The 2017 season fell far short of the type of success Kansas football players envisioned, but their efforts within a challenging 1-11 campaign didn’t go overlooked by the Big 12’s coaches.
Led by junior Daniel Wise’s first-team selection, four Jayhawks achieved all-conference status for their individual play and production, the Big 12 announced Thursday afternoon.
Just an honorable mention choice as a sophomore a year ago, according to the coaches (the Associated Press put Wise on the second team in 2016), Wise’s dominant redshirt junior year catapulted him all the way to the first team.
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound interior lineman from Lewisville, Texas, came through with 54 total tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, five quarterback hurries and a pass breakup.
KU also landed three players on the All-Big 12 second team: senior tight end Ben Johnson, junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., and junior linebacker Joe Dineen.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound passing target and blocker from Basehor, caught a career-best 30 passes in his final season, contributing 363 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Armstrong, after a breakout 2016 season that brought him All-Big 12 first team honors and led to his selection as the 2017 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, registered 63 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. The junior from Houston also was credited with seven QB hurries, four pass breakups, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Dineen delivered his best collegiate season to date for KU, leading the Big 12 not only in total tackles (135), but also solo tackles (91) and tackles for loss (23). A hometown contributor from Free State High, Dineen also made 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups and two QB hurries.
Four other Jayhawks earned honorable mention from the Big 12’s coaches: junior receiver Steven Sims Jr., sophomore tackle Hakeem Adeniji, sophomore defensive back Bryce Torneden and redshirt junior kicker Gabriel Rui.
Wise also garnered an honorable mention in Defensive Lineman of the Year voting.
All of the Kansas standouts, of course, would’ve preferred victories to accolades. Said Wise of the disappointing season, after KU’s year ended with its 11th straight loss: “We just couldn’t get everything to click at the same time and consistently. But obviously going into the season we were not expecting to be 1-11. We come in every day with a winning mentality and obviously heads up, heads high. We’re going to keep swinging and build on this into next season in the offseason.”
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield garnered his second Offensive Player of the Year Award in three years, Oklahoma’s seventh overall and third consecutive.
OU defensive end and linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was the fifth player from Oklahoma to earn Defensive Player of the Year, which he shared with Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson.
West Virginia QB Will Grier was West Virginia’s second consecutive Offensive Newcomer of the Year, and third overall.
Defensive end Ben Banogu was the first TCU player named as Defensive Newcomer of the Year.
Baylor QB Charlie Brewer was the first Baylor player selected Offensive Freshman of the Year since Robert Griffin in 2008. TCU wideout Jalen Reagor, who shared the honor with Brewer, was the first TCU player to earn the honor.
Defensive tackle Ross Blacklock was the second TCU player to be named Defensive Freshman of the Year, along with Devonte Fields in 2012. Linebacker Kenneth Murray, who shared that distinction with Blacklock, was the fifth Oklahoma player to earn the distinction.
Texas punter Michael Dickson took home his second Special Teams Player of the Year.
UT’s Orlando Brown won his second consecutive Offensive Lineman of the Year award.
Texas senior Pona Ford won Defensive Lineman of the Year.
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell received the Chuck Neinas Coach of the Year award.