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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Juco signees plug gaps on KU football squad

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Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino stressed the need for help in both the secondary and on the offensive line when talking with reporters in November.

Within a month, the Jayhawks significantly upgraded both areas.

KU announced the signing of three junior-college players on Wednesday, the first day mid-year transfers were allowed to ink letters of intent. Two come from Butler Community College in nearby El Dorado - cornerback Kendrick Harper and offensive lineman Chet Hartley. The third is safety Patrick Resby, who just finished a three-year career at Navarro Community College in Texas.

A fourth juco commitment, Phoenix (Ariz.) College defensive end Aaron Mack, was not announced as a signee Wednesday, though the reasons weren't immediately clear. Phoenix coach Dale Wolfley said Wednesday he thought Mack did sign as expected, though he wasn't sure.

"If anything, it's a grade issue," Wolfley said, adding that Mack still intended to go to Kansas.

As for the three announced signees, all are expected to enroll at Kansas next semester, meaning they will be eligible to participate in spring practices.

Two of them look to provide immediate help to a unit needing an urgent turnaround. The Jayhawks' pass defense in 2006 ranked last in Division I-A, allowing 269 yards per game. Resby, 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, could compete for the starting strong safety job right away. Harper, 5-11 and 190, at the very least will provide much-needed depth at cornerback.

"The thing you'll find with Kendrick is he's an extremely competitive young man," Butler coach Troy Morrell said. "He's a kid that's been a leader for us for two years. He played receiver for us as a freshman and we moved him to corner in the spring because of his defensive-type mentality.

"He's a very physical corner. He's not afraid to stick his nose in there and make tackles. He's just a great character person. You're going to love him up there in Lawrence because he's a very outgoing person and possesses a lot of positive qualities."

KU's offensive line, meanwhile, performed well in 2006 - particularly in the run game. But center David Ochoa and guards Bob Whitaker, Travis Dambach and Jake Cox all graduate, leaving a gaping hole of inexperience between the tackles.

Hartley, a 6-4, 305-pound Kingman native, played left tackle for Morrell at Butler. But he's expected to move inside and compete for a starting guard spot right away.

"I guess the coaching staff felt that an older player with some college experience might be the best option," Hartley told Rivals.com on Wednesday. "I feel that I can come in and play right away next year."

New KU signees

New Jayhawks' names, positions, previous schools:

¢ Kendrick Harper, CB, Butler CC

¢ Chet Hartley, OL, Butler CC

¢ Patrick Resby, S, Navarro (Texas) CC

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