<
>

Ranking the Big 12's offensive triplets

The past three offseasons, we've ranked the best triplets -- trios of quarterbacks, running backs and receivers -- in the Big 12.

Last year, Oklahoma got the top nod, and sure enough, the combination of quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Samaje Perine and wide receiver Dede Westbrook propelled the Sooners to a Big 12 championship and record-setting offensive season.

The year before that, TCU's Trevone Boykin, Aaron Green and Josh Doctson topped the list, and until injuries derailed them, the Horned Frogs were an offensive juggernaut.

And in 2014, Bryce Petty, Shock Linwood and Antwan Goodley snagged the top triplet ranking, helping fuel Baylor to a second straight Big 12 title.

Who will have the league's best triplets in 2017?

Here's how they rank this offseason:

1. Oklahoma State: QB Mason Rudolph, RB Justice Hill, WR James Washington

The clear No. 1. Rudolph is one of only two Power 5 passers returning who threw for more than 4,000 yards last season. Hill is the reigning Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year. Washington already has a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Good luck finding a better trio.

2. Oklahoma: QB Baker Mayfield, RB Rodney Anderson, WR Marquise Brown

After back-to-back top-five finishes in the Heisman voting, Mayfield is among the top QBs in the country. But the Sooners' perch here is tenuous, as Anderson has only one career carry and Brown just arrived from junior college to headline an unproven receiving corps. Mayfield might have to carry this offense early on in the season, if not longer.

3. Kansas State: QB Jesse Ertz, RB Alex Barnes, WR Byron Pringle

Ertz quietly finished third in the Big 12 in QBR last season and was the only Big 12 QB to rush for more than 1,000 yards. Barnes was dynamic when he finally got carries late in the year. Pringle surged along with Ertz, who did a better job of getting the ball to his top receiver down the stretch.

4. TCU: QB Kenny Hill, RB Kyle Hicks, WR Taj Williams

TCU would look even better here with a thriving KaVontae Turpin. But Turpin missed much of last year with an injury, and now is out this spring to reportedly focus on academics. Hicks, however, is a proven 1,000-yard rusher who doubles as a terrific receiver. The key will be Hill, who is talented but has been too inconsistent.

5. West Virginia: QB Will Grier, RB Justin Crawford, WR Ka'Raun White

Grier might be the most intriguing newcomer in the Big 12. He dazzled in six games in Florida in 2015, but then was slapped with a PED suspension and hasn't played since. He has the upside to be one of the three best QBs in the league. Crawford is coming off a terrific first season. The onus will be on White and Jovon Durante to elevate their games after Shelton Gibson left early for the NFL draft.

6. Texas Tech: QB Nic Shimonek, RB Da'Leon Ward, WR Jonathan Giles

Giles was a second-team All-Big 12 selection and leads a receiving corps that should be among the better ones in the league. Ward rushed for more than 82 yards in each of his final four games after taking over as the primary ball carrier. Shimonek obviously has Patrick Mahomes' massive shoes to fill, but shined in his lone half (271 yards, four TDs) of meaningful action.

7. Texas: QB Shane Buechele, RB Chris Warren III, WR Armanti Foreman

Buechele first will need to hold off incoming freshman Sam Ehlinger to keep his starting job. Buechele started strong last year, but faded down the stretch along with the Longhorns. Warren (5.9 yards per carry) thrived behind fellow Smash Brother D'Onta Foreman before being lost for the year with a knee injury. When healthy, he's a load. Armanti Foreman led the Longhorns in receiving in 2016, but had only 34 receptions, underscoring Texas' continued lack of effectiveness through the air.

8. Iowa State: QB Jacob Park, RB David Montgomery, WR Allen Lazard

Lazard was a first-team All-Big 12 selection and became just the fourth Iowa State player ever to finish with more than 1,000 yards receiving in a season. Montgomery overtook Mike Warren in the Iowa State backfield, but the two figure to operate as a tandem in 2017. Iowa State has struggled over the past several years to settle on a quarterback. With Joel Lanning moving to linebacker, it's now Parks' turn to try and prove he can finally give the Cyclones their long-term answer.

9. Baylor: QB Zach Smith, RB Terence Williams, WR Chris Platt

Baylor is one of the few Big 12 teams with a true QB battle, as Arizona grad transfer Anu Solomon will attempt to dethrone Smith for the starting job. Solomon has 6,922 career passing yards, but Smith shined in Baylor's bowl win over Boise State. Williams was sixth in the Big 12 in rushing last year despite sharing the backfield. With KD Cannon and Ish Zamora gone, Baylor could be in line to endure a significant downtick at receiver, though Platt was eighth in the conference last year in yards per reception (16.2).

10. Kansas: QB Carter Stanley, RB Octavius Matthews, WR Steven Sims Jr.

Stanley will be battling juco transfer Peyton Bender for the starting job, but flashed signs as a starter late last year. Matthews was the No. 1 juco running back in the country. Among Big 12 returning receivers, only Oklahoma State's Jalen McCleskey had more receptions than Sims' 72 last season.