Each week Sooners Illustrated will rank the top 11 players from Oklahoma's past week’s performance.
Players are assigned a point value equal to the rating given by Bob and Justin. (Top player on either list gets 11 points, 11th player gets 1). That makes for a maximum of 22 points. But all that’s over. It’s time to unveil the final OU 11.
Here’s the OU 11 for season:
1. Baker Mayfield – (103 points): Mayfield was clearly the most valuable player for Oklahoma through just about everybody’s eyes. To give an idea of his landslide win: Mayfield was the only player included in every OU 11 through the course of the season. No other player made more than nine. Mayfield finished the season with 3,389 yards and 35 touchdowns. He completed 68.6 percent of his passes and threw only five interceptions – but only one in the final five games of the season. Mayfield finished 14th in the country in total offense. Plain and simple: Without Mayfield, this season doesn’t happen for Oklahoma. The Sooners aren’t Big 12 champs, and they probably are headed back to the Russell Athletic Bowl – and that’s a best-case scenario. It’s that simple.
2. Samaje Perine – (74 points): Some worried that Perine would be lost in Lincoln Riley’s version of the Air Raid. He did see a significant drop in yards, average per carry and touchdowns while carrying the ball 52 fewer times – almost three games worth of carries this season. The early season was more a test of finding how to use Perine, who finished the regular season with 1,291 yards and 16 total touchdowns. Riley seems to have figured it out, with three-straight 100-yard games and no performances south of 90 yards in the final six games of the season.
3. Sterling Shepard – (70 points): Shepard enjoyed the best season of his career with 79 catches, 1,201 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was nearly a third of Oklahoma’s total in each category. The passing game centered on Shepard in the final three weeks of the season, when the ground game was in full swing and Oklahoma posted three of its five lowest Big 12 Conference single-game passing totals. Shepard played his way into the Biletnikoff Award discussion and improved his draft status for next spring.
4. Joe Mixon – (54 points): Nobody ever really doubted Mixon’s talent, and he showed it on more than one occasion this season. Mixon finished in the OU 11 top-4 six times this season and was one of only three players who placed in the top 11 in the first three games of the season. Mixon, who eclipsed 100 total yards in four games, finished with 1,094 total yards and 11 total touchdowns. He averaged a team-high 6.8 yards per carry and was fourth on the team in receptions and receiving yards.
5. Jordan Thomas – (51 points): We get to the top defensive player on the list, and it’s a player who missed five quarters this season because of suspension. In Thomas’ one-game suspension, his importance was obvious as Oklahoma allowed a single-game high in passing yards and points. Thomas finished in the OU 11 in only six games this season – averaging more than a fourth-place finish per game. Thomas had five interceptions and 44 tackles but became a player that opponents could not test.
6. Charles Tapper – (49 points): Through the first six games of the season, Tapper cracked the top 11 only once and never finished better than tenth. Somehow after a season-and-a-half of disappointment, Tapper turned into the player that every thought he could become. In the final six weeks of the season, no one finished better than Tapper in the OU 11. Tapper finished the season with 45 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and seven sacks –all were career-highs.
7. Eric Striker – (44 points): The All-Big 12 preseason selection finished the regular season with conference highs for linebackers in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (16). He finished just shy of his career-high in both categories – set last season. But he did have the first interception of his career and was about six feet from the only touchdown of his career. Striker finished first for his 12-tackle, two-sack performance against West Virginia.
8. Jordan Evans – (34 points): In his second year as a starter, Evans finished with 79 tackles, which came in just 10 games – for a career-high 7.9 tackles per game. Evans placed in the final four games of the season to earn a spot in the season OU 11. He’s been vital the entire season and has been sound all year. He gives Oklahoma a lot of confidence at the heart of its defense moving forward.
9. Austin Seibert – (28 points): The freshman kicker had the least appearances in the weekly ranking of any player in the top 11 and tied for the low of any player in top 15 for the season. But his big feat was that he appeared in four of the first five rankings and then didn’t show up again for the final seven games of the season. Seibert set an OU record with 10-straight makes to start the season. Then, he went 8-for-13.
10. Steven Parker – (28 points): If most of Parker’s success wasn’t hidden by his own talent, he probably would have been higher on this list. Parker saw a jump in his total tackles, his tackles for loss and his sacks. His improvement this season has been a huge reason for the Sooners’ jump in defensive play – along with his fellow sophomore defensive back, Thomas. Parker though could probably play any of the four positions in the secondary. He still has a chance to be really good.
11. Zack Sanchez – (27 points): Teams had to test Sanchez this season, and he made them pay with a Big 12-leading six interceptions, which tied a career-high and ranked tied for fifth in the nation in just 10 games this season. Sanchez finished fourth in interceptions per game as what he called the second-best cornerback on the team – and the second-best cornerback on this list. Sanchez set or tied career highs in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, interceptions and passes defended.