Robert Griffin    QB, Baylor

Folks around Waco know that Robert Griffin isn’t an overnight sensation.

From the moment he stepped on the field as a freshman against Wake Forest, he made plays. Not just plays, but jaw-dropping, pulse-raising, soul-tickling plays.

On his third carry as a collegian, he accelerated to the sideline like a Ferrari, threw it into reverse to elude a diving Demon Deacon, then thrust it back into drive to zip 22 yards.

“The funny thing about Robert is that all of the sudden everybody’s getting to know him and see him and they think that all of the sudden here’s this really good football player,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “Well, he’s been that way for four years. He didn’t show up and all of the sudden get good.”

No, he didn’t. But this season Griffin put it all together like never before, along the way picking up the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding player. Naturally, he was an obvious choice as the Offensive Player of the Year on the Tribune-Herald ’s annual All-Big 12 football team.

Griffin didn’t play organized football until the seventh grade. Yet from the moment he began chucking the pigskin, he had a feel for it.

“The first time I picked up a football I could throw a tight spiral,” Griffin said. “I always threw a very catchable ball that made it easier for my receivers.”

Still, thanks to Griffin’s track star speed, some college programs viewed him more as an athlete or a receiver prospect coming out of Copperas Cove High School.

Not Briles, though. Briles saw a kid “who could really throw the football,” and he offered Griffin a scholarship to play quarterback while he was still the head coach in Houston.

When Briles accepted the Baylor job in late 2007, Griffin quickly followed by switching his commitment to the Bears. The self-assured, poised young signal-caller immediately envisioned scoreboard-illuminating offenses and multiple bowl berths for the Bears.

“I totally bought into it. I never thought that at Baylor nothing could ever happen,” Griffin said. “Coach Briles said that with my skill set, this could be a big thing.”

How big? Try these Goliath-sized numbers on for size: This season Griffin completed a mind-boggling 72.4 percent of his passes for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns, while showing he could still run a little bit too, with another 644 yards and nine touchdowns rushing. He ranks second nationally to Houston’s Case Keenum in total offense, and his passing efficiency mark of 192.31 would break the NCAA record of 186.0 by Hawaii’s Colt Brennan if it holds up.

“He’s Jim Thorpe all over again, but with a heck of a lot more speed,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “He can run fast, he’s got a good change of direction, good perception of where to go with the ball. He’s as good as it gets.”

Frank Alexander    DE, Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s coaches always believed that if Frank Alexander’s effort could ever match his physical gifts, he could be one of the best defenders in the country.

Alexander listened. And he proved his coaches right.

The mountainous defensive end scaled new heights as a senior, picking up 51 tackles, a league-high 18 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, which tied Texas A&M’s Sean Porter for the league lead.

“He had just a huge year,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “He played a different level this year.”

OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables once used the word “disinterested” to describe Alexander. But that wasn’t the case this season.

With Jeremy Beal, last year’s Big 12 defensive player of the year, having departed to the NFL, and with time winding down on his career, Alexander seized his moment.

“I wanted to be remembered as one of the greats to come through Oklahoma,” Alexander said. “You never want to leave without leaving a legacy.”

Bill Snyder    Kansas State

Six years ago, Bill Snyder considered himself a victim of coaching burnout.

The legendary Kansas State coach stepped away from football, eager to spend more time with family. But when his old football family at K-State struggled under his successor Ron Prince, Snyder felt compelled to lend a hand.

“The Kansas State family is in flux right now,” Snyder said at his initial press conference in his return as head coach in November 2008. “I want to help. I want to soothe the waters.”

The waters in Manhattan aren’t just soothed, they’re downright idyllic. Despite taking the Wildcats to the Pinstripe Bowl last year, Snyder’s team wasn’t expected to be a contender in 2011. Picked eighth in the Big 12 preseason poll, K-State instead finished eighth in the final BCS standings, finishing 10-2 and earning a trip to the Cotton Bowl.

Snyder, in his typical aw-shucks, low-key manner, deflected all credit to his players.

“I’m extremely proud of the young men in our program, who have worked so hard and prepared each day to get better,” he said.

However, Snyder clearly mines diamonds and pearls where others just see rocks. He’s been called “a miracle worker,” “a genius” and “the coach of the century” by his peers, because he tends to rely on junior college transfers and unheralded, overlooked recruits.

“We don’t have any five-star and four-star recruits,” K-State cornerback David Garrett said. “We don’t have big-time athletes like other teams. We just stick together and do our jobs. Coach instills that into us.”

Kansas State entered this season with nine first-year starters. Their quarterback, Collin Klein, was a converted receiver with just one career touchdown pass to his credit.

Ever flexible, Snyder installed an option-style offense that suited Klein’s talents. The Wildcats also showed unbelievable poise, winning eight games by a touchdown or less, more than any other team in the nation.

Kansas State athletic director John Currie said Snyder’s calm, controlled manner permeates the program.

“He’s incredibly consistent in an inconsistent world,” Currie said. “If you talk to the ones who played for him 15 or 20 years ago who are sometimes in the locker room, they’ll tell you that he’s teaching and coaching exactly the same way he always has.”

Tribune-Herald 2011 All-Big 12 Football Team

Offensive player of the year: Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor

Defensive player of the year: Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma

Offensive newcomer of the year: Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas

Defensive newcomer of the year: Arthur Brown, LB, KSU

Coach of the year: Bill Snyder, Kansas State


First team

Pos Player Ht Wt Cl School Notable
QB Robert Griffin 6-2 220 Jr Baylor NCAA leader in pass. effic. (192.3)
RB Henry Josey 5-10 185 So Missouri Averaged Big 12-best 116 rush yds
RB Terrance Ganaway 6-0 240 Sr Baylor Broke school record with 1,347 yds
WR Ryan Broyles 5-11 187 Sr Oklahoma Nabbed 83 catches, 10 TDs before injury
WR Justin Blackmon 6-1 215 Jr Okla. St. Amassed 1,336 yds, 15 receiving TDs
WR Kendall Wright 5-10 190 Sr Baylor His 1,572 receiving yds led Big 12
C Philip Blake 6-2 315 Sr Baylor Steady rock has made 37 straight starts
OL Kelechi Osemele 6-6 347 Sr Iowa St. Projected as NFL first-round pick
OL Levy Adcock 6-6 322 Sr Okla. St. Repeat first teamer keeps Weeden upright
OL Gabe Ikard 6-2 290 So Oklahoma Former tight end gets off ball in burst
OL Luke Joeckel 6-6 304 So Texas A&M Helped Aggies to 7th-best total offense
UT Collin Klein 6-5 226 Jr Kansas St. Quarterback led league with 26 rush TDs
K Quinn Sharp 6-1 189 Jr Okla. St. Big-legged Cowboy made 20 of 23 FGs
Pos Player Ht Wt Cl School Notable
DL Frank Alexander 6-3 259 Sr Oklahoma Pass-rush beast made 18 TFLs, 8.5 sacks
DL Jamie Blatnick 6-3 265 Sr Okla. St. 47 tackles, 7 sacks
DL Alex Okafor 6-4 260 Jr Texas Plowed his way to 17 QB hurries, 7 sacks
DL Jackson Jeffcoat 6-5 253 So Texas Breakout emerged as one of league’s best
LB Sean Porter 6-2 220 Jr Texas A&M Tied OU’s Alexander for Big 12 sack lead
LB Arthur Brown 6-1 223 Jr Kansas St. Transfer led Wildcats with 95 tackles
LB Jake Knott 6-2 243 Jr Iowa St. Topped 100 tackles for third straight year
LB Emmanuel Acho 6-2 240 Sr Texas Heart of Texas D swarmed to 122 tackles
DB Carrington Byndom 6-0 175 So Texas Had 17 passes defended, 15 broken up
DB Nigel Malone 5-10 176 Jr Kansas St. Led conference with 7 interceptions
DB Brodrick Brown 5-8 185 Jr Oklahoma St. Playmaker who broke up 15 passes
DB E.J. Gaines 5-10 190 So Missouri Set school record with 16 PBUs
KR Tyler Lockett 5-11 170 Fr Kansas St. Brought 2 kicks back for TDs
P Quinn Sharp 6-1 189 Jr. Okla. St. 46.6-yard average

Second team

Pos Player Ht Wt Cl School Notable
QB Brandon Weeden 6-4 218 Sr Okla. St. Tossed 34 TD passes for Big 12 champs
RB Joseph Randle 6-1 191 So Okla. St. Burner sizzled to 1,193 yards, 23 TDs
RB Cyrus Gray 5-10 198 Sr Texas A&M 1,000-plus for second straight year
WR Ryan Swope 6-0 204 Jr Texas A&M Fourth in league with 1,102 receiving yds
WR Eric Ward 6-0 202 So Texas Tech Racked up 84 catches, third in Big 12
WR Kenny Stills 6-0 181 So Oklahoma Speedster had 818 receiving yards, 8 TDs
C Grant Garner 6-3 292 Sr Okla. St. Guided an offense that averaged 50 ppg
OL Clyde Aufner 6-6 301 Sr Kansas St. Team captain solid, steady leader on line
OL Austin Wuebbels 6-4 295 Sr Missouri Savvy three-year starter at right guard
OL LaAdrian Waddle 6-6 322 Jr Texas Tech Bruising left tackle has started 25 straight
OL Robert T. Griffin 6-6 335 Sr Baylor Huge force in NCAA’s No. 2-ranked offense
UT Christine Michael 5-11 215 Jr Texas A&M Averaged right at 100 yards rushing
K Randy Bullock 5-9 205 Sr Texas A&M Groza winner nailed 25 field goals
Pos Player Ht Wt Cl School Notable
DL Ronnell Lewis 6-2 237 Jr Oklahoma Not many ball carriers escaped his reach
DL Meshak Williams 6-2 231 Jr Kansas St. Juco transfer bagged 7 sacks, 10 TFLs
DL Dominique Hamilton 6-5 305 Sr Missouri Near immovable force at nose tackle
DL Jacquies Smith 6-4 255 Sr Missouri Forced four fumbles, best in Big 12
LB Damontre Moore 6-4 248 So Texas A&M Playmaker piled up 15.5 TFLs, 7.5 sacks
LB Elliot Coffey 6-0 230 Sr Baylor Inspirational leader also tallied 99 tackles
LB A.J. Klein 6-1 243 Jr Iowa St. Steady bookend to fellow junior Knott
LB Travis Lewis 6-2 233 Sr Oklahoma Overcame early injury to rack up 78 tackles
DB Jamell Fleming 5-11 191 Sr Oklahoma Picked up 53 tackles, broke up 7 passes
DB Markelle Martin 6-1 198 Sr Okla. St. Forced two fumbles, with 11 PBUs
DB Quandre Diggs 5-10 192 Fr Texas Freshman dynamic on defense, returns
DB K.J. Morton 5-10 185 So Baylor Scrappy cover corner made 4 interceptions
KR Fozzy Whittaker 5-10 198 Sr Texas Averaged Big 12-best 42.4 yards per return
P Trey Barrow 6-1 195 Jr Missouri Punts averaged 45 yards; 18 TBs

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