It should come as no surprise to see Will Geary listed on midseason All-Big 12 teams this week.
The Kansas State senior is the only defensive tackle in school history to earn first team all-conference honors in back-to-back years, and he appears destined for a three-peat now that he is playing with a newfound sense of urgency.
“Last go around,” Geary said. “I am just trying to give it my all in practice every day and each game … I think it is pretty natural. Everybody wishes they would have felt it before. We just have to get the rest of the team going, get them that sense of urgency.”
Geary, a 6-foot, 306-pound tackler from Topeka, has been everywhere this season. To say he has done a little bit of everything would be an understatement. He has done a lot of everything.
When the Wildcats need to stuff the run on third-and-short, he is usually the man fighting through blockers to make the tackle. When the Wildcats need someone to pressure the quarterback, he surprisingly comes through with a pass rush. Most teams rely on defensive ends and blitzing linebackers for sacks, but Geary leads the team with three. He is the only player on the roster with multiple sacks.
For his efforts, Pro Football Focus expert Bryson Vesnaver rates Geary as the top interior defensive lineman in the Big 12 with a midseason grade of 90. That number rates higher than all but two players in the Big 12 -- Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (92.9) and Texas Tech linebacker Dakota Allen (90.4).
“He is playing as good as I have ever seen him play,” K-State linebacker Jayd Kirby said. “When you have a guy like that, it really helps you out.”
Few knew what to expect from Geary when the season began. After leaving the team for several months and missing the entirety of spring practices for undisclosed personal reasons, it was fair to wonder if he could regain his form on the defensive line.
Turns out, that wasn’t an issue. If anything, his hiatus pushed him to come back stronger.
“I was just missing my teammates,” Geary said. “You never lose these memories, just hanging out with them every day of the week. It’s nice being with them.”
The Wildcats are glad to have him back.
“He is playing very well,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “As we have said so many times, he is a hard-nosed young guy that plays hard. Every snap he is competitive, and as he begins to use his hands a little bit better, it gives him a chance to get some pass rush that might provide those sacks. He has played well versus the pass and versus the run.”
Geary has always been known as a fearsome run-stopper, but his improvement against the pass is what has made this a special season.
He already has three sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss to go along with 21 total tackles.
The biggest difference: consistency. He used to get one sack every six games. Now he is getting one every two games.
“That was one thing I definitely wanted to work on in the offseason,” Geary said, “just working on pass rush, transitioning from run defense to pass defense. We have had good coverage and we have got a couple hurries. That has allowed me to get a few sacks.”
K-State has faced several difficult defensive assignments this season, but things won’t get any easier this week against No. 9 Oklahoma. The Sooners are averaging 42 points and 575.5 yards.
The Wildcats will need another strong game for Geary to have a shot at the upset. He is embracing the challenge. As the midseason honors roll in, his focus remains on K-State’s final six games.
“It’s just good encouragement to just keep doing what I am doing,” Geary said, “to keep everybody working hard and to do my best.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett