MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia's disappointing inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference dipped a little more Wednesday when the league's offensive player of the year award went to Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and the Mountaineers were only able to get a share of one of the 11 awards.
"I said this back when they had me up for the Heisman as the No. 1 player, but I said it didn't mean too much to me," WVU quarterback Geno Smith said. "The game is about winning and losing. I wanted to win every game this year. I didn't want to win the Heisman. I wanted to win it all, win the national championship. That's really my only disappointment."
Smith and receiver and sudden star running back Tavon Austin had their individual seasons for WVU (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) trumped by Klein, who led the Wildcats to the conference championship, but Austin's return game was rewarded with a piece of the special teams player of the year award. He shared it with Oklahoma State kicker and punter Quinn Sharp.
Austin finished the regular season tied for No. 21 nationally in average yards per punt return (11) and No. 24 in average yards per kickoff return (26.36). He returned one punt and one kickoff for a touchdown, both in Big 12 play.
"He's the most explosive player in the country with the ball in his hands," Coach Dana Holgorsen said.
Austin was also a dynamic offensive player for the Mountaineers and led the nation in receptions per game for most of the season before finishing second to Southern Cal's Marqise Lee.
He dropped after playing running back extensively the final three games and rushed for 344 yards against Oklahoma, the first time he had been featured in the backfield since high school.
The sum of his efforts was the nation's second-best all-purpose average (230 yards per game) this season. That helped him earn honorable mention status for Big 12 offensive player of the year, in addition to the special teams award and the first-team all-Big 12 spot as kickoff and punt returner.
"I know one thing," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said.
"He plays a lot differently than anyone else. Say what you want about all the other guys. That's good and dandy. I think behind closed doors, if you got people who played us in a room, they'd tell you who the best player is."