– BY SAM DUREN
It was a lighter week for OKPreps players at the next level player of the week candidates. Especially as all three in state programs took it on the chin. But worry not, as there’s a former small town standout making big waves for a SEC program.
Jace Sternberger is the pride of Kingfisher, Oklahoma and on national signing day in 2015 as a two star national recruit, he signed with the Kansas Jayhawks. After a redshirt season, and another season where he only made reception, the tight end transferred to NEO A&M in Miami. As a Norseman, he caught the eye of newly arrived Jimbo Fisher’s staff in College Station.
Since arriving there in the spring, where he earned team MVP honors during spring practice, Sternberger has been a revelation for the Aggies. Which continued this week in A&M’s 20-14 overtime win over the previously unbeaten Kentucky Wildcats. Sternberger hauled in five receptions, for 95 yards and an impressive catch and run for 46 yard fourth quarter touchdown.
The 6 foot 4 junior tight end currently leads Texas A&M in every major receiving category. He has 22 receptions for 351 yards and five touchdowns. His five touchdowns represent half of the total touchdown receptions made by the team. And his 16.0 reception average is also a team best, which is quite rare for a tight end.
To extend out Sternberger’s accomplishments on a conference wide scale, he’s currently tied for third in touchdowns. While also top 10 in yards (7th) and receptions (9th). Among just tight ends, Sternberger is the top in yards and touchdowns in the SEC.
With still half a season to play, the pride of Kingfisher, Oklahoma might just end up as the pride of College Station, Texas.
Rico Bussey Jr. And North Texas Are Doing Just Fine
Seemingly all the former Eisenhower Eagle does is catch touchdowns, as he did that once again this week for his eighth touchdown this season. Bussey Jr’s stat line also included eight receptions for 117 yards. North Texas go back to their winning ways by escape El Paso with a 27-24 win over UTEP.
Another strong week by Bussey Jr, has him in some impressive company in Conference USA and nationwide. His eight touchdowns on the season is the most by any player of in C-USA, and good for a three way tie for the second in the nation. Nationwide, the junior wide receiver., is also 13th in receptions (41) and 18th in yards (532).
Along with Bussey JR making noise for the Mean Green, Mason Fine came up just short of 300 yards, with a total of 294 yards and tossed two touchdowns while avoiding turing the ball over. Fine is now second in the career passing charts for North Texas and currently is on pace to become the all time leader in passing yards this year. And that would be with a full season to play.
Also of note for the Mean Green, sophomore Caleb Colvin from Owasso recorded half a sack and three tackles. The half sack is the first sack of the defensive tackle’s college career.
Oklahoma Aggies Extinguish The Flames.
New Mexico State is another out of state program with quite a few OKPreps products on the roster, five in fact. We’ve previous highlight senior cornerback Demarcis Owens of Yukon. Along with Owens, there’s junior wide receiver Drew Dan of Checotah, junior offensive lineman Kris’Sean Edwards of Union, freshman defensive lineman Mike Edwards of Muskogee and sophomore tight end Bryce Roberts of Mustang.
This week it was multiple Oklahomans stepping up in the Aggies’ 49-41 win over the Liberty Flames. Owens, a starter on defense, recorded six solo tackles and made a pass defense. While Dan and Roberts both found the end zone in the third quarter. It was back to back scores by the duo, which turned a 21 all game into a 35-21 NMSU lead.
Along with the touchdown, Roberts finished the day with three receptions and 17 yards. It was the former Broncos’ first touchdown of the year. Last season as a freshman, he found paydirt three different times.
Dan had a more explosive day with his touchdown, as he had 75 yards on only four catches. The small school standout now has two touchdowns on the year and is averaging 15.2 yards per reception.
Other Top Performers
Cade Mashburn, LB Redshirt Freshman, Norman North
Memphis, 3 total tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
In the Tigers’ 55-14 blowout win over UCONN, the former Timberwolf recorded the first statistics of his collegiate career. Mashburn made his playing time count with his fourth quarter sack, that also forced a fumble and gave Memphis the ball.
A.J. Parker, DB Redshirt Sophomore, Bartlesville
Kansas State, 9 total tackles 8 sacks
It’s been a rough season in Manhattan for the usually stingy Kansas State program. On Saturday, they lost a 37-34 dogfight to conference rivals Baylor. On the upside for the Oklahoma native has been a steady role in the Wildcats’ secondary, and he flew around racking up the tackles this week.
Corey Taylor Jr, RB Redshirt Sophomore, Holland Hall
Tulsa, 33 carries, 152 yards, 1 Touchdown
With fellow native Tulsa running back Shamari Brooks not suited up, Taylor Jr was the bell cow for the Golden Hurricane in their road game at Houston. The carries (33) and yards (152) were career highs. And it might have been even more if not for a fourth quarter ankle injury.
Unfortunately for Tulsa, this ankle injury put a hamper on their upset bid, as they were outscored 24-3 in the final frame. Which meant a 41-26 loss to the Cougars.
However, a few Oklahomans shined on the offensive line to help Taylor put up those strong numbers. Chandler Miller and Tyler Bowling, formerly of Bixby and Yukon respectively, gave Houston All American Ed Oliver fits all night. Oliver is projected to be a top five pick in April’s NFL draft and is widely considered the top prospect on the board.
Also of OKPreps note in this game, redshirt freshman Seth Boomer from Collinsville made his first career start. Which means there are now five different Oklahomans starting at Quarterback at the FBS level.
Also on defense, the eastern Oklahoma defensive back duo of senior McKinley Whitfield (Spiro) and Manuel Bunch (Roland) recorded five and seven tackles respectively.
Darwin Thompson, RB Junior, Jenks
Utah State, 17 carries, 109 yards, 3 receptions, 22 yards
Thompson continued to make his mark in the Aggies’ backfield, as Utah State won 45-20 over in-state rivals BYU. This was the first game this season where Thompson didn’t find the endzone, but the carries (17) and yards (109) were season highs.
Papi White, WR Senior, Seminole
Ohio, 5 receptions, 89 yards
A common name on this list, the explosive converted running back and his Bobcats beat Kent State 27-26. Five games into the season, and White is Ohio’s leader in every notable receiving category.