Baylor's RG3 is Big 12 offensive player of year

By Stephen Hawkins

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 7 2011 6:49 p.m. MST

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin, center, is brought down by Oklahoma defenders Travis Lewis (28) and Tom Wort (21) on a run in the first half of an NCAA college football game.

Jose Yau, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

DALLAS — For Robert Griffin III, this may be only the precursor.

Baylor's exciting dual-threat quarterback was named Wednesday as The Associated Press' Big 12 offensive player of the year.

A leading contender in what is expected to be a tight Heisman Trophy race, Griffin was unquestionably the Big 12's top offensive player, getting 14 1/2 of 17 votes from a panel of AP member sports reporters who regularly cover the league.

Oklahoma senior defensive end Frank Alexander was the Big 12's top defender with 14 votes.

The highlight producer known as "RG3" leads the nation in passing efficiency and has piled up 387 total yards per game. He has completed 267 of 369 passes (72 percent) for 3,998 yards with a Big 12-leading 36 touchdowns and only six interceptions, and run for 644 yards with nine more scores.

"He wins," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "He's a guy that when you go into a game, he's such a dynamic player that he changes the game."

Brown made that statement even before Griffin passed for 320 yards with two long touchdowns and ran for two more scores in a 48-24 victory over the Longhorns last weekend.

That nationally televised showcase for Griffin before the final Heisman ballots were cast gave the 15th-ranked Bears (9-3, 6-3 Big 12) their fifth straight victory. It is the longest winning streak in 20 years for Alamo Bowl-bound Baylor, whose only 10-win season came in 1980 during Mike Singletary's senior season.

Griffin is one of five finalists for the Heisman Trophy, which will be presented Saturday night in New York.

"He's done enough this season to win a Heisman," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "When you judge somebody, you judge them over the long run, not the short run. His long run has been very impressive this year."

The Big 12 coaches also selected Griffin as the league's top offensive player in their voting announced Wednesday. The coaches picked Alexander and Iowa State junior linebacker A.J. Klein to share honors for defensive player of the year.

Alexander led the Big 12 with 18 tackles for losses, and his 8 1/2 sacks matched Texas A&M's Sean Porter for the most in the league.

Texas senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho got the remaining three votes for top defensive player from the AP panel. He had 102 tackles and three sacks this season.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, named Tuesday the AP Big 12 coach of the year, got the same honor in the vote of his peers.

The AP All-Big 12 team will be released Thursday.

Baylor's current winning streak includes the Bears' first win ever over Oklahoma, when Griffin set a school record with 551 total yards and threw the game-winning TD with 8 seconds left.

Before beating Texas, the 15th-ranked Bears had already swept their four November games. That had won only four Big 12 games combined in that month the previous 15 seasons.

Kansas State's running quarterback Collin Klein got 1 1/2 votes for offensive player of the year, with one ballot's vote split between Griffin and Klein. Brandon Weeden, the quarterback for Big 12 champion and BCS-bound Oklahoma State, got the other vote.

Klein threw for 1,745 yards and 12 touchdowns, but also ran for league-best 26 touchdowns while ranking sixth in the Big 12 with 1,099 yards rushing. Weeden passed for 4,328 yards and 34 TDs.

A year after Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon became the first receiver to become the Big 12 offensive player of the year, and break a streak of 11 consecutive years with quarterbacks getting the award, it was only quarterbacks getting votes again this year.

Texas freshman running back Malcolm Brown was selected as the offensive newcomer of the year. Brown finished eighth in the Big 12 with averaging 71 yards rushing in his 10 games. He was on pace to be a 1,000-yard rusher until being hampered by injury the second half of the season that forced him to miss two games.

Brown got 13 votes for offensive newcomer. Two of his Longhorns freshman teammates, running back Joe Bergeron and receiver Jaxon Shipley, each got one vote. Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett and Iowa State quarterback Jared Barnett split the remaining two votes.

Kansas State junior linebacker Arthur Brown, who played 23 games at Miami before transferring home, was selected as the Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year, garnering 14 votes. He led the Wildcats with 95 tackles.

Texas freshman cornerback Quandre Diggs got two votes and Wildcats junior defensive back Nigel Malone, a junior college transfer, got one vote.

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