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Friday, June 9, 2006

Firebird commits to KU

Ryan Murphy to join Ballard at Kansas

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The Free State High bond might pay big dividends for Kansas University's football team in the future.

Another Firebird gave his commitment to play for KU coach Mark Mangino in 2007. This time, it's Ryan Murphy, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound athlete who could be used like Charles Gordon was during his days in Lawrence - anywhere, everywhere and all the time.

Primarily, though, Murphy will start out as a wide receiver for the Jayhawks, then play where his abilities could help the program most. It was that type of open-to-

everything mindset by the KU coaching staff that helped Murphy see himself fit right in.

"The other schools that were recruiting me wanted me to play defense," Ryan said. "Don't get me wrong, I like defense. But I like offense better. I like the ball in my hands."

Ryan is the second Free State senior-to-be to commit to KU. During the spring, highly touted tight end Christian Ballard made his commitment to coach Mark Mangino and the Jayhawks. Ballard recently said he's still sold on the Jayhawks, but admitted that other big-time offers - including UCLA, Georgia and Michigan - have him curious.

"I'm pretty sure he's going to stay put," Murphy said of Ballard. "He's been persuading me the last couple of weeks (to go to Kansas)."

Murphy has been Free State's starting quarterback since the end of his sophomore season, and led the Sunflower League last year with more than 2,000 all-purpose yards. His brother, Brian, is Free State's featured tailback and also is getting interest from KU as a running back.

"More like a scat back," Ryan Murphy said of his brother. "Put him out there to do a lot of different things."

Murphy's the third known commitment for the 2007 class, joining Ballard and Texas wide receiver Chris Tuck. Like Ballard, it's especially sweet for Murphy because it allows him to play at the highest collegiate level without leaving Lawrence.

"Being a hometown kid," Murphy said, "it'll be nice to have that home feeling and playing in my home state in front of friends and families."

¢ Watch for Talib: KU cornerback Aqib Talib was named to the Bronko Nagurski Award watch list, an honor handed out by the Football Writers Association of America to the top defensive player in college football.

In all, the FWAA has 55 players on the watch list, but Talib is one of just two sophomores.

Last year, former Jayhawk Charles Gordon made the preseason watch list after leading the nation in interceptions in 2004. Lousiville defensive end Elvis Dumervil ended up winning.

¢ Shuffling around: KU is advertising for its head football trainer position, left vacant by Carol Jarosky.

Jarosky, who spent four years as head football athletic trainer, is moving over to be in charge of KU's new Aquatic Rehabilitation Center.

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