2015 All-Big 12 Team: Best players at every position
With the regular season and championship games in the rearview, we’re taking a look at each conference to identify which players stood out the most at their position in 2015.
Quarterback: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (+52.9)
The race to be the best quarterback in the Big 12 was somewhat marred by injuries, but as the highest-graded QB in the nation, Mayfield deserves all the accolades that come his way.
2nd team: Trevone Boykin, TCU (+38.0)
Running back: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma (+16.0)
The season got off to a slow start for Perine, as he seemed to be a poor fit for Lincoln Riley’s offense. However, coordinator and runner were on the same page for the second half of the season, culminating in Perine rushing for 485 yards and five touchdowns during the Sooners crucial three-game stretch against Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State. Being at his best when it mattered most gave Perine the edge over Baylor’s Shock Linwood.
2nd team: Shock Linwood, Baylor (+18.5)
Fullback: Glenn Gronkowski, Kansas State (+17.5)
Gronkowski was the most featured FB in the conference with 304 snaps, and also the best, excelling as a blocker.
2nd team: Dimitri Flowers, Oklahoma (+5.6)
Tight end: Mark Andrews, Oklahoma (+3.8)
Tight end was not a featured position in the conference and Mark Andrews — with his 17 catches, 286 yards and six touchdowns — was the best of the bunch. Not that Andrews is a typical tight end, lining up split out as a receiver on two-thirds of his snaps, but without other tight ends standing out he’s the best choice in the conference.
2nd team: Zac Veatch, Oklahoma State (+2.5)
Wide receivers: Josh Doctson, TCU (+25.6) and Corey Coleman, Baylor (+18.7)
Doctson finished the year with the second-best grade among Power-5 WRs, and Coleman the sixth-best. Both players went over 1300 receiving yards, and would have been higher again if not for injury, to Doctson, and in Coleman’s case, injuries to the Baylor QBs.
2nd team: David Glidden, Oklahoma State (+10.6) and James Washington, Oklahoma State (+8.2)
Slot receiver: Sterling Shepard (+30.8).
Shepard had the highest grade in the nation among receivers, and did most of his damage from the slot. With Shepard inside, along with Doctson and Coleman manning the outside, no other conference could match the Big 12 for playmaking wideouts in 2015. Good luck covering that trio.
2nd team: Slot: Jakeem Grant Texas Tech (+15.1)
Tackles: LT: Cody Whitehair (+32.6) and RT Joseph Notebloom, TCU (+13.2)
The Big 12 was home to three of the best left tackles in the nation, Whitehair, Spencer Drango and Le’Raven Clark. Whitehair wins out because of his work in the run game, his +24.9 run block grade led all left tackles. Notebloom is a solid pass protector on the right.
2nd team: LT: Spencer Drango, Baylor (+27.9), RT: Matt Kleinsorge, Kansas State (+7.1)
Guards: LG: Boston Stiverson, Kansas State (+23.9) and RG: Jarell Broxton, Baylor (+29.8)
Stiverson only played eight games, but his impact was so much greater than the next best LG that he is still an easy selection for all-conference honors. The Big 12 was much better served at RG, where Broxton was the class of the conference, earning a +26.5 run block grade, and conceding just two pressures.
2nd team: LG: Blake Muir, Baylor (+5.5) and RG: Oni Omoile, Iowa State (+14.9)
Center: Joel Hunt, TCU (+20.7)
For the second consecutive season, Joel Hunt has finished the season as a top 3 ranked center. He allowed just four pressures all season, with zero sacks or QB hits among them.
2nd team: Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia (+19.7)
At PFF, we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles), and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive interior – ends: Charles Walker, Oklahoma (+34.0) and Hassan Ridgeway, Texas (+33.5)
Walker was a rock against the run for the Sooners, failing to post a positive run defense grade just once all season. Ridgeway is equally good as a pass rusher or run stopper. He generated 31 pressures, and had zero missed tackles against the run.
2nd team: Charles Tapper, Oklahoma (+20.3) and Travis Britz, Kansas State (+15.3)
Defensive interior – nose: Andrew Billings, Baylor (+36.4)
The nose tackle in Baylor’s four-man front, Andrew Billings was one of the most disruptive interior defenders in the nation, and the best in the Big 12. He had five pressures in back-to-back games against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, doing as much as anyone to keep Baylor’s season going despite their injury concerns under center.
2nd team: Kyle Rose, West Virginia (+28.1)
Edge rushers: Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State (+42.6) and Eric Striker, Oklahoma (+31.3)
While the production dipped a little towards the end of the season, Ogbah still had a remarkable year, finishing with 12 sacks and 68 total pressures. As a 3-4 OLB, Eric Striker’s responsibilities are more varied, he rushed the pass less often than Ogbah but was still productive. Striker finished the season off with style, enjoying a seven pressure performance in the Bedlam game.
2nd team: Jamal Palmer, Baylor (+30.6), Jordan Willis, Kansas State (+21.8)
Linebackers: Nick Kwiatkoski, West Virginia (+30.8) and Taylor Young, Baylor (+11.7)
Kwiatkoski is the first linebacker on the team, and it’s not close, as the Mountaineer graded positively against the run, in coverage and as a pass rusher. When in coverage, Kwiatkoski got his hands on the ball more than any other Big 12 LB, claiming three interceptions and breaking up another four passes. Young led Baylor with 46 defensive stops.
2nd team: Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma (+10.7) and Jordan Evans, Oklahoma (+9.2)
Cornerbacks: Xavien Howard, Baylor (+13.9) and Brian Peavy, Iowa State (+10.3)
QB’s targeting Howard’s coverage had a passer rating of just 25.5, and completed only 34.3 percent of their passes. Peavy actually out-graded Howard in coverage, but a negative run defense grade drops him to the second spot.
2nd team: Daryl Worley, West Virginia (+10.2) and Ashton Lampkin, Oklahoma State (+9.4)
Slot corner: Denzel Johnson, TCU (+17.3)
Ostensibly a strong safety, Denzel Johnson spent two thirds of his snaps lined up over the slot receiver, and held opposing QBs to a 68.6 passer rating when covering the slot.
2nd team: Duke Thomas, Texas (+6.5)
Safeties: Steven Parker, Oklahoma (+15.5) and Dravon Askew-Henry, West Virginia (+12.0)
Parker was a versatile player for the Sooners. Operating from strong safety he was a force against the run and a useful pass rusher, while also grading positively in coverage. Askew-Henry would dovetail well with Parker, providing solid coverage from free safety. Prior to his injury, fellow Mountaineer Karl Henry was well on his way to earning all-conference honors, with a +12.2 grade from just four games.
2nd team: Derrick Kindred, TCU (+8.5) and Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma (+2.8)
Kicker: Jaden Oberkrom, TCU (+2.1 FG grade)
Oberkrom was 9 from 10 on kicks of 40+ yards.
Second team: Jack Cantele, Kansas State (+1.7 FG Grade)
Punter: Austin Siebert, Oklahoma (-10.4)
Only 18.4 percent of Siebert’s punts could be returned.
2nd team: Colin Dowling, Iowa State (-14.0)
Returner: Morgan Burns, Kansas State (+10.5)
Averaging 33.7 yards on kick returns, and scoring four return touchdowns, Burns was an easy choice.
2nd team: Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech (+8.5)