Honors keep coming for Wildcats
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Hays Daily News
The postseason honors kept on coming Wednesday for Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett and defensive end Ryan Mueller.
Lockett and Mueller, along with safety Ty Zimmerman and center B.J. Finney, were named to the all-Big 12 first team selected by the league's coaches.
Lockett, a junior from Tulsa, Okla., also was a first-team selection as a kick returner and was voted special teams player of the year. Mueller, a junior from Leawood, claimed defensive lineman of the year honors.
Kansas safety Isaiah Johnson was named Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year.
Art Briles, who led Baylor to its first Big 12 championship, was named coach of the year and his quarterback, Bryce Petty the offensive player of the year. TCU cornerback Jason Verrett and Texas end Jackson Jeffcoat shared the defensive MVP award.
West Virginia running back Charles Sims was the offensive newcomer of the year, with the freshmen of the year honors going to Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield on offense and Oklahoma linebacker Dominique Alexander on defense. Offensive lineman of the year was Baylor's Cyril Richardson.
Lockett, Mueller and Zimmerman, a senior from Junction City, also were named to the Associated Press all-conference team earlier in the week, while Andale junior Finney was a second-team AP pick.
K-State also was represented on the second team by offensive guard Cody Whitehair, a sophomore from Abilene. Kansas had two second-team selections in senior James Sims and Hutchinson junior Ben Heeney.
Lockett leads K-State in receiving with 71 catches for 1,146 yards and eight touchdowns and tops the Big 12 in all-purpose yards with 151.4 a game, a 22-yard cushion over the second-ranked player. He ranks in the school's top 10 in six single-season and four career receiving categories and already owns the record for career kickoff return yards with 1,760.
Mueller, a former walk-on from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, had a breakout season as a first-year starter, tying the school single-season sacks record with 11.5. He needs just 1/2 sack in the Dec. 28 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to break the mark.
Zimmerman, a repeat first-team selection, became the first player in K-State history to receive four straight all-conference honors. He ranks third among Big 12 defensive backs in tackles with 7.0 a game and has a league-best two interceptions for touchdowns.
Finney has started all 38 games in his K-State career. Whitehair, a second-year starter, received honorable mention last year.
For KU, Sims and Heeney both were second-team picks for the second straight year.
Sims, a first-team Associated Press selection, finished his senior year with a league-best 1,110 yards and became the first player in school history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. His 3,592 career yards rank third on the all-time list and his 34 touchdowns second.
Heeney missed two league games with an injury but still led the team with 88 tackles, including 11.5 for loss.
Johnson, a sophomore transfer from Iowa Western Community College, received all-league honorable mention in addition to his newcomer of the year honors. He had five interceptions and ranked second on the team in tackles with 73.
K-State added seven honorable mention selections to its haul with defensive lineman Travis Britz, fullback Glenn Gronkowski, running back John Hubert, offensive lineman Cornelius Lucas, offensive tackle Tavon Rooks, quarterback Daniel Sams, linebacker Blake Slaughter and receiver Tramaine Thompson as a kick returner.
For Kansas, in addition to Johnson, the honorable mention selections were offensive lineman Ngalu Fusimalohi, defensive back Dexter McDonald, tight end Jimmay Mundine, punter Trevor Pardula and defensive back/kick returner JaCorey Shepherd.