top tight end. Defensively, OU was represented on the first team by senior linebacker Jordan Evans and junior cornerback Jordan Thomas.
Mayfield repeated on the first team as he has thrown for an average of 305.8 yards per game and has a career-high 38 touchdown passes against eight interceptions (4.8 ratio). A finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award and winner of the Burlsworth Trophy, Mayfield leads the nation in pass efficiency rating (197.8; the NCAA single-season record is 191.8; next highest Power 5 figure this year is 176.5), completion percentage (71.2) and yards per pass attempt (11.1; only one other player is above 10.0). He threw for 319.6 yards per league contest and also ran for 139 yards and six scores in conference play while accounting for at least four touchdowns in seven of nine league games.
Mixon is earning All-Big 12 honors for the first time in his career. He ranks second in the nation with 195.6 all-purpose yards per game and is 21 yards away from breaking DeMarco Murray’s school record for all-purpose yards in a season (2,171). Mixon has run for a team-high 1,183 yards and eight touchdowns this year on 168 attempts, has caught 32 passes for 449 yards and five more touchdowns, and has even thrown a touchdown pass.
A member of the All-Big 12 Second Team a year ago, Andrews ranks second at OU this year with his six touchdown receptions. He’s caught 28 passes for 421 yards and is averaging 15.0 yards per reception. Four of his touchdown catches came in the first three games this season, while in the season opener against Houston he posted a career-high 94 yards and two scores on three catches.
Evans was also a member of the All-Big 12 second team a year ago. This year, Evans has a team-high 89 tackles and four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. He’s also posted 9.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, seven pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Evans ranks fourth in the conference in interceptions per game (0.33), sixth in passes defended per game (0.92), eighth in tackles per game (7.4) and 12th in tackles for loss (0.75). Against Baylor, he became the first Sooner ever to record two interceptions and 2.0 sacks in the same game.
Thomas joins Evans and Andrews in making the leap from second team in 2015 to first team in 2016. Thomas ranks eighth in the country and second in the Big 12 with 1.4 passes defended per game. His 16 breakups on the season are third most in the country and fourth most in OU single-season history. Thomas also has 44 tackles on the year with 2.0 tackles for loss and one interception.
Five OU players were named to the All-Big 12 Second Team. Junior running back Samaje Perine, junior fullback Dimitri Flowers and Westbrook (returner) earned a spot on the offense, while senior lineman Jordan Wade and junior linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo were picked for the defense.
Perine is a three-time All-Big 12 honoree after earning first-team honors as a freshman and sophomore, while Flowers was an honorable mention pick a year ago. Wade and Okoronkwo are earning conference honors for the first time in their respective careers.
In addition, freshman offensive lineman Bobby Evans, junior defensive back Steven Parker, sophomore offensive linemen Ben Powers and Dru Samia, senior defensive back Ahmad Thomas and junior offensive lineman Erick Wren were each named honorable mention at their respective positions, while Mixon earned honorable mention honors as a returner. Mayfield also received honorable mention recognition for Offensive Player of the Year and junior linebacker Emmanuel Beal had the same for Defensive Newcomer of the Year.
Oklahoma has placed at least four players on the all-conference first team every season since 2000 and at least one player on the team every season since 1926 (91 years). OU has only had one season when playing in a conference without first-team honors (1925), marking 101 of 102 seasons.