MANHATTAN, Kan. – Paced by sophomore defensive tackle Will Geary on the first team, Kansas State had four football players named to the Associated Press All-Big 12 teams, the organization announced Wednesday.
Geary was named a first team defensive tackle by the AP after earning honorable mention accolades from the league’s coaches. Junior fullback Glenn Gronkowski (listed as a tight end), senior offensive lineman Cody Whitehair and senior kick returner Morgan Burns (listed as an all-purpose player) were each named to the second team. It was Gronkowski’s first All-Big 12 honor this postseason, while Whitehair and Burns were each on the coaches’ first team.
A former walk-on from Topeka, Kansas, Geary registered 45 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He started every game for the Wildcats, including the Oklahoma game when he recorded a career-best eight tackles, three TFLs and two sacks.
He also forced and recovered a fumble at Texas Tech, but his biggest contribution this season may have been a strip against Iowa State. With the Wildcats trailing by seven with less than two minutes remaining, Geary stripped a Cyclone running back and K-State tied the game on the ensuing drive. K-State went on to win the game, the first of three-straight victories to close out the season and obtain bowl eligibility for a sixth-straight season.
Gronkowski started all 12 games, recording five catches for 76 yards and a touchdown while rushing 11 times for 45 yards and another score. He recorded a 31-yard reception and scored his first-career rushing touchdown at Kansas a week after throwing a touchdown pass to fellow fullback Winston Dimel in K-State’s win over Iowa State.
A native of Abilene, Kansas, Whitehair played in all 51 games over the last four years with 50 starts. Regarded as one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the league, Whitehair has started at both guard and tackle, including the last two years at left tackle.
Burns tied the school and Big 12 single-season records for kickoff-return touchdowns with four, including three over the final four weeks of the regular season. The 2015 Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year, Burns enters the bowl season ranked second nationally with a 33.8-yard kickoff return average, while he has 1,047 total kickoff-return yards this season to sit just 81 yards shy of breaking the single-season mark.
A product of Wichita, Kansas, Burns has been named a First Team All-American kick returner by USA TODAY Sports, CBS Sports and FOX Sports, while he was a second-team pick by Sporting News and the Associated Press in addition to earning honorable mention accolades by Sports Illustrated.
Associated Press All-Big 12 Teams (Kansas State)
First Team All-Big 12: Will Geary (DT).
Second Team All-Big 12: Glenn Gronkowski (TE), Cody Whitehair (OT), Morgan Burns (All-Purpose).