MANHATTAN, Kan. – Led by the Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in junior defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State had a league-high six players land on the 2022 Preseason All-Big 12 team as voted on by media representatives who cover the league, the conference office announced Wednesday.
Joining Anudike-Uzomah on the list was junior running back Deuce Vaughn, junior offensive lineman Cooper Beebe, senior kickoff returner Malik Knowles, senior linebacker Daniel Green and senior cornerback Julius Brents.
K-State had the most players on the 2022 Preseason All-Big 12 team, followed by Baylor (5), Iowa State (4) and West Virginia (4). The six Wildcats selected to the Preseason All-Big 12 team were the most since at least 2000. Anudike-Uzomah is the first Wildcat to be named the preseason offensive or defensive player of the year since Darren Sproles was the Preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2004.
Anudike-Uzomah is coming off a 2021 campaign in which he was named an All-American after tying for the national lead in forced fumbles per game (0.46), while he ranked 11th nationally and second in the Big 12 in sacks per game (0.85). He tied the school record with six forced fumbles, and his 11.0 total sacks tied for fifth in school history. A product of Kansas City, Missouri, he enters the 2022 season ranked second nationally in career forced fumbles per game (0.33) and third in career sacks per game (0.67).
One of just two unanimous selections for the Preseason All-Big 12 team, Vaughn was a Consensus All-American in 2021 – just the 11th in school history – after accounting for 1,872 yards from scrimmage as he was one of just three players in the nation with 1,000 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards. Named the 2021 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus, Vaughn finished the season ranked in the top 10 nationally in eight categories, including total touchdowns (4th; 22), points per game (5th; 10.2), scrimmage yards per game (5th; 144.0), all-purpose yards per game (6th; 144.0), rushing touchdowns (8th; 18), total rushing yards (9th; 1,404), rushing yards per game (9th; 108.0) and total points scored (10th; 132).
A Round Rock, Texas, native, Vaughn enters the 2022 season ranking in the top 10 nationally among active players in six categories. Additionally, he needs 98 receiving yards to become just the 10th player in Big 12 history with 2,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a career.
Beebe was a 13-game starter at left tackle as a sophomore in 2021 who picked up First Team All-Big 12 honors from both the league’s coaches and Associated Press, the youngest offensive lineman to be named to the first team by either organization. A native of Kansas City, Kansas, he was the first Wildcat freshman or sophomore offensive lineman to be named a First Team All-Big 12 performer since Dalton Risner in 2016.
Knowles was an All-American as a kick returner in 2021 and earned First Team All-Big 12 honors for the discipline after finishing second in the nation in kickoff-return touchdowns (2) and fourth in average (33.1). He enters the 2022 season tied for second nationally among active players in career kickoff-return touchdowns (3) and fifth in average (28.9). A product of Mansfield, Texas, Knowles is in the top five in school history in career kickoff-return touchdowns (t4th); average (4th) and yards (6th; 1,099).
A senior from Portland, Oregon, Green picked up Honorable Mention All-Big 12 accolades last season after leading the team in both tackles (89) and tackles for loss (16.0). He ranked 18th nationally and fourth in the Big 12 with 5.3 solo tackles per game, while he also finished 22nd in the country with two fumble recoveries. He has 115 solo tackles in his career, needing 54 in 2022 to enter the school’s top-10 list.
Brents, a transfer from Iowa prior to the 2021 season, also earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 recognition last season after starting all 13 games at cornerback. He posted his first interception as a Wildcat against Oklahoma and knocked away two other passes, including one in K-State’s 42-20 victory over LSU in the Texas Bowl.
K-State takes part in the 2022 Big 12 Media Days Presented by Old Trapper next Wednesday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Representing the Wildcats along with head coach Chris Klieman is Vaughn, Green, quarterback Adrian Martinez and nose guard Eli Huggins. Fans can watch Big 12 Media Day on both ESPNU and Big 12 Now, while coverage throughout the day will be available on K-State’s social channels.
Kansas State opens the 2022 season with three-straight games inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium, beginning with a contest against South Dakota on September 3. The next week, the Wildcats take on former conference foe Missouri, while they close out non-conference play by hosting Tulane on September 17.
Tickets to the seven-game home slate can be purchased online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets or by phone at 1-800-221-CATS.