Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dugan Arnett’s KU football notebook

Darius Parish (55) and Jamal Greene (99) gather with teammates from Kansas high schools during KU’s Media Day on Tuesday at Memorial Stadium. Parish is from Wichita North High, and Greene is from Kansas City (Kan.) Washington High.

Darius Parish (55) and Jamal Greene (99) gather with teammates from Kansas high schools during KU’s Media Day on Tuesday at Memorial Stadium. Parish is from Wichita North High, and Greene is from Kansas City (Kan.) Washington High.


Freshman LB to start?

Questions about how Kansas University’s coaching staff plans to replace three starting linebackers were answered Tuesday — at least in part.

Citing the limited availability of Justin Springer (injury) and the slower-than-expected progress of running back-turned-linebacker Angus Quigley, KU coach Mark Mangino all but guaranteed that one of the starting linebacker positions would go to Huldon Tharp, a true freshman out of Mulvane.

“You’re going to see Huldon Tharp play, there’s no question,” Mangino said during the team’s annual Media Day at the Anderson Family Football Complex. “... I think we’re just counting the days until he wins the job. We want to see him on tape in a scrimmage, and we think that’s just going to be a rubber stamp putting him at a starting position.”

Although Quigley and junior Drew Dudley worked as the first-team linebackers for the majority of Tuesday morning’s practice, Mangino made it clear that the 6-foot, 215-pound Tharp was on his way to earning a starting role in his first year in Lawrence.

He also issued an ultimatum of sorts to veteran players hoping to find a place in the team’s linebacking corps.

“They’ve got a few days here to buckle down and make a statement,” he said, “or (they) are probably not going to be in the mix.”

Briscoe to return kicks

Apparently, Dezmon Briscoe’s short tenure as a kick returner at the end of last season was enough to earn him the starting role at the position this fall.

Mangino said Tuesday that Briscoe — who averaged a team-high 27.4 yards in eight returns last season — will be the likely starter entering 2009, although he also highlighted the potential of true freshman receiver Bradley McDougald, a four-star recruit from Dublin, Ohio.

“We want to keep Dez healthy, but if he’s the best —and our special teams have got to be good if we want to have a good football team — then there’s a good chance that means he’s got to be a part of it.”

As for punt-returning duties, meanwhile, Mangino indicated that Briscoe, receiver Johnathan Wilson and cornerback Daymond Patterson would compete for the starting spot.

LB Brooks leaves camp for family emergency

Transfer linebacker Vernon Brooks, a junior college All-American at Blinn College in Texas, left training camp Tuesday to deal with a family emergency, and his immediate future with the team is uncertain, Mangino said.

“He’s got some family issues that he’s tending to, and I just can’t tell you what impact — if any at all — that he would have,” said the coach. “The more he’s out of camp … for a new transfer, it’s really difficult to get into the groove.”

Parish moved to OL

In the first significant position change since KU training camp began last week, sophomore Darius Parish has moved from defensive tackle to the offensive line.

Saying the 6-4, 314-pound Parish had offensive lineman “written all over him” since arriving in Lawrence last year, Mangino indicated that the use of the Wichita native at defensive tackle last season was the result of a lack of depth at the position.

“Out of necessity we had to use him there,” Mangino said. “But I think he’s found a home, and I think he’ll end up being a pretty good football player for us on the offensive line.”

Lueken looking for ‘fresh start’

Less than a week after the departure of sophomore offensive lineman Ben Lueken, Mangino said Tuesday that the player’s desire for a clean slate was the motive behind his decision to leave KU.

“He told me that he wanted to pursue other opportunities, for whatever reason,” Mangino said. “And I’m in favor of him doing that. ... I think he just wanted to get a fresh start somewhere, and I think that’s fine.”

Lueken, who was hospitalized following an April incident outside of Jayhawker Towers that involved then-KU running back Jocques Crawford, played in nine of the Jayhawks’ 13 games as a true freshman last season and was expected to figure prominently into the team’s offensive-line rotation in 2009.


Ted Toulouse 10 years, 5 months ago

Okay, now I'm concerned about the linbackers. Not exactly a vote of confidence in those statements. I wonder if it's that Q just doesn't have the mental ability to stay focused play-in-play-out to be a starter on either side of the ball. Lord knows he has the physical ability. But the fumble-itus he displayed last year seemed to stem from staying focused on finishing the play past the line.

This stinks because I want nothing more than to proove the pundits wrong about our schedule and our run to the North title. that title will be won through our ability to stop people, cause we can pretty much score all day.

jhawk23 10 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like Huldon Tharp really wants it. Who else wants it?

Angus Quigley? Stephen Foster? Josh Richardson? Jacoby Thomas? Arist Wright? Justin Springer? Julian Jones? Drew Dudley? Jordan Fee? Dakota Lewis? Steven Johnson? Chris Heinz? Chea Peterman? Jake Schermer?

Time to sack up and go get it, fellas.

KGphoto 10 years, 5 months ago

Earth to Bill Miller. Come in Bill.

Nah, I'm kiddin. Bill's a good coach. He's been dealt a tough hand. But let's not under-sell the abilities of Huldon that led Coach Man to this decision. Yes he's lighting a fire under the guys, but Tharp was in line to be a standout at whatever position found him. He's got that 1.5-times-your-weight bench press, he's wildly fast and he absolutely insists on being great. Coaches from coast to coast wanted this kid for exactly the same reason Mangino did. So they could plug him in at whatever position they needed help with.

If you ask me, Kansas just found their next great linebacker. He's got captain written all over him. And by the looks of him, he's about ready to bulk up to a more traditional linebacker weight. Maybe 235.

I actually can't wait to see this kid flying around the field.

KGphoto 10 years, 5 months ago

And yeah, he even looks a little like Nick.

Daniel Rojas 10 years, 5 months ago

Being a Wellington native, its hard to see a Mulvane Wildcat gettin this much run, but i'll just have to keep reminding myself he's a Jayhawk!!! Not only do they look alike, but Derby (Nick Reids hometown) and Mulvane are a stones throw away from eachother! If he's half as good as Nick was this year.....I'll take it!

troutsee 10 years, 5 months ago

I, too, am quite concerned by this turn of events. I thought Quiqley would be a monster at the linebacker position. The comments by Mangino certainly dims one's enthusiasm for an improvement on our defense. I was confident that our defense would be better. Now, I wonder. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the coaches are able to pull the right triggers to make our defense one of the best. If not, we will have a tough time winning even the North.

jayhawkinATL 10 years, 5 months ago

Wow...6-0, 215#...sounds like a decent-sized S playing LB!!!! Must have a lot of heart in that kid.

dubya 10 years, 5 months ago

Tharp sounds like he's recovered from his knee injury (high school). I'm looking forward to watching this young man cause fits for opposing offenses over the next few years.

I hope that Vernon Brooks and his family can get through whatever it is that has led to him taking a personal absence. Does anyone have an idea what "family emergency" eludes to?

JayhawkPiller82 10 years, 5 months ago

Looking at the list above, I can't help but think Jake Schermer will get one of those Linebacker spots. He's solid AND has experience, something this core needs!!

ShazzyD 10 years, 5 months ago

While Mangino claims that Parish was playing DT last year because of a "lack of depth" at the line position, I have a hard time believing that the move to OL right now isn't due to Lueken's departure.

Parish looked like a beast at nose tackle last year during his limited playing time. According to ESPN he was the highest rated prospect to sign with us in the past 4 years (not that this ever means anything).

I sure hope he turns out to be good enough on the O-Line to start this year.

ShazzyD 10 years, 5 months ago

By the way, although this article doesn't talk about it, I heard on the radio this morning that Quintin Woods looks special at the DE position.

I also heard that Anthony Davis (soph) looks like a very promising CB and is likely starting over Justin Thornton.

So it looks like our defense might be better after all.

dubya 10 years, 5 months ago

I've also heard that Quintin Woods is practicing at a very high level. I'm very excited to see if we can get some real pressure from our d line this year.

I'd like to see Parish be able to be a full-time contributor, no matter where it is. He certainly seems to have the physical attributes... and he's a Kansas product.

Despite Stuckey's stand out statistics last year, our secondary was weak. If one of the young bucks is out performing a starter, I'd have no qualms w/ seeing them switch places on the depth chart.

We need our D to improve at every position if we are to compete for a division/conference championship.

justanotherfan 10 years, 5 months ago

Stuckey was the only DB last year to perform at a consistently high level. The rest were inconsistent or just bad, although it should be noted that with our nonexistent pass rush, we often asked our secondary to do more than was reasonable.

The key to helping out the secondary this year is to generate some pressure with the front four. Last year we had to blitz to get any type of pass rush. That left us one on one far too often. If we can find a way to get pressure, whether its from Quintin Woods or some of the returnees (Brorsen, Johnson, etc) that will help the defense quite a bit.

I know some have expressed reservations about Briscoe returning kickoffs. What are the feelings about the fact that he could also be returning punts? I for one don't want to see him out there running back punts as well as kickoffs, and being our big play threat on offense. I would much rather they let either Patterson or McDougald run back punts so Briscoe can be rested when the offense comes out after a defensive stop.

troutsee 10 years, 5 months ago

Justin Thornton is big and fast and did well at corner last year when they switched him. He was a corner in high school. I think he could really be good. Anthony Davis would have to really be impressive to replace him.

Michael Leiker 10 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like you all have the player situation figured about the Sea of Blue that the Athletic Dept. is gradually creating. That field looks great.

Jonathan Allison 10 years, 5 months ago

I'm glad to hear that Daymond Patterson has a chance to be our punt returner. That kid needs to get the ball in his hands. I'd love to see him back at receiver some this year. Maybe he will get a chance at some point to play somewhat of an Aqib Talib role. He's probably faster than Talib was, but he's smaller. Talib just had a gift for baiting the opposing QB into throwing the ball right where Talib wanted it so that he could jump the route. He definitely knew how to get into the end zone when he got the ball in his hands and he looked great at returning punts in the Orange Bowl. Early last year it looked like Daymond had some of those intangibles.

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