Friday, April 7, 2006

Who’s No. 3? Heck, jury’s still out on 1, 2


Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino has learned his lesson. When it comes to the quarterback position, a one-deep or two-deep depth chart just won't do at KU.

It's a minimum three-deep that finally gets the coach comfortable.

The problem this spring, though, is that neither the starter nor backup is picked. Though Kerry Meier appears to be the front-runner, that battle has to be finalized before No. 2 and No. 3 can be hammered out.

Such is the dilemma facing KU this spring.

"I haven't named a No. 1, but I'm concerned about No. 3," Mangino said Thursday. "We haven't been able to get Todd Reesing as many reps as we can. I think that's based on the fact that we really want to get No. 1 settled.

"The No. 3 position, which is vital for us : we're going to have to work on that hard in training camp so that we have a solid three-deep at quarterback."

The third-string quarterback has played significantly every season Mangino has been at Kansas, due to injuries and inconsistent play.

That said, KU coaches can't count on red-shirting both Reesing and Tyler Lawrence, the two freshmen expected to battle for the Nos. 3 and 4 spots behind Meier and senior Adam Barmann.

Reesing is participating in spring drills, but Lawrence is getting ready to graduate from Shawnee Mission West before coming to campus in the summer.

Up top, Mangino continues to speak highly of Meier, a red-shirt freshman out of Pittsburg who has been working with the first-team offense all spring.

"The last week, we've put him in some difficult situations with our defense, and he's responded very well," Mangino said. "You can see he's starting to get a good grasp on what the defense is doing, how to recognize what they're doing, how to get us in a good play. I'm very pleased with him."

Mangino said it was possible he'd name a starter before the spring game, though he wouldn't promise it. That's only a fraction of the battle, though, considering KU's bizarre need for a lot of quarterbacks almost every season.

"Pretty much all of them have been playing well," fullback Brandon McAnderson said. "Whoever's back there, I'm happy with him. I have confidence in everybody on this team."

Harris done: Mangino confirmed Thursday the playing career of safety Rodney Harris is over.

Harris injured a vertebra in his neck during the first week of spring practice and had extensive surgery to correct it.

"Even if there was a medical clearance, I think we're going to keep Rodney out," Mangino said. "He wants to focus on getting his degree, and he wants to come back and be a student coach for us."

Washington recovering: Mangino also anticipated the return of linebacker Eric Washington in time for the fall. Washington has been held out because of a shoulder injury and has been limited only to footwork drills in spring practice.

"Obviously, Eric Washington is going to play a factor in the defense with his speed and everything," Mangino said.

Also, freshman linebacker Brandon Duncan has been hampered by a flu bug that hit the team recently.

Replacing Gordon: The punt-return position vacated by Charles Gordon likely will be filled by Brian Murph or Aqib Talib.

Murph returned one punt last year - for a touchdown in the Fort Worth Bowl - and has been working at it all spring. Talib, meanwhile, hasn't taken reps because of a finger injury suffered playing basketball in the offseason.

Mangino said Jonathan Lamb could be used in fair-catch situations because of his good hands.

On kickoff returns, sophomore Marcus Herford appears to be the front-runner to assume those duties.

On Toledo: Mangino didn't seem too concerned with the Week 3 game at Toledo being moved to Sept. 15, a Friday night. Hey, at least it wasn't Thursday, another option thrown out there.

"I'm happier to be playing it on Friday, because it gives you an extra day," Mangino said. "When you play a Thursday game and you're the travel team, you'd prefer not to do that."

This, that: Mangino expects most of his incoming freshmen to be on campus in June for summer school, though he added that a few still were trying to get qualified. : McAnderson, along with fullback duties, has worked as ball carrier in single-back sets. : KU has six practices left this spring, including the April 14 spring game at Memorial Stadium.


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