LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Kansas senior linebacker Ben Heeney landed on the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy preseason watch list the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) announced Thursday morning.
The trophy is bestowed to the National Defensive Player of the Year and will be presented to the winner Dec. 8 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Bronko Nagurski Torphy Banquet. Five finalists for the honor will be announced Nov. 20 by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
A senior from Hutchinson, Kansas, Heeney missed a pair of games in the middle of the 2013 conference slate, but still finished with a team-best 88 total stops, including 11.5 tackles for loss and the first three interceptions of his career. Heeney, honored as an All-Big 12 Second Team selection by the Associated Press and the conference coaches last season, was fourth in the conference with 8.7 tackles per game and ranked fifth in tackles-for-loss per game with 1.15. He reached double figures in tackles in six of his 10 games played, including four Big 12 contests.
In 2012, Heeney burst on to the scene with 112 tackles in his first season as a starter for the Jayhawks. His 112 tackles included 66 solo stops. He led KU with 12.0 tackles-for-loss and added one sack. He also was credited with two pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble.
This is the fourth preseason honor for Heeney, as he was named preseason Fist-Team All-Big 12 by both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele Magazine, and was selected to the Chuck Bednarik Award preseason watch list earlier in the week.
Heeney and the rest of the Jayhawks begin the 2014 slate Sept. 6, as they play host to Southeast Missouri State. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside Memorial Statdium.