Bryce Petty had to wait behind a Heisman Trophy winner and then another record-setting quarterback for his turn at Baylor.
In the moments after the No. 6 Bears won their first Big 12 championship and a Fiesta Bowl berth with a decisive victory over Texas, the tears started flowing for the fourth-year junior.
“Words really couldn’t describe the way that I felt, and the way this team has felt,” Petty said. “I kind of just started crying uncontrollably, and I don’t really do that much. But it’s just been a process and it’s the fact that when you put your trust in God and he’s faithful, things work out. … I have waited a long time for this.”
Petty, who has thrown for 3,844 yards with 30 touchdowns and only two interceptions in his first season starting after waiting behind Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence, was named Monday as the AP Big 12 offensive player of the year.
The private school in the Big 12, the world’s largest Baptist university, had never even had a winning season in the league before coach Art Briles arrived six years ago. The Bears’ last outright league title before Saturday had been in the Southwest Conference in 1980.
Joining Petty on the first-team offense are two teammates who were also unanimous picks at their positions — Antwan Goodley, the Big 12 leader with 109.9 yards receiving per game, and Cyril Richardson, the 6-foot-5, 340-pound senior guard from North Crowley likely to be a top NFL draft pick in April. Big 12 rushing leader Lache Seastrunk was also a first-team pick for the Bears.
“He’s sat behind some great quarterbacks, he’s learned a lot,” Goodley said of Petty. “It’s showing on the field. He’s a great leader.”
Jackson Jeffcoat, who has a Big 12-leading 12 sacks and whose 75 tackles are the most by a Texas defensive end in 19 seasons, was picked as the Big 12 defensive player in the balloting by 20 media members who cover the league on a regular basis.
Jeffcoat got 11 of 20 votes for top defensive player. TCU defensive back Jason Verrett, the only other unanimous first-team pick on defense, and Oklahoma State defensive back Justin Gilbert each got three votes.
Petty, who also ran for 11 touchdowns for a Baylor team that has scored 53 points a game, got 18 of 20 votes for top offensive player. The other two went to Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro, the unanimous choice for tight end after leading the league with 8.2 catches per game and ranking third with 103.3 yards per game.
With Amaro and offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark, the Red Raiders are the only team other than Baylor with multiple first-team picks among the starting 11 on offense.
Baylor, which will play UCF in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, had a league-high six players who were first-team picks, including the offensive quartet. The Bears’ other first-team picks are linebacker Eddie Lackey and punter Spencer Roth.
Seastrunk, the former Oregon transfer, was the league’s top offensive newcomer last year and now the first Baylor running back with two 1,000-yard seasons. Even after getting hurt early in the Oklahoma game and missing two games after that, Seastrunk has 1,060 yards rushing (106 per game) with 11 touchdowns.
Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett, who has 71 catches for 1,146 yards and eight TDs while averaging 25.5 yards on kickoff returns, was selected a first-team pick as a receiver and all-purpose player.
Richardson and Oklahoma senior center Gabe Ikard are first-team picks on offense for the second year in a row.
Verrett, Oklahoma defensive back Aaron Colvin and Kansas State defensive back Ty Zimmerman are first-team repeaters on defense.
Oklahoma State had a league-high three first-team picks on defense with defensive lineman Calvin Barnett, linebacker Caleb Lavey and Gilbert.
The Big 12 offensive newcomer of the year is West Virginia senior running back Charles Sims, who transferred to the Mountaineers for his final year of eligibility after graduating in May from Houston. The second-team pick at running back ran for 1,095 yards and 11 TDs with three more scores while tying for the team lead with 45 catches.
Oklahoma freshman linebacker Dominique Alexander, who has 75 tackles, was picked the top defensive newcomer. He had 19 tackles in his first career start against Texas.
The AP will name its Big 12 coach of the year Tuesday.