Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook finished third and fourth, respectively, in 2016 Heisman Trophy voting. They were the first teammates to finish in the top five since 2008 when another Big 12 quarterback-receiver did so, Texas Tech's Graham Harrell (fourth) and Michael Crabtree (fifth).
While one school representing 50 percent of the top four vote-getters is impressive, their failure to overtake Lamar Jackson (and Deshaun Watson) extended the Big 12's Heisman drought to five years, tying the longest drought since 1989-93.
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Mayfield returns as a Heisman favorite in 2017 but he's not the only Big 12 player with a legitimate shot at the award. Here is the best candidate from each team, some of whom have a realistic shot and others who have a better chance of winning the lottery.
Baylor – Terence Williams, RB
Despite the losses of Seth Russell, KD Cannon, Shock Linwood and others, Baylor has a pile of big-time offensive weapons, led by Terence Williams.
A huge back (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) who's just as good on the edge and in open space as inside, Williams had a terrific 2016 season, rushing for 1,048 yards and 11 touchdowns on fewer than 200 carries. He had at least one carry of 20 or more yards in six games and ran for 180 yards against Texas.
The Bears' success will be more dependent on quarterback Zach Smith (or Arizona transfer Anu Solomon) but Williams is their best Heisman candidate.
Iowa State – Allen Lazard, WR
Sorry, Cyclones, this isn't your year to win the first Heisman in program history.
Allen Lazard is the best player on the roster who also has the best chance to demolish stat sheets. Still, a 2,000-yard, 20-touchdown season wouldn't warrant consideration unless they sniff 10 wins.
Kansas – Dorance Armstrong Jr., DE
Kansas might have their best quarterback group since Todd Reesing left in 2009 but neither Carter Stanley nor Peyton Barber are winning the Heisman. They're just concentrating on the Jayhawks winning more than three games for the first time since 'Nam.
Dorance Armstrong isn't winning the award either, but he has the best chance to put up video-game numbers. The 6-foot-4, 241-pounder had 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks as a sophomore in 2016.
#Kansas Tweets: Guess who jQuery17205955972979685542_1495678004687?? DORANCE ARMSTRONG with the hit! pic.twitter.com/jwXK2tqjVH https://t.co/jzxkQU3QTc
— Kansas Notes (@kansasnotes) October 13, 2016
Kansas State – Jesse Ertz, QB
Collin Klein was a Heisman finalist for an 11-win team despite throwing for just 2,641 yards and 16 touchdowns. Jesse Ertz has a similar skill set, is a better runner than Klein (1,012 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2016) and is a bump in passing efficiency away from being a top-tier quarterback.
It's not unrealistic for a healthy Ertz to nearly double his passing numbers and lead the Wildcats to 10 wins.
Oklahoma – Baker Mayfield, QB
A two-time top-four Heisman finisher, Baker Mayfield sits alongside Lamar Jackson and Sam Darnold as favorites. He's a 70-percent passer who's flirted with 4,000-yard, 40-touchdown seasons each of the last two years.
Week 2 vs. Ohio State is his big chance. He was 17-for-32 for 226 yards, two touchdowns and two picks in last year's 21-point loss to the Buckeyes.
Oklahoma State – Mason Rudolph, QB
Mason Rudolph leads seven returning offensive starters for Oklahoma State and is ready for a run at a Big 12 title, playoff appearance and Heisman Trophy.
He took a giant leap last year, bumping his numbers across the board, most notably touchdown to interception rate (2.3 to 7) and has the best receiver in the country in James Washington.
TCU – Kyle Hicks, RB
Similarly to Terence Williams at Baylor, Kyle Hicks was extremely productive during a down year for his team. The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder exploded as a junior, rushing for 1,042 yards and 12 touchdowns and adding 47 catches for 417 yards and two scores as a receiver.
Quarterback Kenny Hill could be the Frogs' leading contender if his receivers don't drop a billion passes again but Hicks has greater potential to obliterate box scores.
Texas – Shane Buechele, QB
If D'Onta Foreman finished eighth in 2016 Heisman voting after a 2,000, 15-touchdown season for a five-win team, it's likely his replacement Chris Warren III would need to match those numbers for a nine-win team.
As a result, sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele is the pick. He played well as a freshman, completing 60 percent of his passes and throwing a modest one interception per 35 pass attempts.
His moment will be in Week 3 when Texas visits USC.
Texas Tech – Nic Shimonek, QB
Patrick Mahomes threw for 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns and didn't earn Heisman consideration, mostly because he led a five-win team.
Former Iowa transfer Nick Shimonek is the replacement for Mahomes. All he needs to do is match the first-round pick's numbers and win five more games. Seems reasonable.
West Virginia – Will Grier, QB
This is a toss up between Grier and running back Justin Crawford.
Crawford averaged a staggering 7.3 yards per carry last season, racking up nearly 1,200 yards on just 163 carries. He topped 200 yards twice, including a 331-yard game against Oklahoma.
The edge, for now, goes to Grier, the former suspended Florida quarterback who dazzled in six games for the Gators in 2015. If he has a huge opener against Virginia Tech and hold up under a revamped offensive line, sky's the limit.