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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Injuries helped KU develop CB depth

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Injuries, of all things, made an NFL defection much easier for Kansas University's football team to swallow.

While former KU cornerback Aqib Talib prepares for a career in professional football, two cornerbacks still on the Jayhawks' roster are atop the depth chart and boasting experience.

Kendrick Harper's frustrating junior season gets the credit.

Harper suffered a hand injury during the first practice of summer camp, knocking him off the first team four games of the 2007 season and elevating true freshman Chris Harris into the starting role opposite Talib.

Once Harper recovered, KU's cornerback fleet was healthy and leading the Jayhawks' suffocating defense. But more injury woes knocked Harper out of two more games in November, forcing Harris to grow up even faster.

He did, and KU's cornerback situation in 2008 wins as a result.

"I've got the experience. It just clicks," Harris said after the spring game Monday. "I'm a lot faster on the field."

Harris played in all 13 games in 2007, making 10 starts. Harper, a junior-college transfer, played seven games and made three starts.

With Talib leaving school a year early, Harper and Harris played first-team defense during the spring game. The two combined for nine tackles, and each recovered a fumble.

If Monday's scrimmage showed anything, it was this: Talib will be missed, but not dearly.

"It's really not a lot different," defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said. "Obviously, Aqib could make a special play, but we've got guys that can fill in. It's always amazing when guys leave how everybody just moves on."

Harris said that's possible in part because of the wisdom Talib passed down to him. Harris still is just a teenager, but he's starting to see himself as a leader among the cornerbacks. His seven-tackle night in the spring game was a fitting performance considering his added responsibilities.

"It's kind of good to get that started," Harris said. "I know I have a role to fill, and I'm just ready. I'm ready to take on that role."

As for Harper? He got tested plenty, too, and had his share of good moments from his 2007 season - most notably a key interception at Kansas State. But just as he took back the starting job from Harris, he lost it again due to injury.

It cost the Jayhawks depth in the short term. But it gave them precious experience for the long run, and Harper sees that.

"It was pretty frustrating," Harper said. "I just worked through it and prayed and stuff. It's all pretty good now."

¢ New commitment: Rivals.com reported that Kansas received an oral commitment for its 2009 class from Tyler Patmon.

Patmon, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound defensive back, hails from Cedar Park, Texas. He's KU's third known commitment for the 2009 class.

Comments

Former_Jhawk 12 years, 9 months ago

...speaking of depth, Ryan Murphy will be there for a few more years. He was rated a Top-20 cornerback prospect coming out high school

troutsee 12 years, 9 months ago

It would appear that the Hawks are acquiring more and more depth as the Mangino years go by. That should make us a force to be reckoned with in the Big 12 and contenders for B 12 N title every year. Hats off to Mangino and his staff.

JayViking 12 years, 9 months ago

Wow. 2009 recruits pouring in!!! WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO

KURUSH1530 12 years, 9 months ago

He named two guys in this article, that's not a lot of depth.

JBurtin 12 years, 9 months ago

He just means that even with losing the most talented player on the team, we still have two guys with starting experience. I get your point, but I get his as well.If you actually are worried about depth. Isaiah Barfield has been talked about as one of the fastest guys on the team. Ryan Murphy is an incredible athlete. Greg Brown isn't even here yet, but looks physically ready to play at the D1 level if we need him. I believe Anthony Davis redshirted last year, but he was in the hunt to be where Harris was last year. Anthony Webb is still around, and who knows, maybe he's gotten better? Finally Gary Greene is lining up at WR now, but it's not like he's forgotten how to play CB in the last couple of months, and he was pretty good when he made the field last year.I agree that if you're gonna write an article about depth that you should probably mention some other names. However, him choosing a strange title doesn't necessarily mean that we don't have some solid depth. I feel much better about our depth this year than I have at any time in the recent past.

Ryan Wood 12 years, 9 months ago

Depth isn't mentioned one time in the story with regards to 2008.

Dirk Medema 12 years, 9 months ago

There was a nice group of DB's making plays, especially at the end of last season. We definitely need more than just 2 CB's to defend well with mizzoo, TTech and others on the schedule. We'll definitely need to keep amping up the recruits and player development, because mizzoo doesn't appear to be going away, and both CU and NU had really good recruiting years.

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