Five Kansas Jayhawks football captains are each winners

The greatest honor a Kansas Jayhawks football player can achieve is to be named a captain by his teammates. The role speaks volumes about the player’s status on the team, his character, his drive, his work ethic and the way he carries himself on and off the field.

The Jayhawks have five captains this season: junior linebacker Joe Dineen Jr., junior wide receiver Jeremiah Booker, junior defensive tackle Daniel Wise, junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. and senior running back Denzell Evans, who is out for the year with a knee injury.

Jayhawks coach David Beaty wouldn’t trade his captains for any players in the country.

“I think the first thing for those guys that sticks out to me is their work ethic,” Beaty said. “Absolutely zero times have those guys been on a list. Zero. They never have a hold on their account. They are never late signing up for classes. They’re never late picking up their books. They’re never late to anything. They’re always there. They’re great representatives of what it means to do things right. The good news is they set such a good example, 98 percent of our guys are never late or never on anything. There’s always a couple. I think that’s number one. Number two is their willingness to do more. And then number three, I think, is the respect that they have from their peers.”

Dineen has so much respect from teammates that he’s serving his second consecutive season as captain. After missing most of last year with a hamstring injury, Dineen redshirted and has provided stellar leadership and play in 2017. Nicknamed “The Mayor” by Beaty, the Lawrence native leads the Big 12 in tackles (88) and tackles for loss (13.0).

Possessing a never-quit mentality, Dineen is active on the field and in the community. He was nominated for the Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team and also named to the 2017 Wuerffel Trophy preseason Watch List, which honors college football’s top community servant.

Dineen is very involved in raising awareness and funds to fight childhood cancer, a mission he undertook after seeing Cole Hayden, the late son of Jayhawks Assistant Athletics Director for Academic and Career Counseling Shanda Hayden, being diagnosed with cancer last summer and battle valiantly before dying Dec. 10, 2016.

“Our hearts were broken when we lost Cole,” Dineen said. “I was inspired by his fight and wanted to keep fighting in his name. He was a special person to our entire program and I just want to keep honoring him by playing hard on Saturdays and also working hard to help find a cure.”

Beaty has great respect for Dineen, paying him perhaps the ultimate compliment after he posted 15 tackles in the season opener against Southeast Missouri State.

“I think he appreciates every play,” Beaty said about Dineen’s love for the game after competing in just three games last season. “I couldn’t be happier for him. I couldn’t be happier for a guy — I mean, if you build them, you build them like Joe Dineen.”

“He’s just relentless. That’s the guy I think when we put the tape on and be able to say, ‘That’s what playing hard looks like the entire time.’ ”

Booker is another player who is making an impact on and off the gridiron. After just nine receptions last season, he’s almost doubled that in 2017 with 16 catches for 225 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s been healthy. That’s probably the biggest difference between Booker this year and the two previous years is staying healthy,” Beaty said. “He broke that collarbone the first year, came back, battled a high ankle sprain last year for a long, long time, so he’s been healthy, which I think helps him a lot. That combined with an unparalleled work ethic. There’s a reason why he was chosen as a captain. He’s a guy that most of our team would probably say may set the pace when it comes to commitment on our team. He’s just a stud in that regard.

“He’s just such a quiet guy. He doesn’t say a whole lot until he’s trying to lead, then he does a good job with that. He’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever been around, and that’s high praise because there’s some good ones. He just works his way into it. He is just one of those guys.”

Booker’s parents have been to all of his games.

“You talk about some very unique, interesting, wonderful people. If you don’t know the Bookers, no wonder that kid is like he is,” Beaty said. “His mom and his dad are super, super people. They make me feel lazy, and I thought that was hard to do, but obviously it’s not.”

Booker won the True Blue Award at the Rock Chalk Choice Awards on Sept. 10, which is given to the student-athlete that best demonstrates an ability to excel in academics and athletics, while advancing the mission of Kansas Athletics on campus and in the community.

“I know he was honored, greatly honored when his name was called for that award. It was pretty cool,” Beaty said.

Armstrong and Wise have achieved many honors during their KU career, providing great leadership to their teammates while making a formidable tandem on the defensive line. While Armstrong’s production is down his season with the constant double teams at defensive end (one sack, compared to 10 last year), he’s still setting a prime example of accountability and devoted play.

Wise, who has 9.0 TFLs, loves teaming with Armstrong.

“We just feed off each other and whoever makes plays, makes plays,” Wise said.

Evans was maybe a unique pick for captain considering his season is lost to injury. But being picked one of the five captains just shows what his teammates think of the Arkansas transfer, who played in all 12 games last year. While he can’t play this season, he makes his presence felt on the sideline, in the film room and meeting room, encouraging his teammates with his unwavering positive attitude.

“One of the ones that — it surprised me that they chose him because I wasn’t sure our team was mature enough to see it, but Denzell Evans was a great choice for captain,” Beaty said. “He’s like the old man in the room now. I mean, it’s fun being around those guys and listening to everybody talk about what they think is important and then Peepaw gets up there and talks, and it’s really cool for him to say, ‘listen, that uniform stuff will be what it’ll be. This is what it’s about.’ And everybody just kind of goes — because he’s got that kind of respect.

“So really happy for him. Even where he’s lost a season because of an unfortunate accident that happened to him. But he’ll be a big part of our team still.”

Despite another losing Jayhawks season, these five captains are all winners who have tremendous character and integrity.

“They (teammates) know that those guys are going to do the right thing no matter what,” Jayhawks Beaty said.

For more on KC’s three D1 teams, check out our Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri pages and be sure to subscribe for a FREE digital copy of our monthly magazine on the home page.

Make sure to like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Article by David Garfield

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *