Football Holds Annual Awards Ceremony
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kody Cook, Cody Whitehair and Travis Britz were named Kansas State’s 2015 offensive and defensive MVPs, while Morgan Burns, Jack Cantele and Colborn Couchman took special teams MVP honors as the Wildcat football program held its annual awards ceremony Friday at McCain Auditorium on the K-State campus.
“On behalf of our players and everyone in our program, thank you from the bottom of my heart for each and every person that supports our program and for those that are invested in our program, certainly our players, players’ families, coaches, coaches’ families, our administration, their families, there are so many sacrifices made,” hall of fame head coach Bill Snyder said. “This senior class is a group of young guys that not only care about each other, but they care about all the young people in our program; they care about their fans, they care about their student body. I think this group of young guys emulate the ‘Wildcat 16 Goals for Success’ better than any group that we’ve had. I appreciate them a great deal for that, and I am very grateful to them.”
Cook made his mark by showing versatility and toughness this season as the senior recorded 27 catches for 417 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver while also leading the squad behind center in the Wildcats’ bowl-clinching win over West Virginia and at Oklahoma State. He added two more scores on the ground and three passing.
Whitehair earned All-Big 12 honors for a fourth-straight season but picked up first-team accolades for the first time. An in-state product who has played in all 51 games over the last four years with 50 starts, the Abilene, Kansas, native is regarded as one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the league as he has started at both guard and tackle, including the last two years at left tackle.
A three-time All-Big 12 honoree, Britz has recorded 36 tackles, including 11.0 tackles for loss and four sacks during his final campaign. He ranks 13th in the Big 12 and third among defensive tackles in TFLs thanks in part to recording 4.0 at Texas, the most by a K-State defender in a game since 2006.
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. He set a new school record with 221 kickoff-return yards at Texas Tech – a game that featured a 93-yard touchdown – while he had 100-yard returns on the season-opening kickoff against South Dakota and against Iowa State, which helped spark a 21-point comeback victory over the Cyclones. He also helped fuel a comeback victory in K-State’s bowl-eligibility clinching win over West Virginia with a 97-yard touchdown, part of a school-record 67.0-yard average performance on three returns.
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Cantele has made 12-of-14 field goals this season to rank second in the Big 12 and 14th nationally in percentage (85.7). He hit the game-winning field goal with three seconds left to help K-State complete a 21-point comeback over Iowa State, while he was true on four field goals against Louisiana Tech en route to Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Couchman, who played on multiple special teams units, led the team in special teams tackles with 11.
Britz also garnered Defensive Front Seven Player of the Year honors, while Cody Whitehair earned Offensive Lineman of the Year honors.
On the academic side, Academic All-Big 12 selections Stanton Weber and Glenn Gronkowski received the program’s Scholar-Athlete award, while the Big 12-leading 25 Academic All-Big 12 selections were also honored. A total of 22 Wildcats will play in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl having already earned degrees from Kansas State.
Riding a three-game winning streak to become bowl eligible for the 19th time in school history and 17th time under Snyder, K-State will take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in the 2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl on January 2, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. The game, which kicks off at 2:20 p.m., will be shown to a national audience on ESPN and can be heard across the K-State Sports Network and on ESPN Radio.
Public tickets for K-State fans who did not place a pre-order are available now at the K-State Online Ticket Office and through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office in Bramlage Coliseum or via phone at 1-800-221-CATS. Fans are strongly encouraged to order through K-State’s official allotment to ensure that all Wildcat fans are seated in the official K-State sections of the stadium. The location for K-State’s ticket allotment at the Liberty Bowl is among the best of any bowl game with prime sideline seating locations available for $85. Student tickets, priced at $85, are also on sale.
2015 K-State Football Awards
Overachiever Award – Chase Johnston
Red Raider Award – Landon Root
Scholar-Athlete Award – Stanton Weber and Glenn Gronkowski
Purple Pride Award – Justin Silmon
Ken Ochs Courage Award – Matt Kleinsorge and Joe Hubener
Kevin Saunders Never Give Up Award – Boston Stiverson and Mike Moore
Bob Cope Memorial Award – Reed Bergstrom
Nancy Bennett Memorial Award – Morgan Burns
Anthony A. Bates Memorial Award – Dante Barnett
Joan Friederich Award – Dalton Converse and Luke Hayes
Jim “Shorty” Kleinau Award – Will Davis and Jordan Willis
Most Improved Defensive Player – Marquel Bryant, Elijah Lee and Donnie Starks
Most Improved Offensive Player – Dalton Risner and Deante Burton
Outstanding Defensive Front Seven Award – Travis Britz
Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award – Cody Whitehair
Special Teams Most Valuable Player – Morgan Burns, Jack Cantele and Colborn Couchman
Defensive Most Valuable Player – Travis Britz
Offensive Most Valuable Player – Kody Cook and Cody Whitehair