A week ago, when Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino had his pick of three able-bodied placekickers competing to replace departed starter Scott Webb, the coach was faced with a welcome problem.
Today, he might just be faced with a problem.
The Journal-World learned Monday that red-shirt freshman placekicker Stephen Hoge had left the team to concentrate on academics, while sophomore Jacob Branstetter could miss the 2008 season due to eligibility issues stemming from his transfer from Air Force Academy.
That leaves Butler County Community College transfer Grady Fowler as the only kicker listed on the Jayhawks' roster.
In an e-mail response to the Journal-World on Monday, Hoge's father, John Hoge, said his son "left to focus on academics and getting into (medical) school."
Hoge, who as a senior at Oklahoma City's Putnam City North High in '06 was named a PrepStar Magazine All-American after connecting on 16 of 16 extra points and 12 of 16 field-goal attempts, had been listed as the No. 1 kicker on the team's preseason depth chart.
Meanwhile, Branstetter's father, Gerald Branstetter, confirmed that his son recently had been informed that he could be prohibited from playing this season for reasons related to the transfer.
Branstetter, who enrolled in the Academy following his high school graduation in 2006, left two weeks into classes and sat out a semester before enrolling at Kansas in January of '07.
Since then, he has taken classes at KU - including a summer school workload - and was under the impression he had done everything necessary to gain eligibility for this season. According to his father, Branstetter had also been told that he was in line to be the team's top kicker this year before it was discovered that he was five credits short of being cleared to play. Branstetter was an all-state performer at MacArthur (Okla.) High, finishing his career 17-of-22 on field goals and 142 of 144 on extra points.
The family is currently in the process of petitioning the NCAA for a waiver that would allow Branstetter, a National Honor Society student in high school, to compete for the Jayhawks this season.
"The letter is in the (KU) compliance office and they're supposed to send it into the NCAA (today)," said Gerald Branstetter, who was first informed of the problem Thursday. "I've heard it could be as quick as 24 hours, or it could be weeks. For Kansas' sake, and Jacob's, I hope it's 24 hours and he gets to play."
If not, Fowler will likely enter the season as the team's starting kicker. As a member of the 2007 national junior college champion Butler County team, Fowler earned honorable mention all-American honors after making eight of 12 field goals and 53 of 55 PATs. He was also a first-team all-state selection as a member of the Chase County High program.
These developments come just a week after it came to light that three of the team's seven running backs would not be with the team in 2008.
Carmon Boyd-Anderson and Donte Bean each announced that they would be leaving the program to pursue transfers, while true freshman Sean Ransburg, a running back out of Harrisonville (Mo.) High, will be forced to miss the 2008 season due to eligibility issues.
Although Boyd-Anderson and Bean were not expected to play significant roles this season, the depletion of the kicking unit could present a challenge to coach Mark Mangino and his staff.