e are slowly edging closer to the start of the college football season, and earlier this week the Big 12 conference released its pre-season All-Big 12 team and pre-season poll. Let's start with the All-Big 12 team.
Pre-season All-Big 12 Offense:
Bryce Petty - Baylor
A no-brainer selection at QB for the All-Big 12 team, Bryce Petty returns for his senior season looking to build off a fantastic Junior campaign. Petty threw for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns while only throwing three interceptions, leading the Bears to their first Big 12 football championship and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. With many of his offensive weapons returning, Petty looks to lead the Bears to back-to-back championships and maybe even a College Football Playoff berth. Petty was the league's post-season first-team selection in 2013.
Snubs: There was really only one selection that made any sense here. Every other passer in the conference is fighting for second
Shock Linwood - Baylor
Malcolm Brown - Texas
As a freshman in 2013, Linwood split time in the backfield with Lache Seastrunk and was still able to amass 881 yards and eight touchdowns on 128 carries. With both he and Petty back in the backfield, Baylor has a 1-2 punch that every defense in the Big 12 should fear. Linwood is the only player on the offense who was not named to any All-Conference team last year (pre-season or post-season first- or second-teams).
Malcolm Brown returns for his senior season after a successful junior year which saw him rush for 904 yards and nine touchdowns on 214 carries while earning a second-team All-Big 12 nod. With question marks surrounding quarterback play for Texas, Brown will need to provide some stabilization to what has been a very inconsistent offense in past seasons. Look for new coach Charlie Strong to rely on his running backs, Brown in particular, to lead his offense.
Snubs: I wanted to say Brown's Longhorn teammate Jonathan Gray, but after looking at the stats Brown was a more consistent player for Texas a year ago. I suppose that's what the media hung its hat on, and you can't really fault them for that. Overall these two players are solid if not flashy picks. Not so much a snub as a positionless omission, K-State's Glenn Gronkowski was an option for All-Big 12 and one which has been argued by Ian Boyd, who's written to defend that selection.
Tyler Lockett - Kansas State
Antwan Goodley - Baylor
I think that sums up both players pretty well. Both are clearly the best receivers on their teams, and easily the best receivers in the conference; they were both named first-team All-Big 12 last year.
Snubs: None. Now go back and watch those GIFs some more. (Forget for a minute that Goodley's came against K-State and it's actually a very impressive play)
EJ Bibbs - Iowa State
Bibbs, a second-team selection last year, is the lone Cyclone on the All-Big 12 team. With the lack of featured tight ends in the league now that Jace Amaro has moved on, it's clear why Bibbs got the nod here. He was productive last season, averaging 11.8 yards per carry, and finished second on the team in receiving with 462 yards (though he scored only twice). His scoring production must improve if Iowa State has any hopes of going bowling.
Snubs: A Big 12 team still uses the tight end? Who knew? Note, however, that while this selection is entirely defensible as a pre-season selection, it's also possible that K-State's Zach Trujillo might find himself here at season's end. He's very likely to become more involved in the Wildcat passing game, and is in fact the third-leading returning receiver on the roster behind Lockett and Curry Sexton.
Spencer Drango - Baylor
Cody Whitehair - Kansas State
B.J. Finney - Kansas State
Daryl Williams - Oklahoma
Le'Raven Clark - Texas Tech
Of the five linemen listed here only one, Daryl Williams, is not on the Lombardi watch list, and he anchors the left side of Oklahoma's offensive line. Cody Whitehair and four-year starter B.J. Finney lead what should be a much improved offensive line for Kansas State. Le'Raven Clark, also a pre-season selection in 2013 but who slipped to the second team in the post-season awards, has started every game the past two years for the Red Raiders, while captaining a line that allowed zero sacks in their bowl game against Arizona State. Spencer Drango is another four-year starter who will look to protect Baylor's star quarterback. Finney and Drango earned first-team nods last year; Whitehair and Williams earned second-team honors alongside Clark.
Snubs: There are so many good linemen in the Big 12, but I think the media got it right with these five players
Micheal Hunnicutt - Oklahoma
They don't call the kid Moneycutt because it sounds cool. Hunnicutt, last season's second-team honoree, was money last season, and has been throughout his career in Norman. He only missed three field goals last season, and was perfect inside of 30 yards. He also nailed 14 of 15 from between 30-39 yards, and 3 of 4 between 40-49. Also, he caught a touchdown pass last season in an epic Bedlam game. Can't ask for much more from a kicker.
Snubs: Not many kickers in the Big 12 have been as clutch as Hunnicutt in past seasons.
Tyler Lockett - Kansas State
Last season the first year in his career where Lockett didn't score at least twice on kick returns, which qualifies as shocking in my book because I swear I remember him scoring every time he touched the ball.
Snubs: K-State always seems to produce outstanding kick returners and Lockett, who earned both the pre-season nod and first-team honors last year, remains the best in the Big 12.
Ryan Mueller - Kansas State
Devonte Fields - Texas Christian
Chucky Hunter - Texas Christian
Cedric Reed - Texas
Devonte Fields, pre-season defensive player of the year and pre-season All-Big 12 last year before being injured, joins 2013 first-team selection Ryan Mueller and second-team honorees Chucky Hunter and Cedric Reed as the All-Big 12 linemen. Fields and Hunter make up a scary strong front four for TCU, who look to repeat as the conference's best defense. Mueller comes off a junior season where he tied the school record for sacks in a season, while Cedric Reed looks to improve on his junior year in which he amassed 79 tackles (36 solo) and five forced fumbles.
Snubs: Jake Trotter believes Oklahoma's Charles Tapper has an excellent case for being snubbed, and Trotter may have a point. Fields is coming off a season in which he only played two games for TCU, although no one can argue that Fields is a dominant force in the middle when healthy. Hunter on the other hand has very similar stats to Tapper, making his selection over Tapper basically a coin flip.
Bryce Hager - Baylor
Ben Heeney - Kansas
Eric Striker - OU
Eric Striker announced himself as one of the best linebackers in college football with seven tackles and three sacks during last year's Sugar bowl victory against Alabama. This year as a junior, Striker looks to improve on a sophomore season where he had 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks on the way to a second-team All-Big 12 nod.
Bryce Hager is a tackling machine, recording 195 tackles over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Like Fields, he was named as a 2013 pre-season selection, but missed out on post-season honors after only playing in nine games due to injury. If he's able to stay healthy this season look for him to return and even surpass his 2012 campaign.
Ben Heeney is another player with a nose for the ball carrier. He had six games last season where he totaled double-digit tackles including a season high 15 against Rice. Heeney, a second-team All-Big 12 selection last year, has another great opportunity to put up big numbers this season as the focal point of an improving Kansas defense.
Snubs: No complaints here, these guys are studs.
Zack Sanchez - Oklahoma
Sam Carter - Texas Christian
Quandre Diggs - Texas
Karl Joseph - West Virginia
As a red-shirt freshman Sanchez started all 13 games for Oklahoma, totaling 13 breakups and twp interceptions -- including returning one 74 yards for a score against K-State. Sanchez, an honorable mention honoree in last season's team selections, has a bright future in Norman as he enters his second season as an established shut down corner.
Sam Carter is everything you want in a safety. He's a ball-hawk who intercepted five passes last season, while also totaling 49 tackles, 7.5 for loss. Carter, a second-team pick last year, looks to make receivers' lives hell while the Frogs' front seven is busy tormenting the quarterback.
Quandre Diggs is solid if not flashy inclusion on the All-Big 12 team. Totaling 58 tackles last season (four for loss) and 10 breakups, Diggs also returned a few punts; his longest return came against Baylor in the final game of the season. Diggs is a returning first-team selection.
Karl Joseph started all 12 games a season ago for the Mountaineers totaling 55 tackles including a season high 12 against K-State. Joseph, who earned honorable mention last year, forced two turnovers including returning a fumble recovery 38 yards for a score.
Snubs: K-State's Randall Evans and Oklahoma's Quentin Hayes both have arguments for being snubbed from the All-Big 12 team. Evans totaled 59 tackles, three of which were for a loss, and two picks -- extremely similar numbers to both Diggs and Joseph. Hayes had an even better season, totaling 75 tackles, four for loss, as well as intercepting two passes. If I had a vote Hayes would have gotten in over Diggs, while Evans versus Joseph is probably a push.
Spencer Roth - Baylor
Last year's first-team honoree, Spencer Roth punted an amazing 52 times last season, which was 16 times more than he did in 2012. He averaged 45.8 yards per punt, downing 17 inside the 20, while another 20 were fair caught. How in the world does Baylor punt so much when they score 42 times a game, anyway?
Snubs: Not really anyone, but Trevor Pardula from Kansas puts up a valiant fight in attempting to change the field position and give the Jayhawk defense a shot. Still, Roth is an ultimate special teams weapon for a team like Baylor who can still make you pay by pinning you deep even when you can stop Baylor's offense.
Levi Norwood - Baylor
Fast. Just pure speed. That's what Norwood brings to the table every time he touches the ball on a punt return. Norwood returned two punts a year ago for touchdowns with a long of 58 yards.
Snubs: I don't think there is a faster or more agile punt returner in the conference that Norwood. Dude is just scary fast.
Baylor 7, K-State 4 (or 5, since Lockett takes up two spots), Oklahoma 4, Texas and TCU got three nods each, and everyone else got a single player on the squad... except Oklahoma State.
Bryce Petty was, to no surprise, the league's pre-season selection as Offensive Player of the Year. TCU's Devonte Fields took the Defensive Player of the Year nod, while Newcomer of the Year was handed to Oklahoma State wideout Tyreek Hill.
The only real argument I have here is the selection of Devonte Fields over Ryan Mueller. Now this may be a bit of a homer argument, but David Ubben, who didn't even give Fields a nod on the preseason All-Big 12 team, also agrees.
It's hard to see how a player who was suspended and then missed most of last season due to injury gets the nod over a player who led the conference in sacks last season, but obviously the majority of the media voted based on potential for this upcoming season and not last years reputation. (That said, I think Mueller has just as much potential to dominate the defensive front as Fields)
And finally, onto the poll!
Oklahoma is the run away pre-season number one, garnering 47 of the 56 first place votes. I'm not entirely sure how the media came to the conclusion that the Sooners are more likely to win the conference than Baylor, although my guess is the win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl is getting a lot of consideration I have to disagree with most of the media, however, as I think Baylor is a much more complete team. Without question, Trevor Knight played a great game against Bama, but for much of the season he was inconsistent; Petty was on-point pretty much all year.
Defensively, Oklahoma and Baylor are much closer together in terms of talent and scheme compared to recent seasons, and I fully believe Baylor will have a much more complete team this season. Baylor is my pick to win the conference over Oklahoma and K-State, who will tie for second.
Positions three through seven are separated by a mere 80 points, showing the media believes that parity will once again reign during conference play. K-State and Texas were separated by only one point telling me that the media has a ton of confidence in Charlie Strong's ability to come in and have immediate success at Texas. Other than the top of the poll there are not any huge injustices, as the Big 12 conference seems destined to be another gauntlet for whomever comes out on top.
So what do you think? Did the media get it right? Who's being vastly over- or under-rated?