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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Up close and personal

Jayhawks mingle during Fan Appreciation Day

Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey returns an autographed ball to Gabby Hardy, 2, who is coach Mark Mangino’s granddaughter. The players signed autographs Wednesday during Fan Appreciation Day at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey returns an autographed ball to Gabby Hardy, 2, who is coach Mark Mangino’s granddaughter. The players signed autographs Wednesday during Fan Appreciation Day at Memorial Stadium.

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photo

Mark McEachen

Miles McEachen takes a photo with KU cheerleaders at Fan Appreciation Day Wednesday, August 26, 2009.

KU football holds fan appreciation day

The KU football team took the opportunity Wednesday to greet and sign autographs for fans at Memorial Stadium. The team will play its first game September 5.

The lasting image to come from the Kansas University football team’s Fan Appreciation Day wasn’t coach Mark Mangino’s urging of fans to make Memorial Stadium a “hostile” place this fall. It wasn’t the shenanigans of an unusually feisty Baby Jay or one fan’s Todd Reesing action figure (complete with yellow Livestrong bracelet).

No, the lasting image Wednesday was 2-year-old Miles McEachen, trotting around in his full-body Jayhawk costume — complete with a strap-on head that included a padded beak — garnering the kind of attention usually reserved for visiting royalty, or at least starting quarterbacks.

Purchased from a fan Web site as a Halloween costume last year, the suit is quickly becoming a bit of a staple at KU football functions. The youngster wore it — to much fanfare — during last week’s KU Football Kickoff in Prairie Village, and when he and his dad, Mark, would make the drive from Overland Park to Kansas home games last fall, the costume usually would be in tow.

“Of course the crowds just eat it up,” said Mark.

They certainly seemed to be doing so Wednesday.

With the possible exception of the Kansas players — who signed autographs for an hour after undergoing an afternoon practice that was open to the public — no one garnered more attention during Fan Appreciation Day than Miles. Eyes followed the 2-year-old everywhere he went, and many fellow fans stopped Mark to compliment the attire. At one point, the youngster posed for a photo with a pair of KU cheerleaders who had wandered over to examine the get-up.

Of course, cool as the costume is in a football setting, it came in even more handy last Oct. 31 — when a number of Kansas fans opened their front doors and found a 2-foot tall mythical bird standing on their porch.

“Some houses gave him extra candy,” said Mark, after his son had met KU coach Mark Mangino. “They said, ‘For a Jayhawk, we’ll give you more.’”

Depth-chart shake-ups: In one of the day’s biggest developments, Brad Thorson, a former backup center, worked primarily as the first-team left guard during Wednesday’s practice.

In addition, receiver Bradley McDougald — who Mangino said is the most impressive true freshman he has had at Kansas — and running back Toben Opurum spent parts of practice working with the first-team offense.

Kansas players and coaches weren’t made available for comment Wednesday, but McDougald is expected to play this season, and coaches have said that someone will have to supplement projected starter Jake Sharp at running back.

Opurum is one of three players — along with Rell Lewis and transfer Daniel Porter — battling to fill that role.

Defensively, tackle Patrick Dorsey saw action with the first team, while Justin Thornton appears to be a current starter at safety. Anthony Davis, meanwhile, has been working as a first-string cornerback.

Foster shifts to defensive tacke: Having already played as a fullback and linebacker during his Kansas career, red-shirt sophomore Steven Foster now will try his hand at defensive tackle.

On the team’s most recent roster, Foster, who entered Kansas as the No. 4-rated fullback in the nation according to ESPN.com, is listed at the position and was working there Wednesday.

Comments

Dirk Medema 10 years, 7 months ago

"Foster shifts to defensive end: Having already played as a fullback and linebacker during his Kansas career, red-shirt sophomore Steven Foster now will try his hand at defensive tackle."

DT or DE?

While probably not pulling a "Tanner", my guess is that he's filled out a bit, especially if he's at DT.

gardenjay 10 years, 7 months ago

Looked like a nice day for it, nice to see the families attending.

KU 10 years, 7 months ago

Looked like Foster (I think he's #31) was playing at DE last night. An aside.....Vernon Brooks looks VERY short and Quintin Woods looks VERY thin.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 7 months ago

Brooks was listed as 6-0 on the rivals page.....officially, KU athletics has nothing on him. so he might be 5-11ish....tee he.

Woods is tall on the other hand....so his frame won't fill out for awhile i'm sure.

Charlton Keith was the same way...quite skinny his first year...and toward the end of the year his bulk started to catch up. and his 2nd year, he looked really strong and quick (ask Nebraska...lol.)

season start is getting close. this Sunday, the KC Star will have their full football preview section. i can't wait to get 'er going!

Joe Baker 10 years, 7 months ago

This is good stuff! The players are really enjoying the time. Keep up the good work.

RCJHKU

John Boyle 10 years, 7 months ago

Half the article is dedicated to Miles McEachen and his Jayhawk costume but then no picture of it. It would seem if you are going to use half of the fan appreciation article talking about the kid and his costume you would at least have it be one of the pictures to go along with the story.

Michael Auchard 10 years, 7 months ago

Huh. The only place I can imagine someone being named "Fat Cletus" is Missouri. You give toothless banjo players a bad name.

Rick Arnoldy 10 years, 7 months ago

Check fatcletus' profile and comment history. He's not exactly a ray of sunshine.

ralphus 10 years, 7 months ago

Jayhawk John, I couldn't agree more. Why on earth would you devote six inches of copy to painstakingly describe the cuteness of some kid in his outfit, and then not run a photo? This one isn't on Arnett, it's on either Yoder or one of the countless managers there who completely dropped the ball.

Either way, it looks ridiculous.

10 years, 7 months ago

JayhawkJohn & ralphus ~

Here is a link containing a photo of Miles with coach Mangino, and some other photos from Fan Appreciation Day.

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/story/1407803.html

John Boyle 10 years, 7 months ago

txrockchalk, Thanks for the website, although I usually don't go to the Kansas City paper. They are very pro-MU Tigers.
My point wasn't that I wanted to see the costume, it just didn't seem right to not show it on this site if it was going to consume so much of the article.

10 years, 7 months ago

JayhawkJohn ~

You and ralphus make a valid point regarding the article. I was waiting to see a picture of Miles at the bottom as I read through, however I had already seen one on the KC Star website so I wasn't as miffed as I probably should have been :)

KUbsee69 10 years, 7 months ago

I see a photo of the Jaytoddler has been added to this article. Also, several photos of the Jaytoddler were available on the kusports.com home page under Fan Photos.

nnelson 10 years, 7 months ago

Here's a link to our football fan photos for this year so far, which includes the other Jay toddler pics.

If anybody has other fan photos, be sure to submit them and we'll get 'em up.

Nick Nelson KUSports.com

justanotherfan 10 years, 7 months ago

jaytoddler looks like he did well for himself...

741hawk 10 years, 7 months ago

Can't create a "Hostile Environment" with an 8-lane track that separates both east and west stands from the action!

Rick Arnoldy 10 years, 7 months ago

If I wear a costume like that can I get a picture with some cheerleaders or will I be arrested first?

gardenjay 10 years, 7 months ago

Nick comes to the rescue - thanks for the pics!

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