Oklahoma gymnast Maggie Nichols and quarterback Jalen Hurts have been named the 2019-20 Big 12 Athletes of the Year.
Hurts is the seventh OU male athlete and fourth in the last five seasons to earn this award. Nichols is the sixth Sooner female to claim the honor and the third athlete all-time to win in multiple seasons. This is the eighth time in Conference history that an institution has swept the yearly honors and the third for OU in the last five years.
Nominees are submitted by Big 12 institutions and selected, based on athletic performance, academic achievement and citizenship, by a media panel as well as fan voting conducted through Big12Sports.com.
Nichols garnered Female Athlete of the Year after earning Big 12 Gymnast of the Year honors in 2020. She earned WCGA All-America First Team honors on all four events and the all-around. Additionally, the Little Canada, Minn., native was a five-time All-Big 12 selection on the vault, bars, beam, floor and in the all-around. She was named the AAI Award winner, which is the penultimate collegiate award in women’s gymnastics. Nichols was a finalist for the Honda Sport Award and a semifinalist for the AAU Sullivan award.
She ranked No. 1 nationally in the all-around and on vault to end the season and finished the year ranked No. 2 on bars. The senior tallied five perfect 10s on the season to bring her career total to 22. She was named Big 12 Gymnast of the Week six times. Nichols tallied a season-high 39.900 in the all-around (Jan. 20) and is the only gymnast in NCAA history with multiple marks of 39.900 or higher.
For the season, she secured 28 event titles – six on vault, seven on bars, five on beam, five on floor and five in the all-around. She finished her career fourth all-time on the career perfect 10s list in NCAA history. Nichols registered a 98.9 percentage, nailing 180 of her 182 collegiate routines. She also was named the Big 12 Athlete of the Year for 2017-18 and is the first Sooner female to win the award in multiple seasons.
Off the mat, Nichols came forward as “Athlete A” in the USA Gymnastics scandal involving Larry Nassar in 2018, days before the season began. She earned the 2019 NCAA Inspiration Award, the 2019 Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award and was given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2018 ESPYs.
Academically, the senior is pursuing a degree in communications with a minor in business. Nichols is a four-time Academic All-Big 12 performer.
In his one season at Oklahoma, Hurts ended his campaign as the Heisman Trophy runner-up, while garnering All-America status from Sporting News (second team) and the Associated Press (third team). He led the Sooners to their fifth straight Big 12 championship and third consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff.
The Houston native earned All-Big 12 First Team honors from the league’s coaches and media and was the Conference’s Newcomer of the Year by AP and Offensive Newcomer of the Year by the coaches. He was a finalist for the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award and Senior CLASS Award.
In 2019, Hurts led the nation in yards per pass attempt (11.3; FBS record is 11.6) and ranked second in passing efficiency rating (191.2; fourth best in school history), yards per completion (16.3), points responsible for per game (22.9) and touchdowns accounted for (53). He ranked third in country in total offense (367.8 ypg), sixth nationally in completion percentage (.697; third best in school history), seventh in rushing touchdowns (20; second among QBs), eighth in passing yards (3,851) and 11th in passing touchdowns (32).
Hurts compiled 5,149 yards of total offense (3,851 passing, 1,298 rushing) for the second-highest figure in program history and set OU single-season records for rushing yards by a quarterback and points scored by a QB (126).
The senior became the first quarterback since 1981 (Darrell Shepard) to lead OU in scoring and the first since 1988 (Charles Thompson) to lead the Sooners in rushing yards. He was one of just two players nationally since at least 1996 to record 32-plus passing TDs and 18-plus rushing TDs in a season (Florida’s Tim Tebow had 32 and 23, respectively, in 2007 when he won the Heisman Trophy) and he became only third FBS player to register at least 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards by the 11th game of a season. Hurts was the only FBS player since 1996 to post a passing efficiency rating of 245.0 or better five times in the same season (minimum 15 attempts) and the only player to do so more than three times. Additionally, he was the only FBS player with more than three games with two-plus rushing touchdowns and two-plus passing TDs (he had five such performances). He rushed for at least 100 yards in five games.
In April’s NFL Draft, Hurts was selected in the second round as the No. 53 overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Academically, Hurts completed 24 hours of graduate coursework in human relations with a 3.38 GPA and was a two-time Sooner Scholar.
Other female candidates for Big 12 Athlete of the Year included Lauren Cox (Baylor), Cailie Logue (Iowa State), Katie McClure (Kansas), Peyton Williams (Kansas State), Vivian Gray (Oklahoma State), Messiah Bright (TCU), Claire Adams (Texas), Brittany Brewer (Texas Tech) and Rylee Foster (West Virginia).
Male nominees were Freddie Gillespie (Baylor), Edwin Kurgat (Iowa State), Udoka Azubuike (Kansas), Tejaswin Shankar (Kansas State), Chuba Hubbard (Oklahoma State), Desmond Bane (TCU), Jordan Windle (Texas), Sandy Scott (Texas Tech) and Noah Adams (West Virginia).