The last time a Big 12 player won the Heisman Trophy, Texas A&M and Missouri were conference members. It has only been four years since Robert Griffin III of Baylor was named the Heisman Trophy, but so much has happened since then that it feels a bit longer. Could the brief drought be brought to an end this season? It sure could with TCU’s Trevone Boykin among the national favorites (along with a handful of players from Ohio State and the SEC).
History would suggest things look pretty good for Boykin too. A quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy all but two times since the 2000 season. Big 12 quarterbacks have a knack for being considered among Heisman favorites on a regular basis with players like Griffin, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Vince Young in years past.
But it has been a while since TCU had a quarterback worthy of such accolades. Boykin finished a distant fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting last season, but now he is among the favorites, and for good reason. But take a look beyond Boykin and you will see a handful of players around the Big 12 that could be ready to make some Heisman Trophy statements, and a number of long-shot underdogs.
There is some good talent around the conference. Here are some of the players with the best shots to be in the Heisman Trophy discussion and others just to take note of this season.
Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
After throwing for 3,714 yards and 30 touchdowns while leading TCU into the thick of the College Football Playoff conversation and ending the season with a big win over Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl, Boykin enters the 2015 season as one of the overall favorites in the Heisman Trophy discussion. Boykin really showed what he can do as TCU opened up the offense last fall, and should once again be equipped to put up big numbers while leading the Horned Frogs to a potential Big 12 championship. Leading TCU to a conference title and a possible Playoff spot will keep Boykin ahead of the pack in the Heisman race.
Next in Line
Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
In a season that should see plenty of production from some young running backs around the country, Oklahoma may have the best in the Big 12 with Perine. He finished the 2014 season strong, piling up 1,713 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns. Along the way he grabbed the single-game rushing record with a 427-yard afternoon against Kansas. If the Sooners are going to make a run in the Big 12, Perine will be leading the charge in Norman.
On the Radar
Seth Russell, QB, Baylor
Baylor is home to the most recent Heisman Trophy winner out of the Big 12 with Griffin receiving the hardware in 2011. Could Russell be the next?
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The sophomore signal-caller hopes to join Barry Sanders as the only Heisman winners in Oklahoma State history. If the final few games last season were a preview of things to come, then things look promising in Stillwater with Rudolph under center.
Shock Linwood, RB, Baylor
Baylor figures to put up plenty of offense, and Linwood should be a key part of the system. After rushing for 1,252 yards and 16 touchdowns, Linwood should post similar numbers, if not better, this fall.
Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Boykin may be the top contender for the Heisman Trophy out of the Big 12, but one of his top targets in the field could enter the conversation as a sleeper. Doctson led the Horned Frogs in receiving last season (1,108 yards, 11 TDs) and could be looking at similar production in a loaded returning offense this fall.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The last Sooner to win the Heisman Trophy was Bradford in 2008. Mayfield is far from Bradford, but could be in a good position after transferring from Texas Tech. As Oklahoma looks to open up the offense this season with new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, Mayfield could be well suited to get things rolling quickly.
Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
With a veteran offensive line coming back in the fall, Mahomes should feel confident leading the offense at the start of the season after taking over in the middle of 2014. As is usually the case at Texas Tech though, big numbers do not necessarily translate to Heisman contenders.
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Oh, another Baylor offensive player? Sure, why not. The Bears will have multiple ways to put up offensive numbers, and that includes Baylor’s leading returning receiver. Coleman went over 1,000 yards in 2014 with 11 touchdowns, and will be a primary target on one side of the field.
Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State
Odds are a player from Iowa State will not win the Heisman Trophy, or even make the trip to New York City. However, the Cyclones’ Lazard could be an intriguing prospect. Lazard may be one of the top wide receivers in the Big 12.
Rushel Shell, RB, West Virginia
It has been a while since West Virginia had a player worthy of some Heisman buzz, but Shell could have a chance to be the star of the Mountaineers’ offense if he stays healthy.
Tyrone Swoopes, QB, Texas
Running back Ricky Williams was the last Longhorns player to win the Heisman Trophy (in 1998), although there have been some worthy nominees in the years since (Vince Young, Colt McCoy). Swoopes (or Jerrod Heard) should be considered big-time long shots, but if Charlie Strong can mold Swoopes to be his next Teddy Bridgewater, then we could see some good things in Austin.
If You Believe Defensive Players Are Worth Discussing
Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
If a defensive player is going to win the Heisman Trophy (a true rarity) Baylor lineman Oakman could be the most likely out of the Big 12. The physical specimen is difficult to contain on the line and could be the top defensive player in the conference this season.
Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s linebacker is coming off a season with nine sacks and 17 tackles for a loss. Striker will be everywhere around the football when he is on the field, and if the Sooners do well this fall he could become more of a household name.
Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Joseph is probably the best defensive back in the entire Big 12. That’s good news, as Joseph will be busy trying to make plays if the front of the Mountaineers’ defense struggles.
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for CollegeFootballTalk.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.