Jayhawks well represented on Phil Steele's preseason all-Big 12 teams
College football analyst and magazine guru Phil Steele released his preseason all-Big 12 teams earlier today and the Jayhawks, believe it or not, were fairly well represented.
Now, it's not as if KU landed as many guys on Steele's four preseason teams as Baylor, K-State or Oklahoma, but Charlie Weis' squad was given a fair amount of respect.
Here's a quick look.
For starters, putting senior Ben Heeney as one of the top linebackers in the conference was pretty obvious and, had Steele not had him, the whole list would have been suspect.
Heeney has been one of the top tacklers and the leader of the KU defense for the past two seasons and there's no reason to think he'll be anything but that in 2014 as well. If anything, seeing how it's his last season at KU, one might make a strong case for Heeney having his best season yet.
Newcomer Nick Harwell earned the nod here, with Steele putting the Miami (Ohio) transfer just behind Baylor's Antwan Goodley, K-State's Tyler Lockett and Texas Tech's Jakeem Grant. Not going to argue with any of those.
Given Harwell's past performance and his importance to KU's offense, it seems to make sense for Steele to put him here. He's got the talent to move into that first tier by season's end but Montell Cozart and the offensive line are going to have to have big seasons for that to happen.
Senior Jimmay Mundine also earned a second-team nod at tight end, a position that is wide open in the Big 12 this season. Iowa State's E.J. Bibbs earned first-team honors, but, again, if that KU offense shows up this season, Mundine could be productive enough to earn a promotion by December.
Senior offensive guard Ngalu Fusimalohi, the lone lineman to start all 12 games at the same position in 2013, landed on Steele's second-team O-Line, largely based on last year's performance and his reputation as KU's most reliable and proven returning lineman.
Two KU defenders also made the second team, with last year's defensive newcomer of the year, Isaiah Johnson, holding down one safety spot and senior Dexter McDonald picked as one of the two second-team cornerbacks. Can't argue with either choice, as both guys have a ton of talent and have proven themselves in Big 12 play before.
Defensive End/Buck Michael Reynolds landed on Steele's third team, a testament to both his performance last season and development and maturity since arriving on campus, and he was joined by senior punter Trevor Pardula, who spent time as one of the top punters in the nation last season before coming back to Earth a little bit toward the end of the season.
All in all, it's a pretty good showing for the Jayhawks, who, if things go well, easily could have a couple of other guys crack the all-Big 12 lists by the end of 2014.
The omitted names most likely to show up on similar lists in the postseason include: senior wide receiver Tony Pierson, defensive backs Kevin Short and JaCorey Shepherd, right tackle Damon Martin and defensive tackle Keon Stowers.
In order for any of them to make the leap, though, they're going to have to turn in monster seasons and, perhaps more importantly, KU is going to have to win games.
Here's a complete look at Phil Steele's 2014 preseason all-Big 12 teams.