The Big 12 football season gets underway the weekend of September 4th and that begins Year 8 of Heartland College Sports covering the best conference in college athletics. Our staff knows this conference as well as any group in the media landscape.
With Big 12 Media Days this week, we have made our Preseason All-Big 12 Team selections this week. Plus, the individual awards have been announced and the Heartland College Sports Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year is Oklahoma linebacker Nik Bonitto.
Nik Bonitto is coming off a season where he was named a Second-Team All-American totaled 32 tackles with 10.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, two pass breakups and a team-high 10 QB hurries. According to Pro Football Focus, Bonitto had the nation’s top pressure rate at 25.7%. He also ranked first nationally per PFF among 257 edge rushers in pass-rush grade (93.5) and pass-rush win rate (28.5%).
We would argue he was underrated in terms of the amount of attention he got from regional and national media during the 2020 college football season.
Bonitto anchors an Oklahoma defense that is expected to be its best in over a decade as the program has National Championship aspirations during the 2021 season.
With the depth around OU’s defense, this will also give Bonitto plenty of opportunities to rack up big stats off the edge and that’s what helped him be named the Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.