MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State’s offensive line has been selected among the nation’s best as the unit is a semifinalist for the 2023 Joe Moore Award, given to the top offensive line unit in college football, The Foundation for Teamwork announced on Tuesday.
The Wildcats, one of two Big 12 offensive line units on the list, are joined as semifinalists by Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.
The unit, led by offensive line coach Conor Riley, has helped the Wildcats rank 14th nationally in rushing (202.1 yads per game), while they are tied for 12th overall and tied for first in the Big 12 with 25 rushing touchdowns. K-State also enters play this week ranked 11th int he country in third-down conversion percentage (49.3%), which includes a 52.2% clip (35-of-67) on third down attempts of 1-6 yards.
“Kansas State is one of the most consistent units we see year in and year out,” the award’s committee said. “They typically rely on toughness and physicality to soften up defensive fronts, and this year is no exception. If opponents aren’t ready to buckle up and play with focus and grit, Kansas State will hurt their feelings over the course of sixty minutes.”
The Wildcat offensive line has helped K-State also rank fourth nationally and tops in the Big 12 by converting 80.0% (45-of-50) of its red-zone attempts into touchdowns, and its 40 red-zone touchdowns rank third nationally. K-State has scored 38.8 points per game this year to rank 12th in the country and sixth in school history, while its 452.5 yards per game are 20th nationally and second in school history.
The position group features five players that have started at least 23 career games, led by left guard Cooper Beebe with 45 starts to tie for fifth among Wildcat offensive linemen since 1990. The group also features left tackle KT Leveston (29 career starts), center Hayden Gillum (24 career starts), right guard Hadley Panzer (23 career starts) and right tackle Christian Duffie (38 career starts). Additionally, right guard Taylor Poitier and right tackle Carver Willis have seen significant playing time this season with Willis starting the first seven games of the year.
Beebe is viewed as the top interior offensive lineman in the nation, and he is a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award. Additionally, he is a finalist for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy, which is often referred to as the “Academic Heisman.”
No. 23 Kansas State travels to face in-state rival Kansas for the 121st edition of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown. Kickoff inside Memorial Stadium in Lawrence is set for 6 p.m., and the game will be televised by FS1.