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Big 12 football: Bold predictions from The Oklahoman's staff

The Oklahoman's writers make their predictions for the Big 12's player and coach of the year honors, and then each provides three bold predictions for the Big 12 football season.
by Berry Tramel and John Helsley and Jason Kersey Published: July 23, 2012

JOHN HELSLEY, OSU beat writer

Offensive Player of the Year: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Smith helped the Mountaineers shatter school passing records a year ago, improving steadily as he soaked in Dana Holgorsen's offense. In Year 2 of Holgy's system, with returning talent surrounding him, Smith figures to thrive even further.

Defensive Player of the Year: A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State

Klein will have to overcome the assumption that this award belongs in Austin or Norman and go above and beyond to earn it. Oh, he's capable. The Big 12's returning tackles leader (116), Klein was Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.

Newcomer of the Year: Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State

There's a load of new talent ready to take over the Big 12, making this one of the league's most hotly contested races. Lunt, however, has the marquee position in an offense that will put up the numbers.

Coach of the Year: Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia

We're picking Holgorsen to guide the Mountaineers to the Big 12 title in their debut season. If he pulls it off, he'll be National Coach of the Year.

Three bold predictions

*Texas Tech won't win a conference game until November, costing Tommy Tuberville his job.

*At some point, Texas takes a look at touted true freshman Connor Brewer at quarterback.

*OSU's Josh Stewart leads the Big 12 in receptions.

GINA MIZELL, OSU beat writer

Offensive Player of the Year: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

As one of the nation's top returning quarterbacks (Jones and USC's Matt Barkley are also in the top 3), Smith will be a Heisman contender. He's thrived in Holgorsen's high-powered spread offense, the same system Brandon Weeden used to pick apart Big 12 defenses in 2010 and 2011.

Defensive Player of the Year: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

The Longhorns could have a few contenders for this award — Jackson Jeffcoat, Kenny Vaccaro and Quandre Diggs also come to mind — but Okafor's physical play up front will make him the face of the UT defense.

Newcomer of the Year: Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State

As noted above, the amount of success OSU has in 2012 will largely depend on the freshman signal-caller. Lunt does not need to be Brandon Weeden, but he will need to limit turnovers and successfully distribute the ball to the Cowboy playmakers. Do that, and he can lead the Cowboys to at least eight wins.

Coach of the Year: Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia

Holgorsen won't be shocked by anything with the move to the Big 12. And he knows his offense will work in this conference. Coach the Mountaineers to the title in Year 1, and he's the easy choice for this award.

Three bold predictions

*Iowa State's 2012 upset special in Ames? How about Oct. 13 against K-State?

*Kansas will go winless in conference play again.

*Landry Jones will throw more interceptions than Wes Lunt.

JASON KERSEY, OU beat writer

Offensive Player of the Year: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Landry Jones will, in all likelihood, leave Norman with just about every OU passing record in the books. His leadership will be put to the test with an inexperienced receiving corps, but I think he proves his strongest critics wrong by leading the Sooners to the Big 12 title.

Defensive Player of the Year: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas

Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor form one of the nation's top defensive end groups. Jeffcoat recorded eight sacks and 71 tackles (21 for loss) last season as a sophomore and will only get better.

Newcomer of the Year: Marquez Clark, WR, Kansas State

Clark had 1,639 yards and 15 touchdowns last season at junior college powerhouse Navarro (Texas) College. Clark gives QB Collin Klein a big-play threat and makes the Wildcats much more dangerous offensively.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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