SE: Top Wildcat Males of 2011-12

Bill Snyder

June 25, 2012

Editor’s Note: Today is the second of a two-part series on the accomplishments of K-State Athletics during the 2011-12 season. Friday’s article highlighted the women, while the men’s honorees are announced today.

By Mark Janssen

What a year to remember. Eight football wins by seven points or less. A 7-foot, 8-inch high jumper. The remarkable heroics of Collin Klein. The league’s leading hitter in baseball. And, the arrival of the next-generation Lockett.

The following are the Sports Extra picks for the top male athletes and moments of the just completed Wildcat athletic season.

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: ERIK KYNARD saved his best for last by clearing an astonishing 7-feet, 8-inches in the high jump to defend his title at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The leap was the second highest in the United States in 2012 and ranks as the fifth highest jump in collegiate history. Kynard also earned first team All-America honors and was the indoor and outdoor Big 12 champion.

The 7-8 height set the K-State record at what is known across the country as “High Jump U.” Kynard, the Midwest Region Athlete of the Year, will jump tonight in the finals of the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials at 7:50 p.m. (CT).

FIVE OTHERS NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN: Collin Klein rushed for a school-record 27 touchdowns – which also set the FBS quarterback record – while rushing for a K-State quarterback record of 1,141 yards. The signal caller also eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier through the air at 1,918 with 13 touchdowns as opposed to just six interceptions; Rodney McGruder earned Second Team All-Big 12 honors by averaging a team-high 15 points per game, which included three games of at least 30 points; Jared King won the Big 12 regular-season batting title at .378 and earned second team all-conference and First Team ABCA All-Midwest Region honors;  Jordan Henriquez won a spot on the Big 12’s All-Defensive team as he became the school’s all-time blocks leader (146), which included seven against Iowa State, a school record for a conference game; Tyler Lockett was named a First Team Walter Camp All-American as a kick returner after averaging 35.2 yards. Lockett took kickoffs back for touchdowns in consecutive weeks – at Texas Tech and at Kansas – to become the first player in school history to accomplish the feat. He also caught 18 passes for 246 yards before an injury sidelined him for the final four games.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Angel Rodriguez not only played in 32 out of K-State’s 33 games in 2011-12, but he started the final 17 as the Wildcats’ point guard. He averaged 8.3 points per game, plus led the team in steals and assists.

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Arthur Brown earned Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors as he started all 13 games and totaled 101 tackles, which included 9.5 for a loss, and two sacks. It was Brown’s interception that led to a game-winning field goal against No. 15 Baylor early in the season. A transfer to K-State from Miami, Brown was a First Team All-Big 12 and honorable mention All-America selection.

TEAM OF THE YEAR/COACH OF THE YEAR: Bill Snyder did it again as he was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year after leading the Wildcats to a 10-2 regular-season record. K-State entered the year tabbed as the eighth-best team in the Big 12, but the Wildcats ended the regular season ranked No. 8 in the nation and earned a berth into the 2012 AT&T Cotton Bowl.

TEAM MOMENT: It took four overtimes, but Kansas State made the first overtime game in Bill Snyder Family Stadium history a memorable one with a 53-50 victory over Texas A&M in four overtimes. It was a contest where 41 overtime points were scored after the game was tied, 31-31, at the end of regulation.

INDIVIDUAL MOMENT: Collin Klein was the super-hero in the quadruple-overtime victory over Texas A&M by scoring his fifth touchdown of the day as the game-winner. Klein passed for a career-high 281 yards, plus he rushed for 103 yards. Klein led the team from a 10-point deficit in the final six minutes of regulation.

GIFTED ACADEMICALLY AS WELL AS ATHLETICALLY: Victor Ojeleye was named male winner of the 2012 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award. The Sports Scholar Award was established in 1992 by Black Issues in Higher Education, now Diverse, to honor undergraduate students of color who exemplify the standards set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr.  To be nominated, student-athletes must have competed in an intercollegiate sport, maintained a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and be active on their campus.

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.