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Sunday, February 1, 2009

KU football focuses on future

Jayhawks celebrate season, but stress there’s more work to be done

Kansas University head football coach Mark Mangino thanks the players, families and supporting staff during the Kansas football awards ceremony Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009, at the Lied Center.

Kansas University head football coach Mark Mangino thanks the players, families and supporting staff during the Kansas football awards ceremony Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009, at the Lied Center.

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KU football focuses on future

On Saturday, the Jayhawk football team awarded players for their contributions.

Although the point of Saturday’s Kansas University football awards ceremony was to honor the past — namely, the Jayhawks’ 8-5, Insight Bowl-championship season — there was a good deal of focus paid to the future, too.

For a program coming off arguably its most successful two-season stretch in school history, the message from everyone from the head coach to the athletic director was clear: We can’t stop now.

“We’ve got a lot of goals ahead of us,” athletic director Lew Perkins said before the start of Saturday’s program. “We’ve got a lot of things that we have to do. We’ve added a great facility now, things are falling into place, and we’ve just got to capitalize on that and keep going.”

Quarterback Todd Reesing and linebacker James Holt were the night’s top honorees. The two were named offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively.

Reesing finished his junior season with a school-record 3,888 yards passing, while Holt, a senior, led the Jayhawks in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks.

Junior receiver Kerry Meier also shared a pair of awards, the Gale Sayers Most Courageous Player award (along with junior running back Jake Sharp), and the most improved offensive player (along with sophomore receiver Dezmon Briscoe).

By the end of the night, however, the most decorated player was also the one who received the loudest ovation. Junior safety Darrell Stuckey earned the Bruce Kallmeyer special teams player of the year honors and the Iron Hawk Award for outstanding performance in the weight room and was a co-winner of the Nolan Cromwell Leadership Award following a season in which he anchored a young and inexperienced secondary.

During coach Mark Mangino’s brief speech, delivered after the last of the player awards had been handed out, he thanked the team’s 18 seniors for their four years of service.

“Twenty wins in two years, back-to-back bowl wins — they’ve left their mark,” he said. “I want to wish those guys the best as they take on life’s challenges.

“Even though I’m their toughest critic,” he added, “I’m their biggest ally. I told them, the guys that hung around and worked hard would win a lot of games and do great things, and those kids have done that.”

Of course, keeping with the night’s theme, he also issued a mandate to the returning members of the team, who’ll attempt to capture KU’s first outright Big 12 North title in school history in 2009.

“For the underclassmen, we have much work to do,” he said. “But I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to winning a championship.”

— Sports reporter Dugan Arnett can be reached at 832-7152.

Comments

Don Everett 5 years, 10 months ago

Thank you very much to the out going Seniors. You have continued and strenghtened the delevopement and the foundation for continued success at Kansas through hard work. This is just the start of a transformation of Kansas Footbal into a National Powerhouse. Underclassmen, do not let these Seniors and those ahead of them down. There is a legacy to uphold.

troutsee 5 years, 10 months ago

We are so proud of you guys. You have and are continuing to put KU FB on the national map. A B-12 championship is now not only thinkable but doable. Go get it.

Osagehawk 5 years, 10 months ago

Anyone have any idea why Herford, Larson, and Fields weren't at the awards ceremony. I know Holt was involved in the all-star game in Texas and Larson had an undisclosed medical condition prior to the Insight Bowl. Possibly they have graduated at semester and moved on?

FlaHawk 5 years, 10 months ago

Neither Herford or Fields deserved anything this year. This was possibly their worst year at KU since being frosh. Fields was hurt but Herford was just AWOL all season!

Hawkman_021 5 years, 10 months ago

I am already for the '09 season whens the spring game!!!

troutsee 5 years, 10 months ago

Herford had a huge catch in the MU game. Blocking is very important on KO returns. I don't like the negative comment about Fields either. He gave it his all and is a heck of a receiver.

TaCityHawkFan 5 years, 10 months ago

They deserved everything this year... they gave four years to the KU football team and to the university. They may not have had a year that warranted publicity but they deserve respect for the job they did!

aequitas 5 years, 10 months ago

FlaHawk = unintelligent observer who does not understand the game of football

GridironHawk 5 years, 10 months ago

I have to agree with troutsee.... Not enough was said about Herford stepping in for Briscoe and making that huge (also difficult) catch late in the MU game. Not to mention the fact that Herford is one of the main reasons Briscoe is even in a KU uniform (they were high school teammates). It takes a real team player to help recruit a guy like Briscoe when they play the same position.

Osagehawk 5 years, 10 months ago

I agree completely that Herford and Fields were important members of the team. Herford was as much a victim of the change in chemistry of the special teams as anyone. None of the special teams performed to the level of 2007. Hopefully that's an area that well improve in 2009. Fields was hurt in the first game of the year and never got back into the mix completely, although I remember the big touchdown catch against MU.

mbmerriman 5 years, 10 months ago

hereford was an all-american last year, i think he did enough for KU haha

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