Six Honored by Big 12 Coaches on All-Conference Teams
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A trio of Kansas football seniors picked up first-team honors as the 2014 All-Big 12 football awards were announced by the conference office Wednesday. Linebacker Ben Heeney, punter Trevor Pardula and cornerback JaCorey Shepherd led the way as first-team honorees as a total of six Jayhawks were recognized by the Big 12. The selections were made by the league’s 10 head coaches, who are not permitted to vote for their own players.
KU’s trio of All-Big 12 First Team honorees mark the first time a Jayhawk has earned the distinction from the league office since wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe was recognized in 2009. The three players being tabbed for the first team are the most for Kansas since four Jayhawks were lauded by the conference coaches in 2007.
Senior tight end Jimmay Mundine was tabbed for the second team, while senior BUCK Michael Reynolds and senior safety Cassius Sendish each earned honorable mention nods. Additionally, Heeney and Pardula were honorable mention honorees as Defensive Player of the Year and Special Teams Player of the Year, respectively.
Heeney, who had taken home second team All-Big 12 honors in each of the previous two seasons, finished the 2014 campaign with 127 total tackles, just one shy of the Big 12 lead. He led the NCAA and Big 12 in solo stops, with 7.3 per outing. Heeney recorded the 2014 Big 12 single-game high of 21 stops in KU’s game at Texas Tech, including 17 solo tackles. His 17 solo hits marked the second-most in a game in conference history.
A Hutchinson, Kansas native, Heeney completed his final season in the Crimson and Blue with seven double-digit tackling performances to go along with 12.0 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception, four quarterback hurries, one pass breakup, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Pardula, who was an honorable mention honoree as both a punter and Special Teams Player of the Year in 2013, led the Big 12 in punting this season, averaging 44.3 yards per kick. He recorded 29 punts of 50 yards or longer on the year, including a game at Duke where he booted the ball 70 yards or more twice. A native of San Jose, California, Pardula dropped 24 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard and finished the year with 83 punts, which ranks second-most in Kansas single-season history.
A Mesquite, Texas native, Shepherd led the Big 12 Conference and ranked third nationally with 19 passes defended on the year. Among his 19 passes defended, were 16 pass breakups and he recorded a team-leading three interceptions. Shepherd’s six passes defended in KU’s win over Iowa State marked a season-high in the NCAA in 2014. Shepherd, a former wide receiver-turned cornerback, only allowed two passing touchdowns all season.
Shepherd, who earned honorable mention honors in 2013 as both a kick returner and a defensive back, is also a finalist for both the Senior CLASS Award and the Lee Roy Selmon Community Spirit Award for his work in the community in addition to his standout play.
Mundine, who hails from Denison, Texas, was the Kansas leader in both receptions with 45 and receiving yards with 584 on the year. An All-Big 12 Honorable Mention recipient in 2012 and 2013, Mundine averaged 13.0 yards per catch and scored three touchdowns in his final year as a Jayhawk. A John Mackey Award semifinalist, Mundine set the KU single-game record for receiving yards by a tight end with his 137-yard performance in the near upset of No. 4 TCU. Of his 45 receptions on the season, 33 resulted in first downs for the Kansas offense.
Reynolds was honored by the conference for the first time in his career following a standout senior season that saw him lead the Big 12 in forced fumbles with five. Additionally, the Wichita, Kansas native was fourth in tackles-for-loss with 14.5 and fifth in sacks with 7.0 on the year. Reynolds’ 14.5 TFLs rank 12th in KU single-season history.
Sendish, who calls Waldorf, Maryland home, ranked third on the KU defense and among the top 30 tacklers in the Big 12 with 69 total stops in 2014. A first-time all-conference honoree, Sendish picked up a fumble and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown at Oklahoma. He also had an interception, two pass breakups, 2.0 TFLs and 1.5 sacks during his final season as a Jayhawk.
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