It’s been nearly four years since the Kansas football program had a player earn Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors.
And it took transfer defensive end Lonnie Phelps Jr. just one week to end that skid.
The Big 12 on Monday announced that Phelps had earned the defensive honor for Week 1. Phelps finished KU’s 56-10 win over Tennessee Tech with seven tackles, three sacks and four tackles for loss.
That performance marked the most sacks in a single game for a Jayhawk since 2016 and the most tackles for loss in a single game since 2017. Phelps became the first KU player to win the Big 12 weekly honor since Joe Dineen in November of 2018. He is the first KU defensive end to win the honor since Dorance Armstrong Jr. won it in 2016.
A transfer from Miami (Ohio), Phelps led a KU defense that held Tennessee Tech to 97 passing yards and 190 yards of total offense. According to Pro Football Focus, Phelps received a Week 1 grade of 96.4, which was the highest grade for a defensive end in the entire country.
In addition to his big numbers, Phelps led with some big personality, too, often flashing a demonstrative celebration after his biggest tackles.
Phelps, who said after the game that while some of his current and former teammates razzed him not to do his signature celebration of grabbing his helmet, arching his back and screaming into the air after a big tackle, he couldn’t help himself.
“My role for that is huge because just a person’s juice can actually motivate a whole team,” Phelps said after the win. “It was a lot of fun.”
As for the words associated with his screaming, Phelps laughed when asked to share those.
“I’m just yelling,” he said. “I ain’t saying no words. When I get a sack, I just go crazy.”