2015 Big 12 unsung hero: Kansas LB Joe Dineen Jr.

The Big 12 was full of unsung heroes in 2015.

As players earned headlines and all-conference honors, other playmakers played a critical role in their teams' seasons. With the aim of recognizing those overshadowed contributors, we are going to take a better look at one unsung hero per Big 12 team over the next week.

Today, we continue the series with Kansas.

Sophomore linebacker Joe Dineen Jr.

2015 stats: Dineen finished with 86 tackles (66 solo) -- including 6.5 tackles for loss -- four quarterback hurries, three sacks and one pass breakup.

Main contribution: A running back during his freshman season, Dineen was a bright spot during a winless season after moving to linebacker. The sophomore took over as a starter early in the season and became one of the core players of the Kansas defense. He was an active player during David Beaty's first season and his willingness to move to linebacker, a position he hadn’t played before, ended up being a stroke of genius for Dineen and the Jayhawks. He will enter 2016 as one of the foundations of Beaty’s team.

Best performances: Dineen recorded 16 solo tackles against West Virginia. ... He had 11 tackles (eight solo) and one sack against TCU. ... He had 11 tackles (seven solo) and one sack against Oklahoma State.

Signature moment: Dineen’s performance against TCU stands out, as the sophomore helped push TCU to the brink of an upset before a 23-17 loss.

Other candidates: Linebacker Marcquis Roberts; defensive end Ben Goodman.