Big 12 superlatives: Best deep passer, run stuffer and more
The Big 12 media days are upon us and that means college football season is right around the corner. There are plenty of talented players returning to the conference this season, led by some high-level offensive players.
We graded every Big 12 player on every play in every game. Who are the best players at certain skills that will be returning to the conference? These are the picks for 2016 Big 12 superlatives:
Best deep passer: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
While Rudolph didn’t have the top adjusted completion percentage on deep throws (20+ yards in the air) among returning Big 12 quarterbacks, he finished with the second-best mark at 57.3 percent. The reason he gets the nod over the man ahead of him (Texas’ Jerrod Heard) is because Rudolph threw 89 deep throws (to Heard’s 32) and his 1425 yards gained led the conference. He threw 13 touchdowns and had a combined +28.0 grade on deep throws.
Runner-up: Jerrod Heard, Texas
Most accurate QB under pressure: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Rudolph had a 64.1 percent adjusted completion rate when under pressure, which was the highest mark among returning quarterbacks. He was also sacked a mere 22.8 percent of the times that he was pressured, which was a top-four number. His yards per attempt actually rose from 8.6 to 9.4 when he was under pressure and he posted a +5.0 grade on those throws.
Runner-up: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Toughest HB to tackle: Shock Linwood, Baylor
Linwood led the Big 12 last season with a 106.5 elusive rating. He forced 60 missed tackles on 197 attempts and added two more on nine receptions. His 3.54 yards after contact per attempt average was also among the top four of any running back in the Big 12 last season.
Runner-up: Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
Most productive out of the backfield: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
Perine had a fantastic year last year for Oklahoma, rushing the ball 226 times and gaining 1354 yards. That’s the most among any returning Big 12 running back, as are the 16 touchdowns he scored. 802 of his yards gained came after first contact, which also led the Big 12 returning running backs.
Runner-up: Shock Linwood, Baylor
Best hands: Rushel Shell, West Virginia
Shell caught all 15 of the catchable passes thrown to him last season, and was the only running back targeted at least 15 times to not have a single dropped pass. Joe Mixon dropped just two passes on 30 catchable throws.
Runner-up: Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
Most productive TE: Blake Jarwin, Oklahoma State
The bar for returning tight ends is not high for this year in the Big 12. Jarwin had the highest receiving grade and it was a mere +1.4. He caught 17 of 23 passes thrown his way for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
Runner-up: Kent Taylor, Kansas
Most productive WR: James Washington, Oklahoma State
Washington was the only returning receiver to be targeted over 100 times last season. Although he only caught 54 of them, he was incredibly productive on those receptions. He gained 1086 yards and 10 touchdowns, both of which were the top marks among returning receivers. He also forced 11 missed tackles and had a +7.7 overall grade.
Runner-up: Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State
Best deep threat: Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State
Ateman had a 60.9 percent adjusted completion percentage on deep throws last season, a percentage that led all Big 12 returning receivers. He caught 14 of 15 catchable passes for 415 yards and four touchdowns. His teammate Jhajuan Seales had the second best rate at 60.0 percent.
Runner-up: Jhajuan Seales, Oklahoma State
Best pass blocking tackle: Joseph Noteboom, TCU
Noteboom was on the field for 575 pass blocking snaps for the Horned Frogs offense and allowed just three sacks, five hits and 13 hurries. His 97.1 pass blocking efficiency was the highest among all returning tackles in the Big 12.
Runner-up: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
Best run blocker: Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia
Orlosky is West Virginia’s big powerful center, and he proved that last year with a Big 12 leading +16.9 run blocking grade. Risner had the second best run blocking grade of +13.9.
Runner-up: Dalton Risner, Kansas State
Most productive pass rusher: Jordan Willis, Kansas State
Willis got to the quarterback seven times last season, had eight more hits and added 32 hurries. His 47 total pressures and 9.0 pass rushing productivity led all returning defensive players in the Big 12 last season, as did his +15.3 pass rush grade. Nwachukwu had eight sacks and 45 total pressures for the Mountaineers.
Runner-up: Noble Nwachukwu, West Virginia
Best run stuffer: Charles Walker, Oklahoma
Walker managed to make 21 solo run stops last season despite playing just 43.7 percent of Oklahoma’s defensive snaps. His run stop rate of 11.2 percent was the highest mark among all returning Big 12 defenders. Geary had 29 run stops, but it took him roughly double the run snaps to do so.
Runner-up: Will Geary, Kansas State
Best defensive playmaker: Denzel Johnson, TCU
Johnson’s a safety that can do it all. He posted grades above +1.0 in all three phases of the game (run defense, pass coverage, pass rushing) and was the only returning safety in the Big 12 to do so. He had a sack, a hit and five quarterback hurries to go with one interception and five passes defended. He also had 32 run stops, first among all returning safeties.
Runner-up: Taylor Young, Baylor
Best returner: KaVontae Turpin, TCU
Turpin averaged 27.5 yards per kick return, the highest average among all returning kick returners in the Big 12. His punt returning was less spectacular with just 8.6 yards per return, but he also added a touchdown there. Ryen was an outstanding punt returner, average 16.7 yards per return and a touchdown as well as 17.8 yards per kick return.
Runner-up: Trever Ryen, Iowa State