IRVING – Highlighted by preseason Offensive Player of the Year Bryce Petty, the Baylor football team placed a conference-best seven players on the 2014 Preseason All-Big 12 Team, the league office announced Wednesday.
Media representatives who cover the league chose a school-record four offensive players, one defensive player and two specialists from Baylor’s squad for the 26-man conference preseason team. The seven total selections are a school record as well, surpassing the three selections BU had in 2009 and 2013.
Petty, who is already on watch lists for the Maxwell and O’Brien awards, ended the 2013 season as the league’s Offensive Player of the Year and an All-Big 12 first-team selection. In his first season as a starter, he was named All-America by Athlon and Sporting News, while setting 17 school records. Petty was the national leader in yards-per-completion (16.80) and second nationally in passing efficiency (174.29). The Midlothian, Texas, product led the Big 12 in passing yards (4,200, fourth nationally), total offense (339.2 yards/game, eighth nationally), passing touchdowns (32, 11th nationally), and rushing touchdowns (14, 19th nationally).
This is the second straight season that BU has had a player named the preseason Offensive Player of the Year, after running back Lache Seastrunk garnered the honor in 2013.
Besides Petty, offensive lineman Spencer Drango, wide receiver Antwan Goodley and running back Shock Linwood give BU more offensive players recognized than any other school in the league.
Drango, a junior, was a consensus All-Big 12 first-team honoree in 2013 despite missing the last four games of the season due to a back injury. Before the injury, he served as a leader for Baylor’s offensive line that helped the Bear offense rank No. 1 nationally in total yards (618.8 ypg) and scoring (NCAA-record 52.4 ppg). Drango has already been recognized this preseason with spots on the Outland Trophy watch list, recognizing the nation’s best interior lineman, and the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list (down lineman).
Goodley, a senior, had a breakout season in 2013 with 71 catches for 1,339 yards and 13 touchdowns. He earned All-America honors from four outlets and was a consensus first-team All-Big 12 selection. Goodley enters 2014 having started 14 straight games and has caught a pass in 17 consecutive contests. He was selected earlier this month to the Maxwell and Biletnikoff Award watch lists.
Linwood, a sophomore, is the leading returning rusher in the Big 12 after racking up a BU freshman-record 881 yards on 128 carries with eight TDs. The speedster from Linden, Texas, was named Freshman All-America by four outlets and the Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year by the San Antonio Express-News. He is on the watch list for the Maxwell Award.
On the defensive side, senior Bryce Hager earns his second straight selection to the preseason All-Big 12 defense. He is a two-time All-Big 12 honoree, who played only nine games before suffering a season-ending injury. The Austin product still managed 71 tackles (46 solo, 2.5 for loss), one sack, 10 hurries, three breakups, one fumble recovery and one return TD. The senior linebacker has already been recognized on watch lists for the Butkus Award (linebackers), Nagurski Trophy (defensive players), Bednarik Award (defensive players) and Rotary Lombardi Award (down lineman).
Punt returner Levi Norwood currently owns a 27-game reception streak and six-game TD streak heading into 2014. Last season, he earned All-Big 12 honorable mention honors as both a receiver and returner, as well as second-team All-Big 12 recognition by the San Antonio Express News as an “all-purpose” player. Norwood totaled 733 yards and eight TDs on 47 receptions. He had 240 yards and two TDs on 25 punt returns, and 247 yards on 12 kickoff returns. Last week, he appeared on the Paul Hornung Award watch list, given to the nation’s most versatile player, before earning a spot on the Biletnikoff Award watch list earlier this week.
Punter Spencer Roth was a 2013 All-American and consensus All-Big 12 first-team player. Despite Baylor’s nation-best offense not needing to punt often, the senior averaged 45.8 yards on 52 punts (2,379 yards), with four 60-yarders, 17 50-yarders, 17 inside-the-20, 20 fair caught and seven touchbacks on the season.
The media Preseason Big 12 Poll will be released on Thursday, followed by the annual Big 12 Football Media Days to be conducted in Dallas on Monday and Tuesday. Baylor will participate in Monday’s portion of media days.
Baylor opens its inaugural season at McLane Stadium against SMU on Aug. 31.
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