Heeney and Harwell Represent Kansas Football in All-Star Games
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Two former Kansas football players competed in annual all-star games on Saturday afternoon. Linebacker Ben Heeney had a strong showing as he unofficially posted six tackles for the West team in its 19-3 loss in the 2015 East-West Shrine game held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Wide Receiver Nick Harwell saw time in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, contributing two catches for 15 yards in his National Team’s 17-0 shutout victory from StubHub Center in Carson, California .
The Shrine game, which is in its 90th year in existence, was created by Shriners and is dedicated to raising awareness and support for Shriners Hospitals for Children.
“I really enjoyed the experience I had here this week,” said Heeney. “As far as the football part goes, it was a little different than I expected. It was a pretty intense environment. Visiting the Shriner’s Hospital and meeting all of the great people involved with that side of the week was also amazing. I learned a lot and it meant a lot to me to be able to put a smile on some of the kids’ faces.”
Heeney, a consensus first-team All-Big 12 selection who finished the 2014 season ranked second in the conference with 127 total tackles, was the first Jayhawk to play in the game since both Tanner Hawkinson and Bradley McDougald represented Kansas in the 2013 game. He saw action on both defense and special teams for the West team, making big stops in both facets of the game.
“I am pretty happy with how I performed this week and in the game,” said Heeney. “I was able to make some plays on defense, but I am most happy with how I performed on special teams. The NFL scouts told us all week how important it is to show what you can do on special teams and I think I had a strong showing there today.”
Harwell started all 12 games for the Jayhawks in 2014, and was the first KU player to catch multiple touchdown passes in a game since 2011 when he snagged two scoring reception against both SEMO and Baylor. He finished the season as KU’s second-leading receiver with 44 receptions, while ranking third among Jayhawk receivers with 470 receiving yards. Harwell topped all KU players with five receiving touchdowns.
“I had a really good time this week,” said Harwell. “I got the chance to work with a lot of NFL personnel and learn the little things it takes to be successful at that level. The greatest difference between college football and the NFL is attention to detail. I learned a lot about how to fine tune my skills and I am hoping it will pay off.”
The Missouri City, Texas native, was tabbed the Jayhawk Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a punt 76 yards for a score at West Virginia. He finished the 2014 campaign ranked second in the Big 12 in punt returns and earned third-team All-Big 12 honors fromPhil Steele Magazine for his efforts. Additionally, he took home KU’s John Hadl Award as the team’s co-offensive Player of the Year, along with quarterback Michael Cummings.
Kansas senior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd will be the last of four total Jayhawks to play in a postseason all-star game when he takes the field on Jan. 24 in the Senior Bowl.
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