Kansas Football: Jayhawks Awarded All-Big 12 Honors

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Several players from the Kansas football team garnered All-Big 12 honors this season, signaling a bright future in Lawrence.

Defense Stars

We’ve remarked all season long that there has been vast improvement among nearly every unit on the Kansas football team. The defensive line especially stood out. Several of those linemen were rewarded with All-Big 12 selections, both from the Associated Press and Big 12 coaches. The media and coaches rewarded other KU players with all-conference honors as well.

The biggest star of them all is Dorance Armstrong. The sophomore defensive end recorded 10 sacks, second in the Big 12 and 20 tackles for loss, which led the conference and was 5th in the country. During the middle part of the season, Armstrong recorded a sack in six straight games. The defensive end was a well-deserved unanimous selection. Pro Football Focus ranked Armstrong the 15th most productive pass rusher in the country. Tackles around the Big 12 are not looking forward to Armstrong coming back for his junior season. It’s scary to think how good Armstrong will be.

Wise an All-Big 12 Performer

The other star Jayhawk defensive lineman is Armstrong’s fellow sophomore Daniel Wise. The AP gave Wise second team All-Big 12 honors, and the Big 12 coaches gave him honorable mention. The 6’3 290 pound Wise recorded three sacks and nine tackles for loss on the season. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for Wise, as he faced mostly double teams on the inside of the line. Frankly, Wise got robbed. He was one of the most consistent and disruptive defensive tackles in the Big 12, ranking second in the conference in total pressures and third among tackles in pass rushing productivity, per PFF. Armstrong and Wise will form the best defensive line duo in the conference next season.

Fish Named All-Big 12

Senior safety Fish Smithson has proven to be one of the toughest and best leaders in the Big 12 over the last two seasons, and was rewarded with all-conference selections. Big 12 coaches gave Fish first team honors, while the AP gave Smithson second team. The senior safety was uber-productive over his last two seasons, recording 84 and 70 solo tackles the last two seasons, each led the Big 12. His 84-tackle junior season was second in the country. Smithson intercepted four passes this year as well, ranking 3rd in the Big 12. The Jayhawk secondary will miss Fish’s leadership, toughness, and productivity next season.

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Honorable Mention

Big 12 coaches voted several Jayhawks as honorable mention choices. Safety Mike Lee garnered the honor for Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year. The conference awarded honorable mention to wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez for Offensive Newcomer of the Year. Two Jayhawk offensive lineman, Hakeem Adeniji and De’Andre Banks, were awarded honorable mention for their solid play on the line. Coaches gave fullback Michael Zunica honorable mention too. KU’s breakout star of the year might have been sophomore wide receiver Steven Sims. Big 12 coaches gave the explosive pass catcher honorable mention. The KU kicking game was vastly improved this season as well, and the kicking unit was rewarded for their improvement. Big 12 coaches gave Senior place kicker Matthew Wyman and junior punter Cole Moos honorable mention as well.

Overall, coaches and media recognized 11 Jayhawks as all-conference performers. Seven of those 11 will return to Lawrence next season, providing head coach David Beaty with a solid foundation to build around for 2017 and beyond. Building a program takes time, but the number of all-conference performers on this team means that Beaty is making good progress. The future seems to be brighter than it’s been in years.