User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Soccer
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Jayhawks' Heeney becomes leader of D

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Last season was full of contrasts for Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney.

Advertisement
On one hand, he earned significant playing time on defense for the first time since his junior year at Hutchinson (Kan.) High School. On the other, he experienced losing.

A lot of it.

``I've won three games since I've been at KU, and I won 45 or so at Hutch,'' said Heeney, now a junior and one of the leaders of the Jayhawks' defense. ``The culture at Hutch was to win state. That was the only thing that anyone was focused on. If we didn't win state it was an unsuccessful year.''

Heeney was part of three state champion teams in high school, but has yet to win a Big 12 game in Lawrence. The Jayhawks, who open the season Saturday night against South Dakota, haven't won a conference game since November 2010 - against Colorado, now a member of the Pac-12.

While the Jayhawks trudged to a 1-11 finish in Charlie Weis' first season as coach, Heeney was one of the rare bright spots. He made 112 tackles and led the team with 12 tackles for loss, and was voted second-team All-Big 12 by The Associated Press.

Still, it took a while for Heeney to feel like he had a role on the Jayhawks.

At Hutchinson, Heeney was an all-state running back, gaining more than 2,000 yards his senior year. On defense, he played strong safety. So when he arrived at Kansas as a freshman, Heeney thought he would get a healthy dose of playing time at one of those positions.

It didn't take long for reality to set in.

``My freshman year, I felt like I was not really being wasted,'' he said, ``but in a sense, kind of. Coming in they told me the only way I wasn't going to redshirt was if I was going to get significant defensive snaps, which I got zero my freshman year.''

All of that happened under Turner Gill, who had turned Heeney into a linebacker before he was fired after a miserable 2-10 season. Weis was hired in December 2011 and kept Heeney at the same position, but this time the soon-to-be sophomore had a legitimate shot to earn playing time.

Not only did Heeney win a job, he seized the opportunity - even though he now admits that he was mostly playing by instinct as he grew acclimated to life in the Big 12.

Perhaps realizing his raw potential, Kansas linebacker coach Clint Bowen came up with three areas where Heeney needed to improve this season: his foundation for enhanced leverage, eliminating false steps in order to play faster, and the confidence to make better reads.

``Where he is, I always tell him, if you play like you did last year and you made whatever it was, 90 tackles, you probably should have made 120,'' Bowen explained. ``This year if he makes 120, he probably should have made 150, because there's always those missed ones out there.''

Heeney doesn't focus on the number of tackles he makes, though. After all, somebody has to make them, and often if it comes down to the linebacker it's because someone up front didn't do his job.

In truth, the number that gnaws at Heeney is three: Kansas' win total his first two seasons.

Heeney, who's grown a beard this season, dismissed the notion that he's become the leader of the defense, insisting that it takes all 11 players to make a stand. But despite having just one year of real playing time under his belt, he was voted a captain by his peers.

``There's no doubt that he'll be one of the main factors in not only performance but in leadership,'' Weis said. ``He looks like a caveman, but he's ready to go. I might institute a cut your beard policy before too long.''

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2015
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
SportsBoss: 'Bama ranked 1st in final SBPI
Deliberations start in Vandy rape trial
CFP won't move semifinals to Jan. 2
Wake, UNC schedule 2-game series
Missouri DL coach Kuligowski staying
Abdullah, North top South in Senior Bowl
Kiffin returning for 2nd year at Alabama
Buckeyes celebrate their title at home
Notre Dame allows Hardy to transfer
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2014 CFB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Michael Black + 2299
Dave Cokin + 2207
Kevin Rogers + 1254
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Brian Edwards + 303
ASA + 300
Jimmy Boyd + 290
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Dave Cokin 61 %
Michael Black 57 %
Stephen Nover 57 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Chip Chirimbes + 1235
Jimmy Boyd + 765
Michael Black + 440
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kyle Hunter + 1498
Stephen Nover + 1332
Tony Stoffo + 1087
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Dave Cokin + 1895
Kevin Rogers + 1135
Kyle Hunter + 405
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Daily Fantasy Sager Bomb