LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Kansas Jayhawks had nine players named All-Big 12 on Wednesday, the Big 12 Conference announced, headlined by defensive back Cobee Bryant as a first-team selection, along with quarterback Jalon Daniels, tight end Mason Fairchild, center Mike Novitsky and defensive end Lonnie Phelps as second-team selections.
Kansas also had five individuals named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, including Earl Bostick Jr. (OL), Kenny Logan Jr. (DB), Devin Neal (RB, OPoY), Lonnie Phelps (DNoY, DLoY) and Dominick Puni (OL, ONoY).
Bryant becomes the first Jayhawk since 2019 (Pooka Williams Jr., Hakeem Adeniji) to be named All-Big 12 First Team, while he is the first KU defensive back to earn first-team honors since Fish Smithson in 2016.
Kansas’ nine All-Big 12 honorees are the most since 2019, while its four second-team honorees are the most by a KU team since 2012.
The honors come after Kansas clinched Bowl eligibility for the first time since the 2008 season. Head Coach Lance Leipold led the Jayhawks to a 6-6 (3-2 Big 12) record, Kansas’ best regular season record since 2008.
Bryant’s sophomore campaign was a breakout performance for the cornerback from Evergreen, Alabama, as he led the Jayhawks with three interceptions for 86 return yards and a game-clinching touchdown at West Virginia on Sept. 10. Bryant also had the sixth-most passes defended in the Big 12, along with a career-high 34 tackles and a forced fumble on the season. Bryant also added a blocked field goal return for a touchdown in Kansas’ season-opener against Tennessee Tech.
Despite missing four games due to injury, Daniels took the league by storm by leading Kansas to its first 5-0 start since the 2008 season. Daniels completed 115-of-175, completing 65.7 percent of his passes, for 1,470 yards and 13 touchdowns in eight games played. Daniels was named the Walter Camp National FBS Offensive Player of the Week following his performance at Houston, while he was a four-time Manning Award Star of the Week and three-time Davey O’Brien Great 8 List honoree this season. Daniels also rushed for 404 yards and six touchdowns on 63 rushes in 2022.
A junior from Andale, Kansas, Fairchild caught a career-high 29 receptions for 363 yards and five touchdowns in 2022. Fairchild’s five touchdown receptions were the most by a Big 12 tight end this season. Fairchild had a career day at Oklahoma on Oct. 15, compiling 106 yards and two touchdowns to become the first KU tight end since Jimmay Mundine in 2014 with over 100 receiving yards in a game.
Kansas’ anchor to the offensive line, Novitsky started all 12 games at center for KU in 2022. In 745 snaps, Novitsky didn’t allow a single sack, while allowing only two quarterback hits. Novitsky led the Jayhawk line to allow just nine sacks, which is the seventh fewest in the nation in 2022. In two years at center, Novitsky and the Kansas offensive line has allowed just 25 sacks, which is the third fewest nationwide.
In just his first season in a Jayhawk uniform, Phelps made his presence known with a team-high 7.0 sacks, which were tied for the second most in the Big 12 Conference this season. Phelps’ three sack performance marked the most sacks in a game by a Jayhawk since 2016, earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance. Phelps registered 53 tackles, including 10.5 tackles-for-loss and one forced fumble.
As a Super-Senior, Bostick helped anchor a KU offensive line by starting all 12 games and allowing just nine sacks, which was the seventh fewest in the country in 2022. According to PFF, Bostick allowed only one sack in 730 snaps. Bostick helped Kansas to the fifth best passing efficiency in the country, while averaging 7.01 yards per play, the fifth most in FBS in 2022.
Kansas’ leading tackler with 96 to his credit, Logan ranked fifth in the Big 12 Conference in tackles, while his 96 takedowns were the most by a Big 12 defensive back this season. Logan is the first Jayhawk since 2012-14 to lead the team in tackles in three-straight seasons (Ben Heeney). Logan also added two interceptions, four pass breakups, one tackle-for-loss, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. Logan was the first player in the country this season to register 14 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 interception in the same game.
In his sophomore season, Neal cracked the 1,000-yard barrier to become the 13th Jayhawk in school history to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season. Neal’s 1,061 yards came on 171 attempts for nine touchdowns, while registering three 100-yard games in 2022. Neal’s combined 334 yards (224 rushing, 110 receiving), made him the first KU player in school history to accomplish such a feat. Neal ranked fifth in the Big 12 in rushing yards (1,061), third in yards per carry (6.20) and sixth in rushing touchdowns (9).
A newcomer from Central Missouri, Puni filled in the KU offensive line by starting all 12 games at guard, while bolstering Kansas’ offensive attack. Puni helped Kansas to allow just nine sacks in 2022, which ranked 7th in FBS this season. According to PFF, Puni didn’t allow a single sack in 750 snaps in 2022, while grading out with a 75.7 in pass block situations, highest rating on KU’s offensive line.
All-Big 12 First Team
Cobee Bryant (DB)
All-Big 12 Second Team
Jalon Daniels (QB)
Mason Fairchild (TE)
Mike Novitsky (OL)2
Lonnie Phelps (DL)
All-Big 12 Honorable Mention
Earl Bostick Jr. (OL) 2
Kenny Logan Jr. (DB) 4
Devin Neal (RB, OPoY) 2
Lonnie Phelps (DNoY, DLoY)
Dominick Puni (OL, ONoY)
# Represents career appearances on All-Big 12 Teams