Ben Heeney, an appreciation

Nick Reid, Kevin Kane and Banks Floodman. Mike Rivera, James Holt and Joe Mortensen. All are former Kansas University linebackers who, for one reason or another, won the hearts of the KU fan base during their playing days in Lawrence. And all are names that still make Jayhawk fans think about a style of play more than a team or a time.

So does the name Ben Heeney.

But it’s not just those who wear Heeney’s No. 31 jersey to games or marvel at everything from his speed and stats to hairstyle and humility who have fallen in love with the Hutchinson native known as The Diabolical Defender. Several former Kansas linebackers, a couple of whom even played Heeney’s position, have found the senior linebacker who leads Kansas with 84 tackles through seven games — and may lead the nation in the immeasurable category of heart-per-tackle — to be a bright spot during tough times for their alma mater.

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