Six Jayhawks ink Free Agent NFL Contracts, Saunders gets rookie minicamp invite

LAWRENCE, Kan. –Kansas football had six players sign undrafted free agent contracts ane one pick up a rookie minicamp invite following the 2019 National Football League Draft Saturday evening. Linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (Denver Broncos), wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (Washington Redskins), cornerback Shakial Taylor (Indianapolis Colts), offensive lineman Dwayne Wallace (Pittsburgh Steelers), defensive tackle Daniel Wise (Dallas Cowboys) and long snapper John Wirtel (Chicago Bears) each made it officially moved on to the next level with their respective teams. In addition, tight end Mavin Saunders received a rookie minicamp invite from the Cleveland Browns.

A Lawrence, Kansas native, Dineen led the Big 12 Conference in tackles for the second-consecutive year—just the second player in conference history to do so joining Texas Tech’s Lawrence Flugence (2001, 2002, 2003). Dineen turned in a career-best 147 tackles, which ranks sixth on KU’s single-season chart. His 12.3 stops per game in 2018 also ranks fourth in the FBS.

For the second-straight season, Dineen also led the FBS and the Big 12 Conference in solo tackles with 108 during his senior campaign. Dineen collected 11 tackles-for-loss in 2018, giving him a KU-record 45.5 in his career, making him both the single-season TFL record-holder (25.0 in 2017) and career record-holder. Additionally, Dineen’s 391 career-tackles rank fourth in Kansas history.

Dineen was named to The Sporting News 2018 All-America Second Team, he also picked up Second Team recognition from the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated.

Daniel Wise took down a Cyclone.
Daniel Wise took down a Cyclone.

Dineen was honored by the league coaches as a first-team member for the first time in his career after earning All-Big 12 Second Team honors in 2017. He was tabbed Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week twice during his senior season. Dineen is currently a Senior CLASS Award finalist. He was a Jason Witten Man of the Year semifinalist and a Lott IMPACT Trophy semifinalist after picking up its weekly award one time this season and being a weekly award nominee three other weeks. He was named Midseason First Team All-America by Sports Illustrated, an Academic All-Big 12 First Team honoree and a finalist for the Pop Warner Little Scholars Collegiate Player of the Year.

Sims concluded his Jayhawks career ranked second in both career receiving yards (2,582) and receiving touchdowns (19) and third in career receptions (214). The Houston, Texas, native, played in 47 career games for KU and earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors as both a sophomore and a junior.

Sims was KU’s leading receiver for three-straight seasons, topping out at 859 receiving yards on 72 catches, including seven TDs as a sophomore. His 72 receptions in 2016 ranks fifth on KU’s single-season list.

Taylor, a native of Lakeland, Florida, joined the Jayhawks in 2017 for his final two seasons of college football. During his two-year career at Kansas he played and started in 21 games, missing the final three games of 2017 with an injury. He collected 55 tackles, three interceptions and a forced fumble during his KU career. Taylor returned an interception for 55 yards and a touchdown against Central Michigan in 2018.

Wallace, a native of Avon Park, Florida, came to Kansas as graduate transfer in 2018. In his lone season with the Jayhawks he played in all 12 games, starting 10 at right guard. He participated in both the Tropical Bowl and the NFLPA Bowl following the completion of KU’s season, earning Offensive Line MVP honors at the Tropical Bowl.

Holding on to the football proved to be difficult.
Holding on to the football proved to be difficult.

A native of Lewisville, Texas, Wise led the Jayhawk defense with 12.5 TFLs in 2018. His career total of 44.0 tackles behind the line scrimmage rank second in KU history, just 1.5 behind Dineen.

Wise led KU in sacks in 2018 with 5.0, while he added five quarterback hurries and 34 total tackles as a senior. In addition to concluding his career at Kansas ranked second in TFLs, Wise ranks sixth in sacks with 18.5. His 16.0 TFLs in 2017 rank 10th in KU single-season history, while his 7.0 sacks in 2017 also rank 10th on KU’s single-season charts.

Wise earned All-Big 12 First Team honors by both the conference coaches and the Associated Press in 2018. He also was tabbed All-Big 12 First Team by the league coaches in 2017.

Wirtel was KU’s long snapper for parts of the last six seasons. He was KU’s primary snapper during his first three seasons on campus (2014-16), before missing parts of two-straight seasons with injury. He came back strong in 2018, handling all of the Jayhawks’ snaps during his final campaign.

Saunders, who hails from Bimini, Bahamas, came to KU as a graduate transfer from Florida State, spending just the 2018 campaign in the Crimson and Blue. He saw action in nine games, hauling in four receptions. He scored one touchdown and also caught a two-point conversion on the season.