No. 1: Kansas LB Ben Heeney (Last week: 2)
Heeney had another mind-boggling performance this past Saturday when his team played Texas Tech. He racked up 21 total stops, with 17 of those being solo tackles. That was the most tackles by one player during a game in the Big 12 this season. He also intercepted a pass and returned it 37 yards, which set up Kansas for their first score of the game.
He not only leads the Big 12 in solo tackles, but the entire nation as well. He also leads the conference in total tackles per game with 12 and ranks fifth in that same category nationally.
The senior linebacker is irreplaceable for Kansas. While their defense may not be good in the first place, it would be lost without Heeney. He is the heart and soul of the team and instincts and desire to make plays are what make him a such great player.
No. 2: TCU LB Paul Dawson (Last week: 1)
Dawson had a great game on Saturday, but fell from the top spot because of Heeney’s historic performance.
After allowing 61 points to Baylor, TCU bounced back nicely last week. Dawson led his team with 13 total tackles and two tackles for loss. His disruptive play helped his team only surrender nine points and 3.2 yards per rush against Oklahoma State.
TCU faces Texas Tech’s mediocre offense next. After facing the Red Raiders, Dawson and Heeney will have had a common opponent, so comparing the two will be easier after the contest.
No. 3: Baylor DE Shawn Oakman (Last week: 3)
Oakman was one of the few Bears that caused problems for West Virginia. His team suffered their first loss of the season, but he still performed well. He racked up only four tackles, but had 2.5 tackles for loss. He also recovered a fumble and hurried the quarterback once.
The unit around Oakman must step up their game. In the past their past two games, the Bears have allowed a combined 99 points. Oakman has been a force, but it will not matter for the team if the other 10 players continue to play poorly.
No. 4: Oklahoma CB Zack Sanchez (Last week: 4)
The Sooners have won every game in which Sanchez has an interception. Unfortunately for Oklahoma, he was not able to force a turnover against K-State this past Saturday.
Despite not having an interception, Sanchez played well. He batted away two passes intended for Tyler Lockett and had three tackles. While Lockett did have a touchdown, Sanchez held him to just six receptions. That’s not a bad day for facing an all-American. Sanchez still leads the Big 12 in interceptions and is now tied for third in the conference in total passes defended.
No. 5: K-State LB Jonathan Truman (Last week: unranked)
Truman made his mark on Saturday with a terrific performance against Oklahoma and it’s talented offense. After the game, head coach Bill Snyder said Truman “might be the toughest young guy to play at K-State.”
Truman did not just start performing well last week. The game against the Sooners was the third time that he has tallied double digit tackles this season. He is also fourth in the Big 12 in tackles per game with 10. He is the main reason K-State’s defense is statistically the best rush defense in the conference. The former walk-on will have another chance to shine on Saturday when his team faces a Texas offense that is less than stellar.
Austin Earl is a sophomore in fishing, wildlife and conservation biology.