Big 12 title game: Key players and how they were ranked in HS
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
Hurts’ accomplishments at Alabama have been well publicized at this point, as is the fact that he lost the starting job to Tua Tagovailoa. He decided to make a fresh start at Oklahoma, where he quickly established himself as one of the elite players in the country with 3,347 yards and 31 touchdowns through the air, plus 1,217 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground.
Farrell’s take: Hurts was always known for a big arm, but his touch wasn’t consistent. However, he was the kind of kid who seemed very relaxed on and off the field and never shrunk from the moment. Hurts was smart with the football and his accuracy improved greatly between his junior and senior seasons. His poise under pressure is remarkable.
The skinny: Lamb initially committed to Oklahoma, but then decommitted in order to take a closer look at a few other schools. Texas A&M and Ole Miss came the closest to challenging the Sooners, but at the end he found his way back to Norman by re-committing to Oklahoma in July.
During his time in Norman, Lamb has become one of the best big-play receivers in the country. Teaming up with Hurts this fall, he has totaled 50 receptions for 1,035 yards and 14 touchdowns, while averaging 20.7 yards per catch.
Farrell’s take: Lamb was one of those players I thought was under-ranked when we finished the 2017 cycle. While he was still a Rivals100 prospect and top 10 at his position, it was his size, speed and home run ability that led me to believe he was an amazing fit for the Big 12. We don’t rank players based on the team or conference they choose because so many factors can change (coaches, systems, etc.), but this was a match made in heaven for Lamb and the Sooners' staff, and he’s emerged as one of the top wide receivers in the country.
The skinny: Murray trimmed his list of top schools down to Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M before committing to the Sooners in August. An unofficial visit to Norman a couple of weeks before his decision put the Sooners over the top.
Coming off a season that saw him finish with 155 tackles, Murray’s production may have dropped off a bit this fall, but he is still the unquestioned leader on the defensive unit. Coming into the game with 85 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and three sacks, expect to see plenty of Murray around the ball on Saturday.
Farrell’s take: Murray was a four-star ranked outside the Rivals250 who had good length but needed to fill out and add size. He was a solid tackler in high school and showed good instincts, but he’s become a tackling machine at the college level. He’s outplayed his ranking so far and is one of the Big 12’s best defenders.
Coming off a very promising true freshman season in 2018, Perkins has continued to improve his level of play this fall. Currently with 37 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, six sacks and a forced fumble, Perkins is positioning himself to be one of the top returning interior defensive linemen in the country next season.
Farrell’s take: Perkins hit the ground running and has shown a lot of the ability we saw in high school as a pass-rusher and a kid who could do work in the offensive backfield. He was always good off of contact in high school, had a good first step and used his size well and now he is already showing flashes of dominance. He’s a force on the defense.
The skinny: Rambo committed to Oklahoma during the spring after his junior season. He did take an official visit to Florida, which he named his “dream school” a week before National Signing Day, but still signed with the Sooners.
When Hurts isn’t looking for Lamb, then Rambo is his likely target. Also a viable and consistent threat, Rambo has had a breakout season for the Sooners this fall with 40 receptions for 711 yards and five touchdowns.
Farrell’s take: Rambo was a Rivals100 receiver with good size and the ability to elevate. He had great ball skills and looked like a great fit for the Big 12. This has been the year we expected.
The skinny: Brewer initially committed to SMU during the summer leading up to his senior season. However, after a huge senior season, an offer from Baylor led to a flip on New Year’s Eve. Coming off a promising 2018 season, expectations were for an even better showing this fall. He responded by being an efficient leader while passing for 2,935 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions and adding 339 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Farrell’s take: Brewer was a mid-level three-star who put up good numbers but lacked great size and was thought of as a system quarterback. He was always good at extending the play and has shown that ability in college. He’s simply a winner.
He has quietly put together three consecutive impressive seasons in Waco for the Bears. Being Brewer’s favorite target, he enters the Oklahoma game with 61 receptions for 945 yards and 11 touchdowns, which included a two-touchdown performance in the first meeting between the two teams.
Farrell’s take: Mims was a high three-star out of high school with very good size and a huge frame to fill out. He’s been reliable as expected and is the big target that Brewer relies on. He’s played better than expected.
Lynch has been dominant this fall, earning several mid-season All-American honors. Controlling the middle for the Bears, he has totaled 59 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
Farrell’s take: Lynch was a mid-level three-star coming out of high school as a big defensive end and he has become a dominant defensive tackle at the college level. He’s key to the Baylor system as he takes up blockers and makes big plays.
The skinny: Arnold committed to Baylor at the end of his junior season and stayed firm with the Bears throughout the rest of his process. He also held offers from Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Mississippi State.
Arnold has been a pleasant surprise in Waco this season while establishing himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the Big 12. Totaling 36 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack and six interceptions, he is also a threat in the punt return game.
Farrell’s take: Arnold was a high three-star who lacked size out of high school but was very athletic and could close on the ball. He plays bigger receivers very well, as expected.
The skinny: Bernard initially committed to Houston but then flipped to Baylor after an official visit to Waco a few weeks before National Signing Day.
He showed a great deal of potential as a redshirt freshman in 2018, but has raised his game to an entirely new level this fall with a team-leading 95 tackles, along with eight tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and one interception, which was returned for a touchdown.
Farrell’s take: Bernard was a low three-star out of high school who lacked great size but could run and tackle. The worry was how he would handle blockers at the next level and he’s been excellent at that.