The 2016 season of Big 12 Football has been one for the ages. No, it didn’t have three title contenders like 2008. No, it didn’t feature even a pair of title contenders like 2014. Really, it didn’t even feature one title contender. The case can be made for 2016 as the single worst season in the Big 12’s history. Only 4 teams finished above .500. Only 6 made a bowl game. All things considered, it’s been an ugly, but very exciting season for Big 12 football. And one thing that is certain: this season’s stars shined as bright as ever.
Without further ado, Armchair presents the 2016 Big 12 Football Awards.
Vince Young Award for Outstanding Quarterback – Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
Mahomes has solidified his place in Texas Tech’s illustrious history of QB’s with yet another tremendous season. You have to put up big numbers to take home the Young award over the all-time leader in single-season passer rating. Mahomes threw for 5052 yards, which equals about 2.9 miles. He also tallied 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, a clear improvement from his stellar sophomore campaign. Despite his best efforts, the Red Raiders finished 5-7. Just imagine what they could do with a defense.
Ricky Williams Award for Outstanding Running-Back – D’Onta Foreman, Texas
How fitting for the Williams award to go to a fellow Longhorn legend, D’Onta Foreman. Foreman became only the second Longhorn ever to eclipse 2000 rushing yards in one season, joining Williams himself. His 2028 yards were complemented by 15 rushing touchdowns, making a strong case for a trip to New York. Unfortunately, Foreman missed out on the Heisman ceremony, perhaps because of his team’s ugly 5-7 record dragging him down.
Michael Crabtree Award for Outstanding Wide Receiver – Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
Like Crabtree, Westbrook set the conference en fuego this season. Westbrook filled the gaping hole left by Sterling Shepard and then some, claiming the first Biletnikoff award in Oklahoma’s history. Westbrook hauled in 1465 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, averaging 19.8 yards per catch. He and his brother (not really) have taken the internet by storm in 2016, earning Westbrook the 2016 Crabtree award.
Jammal Brown Award for Outstanding Offensive Lineman – Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s big man claims the Jammal Brown award, which is fittingly named after a good friend of Orlando’s. Brown led an Oklahoma offensive line that overcame a rough start and became one of the strongest units in the conference. Brown and his teammates helped fuel the most efficient offense in the country, en route to a Big 12 title, earning Brown the Brown award (confusing, I know).
Ndamukong Suh Award for Outstanding Defensive Lineman – Vincent Taylor, Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State’s Vincent Taylor takes home the Suh award. And no, the Suh award has nothing to do with kicking opposing players. Taylor has haunted offensive line all season for the Cowboys, much like that Suh fella. Taylor racked up 44 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. His defensive efforts helped lead Oklahoma State to a 9-3 season.
Derrick Johnson Award for Oustanding Linebacker – Jordan Evans, Oklahoma
Evans provided a bright spot in the midst of a very disappointing season for Oklahoma’s defense. Evans tallied 89 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, and four interceptions. He also returned two interceptions for touchdowns, making a huge impact for the Sooners. Evans was able to do it all for the Sooners, and that earns him the Johnson Award.
Terrence Newman Award for Oustanding Defensive Back – Orion Stewart, Baylor
What? A Baylor player winning a defensive award? Yeah, nice joke. Thing is, Orion Stewart is no joke. Stewart was a very crucial part of Baylor’s defense this season. He managed 71 total tackles and five picks, including one touchdown. Stewart has been a lockdown corner all season, earning him the Newman Award.
Dan Bailey Award for Oustanding Kicker – Cole Netten, Iowa State
Moving to Special Teams now, Netten has been near-perfect for the Cyclones. Netten made 16 field goals on 17 attempts, you can do the math there and find that he missed only one field goal this year. Despite Netten’s accuracy, the Cyclones finished with a disappointing 3-9 record.
Daniel Sepulveda Award for Outstanding Punter – Michael Dickson, Texas
Punters often play an underratedly crucial role in football, and Dickson is no exception. The Longhorn’s punter averaged 47.4 yards per punt, a huge clip. The Ray Guy finalist made a big impact on Texas’ special teams this season, earning the Sepulveda award.
Wes Welker Award for Oustanding Return Man – Shelton Gibson, West Virginia
The Big 12 saw an uncharacteristically bad year for return men, but Gibson did stand out above the rest. Gibson returned 27 kickoffs at a 22.4-yard average, earning the Welker Award.