Our breakdown of the 10 best players at the moment on every team in the Big 12 wraps up on Friday.
These lists don’t include junior college or freshman signees who haven’t arrived on campus yet. Rather, they include only the players currently on their teams this spring. Some of these rankings might look different after the spring, but this is how we see them now.
Last but not least, the Kansas Jayhawks:
1. LB Ben Heeney: The best Big 12 defender who is not a household name. Heeney finished with 87 tackles as a junior, recording double-digit stops in six of the 10 games in which he played in 2013. He has been a bright light on the Jayhawks' defense for the past two seasons.
2. RB/WR Tony Pierson: The senior is one of the Big 12’s most explosive playmakers when healthy. Concerns about a head injury limited his big-play production as a junior, but if he returns to full health in 2014, he’s sure to strike fear in the hearts of Big 12 defensive coordinators.
3. S Isaiah Johnson: He was easily the most active newcomer to KU’s defense in 2013. He earned Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year honors while starting all 12 games at safety. Johnson finished with 73 tackles and five interceptions to help an improved Jayhawks defense.
4. G Ngalu Fusimalohi: The lone consistent anchor in KU’s offensive line a year ago, Fusimalohi played a key role in James Sims’ second consecutive 1,000-yard season. The strong yet fluid guard will provide a solid starting point for John Reagan in his first season as KU’s offensive coordinator.
5. CB JaCorey Shepherd: The former receiver was a playmaker in the Jayhawks secondary and also provided a threat as a returner. Strong performances against TCU and Oklahoma were a glimpse at the type of player he can be. If he continues to improve, he could rank among the Big 12’s top cornerbacks in 2014.
6. LB Michael Reynolds: The Jayhawks' most productive pass rusher, Reynolds led KU with 6.5 sacks and added 10 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. One of the most consistently productive KU defenders, Reynolds had at least one tackle for loss in six of 12 games in 2013.
7. TE Jimmay Mundine: Mundine could be one of the Big 12’s best pass-catching threats if he becomes more consistent. His 20 receptions for 229 yards and five touchdowns made him KU’s best receiving threat in the middle of the field a year ago. With better quarterback play and more consistent hands, Mundine could double that receptions total this fall.
8. S Cassius Sendish: The senior slid right into the starting safety spot, starting 12 games in his debut season with KU. He immediately emerged as one of the most active defenders on the roster, finishing with 68 tackles, which ranked third on the team.
9. CB Dexter McDonald: He joins with Shepherd to give KU a solid cornerback duo. His 12 pass breakups placed him eighth in the Big 12 and he added two interceptions during his first season at Kansas.
10. P Trevor Pardula: He finished second in the Big 12 in net punting and also led the conference in punts inside the 10-yard line (14). Pardula got plenty of work, with 84 punts, and he did his job well while also handling the Jayhawks kickoff duties.
Recapping the series:
April 3: Iowa State
April 2: West Virginia
April 1: TCU
March 31: Texas Tech
March 28: Kansas State
March 27: Texas
March 26: Oklahoma State
March 25: Oklahoma
March 24: Baylor