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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fantastic freshman awaits KU

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He has taken the Big 12 Conference by storm - the favorite for newcomer of the year and a big reason Kansas State football is heading back to a bowl game after a two-year hiatus.

So what should Kansas University do against K-State freshman quarterback Josh Freeman, who seems to overcome just about everything defenses are throwing at him?

"Put pressure on him," KU defensive tackle James McClinton said. "Give him that one good lick to make him think we're coming. This ain't nothing to play with. You're a freshman. Welcome to college football, baby."

After a couple of chuckles by reporters, an energized McClinton smirked and said, "I'm just keeping it real, man."

With any freshman quarterback, the consensus defensive creed is to attack and rattle.

But is Freeman an average freshman?

Sure, his first couple of games weren't spectacular, but last week's 45-42 K-State victory over Texas was nothing short of remarkable considering an 18-year old led the charge. Freeman has 681 yards and six touchdowns the last three weeks. K-State has scored 30-plus points every game in that stretch, victories over Iowa State, Colorado and Texas.

Kansas is aware of the Wildcats' new spark. The KU coaching staff recruited him a year ago out of Grandview (Mo.) High, and many of the players watched the KSU-Texas victory Saturday on television, having no game themselves.

"There were times earlier in the season when they first put him in where he made mistakes and things like that, like any young quarterback would," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "And he still does. But he seems to have that move-on-to-the-next-play type of mentality. That's something that I really like about him. He's able to move on to the next play."

At 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, Freeman has a prototypical NFL body already. His game, at least recently, has shown professional potential as well.

Freeman was the backup at the onset of the season to senior Dylan Meier, brother of KU starting quarterback Kerry Meier. He took over at the beginning of the conference season and didn't turn heads right away.

But he sure is now.

"I think the biggest thing that I would say as far as Josh's development," coach Ron Prince said, "is that we saw this kind of ability and this kind of development in practices throughout training camp."

Now, the secret's out. Next comes the hard part - figuring out how to stop him.

"I see a young quarterback prospering, basically," safety Jerome Kemp said.

So how do you slow him down?

"I'll keep that," he said, "to myself."

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