On Wednesday, Kansas announced the three senior captains for the 2014 football campaign. Wide receiver Nick Harwell, linebacker Ben Heeney and safety Cassius Sendish were picked by their teammates during a Monday vote for the honor.
Additionally, Weis announced a “second tier” of leaders, known as the leadership committee. Seniors Pat Lewandowski and Keon Stowers, as well as sophomore and starting quarterback Montell Cozart were named to that group.
Here’s the release from KUAthletics.com:
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Prior to an afternoon practice, Kansas football head coach Charlie Weis held a press conference Wednesday from the Anderson Family Football Complex to reveal the results of a team vote on Monday for the 2014 Jayhawk captains.
Weis was joined in the press conference by wide receiver Nick Harwell, linebacker Ben Heeney and safety Cassius Sendish who tallied the highest votes amongst their peers and were awarded the honor of captain.
“There were three tiers of players when it came to votes,” Weis said. “I mean, the top tier clearly, not close by a mile, were these three young men sitting to my left, Ben Heeney, Cassius Sendish on defense, and Nick Harwell on offense. There really wasn’t much of a competition with everyone else as far as in the eyes of our players who they perceived to be the leaders.”
Weis also announced that the second tier of leaders who garnered the next greatest amount of votes for captain would make up the leadership committee on the team. Representing the offensive line and defensive lines will be senior Pat Lewandowski and senior Keon Stowers. Representing underclassmen and the other position groups will be sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart.
A preseason All-Big 12 Conference First Team selection and the conference’s leading returning tackler, Heeney was selected as a captain for the second time in his career at Kansas after being voted as one of four leaders in 2013.
“I don’t think really anyone prepares for anything like this,” Heeney said. “I’m sure Cassius coming in, never thought he’d be a captain, and same with Nick. I’m just really proud that my teammates view me as a leader on the team. I’m just going to do everything I possibly can to represent them and be the best leader and captain that I can be for those guys.”
Joining Heeney as on the defensive side of the ball is Sendish who joined the Jayhawks as a transfer a season ago. During his time at Kansas, Sendish has stepped up to become one of KU’s hardest working players.
“Ever since Cassius got here he was a guy that if we have to work out at 6:00 a.m., in the morning he’s in the weight room already at 5:00,” Heeney said. “He’s always the first guy in and last guy out. He’s made an impact from the get-go since he’s been here.”
Sendish added that he takes great pride being put into a leadership role and being in that position after holding a spot on the leadership council last season. He added that he will do whatever it takes to set a good example both on and off of the field for the other players.
“I’m just honored to be in this situation and to be put in this position for my team and to represent the team as a whole,” Sendish said. “I mean, it’s a great feeling knowing that you can come into a program and do something like that. I’m just trying to set an example for those who come in the future.”
Harwell who sat out last season after transferring from Miami (Ohio) where he holds nearly every receiving record, walked into the door last season as a natural leader. Harwell competed as hard as he could on the scout team last season and throughout the summer and into fall camp has been looked to for leadership.
“He’s a guy that couldn’t play last year, but he was still one of the most vocal guys on our team and one of the biggest leaders on our team,” Heeney said. “Just coming from a different team like Miami and then coming here to a brand-new team, brand-new school and everything like that and just being the leader that he’s been, it shows a lot about his character.”
Harwell admitted that he was somewhat surprised, but mostly honored his teammates voted him a captain before he ever even took a snap for KU.
“I’m really honored to be a team captain,” Harwell said. “I’ve only been here for a year, and it feels good to know that your teammates look up to you. They took me in, and I’m going to do the best for my team.”
Each of the captains may have differing levels of experience when it comes to playing for Kansas, but each is a senior and every one of them realizes it’s their last chance to go out and play football in college. Nobody in the group is focused on individual accolades in their final year, but all three are motivated to win enough games to extend their season through December.
“From my perspective I don’t think anybody sitting up here or anybody that sits in this team meeting room will feel good at night going home looking in the mirror if we were 1-11 and one of our players just had all the individual accolades,” Sendish said. “I don’t think anybody would feel good about that. We want to produce on the field as a team, not only as individuals.”
Heeney added, “It’s been our mindset to prove everybody wrong. We want to be playing in December.”