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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Keegan

Wilson making big leap

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Most of the workout phenoms, the guys who light up the stopwatch and rip up the weight room, they go to Texas and Oklahoma, USC and Florida.

For most of the rest of the coaching staffs in the nation, the challenge comes in projecting which athletes will work hard enough and learn thoroughly enough to close the gap on the physical marvels.

Kansas football coach Mark Mangino has a proven touch for finding players capable of developing steadily. They arrive, they absorb information, they are pushed and push themselves to improve. Every season you watch them, they perform noticeably better than the last season.

Receiver Johnathan Wilson, who will be a junior next fall, is a classic Mangino football player. He just keeps getting better and better and better. From fall to spring he picks up a little speed, does a little better at negotiating his way into the open, runs his routes more efficiently. During the summer, he lays the foundation for another refinement the next fall.

All signs point to Wilson developing into a go-to receiver, a rising star in the Big 12. And he’s the third-most accomplished pass-catcher in the program, ranking behind Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier.

Everything about Wilson looked big-time during Saturday’s spring football game. He looked faster. He looked so decisive, so sharp, on his way to getting open. He displayed an uncanny knack for finding the soft spot in the zone, a la Kerry Meier. Wilson, a 6-foot-3, 187-pound native of Houston, shares another trait with Meier. He catches everything.

As a freshman, he caught three passes for 52 yards. Teammates voted him most likely to surprise in 2008 and he validated their scouting abilities by catching 10 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns in a loss at South Florida. For the season, he had 43 receptions for 573 yards and three touchdowns.

Playing with such confidence Saturday, with six catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in the first half, he looked like a player on the verge of making another big leap. Wilson also came across as more confident during a postgame interview. He spoke with more conviction, louder even.

“I feel like I’ve become more of a playmaker and I can be used more in the offense,” Wilson said. “... I’ve been here for two years now. The guys who were here when I came in taught me a lot about the game and it makes it easier for me to make plays. It’s like the game has slowed down for me now. It’s fun now. It’s real fun.”

Fun to be in the middle of it, per Wilson, and fun to watch, per anyone with a pair of eyes. Not many offenses boast five playmakers with the talent of Todd Reesing, Briscoe, Meier, Jake Sharp and Wilson.

The offensive line features three new starters, but based on the job quick-afoot, undersized left tackle Tanner Hawkinson did in the spring game, there is reason to believe Reesing will get enough protection to work his magic, much of which occurs on the run.

“What I liked about the offensive line play is that they did a nice job at pass protection, for the most part,” Mangino said after the spring game. “They did a nice job against twist and stunts, which is a really positive sign.”

The first-string offense generated no shortage of positive signs.

Comments

Blake Post 5 years ago

i must have been in a cave lately. What is the problem with Briscoe? And I hope it is dealt with because he has been one of my faves since he got here. Great player.

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whoisjohngalt 5 years ago

Dez practiced with the team this week; I believe he has been reinstated.

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Fortesque Beagleton 5 years ago

Compared to your average Big12 lineman, Tanner looked a bit leaner. He's 6'6" So his playing weight should probably be near 300. On the latest roster, released April 2, he was listed at 260. I'd say he's got some weight to put on, but its hard to call somebody who is 6'6" 260 undersized. If he works hard in the weightroom and hits the double quarter pounders he should be 275-280 by our first game day. Overall the line looked pretty good, but Hawkinson seemed a little green. Given time and experience, though, he ought to be pretty darned good. Remember that he's a redshirt freshman and was originally recruited as a TE I believe. He'll do well.

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Tribehawk 5 years ago

Anyone at the game: Did Tanner really look undersized? I thought I read or heard HCMM say that he had put on a lot of weight to make the transition to LT.

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Fortesque Beagleton 5 years ago

Great article Keegs. Lets keep'm coming. I think Dez will pull his head out sooner or later. Our skill positions are looking good. I'm with Keegan, nothing but good things to say after the spring game.

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siltom 5 years ago

I agree with Rivethead and Dagger. Nice article. People need to stop worrying about Crawford and Briscoe. We need to focus on who we have and comment on their hard work and dedication to the program and the University. It always seems like the ones who get attention are the ones who screw up. There were a lot of young men out there Saturday playing hard and doing well and all people wanted to talk about were the two screw ups!

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scmitchem 5 years ago

I think that we need as much help as possible. We are not at the stage where we can just plug people in and keep on moving. I hope that Dezmon Briscoe has learned his listen and also develops some character.

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Dirk Medema 5 years ago

Wilson's play Saturday makes me officially as concerned about Briscoe's return as he appears to be. It would definitely be nice to have another player of his potential - oh, wait, we do. Personally, I'm looking forward to finding out which players will be stepping in as 3rd and 4th recievers behind Meier & Wilson.

Besides, there are too many concerns with the team - OL & LB, DL & DB's, even '10 QB/RB, to worry about an individual that isn't concerned about himself.

Thanks for the article.

Rock Chalk

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Rivethead 5 years ago

Do we even know if Briscoe is still on the team? According to Coach Mangino, the two were supposed to meet on Monday to discuss whether or not Briscoe had accomplished everything asked of him for returning to the team.

Yeah, I know what you're going to say Keegan - Coach Mangino runs a tight ship and only he, Briscoe, and the fly on the wall know what was discussed in that meeting.

But somebody knows something and when there is a will, there is a way.

Nice article on Wilson though.

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