Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner has been chosen as the 2017-18 Big 12 Male Sportsperson of the Year, the conference office announced Tuesday.
He is the third Wildcat overall and first male to win the award, which was established in 2000-01 to annually recognize student-athletes who display an extraordinary degree of sportsmanship, community service and academic achievement. The other former K-State winners were women’s basketball player Kim Woodlee (2000-01) and women’s golfer Whitney Pyle (2012-13).
A product of Wiggins, Colorado, Risner is one of the top returning offensive linemen in the nation who put together an All-American campaign in 2017. Named a First Team All-American by Pro Football Focus and a second-teamer by CBSSports.com, Risner graded out at a 90.3 mark during the regular season according to Pro Football Focus. His blocking efficiency including a 98.9 mark on pass blocking to tie for the fourth highest among FBS tackles as he only allowed three quarterback pressures according to PFF.
Risner, a two-time team captain, helped lead the 2017 Wildcats to a tie for third place in school history in rushing yards per carry (4.98), while they ranked seventh in program history with 2,584 total rushing yards.
Despite being a tough, physical player on the field, Risner has a caring side away from football as he has taken upon himself to be involved in numerous community-service activities and spend time with those in need.
Risner started the RiseUp Foundation, which has started in both a blog and v-log form to “encourage everyone to RISE above the evil and sin in this world and be a positive shining light in the lives of others.” The ultimate goal for the foundation is to motivate people through his words and actions, through his stories and his relationships.
He also visits Buttonwood Special Needs Home and has bonded with one member in particular, Mike, by going to movies, bowling and hanging out about once per week. Risner goes to the house to spend time for a while before taking Mike to places around town to spend time together.
Similarly, Risner is a Big Brother to a kid named Kaden, who is battling leukemia. After originally meeting in April, Risner and Kaden have spent time together on multiple occasions, including a family barbeque, while Risner brought Kaden and his siblings Easter baskets.
Risner also takes the time to write notes and send football memorabilia to people – both young and old – who are going through difficult times. One example is a kid name Wyatt in Arizona, who is nearly deaf and gets bullied at school. Dalton took the time to send him a message and autograph items, while Wyatt was a guest of Risner’s during one of K-State’s practices in Arizona while preparing for the Cactus Bowl.
Although he takes the time on his own to participate in community service, Risner also does work through the K-State football team’s initiatives, including Special Olympics, Senior Kats (spending time at all four local retirement communities), Cats in the Classroom (volunteering at local elementary schools), Cats 4 Cans (collection of food items for the Flint Hills Breadbasket) and Adopt-a-Family.