Saturday, July 4, 2009

Kansas football rookies adjusting

Freshmen getting crash course in rigors of Div. I ball

Kansas University recruit and former Plano East fullback Toben Opurum makes a move against a defender in this contributed file photo in Plano, Texas. Opurum leads a promising 2009 recruiting class for KU, but as history shows, the players’ impact on the field next season will be relatively unknown.

Kansas University recruit and former Plano East fullback Toben Opurum makes a move against a defender in this contributed file photo in Plano, Texas. Opurum leads a promising 2009 recruiting class for KU, but as history shows, the players’ impact on the field next season will be relatively unknown.


So far this summer, the Jayhawker Towers dorm room belonging to Kansas University freshman football players Huldon Tharp and Tyrone Sellers Jr. has become a refuge of sorts — a place fellow freshmen can go and, while lounging on couches or fiddling with XBox controllers, air out the stresses of their current predicament.

That predicament: the adjustment to the rigors of Div. I college football.

“That definitely happens,” said Sellers, a defensive end from McCook (Neb.) High. “We’re always complaining about this or that, talking back and forth.”

While the team’s incoming freshmen appear to be settling in nicely — in addition to workouts and classes, a handful already were volunteering last weekend at the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen (LINK) — they also have reached the conclusion that the relatively carefree days of high school football, where requirements are far less steep and it’s possible to coast through the occasional workout, are a thing of the past.

And it didn’t take them long to figure it out.

Players spent the first three days of summer workouts running the stairs at KU’s Memorial Stadium, step after grueling step at dawn, a not-so-subtle indication of the kind of workload incoming players can expect at the collegiate level.

“(It was) worse than our conditioning in high school for the whole year,” Tharp said.

Added Sellers, “You’re going 100 percent all the time. In high school, you take this play off or that play off in practice, but here, you’re going 100 percent, and you go until it’s the end of the drill.”

Since arriving on campus last month, players say, they have fallen into a routine, their days set up with various workouts and appointments. And each night, after a day of weights and running and tutoring and classes, they retire to their dorm rooms, fall onto couches and try to enjoy a couple hours of downtime before rising at 5 a.m. the following morning to do it all over again.

Despite the daily grind, however, players seem to have little problem embracing college life.

For one thing, Tharp says, it’s a nice to be surrounded by teammates willing to work as hard as necessary to get better — something that wasn’t always the case during his prep days.

For another, the freedom that comes with being away from home for the first time has been welcomed happily.

“Finally being on my own,” Sellers said, asked the best part about being in college. “Not having to be in my parents’ house — just (doing) whatever I want to do. I still got mandatory things I’ve got to do, but I can be free and don’t have to tell them what I’m doing or where I’m going.”

For the time being, it’s unclear which of the team’s newcomers will be in a position to make an immediate impact in 2009. That likely will be sorted out during August practices, when coaches are able to see what kinds of strides new players have made throughout the course of the summer.

In the meantime, the team’s newest members are busy settling in, acclimating themselves to the city of Lawrence and basking in the attention of a Kansas fan base that, after watching the program ascend over the past few seasons, is hungry for a Big 12 North title.

“It’s definitely cool,” Sellers said of the excitement surrounding the program. “You got a little taste of it in high school, people coming up and telling you, ‘Good game.’ But I think it’s a whole different atmosphere here. People bleed crimson and blue around here, and it’s kind of nice to have that.”


gardenjay 10 years, 6 months ago

I just wanted to be the first to post and to say, good article sir. If you have time, I would like to see a summer article about the food our players are eating, curious to know how many calories they put in every day, or if it is even being monitored. How about fluids? It seems like the plants in Kansas droop after six hours without watering.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 6 months ago

Nice article. Thank you.

It is also worth noting that College Football News has their review of KU posted on their site. Unfortunately, they sometimes don't seem to realize that Tanner is projected at LT, and that D'Cunha has left the team.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 6 months ago

i think Sellers could have an impact this fall....especially against his home state 'Huskers!

KU1979 10 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the article. Jayhawk football news right now is like throwing a steak to a hungry lion. We'll gobble it up before it hits the ground, and then look for more...

Scatterhawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Maxhawk- That'd be a good relevant point too, if not for the fact that if CJ got here now he'd be paying his own way, and the other fact that Xavier is still recovering from dental surgery.

As it is, you're basically calling our basketball coach spineless for no reason.

chezlog 10 years, 6 months ago

Maxhawk- Summer basketball workouts are more analogous to spring football practice than to summer football practice. Summer basketball is optional for incoming freshman just like spring football is optional for incoming freshman that graduate early from High School. Optional means a person can opt out with his coach's blessing. It doesn't mean a kid can opt out without catching a bunch of crap from fans however so keep it up.

Martin Shupert 10 years, 6 months ago

yeah, what we really need is to criticize CJ and X in every article so they will feel the warmth of KU fans before they even get here. Good job! Go read the article about Palin and say something like "Yep, she's a quitter... and I bet those Henry kids are quitters too." We need a lot more of that. You owe Self, Dooley, and Manning a thank you for cleaning up the mess you help create. How about focussing on something else for a while, at least until the Henry's get their jerseys on.

Christopher Hauser 10 years, 6 months ago

Maxhawk-Summer conditioning for football is a lot different than basketball conditioning in the summer. You also must consider the time frame. Football starts a lot earlier than basketball so they are in the portion of conditioning that the basketball team will be in during the beginning of the first semester in terms of timing. Thus, it is more essential to be in Lawrence for summer football conditioning than it is for basketball. I think that if HCBS thought it was a must for them to be here they would already be here, but it is not and remember if it were a necessity for them to be here don't you think he would have told Taylor to not play for the U.S. team? If it were a necessity I mean.

kansas22 10 years, 6 months ago

More football news! September 5 can't get here fast enough!

Christopher Hauser 10 years, 6 months ago

Maxhawk- I also agree with chezlog (unless he is being sarcastic), If you think they should be here than say it. They should be used to everyone talking about them by now anyway. I really do not think that it will hurt team chemistry if they are not here though.

Christopher Hauser 10 years, 6 months ago

Kansas22-If you want to talk football I just started a fan blog last night of the Top 5 KU home football games in the last 5 years. I know that it is not new news but at least it is talking about football.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 6 months ago

I get really annoyed when the basketball and football separatists attack each other and say things like "keep the basketball comments out of a football article." It bothers me because we are all Jayhawks, and the support should be universal across all of our programs. When you cut us, we all bleed Crimson and Blue.

That being said, please, please, PLEASE leave the X and CJ insults out of these pieces!! It is more than ludicrous to bash our incoming basketball recruits in an article that has absolutely nothing to do with them. It is classless and totally out of place. Furthermore, I echo Scatterhawk's post in that Maxhawk's comment is actually a back-handed slap at Coach Self. This is a national championship coach who has won the last five straight conference titles and has the highest winning percentage in college basketball over the last 6 years. To suggest that an overwhelmingly victorious coach who is certainly not afraid of discipline (CJ Giles, JR Giddens anyone?) is in anyway spineless is patently false and laughably ignorant. And that's not even mentioning the fact that summer workouts are wholly different between the two sports and that X and CJ are currently training and working out at a near NBA level on their own.

Congrats Maxhawk. You are the dunce of the day.

tstanlick1909 10 years, 6 months ago

looks like Toben was playing with a broken right hand in that picture

IBRONNIEB 10 years, 6 months ago

How hard is it to let the football players practice, and get ready. And let the basketball players practice, and get ready. Let the coaches handle their business, and us as fans, support our teams. Keeping our own personal agendas to ourselves.

John Randall 10 years, 6 months ago

... the Jayhawker Towers dorm room ...

Hasn't this Arnett guy been around long enough to learn the difference between Jayhawk (mythical hybrid of two fierce and powerful avians) and Jayhawker (border ruffian, looter, and worse)? Someone please clue him in.

jayhawkintx73 10 years, 6 months ago

The way the Journal World is covering these guys this summer, these players are going to be well known to the fans, and KU fans for the most parts treat the players like family. One BIG FAMILY. I'm chompin at the bit ready for Saturday Afternoons and Evenings. And these guys are not just going to be known in the Big 12, but will be known to coaches like Paterno, while he asks himself, "Why didn't we recruit that kid?" I'm excited for KU Football, Basketball and Baseball. It could be a very special year in Lawrence. TJ Walz, watch that kid. Baseball Player he is. Getting known by the world right now. And Tyshawn Taylor, honor to have two guys from KU representing the nation in international play. And both representing the University well and with class. Kale Pick will be an outstanding back up QB, and with 3 or 4 guys who have the ability to run the ball and pass the ball, could see the wildcat offense at KU this year? Are the stars aligning? I'm ready to find out.

djgratt59 10 years, 6 months ago

"People bleed crimson and blue around here..."

Yes, they do, and elsewhere..

Scatterhawk 10 years, 6 months ago

I don't know. But two aren't now. Therefore, optional.

Christopher Hauser 10 years, 6 months ago

Maxhawk-Brandon Rush didn't attend I believe due to being a late sign. I could be wrong though.

Tim Orel 10 years, 6 months ago

Brandon Rush didn't attend summer workouts. He did (and the Henry's will) attend the Boot Camp that begins the BB players' hard conditioning program. That's the equivalent to these workouts, and I have no doubt they'll excell there after getting used to it. Nobody comes in as a Freshman and breezes through those workouts, I don't care whether you've been working out in Lawrence or with Carl Henry as your trainer.

As for the football players, it's far more important to get into shape with the heat and humidity of Lawrence because they're going to be feeling it when they're playing in August and September on a broiling hot field. BB players aren't going to need to worry about 100 degree playing conditions, though they're going to have different demands on their systems since they're playing non-stop every moment they're in the game instead of getting a few seconds between plays for a blow. Both require conditioning, and I'm glad for KU's skill there.

GardenJay - just a note. Plants in hot environments like Kansas droop their leaves because it allows them to conserve water during the hottest times of the day. They're basically allowing their leaves to not be perpendicular to the sun's rays, thereby they're not doing as much photosynthesis and needing as much water. They perk up again as the sun gets lower in the sky (unless they're unable to get the water out of the soil and get their vascular tissue full again). People adapt in a similar fashion, if they're able to, by not being out in the mid-day sun if they can (or if they're able to adapt to it, with hats, sun tan lotion, standing in shade, etc). Plants can't move to shade, so they droop instead. The athletes will adapt their workouts to make sure not to over-stress the players, but they do make sure they're still going to be ready if they're playing under a hot sun on a hot field.

gardenjay 10 years, 6 months ago


Sounds like another justification to take more of the Arkansas River to me. Go Colorado! But remember that heat stroke and football players are a famous mix as well. What we need is an article via the LJW that interviews the coaches on their efforts to hydrate and feed these players. Why, wouldn't that be interesting information, and good summer fodder for drooping football fans?

Daniel Rojas 10 years, 6 months ago

I have Sept. 5th circled on every calender I have come in contact with over the last couple months. I get chills everytime I here or read Big 12 north champs and KU uttered together in the same sentence.........But this Xavier Henry crap has really got me irratated!!! At this level, nothing is optional! Thats an NCAA term. Its a rule. The Coaches can't MAKE them come, but if u really are a team player and wanna win at Kansas you will be their. This is bonding time for the players. Xavier and Cj are gonna feel like outsiders when they show up next month. When I here stuff like "optional" and "private or personal trainer" all the super talented athletes like Terrell Owens come to mind.......and thats all people like that are is talent.......not Champions like they should strive 2 be!!! Wheres Sherron at, and Cole? On campus where they belong. What makes Xavier any more special than anyone else? Its like my HS football coach told me and my teammates......."Ya, summer conditioning is optional, and so is your playing time!" RCJH!!!

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