Hurts and Mahomes: From Big 12 to Super Bowl

Super Bowl QBs Jalen Hurts & Patrick Mahomes
Super Bowl QBs Jalen Hurts & Patrick Mahomes
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Welcome to the 11th Annual NFL Alumni Awards! Once again I use the NFL's no-longer-pretending-to-be-amateurs collegiate pipeline to gauge major conference program strength, assess who is up and who is down at the ever-volatile pro level, and start arguments, because one thing lacking in today's sports media environment is contrived conflict!

The Big 12 will soon, at last, no longer be a misnomer—the coming defection by big dogs Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC will be offset by a quartet of new members, giving the conference a dozen teams for the first time in over a decade. For kicks we decided to add the newbies a bit early. (They will begin conference play next season.) Welcome to the Alumni Awards BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston! (For 2012-to-2016 winners, click here.)

Baylor Bears (23 alumni in the pros, per ESPN)

2017: Matt Bryant, K, ATL
2018: Xavien Howard, CB, MIA
2019: Andrew Billings, DT, CIN
2020: Xavien Howard, CB, MIA
2021: Xavien Howard, CB, MIA
2022: Jalen Pitre, S, HOU

Howard's bid for a threepeat came extremely close, but Pitre had a strong rookie season and played every game, unlike Howard. That was enough to grab the Waco Bear at the tape.

BYU Cougars (15)

2022: Fred Warner, LB, SF

The chase for the initial Mounted Mormon trophy was a thriller, starting with Zach Wilson's summertime tryst with his mother's best pal and continuing on to the autumn gridiron, where Wilson was clearly exhausted by his exertions. A pair of backs went hard for the award. Atlanta rookie Tyler Allgeier had the DYAR (fifth overall), while Detroit veteran Jamaal Williams had the touchdowns (17, second in the NFL). Chargers linebacker Kyle Van Noy and Panthers tackle Brady Christensen also were right there at the stretch. But Warner pulled away after what may have been the best season in his outstanding career.

Central Florida Knights (13)

2022: Gabriel Davis, WR, BUF

Davis seemed ready to explode on the scene after his big 2021 postseason. It didn't quite happen, but Davis wound up being cast as a nonentity, which wasn't the case. He was 27th by DYAR and averaged over 17 yards per catch, with seven touchdowns. Hardly the measure of compatriot Stefon Diggs, perhaps, but more than enough to capture the inaugural armored Knight Trophy.

Cincinnati Bearcats (21)

2022: Travis Kelce, TE, KC

Seemingly the Big Bearcat would be an intramural battle between the Kelce Brothers, but don't forget Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner, who turned in one of the better seasons by a cornerback in recent memory. Alas for the Saucy One, his Jets were as mediocre with Gardner as without him, while the Kelces matched up in the Super Bowl. Travis gets the nod for hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Houston Cougars (18)

2022: Marcus Jones, CB, NE

The Cougars went on a defensive recruiting spree a few years back, which has translated into some pretty good pros, mostly centered in the AFC East. Buffalo 3-technique tackle Ed Oliver and Miami linebacker Elandon Roberts were good, but not to the level of Jones, who helped the Patriots to sport the No. 2 pass defense by DVOA despite losing star corner J.C. Jackson in the offseason.

Iowa State Cyclones (8)

2017: Kelechi Osemele, G, OAK
2018: A.J. Klein, LB, NO
2019: A.J. Klein, LB, NO
2020: David Montgomery, RB, CHI
2021: David Montgomery, RB, CHI
2022: Brock Purdy, QB, SF

Purdy may turn out to be the Mark "The Bird" Fidrych of the NFL—a comet that briefly streaked across the landscape before crashing hard into the sea, never to be seen again. On the other hand, he doesn't have to do much to grab repeated Cyclone Awards…

Kansas Jayhawks (6)

2017: Chris Harris, Jr., CB, DEN
2018: Bradley McDougald, S, LAR
2019: Bradley McDougald, S, LAR
2020: Chris Harris, Jr., CB, LAC
2021: Hakeem Adeniji, G, CIN
2022: Hakeem Adeniji, T, CIN

The Jayhawk Trophy is an even easier award to win than the Cyclone. To wit: Adeniji, who in 2021 year was part of an awful platoon at guard. In 2022, he was somewhat better when forced into action at tackle, his more natural position, though he only started after La'el Collins was injured. Regardless, it was more than enough to retain the Jawhawk.

Kansas State Wildcats (13)

2017: Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
2018: Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
2019: Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
2020: Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
2021: Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
2022: Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA

Tyler's sixpack was nearly bogarted by Jets corner D.J. Reed, who had a strong season opposite Sauce Gardner. And Miami quarterback Skylar Thompson might have seized the trophy if he could have completed the upset bid over Buffalo in the playoffs. But in the end, Lockett locked it up with his fifth-straight top-15 finish in DYAR.

Oklahoma Sooners (32)

2017: Lane Johnson, T, PHI
2018: Joe Mixon, RB, CIN
2019: Mark Andrews, TE, BAL
2020: Orlando Brown, T, BAL
2021: Trent Williams, T, SF
2022: Jalen Hurts, QB, PHI

What a strong field of Sooners! Each of the last five winners had an argument to win this year as well, and Dallas wideout CeeDee Lamb, Kansas City center Creed Humphrey, and Washington punter Tress Way (yes!) also were excellent. But none were as fantastic as Hurts, who led the Eagles to the league's best record, was MVP front-runner until a late-season nick, and nearly won the Lombardi Trophy.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (12)

2017: Russell Okung, T, LAC
2018: Chris Carson, RB, SEA
2019: Chris Carson, RB, SEA
2020: Emmanuel Ogbah, LB, MIA
2021: Emmanuel Ogbah, LB, MIA
2022: Malcolm Rodriquez, LB, DET

The declining state of the Oklahoma State program is reflected in the lack of potent pros. A couple of meh running backs—Chuba Hubbard of Carolina and Jaylen Warren of Pittsburgh—had a shot, but they were bested by a rookie linebacker on the mostly inept Lions defense. After a star turn on Hard Knocks, Malcolm was an X-factor all season, doing enough to grab the OK State trophy.

TCU Horned Frogs (19)

2017: Andy Dalton, QB, CIN
2018: Jerry Hughes, LB, BUF
2019: Jerry Hughes, LB, BUF
2020: Jerry Hughes, LB, BUF
2021: Jerry Hughes, LB, BUF
2022: Andy Dalton, QB, NO

TCU's amazing run to the National Championship Game hopefully leaps the Frogs another level in pro impact. Dalton and Hughes somehow remained the top two viable candidates for the TCU Trophy, which shows how iffy the program has become in supplying the NFL. Red tips Hughes thanks to positional advantage and matches Jerry with his fifth award, this one undoubtedly the most surprising.

Texas Longhorns (25)

2017: Justin Tucker, K, BAL
2018: Michael Dickson, P, SEA
2019: Kenny Vaccaro, S, TEN
2020: Jordan Hicks, LB, ARI
2021: Justin Tucker, K, BAL
2022: Quandre Diggs, S, SEA

Great as Tucker is, this wasn't his best season. Joseph Ossai wasn't a serious contender, but any shot he had at the trophy went out the window with his crushing late hit in the AFC title game. That left a pair of Seattle defenders, tackle Poona Ford and Diggs, who slips past his teammate at the tape.

Texas Tech Red Raiders (10)

2017: Michael Crabtree, WR, OAK
2018: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC
2019: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC
2020: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC
2021: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC
2022: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC

Patty was an easy choice for his fifth straight Guns Up Award, allowing Mahomes to match Crabtree in the Lubbock Trophy case. Should he not pass him in 2023 and beyond that would truly be a shock.

West Virginia Mountaineers (15)

2017: Pat McAfee, P, IND
2018: Quinton Spain, G, TEN
2019: Mark Glowinski, G, IND
2020: Mark Glowinski, G, IND
2021: Quinton Spain, G, CIN
2022: Geno Smith, QB, SEA

If you had asked before the season whether Andy Dalton or Geno Smith was more likely to win his school's Alumni Award, you'd probably be politely asked to leave the room. Yet here we are with both winning, and whereas competition wasn't exactly stellar for either quarterback, Geno would have been a worthy winner for most of the Big Five schools. Of course, when Geno described his comeback by saying, "They wrote me off, but I ain't write back," the English departments of those fine academic institutions retroactively refused to enroll him.


8 comments, Last at 24 Feb 2023, 10:37am

#1 by jjohnson177 // Feb 23, 2023 - 11:16am

Thanks for adding the newbies a year early but could you please call them "UCF" instead of "Central Florida" going forward?

Per their athletic department's website "Please refer to the University of Central Florida as UCF, not Central Florida, when shortening the title. UCF is making an effort to shed the Central Florida tag, as well as all its derivatives (C. Florida, Cent. Florida, Central Fla., etc.) Thank you."

Points: 1

#3 by Vincent Verhei // Feb 23, 2023 - 2:21pm

"the University of Central Florida ... is making an effort to shed the Central Florida tag"


But yes, we will try to remember that going forward.


Points: 1

#4 by jjohnson177 // Feb 23, 2023 - 3:59pm

Thanks Vincent. I know it's silly and bordering on pedantic but they are rarely even referred to as "the University of Central Florida" any more. It's pretty much UCF across the board.

Points: 0

#6 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 24, 2023 - 8:22am

There’s a California University of Pennsylvania.

\There’s also IUPUI and IUPUI-Columbus

Points: 1

#2 by serutan // Feb 23, 2023 - 1:32pm

If you had asked before the season whether Andy Dalton or Geno Smith was more likely to win his school's Alumni Award, you'd probably be politely asked to leave the room.

  Or that person would be up on murder charges after the person to whom the question was addressed died laughing.

Points: 1

#7 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 24, 2023 - 10:35am

The declining state of the Oklahoma State program is reflected in the lack of potent pros.

So you're saying they are just OK?

\a joke no one has ever made before

Points: 2

#8 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 24, 2023 - 10:37am

Of course, when Geno described his comeback by saying, "They wrote me off, but I ain't write back," the English departments of those fine academic institutions retroactively refused to enroll him.

You've never been to Morgantown, have you?

Points: 2

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