Heartland College Sports doesn’t just go with the flow with the rest of the media. It’s never how we’ve done business. So we will roll out our individual winners that we are predicting for the upcoming 2019 college football season. If you missed our 2019 Preseason All-Big 12 Team, you can find that here.
Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Prediction: Iowa State DE Jaquan Bailey
Maybe some of you didn’t see this coming, but among the Heartland College Sports contributors, Bailey edged out Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray, Iowa State defensive lineman Ray Lima and Texas defensive back Caden Sterns by one vote.
Bailey may be the most overlooked player in the Big 12 Conference. Just look at the numbers. He may be the best defensive player on the best defense in the conference. Bailey finished the 2018 season third in sacks in the Big 12 Conference behind seniors Charles Omenihu (Texas) and Ben Banogu (TCU), along with junior Jordan Brailford (Oklahoma State), who left for the NFL. Also, his 4.5 sacks in conference play are the most of anyone returning in the conference. All those ahead of him were seniors, or juniors who left early for the NFL (WVU’s David Long and Brailford).
When it comes to tackles for loss, it’s the same for Bailey. He trailed just Long, Omenihu, Banogu, Gary Johnson (Texas) and Brailford, making him the top returner in the category. In conference play, he ranked T-13, with the returning players ahead of him including Kenneth Murray (OU), Reggie Walker (Kansas State), JoVanni Stewart (West Virginia), and Wyatt Hubert (Kansas State).
For Bailey, he gets another year under the most creative defensive coordinator in the Big 12 in Jon Heacock, along with the strongest front seven in the conference, which will open plenty of holes for Bailey and his teammates. But we expect Bailey to be able to capitalize the most off the edge and pile up the most impressive state line, giving him the nod for this award.
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