I wanted to put together an All-_______ team for KU football in recent memory, and my first idea was to make it All-21st Century. Sadly, it took about two minutes to realize I might as well make it the All-Mangino team, which hardly seemed relevant ten years after his firing. Instead, I’ve put together the All-Post Mangino team. It’s not exactly a secret that the program has struggled mightily since the big man’s departure, but can we cobble together a good squad using Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, and David Beaty’s players? Let’s take a look.
QB - Ryan Willis - 2015-16
Sadly, there isn’t much to choose from in this group. But even if you ignore Willis’ successful season at Virginia Tech last year, there’s a good case he was the best while in Kansas uniform as well. As a true freshman Willis came in and threw for 1,719 yards and 9 TDs despite some rough efficiency numbers. The QB situation was a carousel in his second year, but he was better than either Cozart or Stanley, who for some reason kept bumping him off the QB1 line. Willis threw a few too many picks, but given the lack of talent and offensive organization, I’m inclined to let it slide.
RB - James Sims - 2010-13
Sims racked up 3,592 yards and 34 TDs in his career, despite being the only offensive threat for defenses to key in on for much of that time. This was a no-brainer.
RB - Ke’aun Kinner - 2015-16
There’s quite a dropoff once you get past Sims. Kinner averaged 5.3 ypc his senior year at Kansas, and across his career racked up 1,730 yards from scrimmage.
TE - Jimmay Mundine - 2011-14
Mundine quietly had a very nice career at Kansas. His 584 yards in his senior year were far and away the best number for any TE in this time, and he ended up with 1,082 yards and 11 TDs for his career.
WR - Steven Sims Jr (2015-2018)
Like James Sims (no relation), this took little time to decide. Even freshman year Sims, with 30 receptions and 349 yards, is up there with the leading receivers on several of the teams we’re looking at (yeah, I know). He ended up amassing 214 catches for 2,582 yards and 19 TDs in four years. He was without a doubt the best receiver to don the crimson and blue since Briscoe and Meier.
WR - Laquivionte Gonzalez (2016)
I’m not thrilled with Gonzalez being on the list, but if we’re going by pure talent and single-season production, you can’t leave him off. Gonzalez was dangerous in space and could use his speed to get open downfield. In his lone year as a Jayhawk he caught 62 passes for 729 yards, both far and away the best marks for any non-Sims receiver since Mangino’s departure. He was also a good return man (when he caught the ball), taking a kickoff to the house.
OL - Tanner Hawkinson, Larry Mazyck, Jeremiah Hatch, Hakeem Adeniji, Ngalu Fusimalohi
It’s tough to remember which linemen were better than others, especially when none of them played for a good offense that might indicate how well they were blocking. However, all these players made some type of All-Big 12 list. Tanner Hawkinson played several years in the NFL and Hakeem Adenji is considered to have the potential to do so as well.
DE - Dorrance Armstrong Jr (2015-17)
Armstrong would be on the team even if we went back much further. Armstrong’s sophomore year was so strong as a pass rusher (10 sacks, 20 TFLs) that he got some preseason buzz as a potential 1st round draft pick. His junior year was less dominant as teams focused their blocking schemes around him, but he went to the Cowboys in the 5th round and remains on the team.
DE - Michael Reynolds (2011-14)
Reynolds was sort of a hybrid LB/DE, but I’m considering him a lineman because he was primarily a pass rusher. Over his career he racked up 97 tackles, 28.5 TFLs, and 14.5 sacks. He floated around NFL practice squads but never caught on.
DT - Daniel Wise (2015-18)
Another easy choice here. Wise’s carrer numbers: 153 tackles, 44 TFLs, 18.5 sacks. Remember you’re talking about an *interior* defensive lineman here. He was 1st team All-Big 12 by at least one publication the last three years, and was likely the best DT we’ve seen in Lawrence since James McClinton.
DT - Keon Stowers (2012-14)
Sadly there aren’t a lot of good options here. Stowers racked up 58 tackles in just three years, most of them coming the last two. That’s pretty solid for a DT. He also got some looks from the NFL as a UDFA, and was the anchor to the line for the 2014 defense, probably the best we’ve seen in this time period.
LB - Ben Heeney (2011-14)
Heeney was all over the field from the day he first stepped onto it as a Jayhawk. He was 1st team All-Big 12 his junior and senior seasons, and 2nd team as a sophomore. In those three seasons, he amassed 326 total tackles, including a FBS leading 92 solo tackles in 2014.
LB - Joe Dineen (2014-18)
After Heeney graduated in 2014, Dineen immediately stepped in to fill the hole, racking up 86 tackles, with 6.5 TFLs and 3 sacks. His junior season was cut short by injury, but he redshirted and put together 275 more tackles across his final two seasons. He was 2nd team All-American last year as a senior.
LB - Steven Johnson (2008-11)
Johnson barely played in his two years under Mangino, but immediatley earned a starting spot under Gill and flourished. He was everywhere as a junior with 95 tackles, and improved as a senior with a Big 12-leading 119 total tackles and 6 TFLs with an interception.
CB - Dexter McDonald (2011,2013-14)
McDougald got some playing time as a true freshman, then was part of the mass exodus when Charlie Weis took over, only to be welcomed back a year later as a juco transfer. In his final two years, McDougald earned a sixth round draft pick with 64 tackles and 4 interceptions.
CB - Jacorey Shepherd (2011-14)
Shepherd played opposite McDonald, and was also drafted in 2014. Shepherd showed promise as a wide receiver his freshman year, but after transitioning to defense as a sophomore, he took off as a junior defensive back with 13 passes defended and two picks. He was 1st team All-Big 12 as a senior with 15 passes defended and 3 INTs.
S - Bradley McDougald (2009-12)
McDougald was a 4 star recruit at wide receiver, but his sophomore year he began to transition to safety. By the time he was done, he was 2nd team All-Big 12 with 203 career tackles and 7 picks. He was the starting free safety for the Seattle Seahawks last year.
S - Fish Smithson (2014-16)
Smithson was a 3 year juco transfer who was 2nd team All-Big 12 as a junior and 1st team as a senior. He totaled 204 tackles and six interceptions in those two years alone. He appeared in two games with the Washington Redskins as a rookie in 2017.
K - Gabriel Rui (2017-18)
Rui was easily the most reliable kicker we’ve seen come through Lawrence in some time, hitting 29 of 37 field goal attempts and earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors in 2017. Though the following should be expected and not considered a big accomplishment, we’re talking about Kansas football here, and it’s noteworthy that he never missed an extra point.
P - Trevor Pardula (2013-14)
Pardula averaged about 44 yards per punt, and as the Kansas punter, he got a lot of work. He also got touchbacks on over half his kickoffs as a junior doubling as the kickoff specialist. He was named 1st team All-Big 12 as a senior after being honorable mention the year prior.
Other players that were given serious consideration, in no particular order:
Khalil Herbert, Ben Johnson, Peyton Bender, Tim Biere, Daymond Patterson, DJ Beshears, Ben Goodman, Toben Opurum, Darius Willis, Jake Love, Huldon Tharp, Tyler Patmon, Isaiah Johnson, Cassius Sendish, Nigel King, Nick Harwell, Jordan Webb, Tony Pierson