LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas running back James Sims was selected as a member of the Associated Press All-Big 12 First Team and for the second consecutive year linebacker Ben Heeney was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team as the news organization released its annual selections Monday afternoon.
Sims and Heeney joined a total of 52 Big 12 football student-athletes selected by a panel of 20 media who regularly cover the league. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty and Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat were named the offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively, while West Virginia running back Charles Sims and Oklahoma linebacker Dominique Alexander were the newcomers of the year.
James Sims, a senior from Irving, Texas, was the Big 12's leading rusher in conference games with 92.1 yards per contest and finished the 2013 campaign with a league-best 1,110 yards overall. That mark made Sims the first player in Kansas history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Sims rushed for at least 70 yards in nine of 12 games this season, including a career-best 211 and three touchdowns in KU's win over West Virginia.
An AP All-Big 12 Second Teamer last season, Sims closed his Kansas career among the leaders in several categories. Sims' 3,592 rushing yards rank third on KU's all-time charts, his 34 career rushing touchdowns is second, and his surge against the Mountaineers was the 15th-best single-game rushing total by a Kansas player.
An injury was the only thing that slowed Heeney, a junior from Hutchinson, Kan., who had a breakout season in 2012 and continued as KU's leading tackler in 2013. Heeney missed two games in the middle of the conference slate but still finished with 88 total stops, including 11.5 tackles for loss and the first three interceptions of his career. Heeney was fourth in the conference with 8.7 tackles per game and ranked fifth in tackles-for-loss per game with 1.15.
Heeney, a second team honoree last year, reached double figures in tackles in six of his 10 games played, including four Big 12 contests. Heeney posted 12 tackles, 2.0 tackles-for-loss, and an interception in the Jayhawks' conference opener against Texas Tech before leaving the TCU game a week later with a knee injury and missing two starts.
The Associated Press will announce its selection for Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year in the coming days.
Kansas closed its second year under the direction of Charlie Weis with a 3-9 overall record, including the team's first win over a Big 12 Conference opponent since 2010, and went right to work building for next season with the hiring of offensive coordinator and offensive line coach John Reagan from Conference USA champion Rice on Saturday.