The Big 12 announced its 2015 all-conference honors list today as selected by the league's coaches, and to the surprise of virtually nobody the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year is Kansas State's Morgan Burns. That tends to happen when you score four touchdowns in one year on kickoff returns and do all those other neat things like blocking punts and recovering fumbles in the end zone and so on. It's the fourth time in seven seasons and third in a row that the honor has gone to a Wildcat, following Brandon Banks in 2009 and Tyler Lockett in 2013 and 2014.
Burns also claimed the first-team kick returner spot on the All-Big 12 team, and was joined by three others. Offensive lineman Cody Whitehair didn't even get a second team nod from ESPN, if you would like more reason to roll your eyes and be irate, but Big 12 coaches had no problem whatsoever honoring the Wildcat senior. Freshman fullback Winston Dimel supplanted his teammate Glenn Gronkowski as the conference's first-team selection at fullback. Finally, for those who feel a redemption story was required, Kansas State got one. Jack Cantele ousted last year's first-team placekicker, Jaden Oberkrom, to claim first-team honors. Cantele was 12 of 14 on field goals and a perfect 29-29 on point-after attempts.
Cantele also factored into the voting for Special Teams player of the Year. Cantele and Oberkrom were the only players other than Burns to receive votes for that honor.
Defensive lineman Travis Britz and linebacker Elijah Lee both earned second-team honors, while five players earned honorable mention: Burns at cornerback, defensive lineman Will Geary, offensive lineman Boston Stiverson, punter Nick Walsh, and -- get this -- kicker Matt McCrane. That's right, Kansas State had two different placekickers receiving votes and still claimed the first-team nod.
Whitehair received some support for the Offensive Lineman of the Year award, which was ultimately won by Spencer Drango. Andrew Billings of Baylor claimed the defensive side of that honor. The freshmen of the year were Iowa State running back Mike Warren and Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson; the newcomer of the year awards went to wide receiver Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma and Iowa State defensive lineman Demond Tucker.
The league's defensive player of the year voting was a tie, so Billings will share that honor with Oklahoma State DT Emmanuel Ogbah. Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield claimed the offensive player of the year honors, while Bob Stoops was honored for the fifth time as Chuck Neinas Coach of the Year.