MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia redshirt junior linebacker David Long made history Wednesday, becoming the first player in program history to be named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Long is just the second Mountaineer to be named a conference’s defensive MVP, joining Canute Curtis, who was the Big East’s top defensive player in 1996.
Long led the league with 18.5 tackles for loss and ranked fourth with 8.8 tackles per game.
“He’s, in my opinion, the best linebacker in the country, and people need to take notice of it,” head coach Dana Holgorsen noted prior to the Oklahoma State game. “Just put the video on. I guarantee you that everybody we’ve played would say the same thing.”
Apparently, his fellow Big 12 coaches did just that in recognizing Long.
Long wasn’t the only West Virginia player honored by the conference. Offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste is one of three players tabbed as the Big 12’s offensive linemen of the year, joining Kansas State’s Dalton Risner and Oklahoma’s Dru Samia.
Cajuste and Long were joined by three other Mountaineers as first-team selections: wide receiver David Sills V, tight end Trevon Wesco and defensive back Kenny Robinson.
Quarterback Will Grier was named to the second team behind Oklahoma star Kyler Murray, providing a preview of how things may go in Heisman Trophy voting.
Grier was joined on the second team by defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow and offensive lineman Josh Sills.
Despite ranking second in the league (and fifth nationally) with 13 touchdown receptions, receiver Gary Jennings Jr. was snubbed, relegated to an honorable mention at the Big 12’s most stacked position.
Big 12 individual award winners
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma, QB, Jr., Allen, Texas
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
David Long Jr., West Virginia, LB, Jr., Cincinnati, Ohio
OFFENSIVE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Jalen Hurd, Baylor, WR, Sr., Hendersonville, Tenn.
DEFENSIVE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Greg Eisworth, Iowa State, DB, So., Grand Prairie, Texas
OFFENSIVE FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Pooka Williams Jr., Kansas, RB, New Orleans, La.
DEFENSIVE FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Caden Sterns, Texas, DB, Cibolo, Texas
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Austin Seibert, Oklahoma, K/P, Sr., Belleville, Ill.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN OF THE YEAR
Dalton Risner, K-State, Sr., Wiggins, Colo.
Dru Samia, Oklahoma, Sr., Sacramento, Calif.
Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia, Sr., Miami, Fla.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE YEAR
Charles Omenihu, Texas, Sr., Rowlett, Texas
CHUCK NEINAS COACHES OF THE YEAR
Matt Campbell, Iowa State (3rd Season)
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma (2nd Season)