MANHATTAN, Kan. – Four Kansas State players on the defensive side of the ball – defensive backs Dante Barnett and Duke Shelley, linebacker Elijah Lee and defensive tackle Will Geary – earned spots on watch lists for awards presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) on Friday.
Barnett, Shelley and Lee were named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list – presented to the nation’s most outstanding defensive player – while Geary landed on the Outland Trophy watch list, which is awarded to the nation’s most outstanding interior lineman.
The three Wildcats up for the Nagurski Trophy are the most since linebacker Arthur Brown joined defensive backs Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman as candidates in 2012. Barnett is the fourth K-State player to be a multi-year candidate for the award along with two-time finalist Chris Canty (1995-96), defensive end Ian Campbell (2007-08) and Brown (2011-12).
Geary is one of 17 defensive tackles in the nation to be a candidate for this year’s Outland Trophy and the first Wildcat defender since Tank Reese in 2002 to be up for the award.
Barnett, a product of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is also a candidate for this year’s Bednarik Award, is the team’s active leader in both tackles (181) and interceptions (7), while he is tied for first among active Big 12 players with 29 career starts.
A sophomore from Tucker, Georgia, Shelley turned heads last season despite not seeing his first action until pulling off his redshirt in the fifth game of the year. He went on to record seven pass breakups – the most by a Wildcat freshman since 1998 – including four against West Virginia, the most nationally by a freshman in a single game in 2015.
A candidate for the Bednarik Award in addition to the Nagurski Trophy, Lee led the team with 80 tackles during his sophomore season of 2015 en route to Second Team All-Big 12 honors. The Blue Springs, Missouri, native became the first Wildcat underclassmen since Mark Simoneau in 1998 to earn first or second team all-conference honors.
Geary, a native of Topeka, Kansas, collected First Team All-Big 12 accolades from the Associated Press in 2015 after totaling 45 tackles, the most by a Wildcat interior defensive lineman since 2005.
The FWAA and Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on November 17, while the winner will be chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2016 FWAA All-America team.
The watch list for the Outland Trophy will be trimmed to six or seven semifinalists on November 17. Three finalists will be named on November 22, prior to the winner being announced on The Home Depot College Football Award Show live on ESPN on December 8.
The Wildcats will hold their annual Fan Appreciation Day on Saturday, August 13, at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Details for the event will be announced at a later date. Head coach Bill Snyder, along with the 2016 team captains – Barnett, Jesse Ertz, Jordan Willis and Dalton Risner – will head to Dallas, Texas, on Tuesday, July 19, to participate in Big 12 Media Day.
Heading into Snyder’s 25th season at the helm of the Wildcats, excitement is building for the 2016 season as a limited number of single-game tickets remain available for K-State’s six home games. Available tickets for the homecoming game against Texas on Saturday, October 22, are expected to be down to scattered singles soon, and the other five home games are also selling quickly as K-State looks to extend its sellout streak to 33-straight games.