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Thursday, November 2, 2006

Jayhawks’ Roux takes position switch in stride

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Dominic Roux sees a little bit of himself when lining up at his new cornerback position for Kansas University.

That's why it has worked so well - and so fast - in the middle of his senior football season.

"I played receiver, and when you look at a receiver's hips and everything he does, it's basically the same thing I did," Roux said. "It's like a mirror effect. It's not hard to pick up when you ran those routes."

A wide receiver in KU's program for 41â2 years, Roux made the switch to cornerback last week with just four games to go in his career. An odd time, sure, but the football gods never ask a program when the time's right for a personnel need.

"He's pretty athletic," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "Dominic has been a guy that just wants to play and help out. We just felt he was the best available guy to help us over at the corner position."

One of the fastest guys on the team, Roux struggled to find consistent playing time at receiver throughout his career. He had just one catch for 11 yards this season and just six catches for 63 yards in his career coming into 2006. Instead of pass-catching, Roux's blazing speed often was used as a decoy.

"He's been kind of an unheralded guy in our receiver corps," Mangino said. "He runs routes to try to clear the zones out, things of that sort because he can stretch the defense."

That's in the past now, and his jersey number is all the proof that's needed. After being No. 80 for most of his days at KU, Roux now wears No. 30.

The switch was made during preparation for last week's 20-15 victory over Colorado, and teammates said it went well almost instantly.

"The first day he switched to corner, I think he had two pass breakups and an interception playing one-on-one," cornerback Aqib Talib said. "He was like a natural."

Kansas has explored its options for cornerback depth behind Talib and freshman Anthony Webb all season. The only other choice was true freshman Phillip Strozier, but a minor health setback made red-shirting the best option for him.

That left Roux, who jumped at the opportunity to get more playing time when asked. He played in nickel packages against Colorado and recorded a second-quarter tackle that forced the Buffaloes to kick a field goal.

It was his first defensive play since his days at Serra High in Los Angeles. There, Roux was recruited by Colorado and Kansas as a receiver and by Boise State to play both ways.

Roux wanted to be a receiver in a spread offense, which is why he chose Kansas. Funny the way it works, though - now that he's on defense, he said he couldn't be happier with how his career is about to finish.

"I like it much better over there," Roux said. "Much more excitement. Much more plays you can make over there."

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