Originally published December 6, 2017 at 03:07p.m., updated December 7, 2017 at 03:01p.m.

Productive linebacker Joe Dineen still upbeat about KU’s future

Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (29) sacks Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer (12) during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov.. 4, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. At left is Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. (2).

Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (29) sacks Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer (12) during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov.. 4, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. At left is Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. (2).


Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen would be the first to admit the 2017 season didn’t live up to the expectations he and other team leaders had going into it.

But that doesn’t mean the redshirt junior couldn’t find some small gratification in his contributions to the Jayhawks’ endeavors.

In his third full season with KU — a hamstring injury ended Dineen’s 2016 year three weeks in — the hometown defensive playmaker from Free State High, in Lawrence, led the Big 12 in total tackles (137) and tackles for loss (25.0).

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker proved so proficient at making stops behind the line of scrimmage that Dineen beat out Oklahoma’s co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (17.5), as well as TCU’s Ben Banogu (15.5) and Mat Boesen (14.5), in the category — even though the conference title game participants had a 13th game to add to their numbers. None came close to catching up to Dineen’s league-best production in opposing backfields, nor did his teammate Daniel Wise (16.0).

Dineen’s name now stands alone at the top of KU’s all-time records for tackles for loss in a season, ahead of Charlton Keith’s former mark of 23.0, set in 2005. A defensive captain, Dineen didn’t know at the time the Jayhawks’ 1-11 season concluded with a loss at Oklahoma State Thanksgiving weekend he had beat out Keith. An error by the stats crew at OSU that day incorrectly credited Wise with both a forced fumble and a tackle behind the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter, when both plays should’ve gone to Dineen. The corrected numbers were submitted to the Big 12 and NCAA this week.

“A goal I had coming into the season was to make more of my tackles behind or at the line of scrimmage,” said Dineen, voted a second-team All-Big 12 linebacker by the league’s coaches, and a second-team All-American by Sports Illustrated. “I’m just glad I was able to accomplish that this year. It was a good accomplishment. I’m proud of that.”

According to Pro Football Focus, Dineen made more stops for defensive wins than any other linebacker at the FBS level.

None by PFF College Football

Entering the off-season, Dineen felt optimistic about KU’s chances of progressing further in 2018, particularly with the vast majority of players on the defense’s two-deep likely to be back.

“We’re going to have a lot of experience,” Dineen replied, when asked to present a factor that could give KU’s fan base some hope for next season. “Defensively we’ve got a lot of experience in the secondary. I’m really looking forward to it.”

The largest question facing the Kansas defense at this phase, with actual games still nearly nine months away, is whether standout defensive linemen Wise and Dorance Armstrong Jr. will return for their senior seasons or leave early to enter the NFL Draft.

“Whatever decision they make, that’s totally up to them. Obviously what they’ve done here in their three years has been incredible,” Dineen said. “The legacy they would leave is just two hard-working guys that make a ton of plays. I think they’ll probably go down as some of the best defensive linemen we’ve had come through here, and rightfully so. They do a ton of stuff off the stat sheet and a ton of stuff on the stat sheet for us.”

Should tackle Wise and end Armstrong come back, KU would most likely have its top 13 tacklers from 2017 in the mix next year: Dineen (137), safety Mike Lee (70), Armstrong (63), nickelback Bryce Torneden (61), Wise (53), safety Tyrone Miller Jr. (47), linebackers Osaze Ogbebor (46) and Keith Loneker Jr. (46), cornerbacks Hasan Defense (42) and Kyle Mayberry (30), defensive tackle J.J. Holmes (24), cornerback Shak Taylor (22) and defensive end Josh Ehambe (22).

All of them, of course, would have to continue to develop and improve through off-season workouts in order for Kansas to put a more competitive product on the field in head coach David Beaty’s fourth season.

“I’m excited because we have a full year with coach (Zac) Woodfin and his staff,” Dineen said of the Jayhawks training with the program’s director of football strength and conditioning, who arrived in Lawrence this past February. “Those guys are really good and I think we’ll come into next season motivated and in great shape. I’m just motivated to get into that program.”


Pius Waldman 4 years, 10 months ago

Why not be optimistic about the future. Joe is showing that and some of us hope it will be true.

Brian Wilson 4 years, 10 months ago

Dineen knew what he was doing back when he redshirted. Adouble negative, We had 25 walk-ons in 2015, only 60 players on scholarship or being short an additional 25 scholarship players. We only had 12 recruited Seniors and 13 Juniors and most of those were left overs from the ones Weiss chased off.
Next year, Beaty has filled the roster, While the Senior class still has a few leftovers, Te junior class will be full of KU recruits with 3 years in program, and the Sophomore class is almost as big, IMO, Dineen knew the plan and timed his graduation with what should be a better year. IMO, KU gets 3 W's.

Jeff Coffman 4 years, 10 months ago

Are you talking 3 wins next year or two years from now?

Either way the benchmark set by Beaty this year was 6 wins, don't let him cut it in half for next year.

By the way, I think we will be lucky to win one.

Brian Wilson 4 years, 10 months ago

I am not sure where or when Beaty would call out 6 wins this past year.....but IMO if he did, it was just to sell tickets. Beaty and the AD knew how bad it was going to be. They even said so in the KC Star when he was hired. In 2015 KU has less players and less scholarships and more walk-ons than Penn State did after the sex scandal. All the media called that a death penalty to Penn State and so the NCAA let them out of the penalty early. IMO, 25 walk-ons and minus 25 scholarship players was a double negative. To replace 50 players in two takes 50 scholarships and during that time we only had about 35 to offer. To make matters worse Beatty came in late in 2015 and all he got in recruiting was leftovers. So IMO, you can't even count 2015......Beaty has really only had 2 years to turn it around and in the meantime is having to cycle out over 30 walk-ons and 24 transfers. That meant it couldn't be done in two but would take three years to fill the roster. To see how bad those transfers were, almost none of them started this past season. If you look at this year's depth chart on Our Lad's think we had one transfer that was in the starting lineup.
But IMO, yes, the 3 wins come next year, and then in 2019, we have over 50 upperclassmen with some talent in there and we may see that 6 wins you mention. But......if Beaty doesn't win 3 next year....I will agree with you all and he should be fired.

Chris DeWeese 4 years, 10 months ago

Too bad he was 2nd team all B12. Should've been 1st team without a doubt, but when you lose as gloriously as this team did it's hard to get away from that stigma.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 10 months ago

It's a little surprising that the leading tackler in the league, from a tackling position, was not first team. It's one thing if it's a safety making tackles 11 yards downfield, but Joe clearly did his job in the muck. Very impressive considering the wide-open offenses he faced in the conference.

Jeff Coffman 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm confused how we would have anyone on the defensive all-conference teams. We were 118 out of 130 in total defense.

I don't understand the logic.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 10 months ago

Because it's not a team award. It's for individual performance. That's how "all" teams work.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 10 months ago

So here's how Girod fixes this mess that he's created.....

Neeli Bendapudi, the woman who should have been named Chancellor, is named our new A.D. No experience in athletics? Irrelevant. Tons of experience in higher ed, a powerhouse administrator who could raise more money in month than Zenger can in a year.

Why would she do it? She'll make 3 times the pay, and she'll position herself well for the Chancellorship when, in five years, everyone tires of Major Milktoast.

My guess is that after being named A.D., she'll have Beaty packing his office before she sits down at her desk, and she'll have a solid coach in place in 7 days. Bring on Fritz, and you might even be able to save the Louisiana recruits that people seem to think are the next coming of Aquib Talib and Dezmon Briscoe/Willie Vaughn.

Fritz can keep Hull and the conditioning coach and then bring an actual staff with him.

Ding. Dang. Done.

Bryson Stricker 4 years, 10 months ago

Like this comment if you read his comment and don't know what to say back.

John Brazelton 4 years, 10 months ago

Brett, you and Tom Keegan need to give up on the constant negativity. Dr. Girod is going to remain as Chancellor, Zenger is going to remain as AD and Beaty, at least, for 2018, is going to be KU's head football coach. Hopefully, with senior leadership next season, KU's football team will start making some progress up the wins and losses ladder. How much remains to be seen

Jeff Coffman 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes there is nothing like setting the bar really low and lowering it each year. That leads to a successful football program.

I assume when we have 1 win next year (or even 3) you will be calling out that it was a great season and we should keep everyone. What you will then say we need Beaty to have the Seniors that red-shirted early be his mark of success. What excuses are already being built.

Tom is laying a foundation that it has to be made next year without results.

Dale Rogers 4 years, 10 months ago

Hey Benton Smith ... we have the thumbs up symbol to indicate we agree with the post so how about giving us a thumbs down symbol so we can indicate "boo hiss."

W Keith Swinehart II 4 years, 10 months ago

Love Dineen's talent and attitude. That's how it's done.

Robert Brock 4 years, 10 months ago

Girod, Zenger, and Beaty are making it possible to purchase single game tickets at the local supermarkets for $5 apiece. Good times.

Jeff Coffman 4 years, 10 months ago

Do you get a coupon for $10 off your next purchase at the supermarket?

John Fitzgerald 4 years, 10 months ago

Dineen deserved to be 1st team All Conference but I'm sure he'll take what he gets. Also, this should motivate him more for next year.

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