After learning under current NFL starters Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden last season as a true freshman, Josh Stewart knew he would have a bigger role in Oklahoma State’s explosive offense in 2012.
But when the Cowboys’ wide receiver corps was hit with a few injuries, the former Guyer standout immediately was thrust into the role of being the go-to receiver and emerged as one of the top players in the Big 12 Conference.
He was recognized Wednesday, as he was named to The Associated Press All-Big 12 first team after finishing the season third in receptions (96) and fourth in receiving yards (1,154) while scoring seven touchdowns.
Stewart wasn’t the only former Guyer star to earn Big 12 honors as teammate J.W. Walsh was named the Freshman Offensive Player of the Year on the Big 12 coaches’ all-conference team.
Walsh, a redshirt freshman, started the season as the backup quarterback to Wes Lunt before Lunt was injured against Louisiana-Lafayette.
That’s when Walsh made his own case for the job by starting the next three games before missing three games with a leg injury. He finished the regular season as the Big 12’s leader in pass efficiency.
Walsh completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,478 yards and 11 touchdowns with only three interceptions in his nine games to go with 277 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was voted the AP Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
“I’m just honored with this opportunity that the Lord has provided me here at K-State,” said Klein, who made the All-Big 12 first team as a quarterback and was honorable mention as an all-purpose player. “I’m just happy to represent Kansas State, our team and what we’ve been able to accomplish this season.”
The Heisman Trophy finalist set a slew of records while helping the seventh-ranked Wildcats to an 11-win season, the third conference title in school history and a berth opposite Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
Klein is the first player from Kansas State to be voted the Big 12’s top offensive player. He received 14 of the 18 votes from members of the media who regularly cover the Big 12, while West Virginia’s Tavon Austin got three votes and Terrance Williams of Baylor received the other.
Klein’s coach, Bill Snyder, was voted Big 12 Coach of the Year for the third time on Tuesday.
Defensive end Devonte Fields of Big 12 newcomer TCU was voted AP’s Defensive Player of the Year. He received seven votes to beat out Kansas State’s Arthur Brown (four), TCU’s Jason Verrett (three), Iowa State’s A.J. Klein (two) and Aaron Colvin and Tony Jefferson of Oklahoma (one each).
Fields was also the runaway winner of defensive newcomer of the year, while Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk was voted the conference’s top newcomer on offense.
Klein has already won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, and is up for several other national awards this week. He’s one of three finalists for the Heisman, along with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. That award will be handed out Saturday night in New York.
Klein threw for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns this season while running for 890 yards and 22 more touchdowns. He’s the first player in the BCS era to have consecutive seasons with at least 10 touchdown passes and 20 touchdown runs, and the other three to even accomplish the feat once all won the Heisman: Auburn’s Cam Newton in 2010, Florida’s Tim Tebow in 2007 and Eric Crouch of Nebraska in 2000.
Oklahoma State had the second-most first-team selections with five: running back Joseph Randle, Stewart, offensive lineman Lane Taylor and Quinn Sharp, who made it as both a punter and kicker.
Oklahoma’s Jefferson and Colvin were joined by Gabe Ikard on the first team. Baylor’s Williams and Cyril Richardson, Texas Tech’s LaAdrian Waddle and Kerry Hyder, West Virginia’s Austin and Stedman Bailey, Iowa State linebackers Klein and Jake Knott and Texas’ Alex Okafor also made the first team.