We’re taking a tour of the top quarterback, running back and wide receiver of each Big 12 team.
QB: Baker Mayfield (2016 — 254 of 358 for 3,965 yards, 40 TDs and 8 INTs)
RB: Rodney Anderson (2016 — Did not play)
WR: Mark Andrews, TE (2016 — 31 catches for 489 yards and 7 TDs)
Oklahoma may have the best quarterback in the country with Mayfield. He finished third in last year’s Heisman race and led the Sooners to the national semifinals in 2015. He’s started since his freshman year, back when he was a walk-on at Texas Tech.
But a quarterback can only do so much without a solid supporting cast. The Sooners lost both Samaje Perine (the most prolific rusher in school history, now a Washington Redskin) and Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals). Receiver Dede Westbrook (Jacksonville Jaguars), also a Heisman finalist a year ago, has moved on as well.
So who might make up for their production?
New coach Lincoln Riley, who was elevated when Bob Stoops retired in June, likely will use a rotation at tailback.
Anderson is the favorite to start. He missed all of last season because of a neck injury. And he missed most of 2015 with a leg injury. Anderson has all of one career carry. He wasn’t allowed contact during spring workouts, so coaches are just now seeing what he can do.
He’s a big back, standing 6-2, 223 pounds. And he was a star for Katy High School in 2014, rushing for 2,485 yards and 36 touchdowns on 251 carries to help his team win the Class 6A Division II state championship.
Riley also has been impressed with freshman Trey Sermon, telling reporters: “He has a lot of qualities that remind you a lot of Samaje. I’m not saying he’s Samaje, but his consistency and his attitude and mentality rarely fluctuates, which is rare for a guy as young as he is. They’ve been impressive. It’s a good group. I’d imagine that we’d use all of them.”
The top returning receiver is Andrews, a tight end. He’s been an all-conference selection for the past two seasons but OU needs a dynamic receiver to make the offense go. The best receivers could be transfers.
Jeff Badet led the SEC in yards per catch last year when he played for Kentucky. He joined the team this summer. Marquise Brown, a junior college transfer, went through spring practices in Norman. Brown was ranked as the third-best JUCO receiver nationally by 247sports.com.
Riley said of Badet: “He can run. He’s very explosive. You see some of the maturity for a guy that’s been there. You see some of the things that carried over from what they did at Kentucky. It’s not all foreign to him. But there’s been a learning curve, too.”
MONDAY’S TRIPLETS: West Virginia
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