By: Cole Mantell (@lightningdragon)
At midseason, now is a good time to look back on the first half and see which players are off to a hot start. Each conference has its standouts, and many of the names you’ll see in this four-article series will be contenders for the end-of-year awards. As for the method of the madness, the format for these midseason awards is as follows.
First, we use the same All-American set that is used for the real awards at the end of the season. That is shown below:
Second, except for the returner position, each player will be only eligible for one category. And thirdly, because I want to highlight every team, I am challenging myself to have at least one player from each team for these awards. Remember, the end-of-season All-Americans are for the entire CFSL, not by conference. So the point of this exercise isn’t to declare anything with only half the season over. It’s to highlight who has been playing well and who might be considered once the season is over and voting begins. Each position group will be highlighted in each article as well.
This season, the BIG 12 had three of the more interesting expansion teams in Cincinnati, Baylor, and Colorado. Texas and Oklahoma State returned as the de facto teams to beat. And Boise State and West Virginia were two teams in transition who also could make noise. Then, as usual, chaos happened. Texas leads the conference right now at 3-1. Oklahoma State seems to be headed for a reset at 1-3. And two expansion teams, Baylor and Cincinnati, are tied for first in the conference with Texas at 2-0 in conference play. For my money, the BIG 12 is the most competitive and interesting conference in the CFSL right now.
Gunnar Rice – West Virginia
Unlike the ACC or BIG 10, no QB jumps off the page as the clear #1 in the conference. Jay Duke has more passing yards, but more interceptions. I went with Gunnar Rice for two reasons. First, Rice has a much better competition percentage over Duke, and second, with fewer turnovers Rice is more efficient and has a higher QB Rating. Both are worthy of recognition, and that is before mentioning guys right behind them such as McKade Alber.
Others Considered – Jay Duke, McKade Alber, Windham Carter
Fred Thomas – Oklahoma State
Dorian Hunter – Baylor
There is no such argument for the best halfback in the BIG 12 as there is for the QB position. Fred Thomas leads the CFSL in rushing yards, and 2nd place is 84 rushing yards behind him. The two-time transfer is a candidate for a few awards right now, though he’d rather Oklahoma State get a few more wins if they can. Baylor as a team has more rushing yards than Fred Thomas, but it is split three ways between QB Windham Carter as well as Hunter and Christian Davis. I gave the nod to Hunter as he has two more rushing touchdowns. Davis is right there, however.
Others Considered – Christian Davis, CeeCee Mucci, Toby Knerr, James Stanton
Joey Wolford – Texas
Joshua Campbell – West Virginia
Thanatos Shockley – Texas
Domani Green – West Virginia
Texas and West Virginia dominate this list. Both offenses have been great passing-wise so far this season, so this isn’t too much of a surprise. With more run-heavy teams in the conference, the Longhorns and Mountaineers have ruled the sky in the BIG 12 so far this season. Wolford and Shockley are the main guys in Austin while Campbell and Green are the main guys in Morgantown. That’s not to say there aren’t other great WRs elsewhere in the conference. But for now, this part of the list belongs to these two teams.
Others Considered – Logan Wetzel, Cait Graziano, Dyllan Reed, Kendrick Singleton
Jordan Tank – Colorado
This was a tough choice. West Virginia TE Brian Jones and Oklahoma State TE Richard Satchel are right there neck and neck with Tank. Both of those two also have better stats in some places as well. But I went with Tank for two reasons. The first is that he is the best pure pass-catching TE right now in the BIG 12. Secondly, his team’s offense. Colorado runs the Pro Style USC book. That playbook is arguably the most important book in the CFSL when it comes to TE play. The fact Tank has been great for the Buffalos in that playbook sets him apart from his competition, at least for me so far this season.
Others Considered – Brian Jones, Richard Satchel
Bethany Moreland – Oklahoma State
Owen Moreland – Oklahoma State
Owen Hudson – Oklahoma State
Plano Greene – Boise State
No doubt about it, Oklahoma State has not been great to start this season. However, that seems to be masking a huge step forward for the young team on defense. Bethany Moreland, Owen Moreland, and Owen Hudson are the Top 3 in the BIG 12 in TFLs entering Week 5 and have kept the team in a few games. There is a lot of work to be done, but the Cowboys have hope on defense moving forward. Plano Greene for Boise State also makes an appearance here with his 11 TFLs and 6 sacks so far this season.
Others Considered – Anthony Grant, Les Longley
Tee Boozer – Boise State
Blake Barrow – Cincinnati
Milo Pinesaw – Boise State
Tee Boozer and Milo Pinesaw (along with Plano Green) have been rocks for a Boise State team reeling right now. While the results haven’t been there in the win column, the Broncos’ defense as usual has standout talents who make any offense miserable by the 4th quarter. That’s crucial for Boise State if they want to turn their season around. Blake Barrow for Cincinnati quietly is a huge force for the Bearcats as well.
Others Considered – Leroy White, Joey Dellamano, Lias Katz
Percy King – Texas
Cash Johnson – Texas
Frankie Ragland – Colorado
Percy King is the ruler of the conference when it comes to interceptions, tied for the CFSL lead at four. He’s been All-American quality all season and will be a contender at this rate at season’s end. Behind King, the race is a lot more muddled in the BIG 12. There are no CBs with three interceptions and quite a few with two. I went with Cash Johnson and Frankie Ragland. Both have decent PD numbers and have been great off the ball, which is an important CB trait. You could interchange a bunch of names behind King and be correct here, however.
Others Considered – Cory Holliday, Jordan Hooker, JT Miller
Mustafa Colakovic – Texas
David Holotanko – West Virginia
Jake Rice – Boise State
Texas is well-represented when it comes to defensive backs in this list. Colakovic leads this group as a veteran transfer from Boise State. He is the best safety in the BIG 12 right now, and I’m not sure how close it is. That isn’t a slight against some of the rest of the talent in the BIG 12 right now, however. Holotanko has been a tank (no pun intended) in the backfield for the Mountaineers this season. And no safety has been as versatile in pass coverage as Rice has this season for Boise State. Once again, there are also a few names not listed here who competed as well for recognition.
Others Considered – Jarred Kline, Carlos De Leon, Chet Owens
Toby Knerr – Boise State
Knerr is the first player in this series to not be a double nominee so far when they get recognition as a returner. While Knerr has not beaten out Thomas and Hunter at the traditional HB position this season, he’s been invaluable as the main return guy on kicks and punts for the Broncos. He edges out Colorado returner Jaidyn Nichols for the spot here.
Others Considered – Jaidyn Nichols