I was correct to pick a receiver, I just got the wrong one. Bowman fell short of 1000 yards this season, finishing conference play with 61 receptions for 932 yards and 7 TD. The real Big 12 player of the year was Texas Tech breakout sensation Michael Crabtree. It's tempting to go with the nation's leader in passing efficiency, Sam Bradford, or either of the surprising QBs from the North, Chase Daniel of Missouri and Todd Reesing of Kansas, but no player in the conference played on Crabtree's level. The redshirt freshman receiver racked up an astounding 1861 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2007 and it's not just because he's in the "Tech system." Crabtree's the real deal.
I was accurate, though, to avoid the chic pick of Colt McCoy as preseason offensive player of the year. As a side note, another amusing inaccuracy was when I first posted the article, I professed my avoidance of the the chic pick, but mistakenly spelled it, "sheik" before correcting it. McCoy, most decidedly, did not rock the casbah in 2007.
Jamaal Charles showed what he thought of my Defensive MVP pick (assuming Charles actually cared what I wrote. Which he doesn't). Turns out that this Nebraska defense was probably the worst the Cornhuskers have ever run out onto the field. Ruud, meanwhile, didn't finish in the top 50 in conference in tackles. The honor, instead, goes to Oklahoma linebacker Curtis Lofton, who stepped in for last year's should-have pick, Rufus Alexander, and was equally as dominant. The junior led OU, by a wide margin, in tackles with 142 stops on the year and posted 9.5 tackles for loss, three picks, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two pass break-ups and a sack.
Could have been...if he ever saw the field.
Muckelroy, in actuality, did play a significant amount in 2007, but didn't crack the starting line-up. The sophomore LB was, however, second amongst the Texas linebackers in sacks with 1.5, despite not starting. His total is just behind the leader in sacks in the LBs, Jared Norton, who had 2.0...despite also not starting.
The breakout player was definitely the offensive player of the year, Crabtree, and I don't think anyone but Mike Leach could have seen that coming. I remember when we were down in San Antonio for the Big 12 Media Days leading up to the 2007 season and Leach said, despite losing almost his entire receiving corps, that his wideouts were actually going to be better this season.
I rolled my eyes.
In the time it took me to roll my eyes, Crabtree had already grabbed 30 receptions for about 500 yards.
I picked the talented freshman, Miller, on the assumption that he would win the starting right tackle spot on a relatively weak offensive line. The 6-7, 310-pound Miller did indeed take over at right tackle midway through the season and played in 514 total plays, fourth amongst CU offensive linemen, but also led the team in QB pressures given up (11) and tied for the lead in penalties with four. Miller also only accrued 54 total knock downs, sixth best on the team (thank you Colorado sports information staff for your shockingly comprehensive statistics).
Crabtree was the conference's top freshman, he's of the redshirt variety. The top true freshman offensive player was Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant, who grabbed 34 receptions for 505 yards opposite Bowman.
Best True Freshman Performance, Defense - Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
Brown played in all 12 games for Texas, finishing the regular season with 13 tackles and one pass break-up...not exactly the immediate impact and emergence from the "untested depth of the Texas secondary" I predicted. This was, however, the highest tackle total for any true freshman Longhorn.
It was not a great year for true freshmen in the Big 12 in general.
There were no true freshmen on the Big 12 First, or Second teams. There were no true freshmen in the top 50 in the conference in tackles (nor any RS-freshman, for that matter). There weren't any in the Top 10 in conference in any major offensive or defensive statistic.
In fact, according to the official depth charts for every single team in the Big 12 conference, only one, one, true freshman earned a starting spot on the defensive side of the ball. That would be Missouri corner Carl Gettis, who took over as a starting cornerback for Tigers on a surprisingly stout defense. Gettis put up 45 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, one INT and one pass break-up this past season. The Missouri freshman takes the award, almost by default.