Until this season, the only thing that called attention to Kansas University running back Angus Quigley was his unusual first name.
Turns out, people only knew the half of it.
Tuesday afternoon, the Jayhawks' emerging junior star offered this nugget during the team's weekly meeting with members of the media: "Nobody really knows this," he told a pair of reporters, "but my first name is actually Anguschristopher."
In a season in which the Jayhawks' top two running backs - juniors Jake Sharp and Jocques Crawford - have struggled mightily to establish the team's ground attack, Quigley has emerged not only as the team's most uniquely named member, but as one of its unlikeliest stars.
In two games this year, the third-string back has rushed for a team-high 131 yards on 21 carries. He already has surpassed his previous career total of 98 yards, and his performance in Saturday's victory over Louisiana Tech (15 rushes, 84 yards) has forced many - including coach Mark Mangino - to take notice.
Earlier this week, the coach said he anticipated Quigley would get more carries early in Friday's 7 p.m. game against 19th-ranked South Florida, and jump-starting the team's sub-par rushing attack no doubt would help restore balance to the Jayhawks' pass-heavy scheme.
"We had hoped for a long time that Angus could make a mark on the program," Mangino said, "that he could finally be a guy that we could count on. We're finally getting to that point a little bit."
Quigley has come a long way. Recruiters weren't exactly bursting through the door to watch him play as a Texas high schooler. In his final two years at Cleburne (Texas) High, Quigley's teams went a combined 1-19. As a senior, he didn't win a game.
And then there was the whole "net incident."
During a game against Waco University High his sophomore year, Quigley, playing defense at the time, took off in pursuit of a running back who had broken free for a long run. A few moments later, he got blindsided by a receiver, went flying across the field and, when it was over, found himself tangled in a kicker's net on the opposing sideline.
"They kind of taunted me, were laughing at me," said Quigley. "Basketball season came, they were like, 'Hey, you're No. 4, you're Angus Quigley. You're the guy that got knocked out on our sideline.' Track season came, they were like, 'You're the guy that got knocked out on our sideline.'"
Then the following football season rolled around, and it wasn't quite as funny after Quigley, then a junior, rushed for over 400 yards against the ol' boys from Waco University.
Quigley did well enough statistically in his final two high school seasons to warrant the attention of a number of Div. I schools before committing to Kansas, sight unseen, as the only running back in the Jayhawks' Class of 2004.
"Just blind faith," he says of the decision. "The first day of summer workouts was when I showed up."
Despite a number of setbacks that threatened to derail his early career at Kansas - a hip injury during his second year that left him in a wheelchair for three weeks and crutches for four more; an ankle injury last year that limited his production as a backup running back - he has quietly plugged away in his backup role, waiting for a chance to contribute.
Now, just two games into the 2008 season, he seems to have gotten the attention of those around him, including those competing against him for a job.
"He knows the game better than I do," said Crawford, asked what advantage Quigley has over him in the race for the team's starting tailback spot. "He's been here longer than I have. He's just as eager and just as hungry as anyone on the team."
Although he's not exactly sure what has led to his increased production - "I doubt the O-line likes me better or anything," he says - there's no doubt the Jayhawks' ground game has been at its most potent when he's toting the ball.
Coaches point to a number of things when attempting to explain Quigley's quick start. An ability to hit the holes and not shy away from contact. A maturity that comes with being in a program for four years. A desire to take advantage of any break that comes his way.
"He's learned our offense over the time he's been here," said offensive coordinator Ed Warinner. " And I think when he gets in, he's trying to seize an opportunity. And he's playing extremely hard."
It is, of course, a bit early to assume too much. For one thing, his success has come against two relative unknowns in Florida International and Louisiana Tech. For another, much of his yardage has come during fourth-quarter garbage time.
But if there's a good time to prove that his production is no fluke, it's Friday: facing a Top-20 team. On national television. BCS Bowl implications, however premature, hanging in the balance.
A good performance against South Florida - 100 yards rushing, maybe, a touchdown or two - and Anguschristopher Quigley might become a household name.
- Sports reporter Dugan Arnett can be reached at 832-7152.