We are now just over two weeks away from the start of the college football season, so I'll be taking a look at the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year awards.
Last month, the Big 12 released its official All-Conference squad as voted on by the Big 12 media, along with the preseason player of the year honorees.
Today, I'll give you my picks for the Preseason players of the year, as well as a few honorable mentions and other elite players whose names you will know by December.
In a few days, I'll go ahead with the Chat WVU Preseason All-Big 12 team. Also, in case you missed it, here's Chat WVU's preseason Big 12 rankings.
The Player of the Year award honors begin in Morgantown with West Virginia's senior quarterback Geno Smith, who was named the preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year:
Official Preseason Big 12 POY Selections
Defensive Player of the Year: Alex Okafor (DE), Texas
Newcomer of the Year: Trey Metoyer (WR), Oklahoma
ChatWVU Preseason Big 12 POY Selections
Offensive Player of the Year: Geno Smith (QB), West Virginia
Defensive Player of the Year: Kenny Vaccaro (S), Texas
Newcomer of the Year: Trey Metoyer (WR), Oklahoma
Offensive POY: B12: Geno Smith, WVU | Chat: Geno Smith, WVU
Obviously, no argument with Geno at the top. As you'll soon find out, I chose him as the No. 1 quarterback in the conference for the preseason and I, along with much of the Big 12 media, believe that he's poised to tear up the turf in 2012. Make no mistake about it; WVU expects to contend for the Big 12 title. If the Mountaineers are to realize that aspiration, Smith will have to be the player of the year in the conference. He'll also need some help from his top two receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey (not to mention the defense). Both Austin and Smith would be candidates for Big 12 POY, but even if they have huge seasons, it'll likely be Smith who sees the honors at season's end.
As far as honorable mentions, I have to start with Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. OU's Big 12 title hopes will be heavily contingent on how he does under center in his senior season. Much like Smith, Jones will need his top target Kenny Stills, along with B12 preseason newcomer of the year Trey Metoyer, to be reliable recievers.
In the end, this award will likely depend on how the rankings shake down, as offensive players are so often perceived to be only as good as their record denotes. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle are both legitimate darkhorse candidates, and if their squads are in contention for the conference crown, they'll be in contention for the OPOY award.
Defensive POY: B12: Alex Okafor, UT | Chat: Kenny Vaccaro, UT
This one is a lot more wide open than the offensive honor. On offense, it appears to be a two-man race between Smith and Jones (wins and losses pending), but on defense it could really go to anyone. I am having trouble figuring out how the rest of the media chose Okafor as the top defensive player in the conference. He's a great talent, but he may not even be the best defensive end on his team—much less best overall defensive player in the conference.
I considered his other half at DE, Jackson Jeffcoat, as the top defensive player in the conference as well, but settled on Vaccaro; who is one of the best defensive backs in the country. He'll have plenty of opportunities to make plays, as many of the Big 12 offenses will be airing it out in 2012, and a few will even be breaking in new quarterbacks.
Other serious candidates include KSU linebacker Arthur Brown and TCU defensive tackle Stansly Maponga. Also, there is no shortage of talent in the defensive backfield either. Aside from Vaccaro, OU safety Tony Jefferson is also poised to have a big year. At corner, Oklahoma State has Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert and Kansas State has Nigel Malone—all talented cover men. To complement Vaccaro, the Longhorns also have two talented corners in Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs. Either way, one thing is obvious; the Texas defense will be a force to be reckoned with in 2012.
West Virginia may not have a bonafide DPOY candidate, but a lot of pressure will be on safeties Terrance Garvin and Darwin Cook, along with senior cornerback Pat Miller. Another guy I like who has some serious playmaking ability, but has been a bit overlooked is the corner opposite of Miller, Brodrick Jenkins. Not only is he a talented up and comer, but we've seen some No. 2 corners for WVU emerge as big-time playmakers in the past (i.e. Keith Tandy behind Brandon Hogan, Miller behind Tandy, etc.). Keep an eye on WVU's No. 23.
Newcomer OTY: B12: Trey Metoyer, OU | Chat: Trey Metoyer, OU
I was very tempted to tab Texas' Johnathan Gray, the nation's top running back from a year ago as the No. 1 newbie in the conference. However, after seeing this video of Metoyer from OU spring practice, I was pretty much sold:
Metoyer was originally in the class of 2011, but academic issues forced him to prep at Hargrave Military Academy, which will give him an on-field advantage. It's hard to predict that any true freshman will have a huge immediate impact, especially in a conference as talented as the Big 12. If anyone can, it will be Gray (or Metoyer if you consider him a true freshman), but the big question with Gray is exactly how many carries he'll earn with two proven and talented backs in front of him. Another possible breakout freshman is Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt, as it appears as though he'll be the starter in Stillwater.
In all likelihood the newcomer of the year won't go to a freshman, unless there is one out there flying under the radar ready to have a huge season (which is always possible). However, I would instead look to some transfer athletes like Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist from Notre Dame, Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk from Oregon to potentially seize the award.
Well, that wraps pretty much up the preseason POY awards. Stay tuned for the Chat WVU All-Big 12 squad.Back to the West Virginia Mountaineers Newsfeed