IRVING, Texas – Junior quarterback Jalon Daniels was named the Big 12 Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year on Wednesday, in addition to being named to the 2023 Preseason All-Big 12 Football Team, along with three of his teammates.
The team and individual awards, as chosen by media representatives who cover the league, were announced by the league office. Joining Daniels on the All-Big 12 First Team are junior running back Devin Neal, redshirt-senior center Mike Novitsky and junior cornerback Cobee Bryant.
Daniels becomes the first Kansas player to be named Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and the second Jayhawk to be named a preseason individual award winner by the Big 12, joining Dorance Armstrong, who was the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.
With four selections, the Jayhawks are tied with Kansas State and trail only Texas (five) for the most players on the Preseason All-Big 12 Team. It also marks the first time since 2007 that Kansas has had more than two players named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team.
Daniels, a native of Lawndale, California, returns for his junior season under center following a breakthrough campaign in 2022. Despite missing four games due to injury, Daniels took the league by storm, leading the Jayhawks to their first 5-0 start since 2008. He was a Second Team All-Big 12 selection after completing 152-of-230 (66.1 percent) passes for 2,014 yards and 18 touchdowns. Daniels capped off the season with a record-setting performance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, where he went 37-of-55 for 544 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 25 rushing yards and another touchdown on the ground.
Daniels has already received Preseason All-Big 12 First Team honors from Athlon Sports and was a Preseason All-Big 12 Second Team selection by Phil Steele heading into the 2023 season. In addition to being a Second Team Academic All-American last season, Daniels was named the Walter Camp National FBS Offensive Player of the Week following his performance at Houston. He was also a four-time Manning Award Star of the Week and three-time Davey O’Brien Great 8 List honoree in 2022.
Neal, from Lawrence, Kansas became the 13th Jayhawk in school history to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season as a sophomore, totaling 1,090 yards and nine touchdowns on 180 rushing attempts. He added 183 yards and a touchdown on 21 receptions, totaling 1,273 all-purpose yards for the season. Neal had three 100-yard rushing games in 2022, including a career-high 224 yards and a touchdown against Oklahoma State. Against OSU, Neal also had 110 yards on six receptions, becoming the first Jayhawk to total 200-plus rushing yards and 100-plus receiving yards in the same game.
Neal has previously received Preseason All-Big 12 honors from both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele after being named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention last season. He is a two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week in his career and he was named the Doak Walker Award National Running Back of the Week following the Oklahoma State game last season. Neal is the only returning 1,000-yard rusher in the Big 12.
Novitsky, a Victor, New York native, started all 13 games at center for KU in 2022 and he has been the starter in all games he’s played as a Jayhawk since arriving prior to the 2021 season. In 846 snaps last season, Novitsky didn’t allow a single sack, while allowing only two quarterback hits, and he anchored an offensive line that was No. 7 in the country last season with just 12 sacks allowed. In Novitsky’s two seasons at Kansas, the Jayhawk offensive line ranks third in the country for fewest sacks allowed.
Novitsky is a two-time All-Big 12 selection during his time at Kansas, earning second team honors in 2022 after receiving honorable mention in 2021. A member of the Preseason Rimington Trophy Watch List last season, Novitsky already been named a Preseason All-Big 12 First Team selection by Athlon and was picked to the second team by Phil Steele.
Bryant, from Evergreen, Alabama, was KU’s lone First Team All-Big 12 selection in 2022 after a sophomore season in which he finished three interceptions, nine pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He had the game-clinching interception and returned it for a touchdown in overtime at West Virginia on Sept. 10 and added a blocked field goal return for a touchdown in the season-opening victory against Tennessee Tech. Bryant totaled 38 tackles on the year, with 32 solo and six assist stops, and he ranked fifth in the Big 12 with 12 passes defended.
After earning All-Big 12 First Team honors from the coaches and second team from the Associated Press in 2022, Bryant has started the 2023 season as a Preseason All-Big 12 First Team selection by both Phil Steele and Athlon. In addition, he’s been named to the Lott IMPACT Preseason Watch List, which honors college football’s defensive best in character and performance.
The Jayhawks return 17-of-22 starters from the 2022 team, which experienced a breakthrough season as it played in the program’s first bowl game since 2008 with an appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Kansas will host seven games at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium during the 2023 season, beginning on Friday, September 1, against Missouri State. The following week, Kansas hosts Illinois on Friday, September 8, for a nationally televised contest on ESPN2. Other home opponents for the Jayhawks include Big 12 newcomers BYU and UCF along with conference foes Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Kansas State.
Season tickets for the 2023 campaign are on sale starting at just $195. Seating options include bowl seating, the Meritrust Touchdown Club, and more. Mini plans are also available and designed to allow fans to pick the games that work the best for them. During the purchasing process, fans have the option to add a premium seatback to their order for less than $8 per game. To purchase tickets, and for more information, please click here.
Furthermore, Sports Combo Passes for KU Students are also available for just $175. The pass includes access to both football and basketball tickets and can be purchased online through Enroll and Pay. For more information on student tickets, or to purchase today, click here.