OU football: Five players Sooners need to especially account for this season

STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 17 : Wide receiver James Washington
STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 17 : Wide receiver James Washington /
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STILLWATER, OK – NOVEMBER 7 : Wide receiver James Washington
STILLWATER, OK – NOVEMBER 7 : Wide receiver James Washington /

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington, jersey No. 28

Watching Oklahoma State superstar receiver James Washington brings back memories of former Cowboy receiving greats Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon. The latter pair were All-Americans at Oklahoma State, and Washington is following on that same path.

Washington, a senior in 2017, was an All-Big 12 First Team selection last season, and this week was named to the Associated Press Preseason All-America Team. He is a big-time playmaker and a game-changer of the first order.

The Cowboys’ leading receiver a year ago in total yards and yards per game, Washington was contained fairly well by the Oklahoma defense in last year’s Bedlam game, but the year before he hauled in seven passes for 169 yards and a touchdown against the Sooners.

The 6-foot, 205-pound Cowboy receiver is scary enough on his own, but he becomes doubly dangerous with Mason Rudolph, one of the Big 12’s best quarterbacks targeting him downfield.

Last season, Washington led all FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) players with a minimum of 70 receptions, averaging 19.44 yards per catch. And to further illustrate his big-play ability, he was the only player in the country a year ago with three catches of at least 80 yards.

ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg called Washington the No. 1 returning receiver in college football heading into the 2017 season.

As it has been the case the past several season, the Nov. 4 Bedlam battle at Oklahoma State could decide the regular-season Big 12 crown, and it is highly likely that the Cowboys and the Sooners will be playing a second time in 2017 in the Big 12 Championship a month later.

If the Sooners are going to continue their series domination over their in-state rivals, let alone beat them twice in the same season, they are going to have to keep a close eye on Washington and know where he is on the field at all times.