This morning on the way to the Mitch Park Y and an appointment with the stationary bike and the leg press machine to keep working on those replaced knees, I was listening to former KOTV sportscaster and OU grad Dari Nowkhah and Bugger McFarland on ESPN Radio. Dari was going on and on about the loss of Kevin Durant by the OKC Thunder and then in his top three Heisman picks he left out Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and Clemson quarterback Deshawn Watson, but had OU quarterback Baker Mayfield at number three.
I couldn't resist a Tweet his direction on his "homer" morning. Of course, I included a line that I was the pot calling the kettle black. On Thursday of this week I did pick OU in my Big 12 Conference media poll vote but as my Big 12 Players of the Year I had Pokes wide receiver James Washington on offense and on defense selected Cowboys safety Jordan Sterns.
I was called out here by several, most notably Cowboy 57. Now, I will admit there was some homer in that vote, but somebody tell me that Washington and Sterns aren't deserving. Both are All-Big 12 players from a year ago, both are preseason All-Big 12 this season, and both are on preseason award watch lists for their position and even for Maxwell Award as college football player of the year (Washington) and Nagurski Award as defensive player of the year (Sterns).
As Cowboy 57 pointed out, the team that wins the Big 12 likely has more All-Big 12 players, I had seven (Mason Rudolph, Blake Jarwin, Washington, Ben Grogan, Vincent Taylor, Jordan Burton, and Sterns). The Big 12 winner likely has one or both of the players of the year too.
Okay, I'm not going to disagree, but the way I look at preseason ballots is this, I am going to vote my conscience on the team picks. I always have. I picked Baylor last season, OU this season. I did pick Oklahoma State in 2011, which was maybe a little lucky on my part. Phil Steele will never forget it and I still get street cred coming from the college football magazine mogul for it.
However, for all-conference picks, I'm going to put in any Cowboy that I think is deserving and has a chance. That list might serve as an ignition for media members that vote on those teams and on awards. I cover Oklahoma State and I see these kids work every day, in the season and in the offseason. If I can help them get some attention on a team that will be looked at, but then not count once the first games kick-off, then I'm going to do it.
James Washington sure isn't going to speak up for himself. He will be at Big 12 Media Days, but Washington is a quiet and humble sort that would rather brag on teammates than himself. Yet watch him in drills as he is one of the most explosive athletes I have ever seen. He rivals Justin Blackman and Dez Bryant, two true freaks of nature in the ability to get off the ground and go get the football.
Washington and quarterback Mason Rudolph seem to have a sixth sense during pass plays and I've seen Washington make route adjustments just before Rudolph releases the football and he puts the ball where Washington can go get it. I think that comes from joint video study and extra work on the field. The duo has so much pride in their performance that they will go to great lengths to improve it.
On the other side is Sterns, who his position coach Dan Hammerschmidt says he literally has to tell him to leave the football facility and go home, get away from it. Hammerschmidt says it is pride and drive there with Sterns.
"He want to win games for Oklahoma State and he wants to take his game and play at the next level," Hammerschmidt said of Sterns. "You don't have to say anything to the other players, they see it. They know when a guy is doing all he can to make himself better. They can see that."
Sterns is physical, but also athletic enough to be as good as he needs to be in coverage. His career number of 224 tackles, two interceptions, and three fumble recoveries show he can get the ball, and honestly, I think the best is yet to come this season.
Homer picks, maybe, but look at the facts, watch some of the video, and then tell me that a vote for Washington for Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year or for Jordan Sterns as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year don't make sense.