🏈 Jayhawks Have 10 Selected to Athlon Sports All-Big 12 Preseason Teams
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks had 10 players chosen for the 2023 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Big 12 Football Teams, highlighted by four first team selections in quarterback Jalon Daniels, running back Devin Neal, offensive lineman Mike Novitsky and cornerback Cobee Bryant.
Kansas also had four players selected to the third team in tight end Mason Fairchild, offensive lineman Dominick Puni, linebacker Rich Miller and safety Kenny Logan, Jr. The Jayhawks closed out the honors with a pair of players on the fourth team in wide receiver Lawrence Arnold and linebacker Craig Young. The 10 players on the team doubles Kansas’ representation on the list a season ago.
Four of KU’s players are repeat selections to the team. This is the second-consecutive selection to the preseason team for Neal, a second team pick in 2022, and Novitsky, a third team selection before last season. Logan earned a pair of preseason honors from Athlon Sports last season, being chosen as first team at safety and fourth team as a kick returner. Miller repeats on the third team, matching where he was picked last season.
Daniels (Lawndale, California) returns for his senior season under center following a breakthrough campaign in 2022. Despite missing four games due to injury, Daniels took the league by storm as he led the Jayhawks to its first 5-0 start since 2008. He was a Second Team All-Big 12 selection after completing 152-of-230 (66.1 percent) passes for 2,014 yards and 18 touchdowns. Daniels capped off the season with a record-setting performance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, where he went 37-of-55 for 544 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 25 yards and another touchdown on the ground. Daniels was named the Walter Camp National FBS Offensive Player of the Week following his performance at Houston, while he was a four-time Manning Award Star of the Week and three-time Davey O’Brien Great 8 List honoree on the season.
Neal (Lawrence, Kansas) became the 13th Jayhawk in school history to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season as a sophomore, totaling 1,090 yards and nine touchdowns on 180 rushing attempts. He added 183 yards and 1 touchdown on 21 receptions, totaling 1,273 all-purpose yards for the season. Neal had three 100-yard rushing games in 2022, including a career-high 224 yards and a touchdown against Oklahoma State. Against OSU, Neal also had 110 yards on six receptions, becoming the first Jayhawk to total 200-plus rushing yards and 100-plus receiving yards in the same game.
Novitsky (Victor, New York) started all 13 games at center for KU in 2022 and he has been the starter in all games he’s played as a Jayhawk since arriving prior to the 2021 season. In 846 snaps last season, Novitsky didn’t allow a single sack, while allowing only two quarterback hits, and he anchored an offensive line that was No. 7 in the country last season with 12 sacks allowed. In Novitsky’s two seasons at Kansas, the Jayhawk offensive line ranks third in the country for fewest sacks allowed.
Bryant (Evergreen, Alabama) was KU’s lone First Team All-Big 12 selection in 2022 after a sophomore season in which he finished three interceptions, nine pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He had the game-clinching interception and returned it for a touchdown in overtime at West Virginia on Sept. 10 and added a blocked field goal return for a touchdown in the season-opening victory against Tennessee Tech. Bryant totaled 38 tackles on the year, with 32 solo and six assist stops, and he ranked fifth in the Big 12 with 12 passes defended.
Offensively, Kansas had two players earn third team honors in Fairchild and Puni. Fairchild finished his junior season with 35 receptions for 443 yards and six touchdowns, while Puni started all 13 games at guard in his first season in Lawrence. Miller and Logan earned spots on the third team after ranking as the top-two tacklers for the Jayhawks. Logan led the Jayhawks with 106 tackles, and added two interceptions and five pass breakups, while Miller had 94 stops, including three for loss and one sack.
On the fourth team, Kansas had one player on each side of the ball in Arnold and Young. Arnold led the Jayhawks with 716 receiving yards last season, averaging 16.3 yards per reception with four touchdowns. Young was KU’s third-leading tackler, totaling 60 stops in 2022 with 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and one interception.
The Jayhawks return 17-of-22 starters from the 2022 team, which experienced a breakthrough season as it played in the program’s first bowl game since 2008 with an appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Head coach Lance Leipold led the Jayhawks to its first 5-0 start since 2009 and KU played in front of three sellout crowds at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. For the first time, Lawrence was the site of ESPN’s College Gameday on Oct. 8, 2022 as the Jayhawks hosted TCU.
Kansas will host seven games at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium during the 2023 season, beginning on Thursday, August 31, against Missouri State. Other home opponents for the Jayhawks include Illinois, BYU, UCF, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Kansas State.
QB Jalon Daniels
RB Devin Neal
OL Mike Novitsky
CB Cobee Bryant
TE Mason Fairchild
OL Dominick Puni
LB Rich Miller
DB Kenny Logan Jr.
WR Lawrence Arnold
LB Craig Young