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Lockett, Mueller lead Cats’ All-Big 12 picks

By The Mercury

Paced by Special Teams Player of the Year Tyler Lockett and Defensive Lineman of the Year Ryan Mueller, Kansas State landed 13 players on the coaches’ All-Big 12 teams, the conference office announced Wednesday.

Staff photo by Sarah Midgorden
(Kansas State’s Ryan Mueller tackles Kansas running back James Sims on Nov.  30 in Lawrence. Mueller was named Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the year on Wednesda)y.

Joining Lockett — who was honored as both a wide receiver and kick returner — and Mueller on the first team were offensive lineman B.J. Finney and defensive back Ty Zimmerman, while offensive lineman Cody Whitehair was a second-team selection. Additionally, Lockett and Zimmerman picked up votes for the league’s Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year awards, respectively.

Kansas State’s honorable mention selections included defensive lineman Travis Britz, fullback Glenn Gronkowski, running back John Hubert, offensive linemen Cornelius Lucas and Tavon Rooks, quarterback Daniel Sams, linebacker Blake Slaughter and kick returner Tramaine Thompson.

Lockett is the first Wildcat to earn Special Teams Player of the Year honors since Brandon Banks in 2009, while Mueller garnered Kansas State’s second straight Defensive Lineman of the Year honor (Meshak Williams). The two specialty awards in 2013 pushed K-State’s total to six over the last two years as Bill Snyder (coach), Collin Klein (offensive), Arthur Brown (defensive) and Williams were honored last season.

A product of Tulsa, Okla., Lockett led the Big 12 during the regular season with 151.4 all-purpose yards per game, an astonishing 22.3 yards per game better than the player in second place. His average ranks 14th nationally and is a product of a 104.2 receiving yards-per-game average, which ranks second in the conference and 11th in the nation. The all-conference honor was the third of Lockett’s career as he was a second-team honoree in 2011 and 2012.

Lockett sits in the school’s top 10 in six single-season receiving categories and four career receiving categories, while he produced the top two single-game receiving outputs in school history this season (278 vs. Oklahoma, 237 vs. Texas) and tied the school record with three receiving touchdowns on two occasions (West Virginia and Oklahoma). He also owns the school record for career kickoff-return yardage (1,760), and he ranks second in school history in career kickoff-return average (30.9) and touchdowns (4).

Mueller, a junior from Leawood, Kan., leads the Big 12 with 18.5 tackles for loss and is second in the league with a school-record tying 11.5 sacks. A former walk-on who has at least a half tackle for loss in every game this year, Mueller enters the postseason a half sack away from entering the Big 12’s single-season top 10 and 1.5 away from appearing on the school’s career top-10 list.

Zimmerman’s designation made him the first player in school history to garner four-straight all-conference accolades. Additionally, he is one of just four Big 12 defensive backs to earn four All-Big 12 honors with at least one of those being a first-team designation, joining Nebraska’s Ralph Brown (1996-99) and Oklahoma’s Brandon Everage (2000-03) and Derrick Strait (2000-03). The Junction City, Kan., native ranks third in the Big 12 among defensive backs with seven tackles per game, while he has returned a Big 12-best two interceptions for touchdowns.

Finney joins Zimmerman and Lockett as one of 14 players in school history with three or more career all-conference honors. The Andale, Kan., product has started all 38 games in his Wildcat career, including the last 37 at center, and is a two-time team captain.

A native of Abilene, Kan., Whitehair garnered his second-straight all-conference accolade as he was an honorable mention pick by the coaches in 2012. He has started 24 of 25 career games, including all 12 regular-season contests in 2013 at left guard.

Hubert, Lucas, Rooks and Thompson each garnered their second-straight All-Big 12 designation, while Britz, Gronkowski, Sams and Slaughter were named all-conference for the first time in their careers.

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