Kansas coach Charlie Weis believes senior Ben Heeney could be the best linebacker in the Big 12. For now, Heeney is racking up the preseason accolades.
Heeney was selected Thursday to the Bronco Nagurski Trophy preseason watch list, the Football Writers Association of America announced.
The Nagurski award will be presented to the national defensive player of the year on Dec. 8. Earlier this week, Heeney, a Hutchinson native, appeared on the preseason watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, another honor reserved for the best defensive player in the country.
Heeney had 88 tackles, including 11 1/2 tackles for loss, and three interceptions during his junior season. He racked up 112 tackles during a breakout sophomore campaign in 2012.
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Heeney’s latest honors came after senior punter Trevor Pardula was named to the Ray Guy Award watch list. Senior tight end Jimmay Mundine also previously appeared on the national watch list for the Mackey Award, reserved for the nation’s best tight end.
UPDATE (11 a.m. July 14): Heeney was nominated for the Lombardi Award, given to college football’s top lineman, including linebackers and the Butkus Award, given to the top linebacker.