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Q&A: Kansas LB Ben Heeney

10/22/2014

We're not perfect here on the Big 12 blog. And Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney showed that we may have erred omitting him from our midseason All-Big 12 team. Days after our team came out, Heeney delivered a dominating performance with 21 tackles and a 37-yard interception return in Kansas' 34-21 loss at Texas Tech last weekend.

Heeney now leads the Big 12 with 58 solo tackles.

Though we snubbed him, Heeney was a good sport, and agreed to talk with us about getting left off the midseason team, what it was like when Charlie Weis got fired and how to properly groom a beard:

We think we might have made a mistake in leaving you off our midseason All-Big 12 team. Do you think we made a mistake?

Heeney: Whatever you guys think. I think the guys you put ahead of me (Oklahoma's Eric Striker, Texas' Jordan Hicks and TCU's Paul Dawson) are great players also. But I did have to prove last week that you guys made a mistake.

So did it give you a little extra motivation against Tech?

Heeney: Yeah, I guess a little bit. But more than anything, I was playing to win that game against Texas Tech.

You have tackled a bunch of guys over the past four years. Who has been the toughest to tackle?

Heeney: I think Lache Seastrunk at Baylor was really hard. Tavon Austin at West Virginia my sophomore year was hard to tackle. And (former Kansas State QB) Collin Klein was hard to tackle. Those three guys stick out.

Why did you decide to go to Kansas?

Heeney: It had always been my dream school. Both of my parents went to school here. My brother gradated from here in 2013. It's basically been a family school. I was born and raised in Kansas. It was my dream school since I was a little kid.

What's it been like having three head coaches?

Heeney: It's tough. Especially with wondering where you stand. After Coach (Turner) Gill got fired after my freshman year, it was a whole new staff. You have to prove your worth again to a whole brand new staff. It was different when Coach Weis got fired. He was the only one let go. So it's been different every time. But it is pretty weird having three coaches in four years.

Did Weis getting fired in the middle of the season blindside you?

Heeney: Yeah it did. It was really weird. After the Texas game, that next morning, that Sunday morning, I woke up to like 50 text messages from friends and random people asking if I had heard the news. I hadn't heard anything. Waking up to all that chaos was really crazy. It was something that I never thought would happen.

How did it make you guys feel Weis getting fired, and what's been different since Clint Bowen took over?

Heeney: Coach Weis was always a good guy to me, a good coach. But we've moved on, and I don't think our team has skipped a beat. It almost has brought us closer as a team. Coach Bowen had been my position coach last two years. Me and him have a really good relationship. He's a player's coach. We love playing for him. We all want him to be our head coach. We want to win for Coach Bowen.

So you guys want to win games to give Bowen a chance at becoming the permanent head coach?

Heeney: Yeah definitely. That's been kinda our goal. We have to win for him, because we all really like him and we want him to stay around as our head coach. That has been our goal, to win for him. It hasn't happened yet. But we definitely think it's going to. We're trying to get wins not only for ourselves, but for Coach Bowen.

What's the story with the beard?

Heeney: I started growing it last year. Everyone really liked it. I shaved it off after football season, and I got crap for it. So this offseason I've brought it back to life. I've been growing it five-six months deep. It's become an image for me I guess now.

West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole has tips for grooming his mustache. Do you have tips for grooming a beard?

Heeney: Yeah, I do. His mustache is awesome by the way. You have to shampoo it daily. You need it get a beard comb or beard brush, either of the two work fine. And then just take care of it, love it, nourish it. If you can grow a beard, you should, because not everyone can grow one. It's pretty special.

You a Royals fan?

Heeney: Yes, big Royals fan. I've been watching the games. I had tickets to the game last Monday night, but it got rained out. We had practice Tuesday, so wasn't able to go. But I've been following them, definitely. I think we're going to win.

What's favorite local place to eat in Lawrence?

Heeney: Jefferson's on Mass. Ave. It's a wing place. They have really good fried food.

Final question: Can you forgive us for leaving you off the midseason All-Big 12 team?

Heeney: Yeah man, I'll forgive you guys this time. Just don't let it happen again, all right?