Sunday, June 28, 2009


Ten KU football players to watch in preseason


Golfers who walked instead of rode this past week nearly broke their arms patting themselves on the back for having the courage and toughness to gut out the heat and humidity.

Men who mowed their lawns expected to be cited for heroic behavior under such trying circumstances.

This is the sort of heat that once inspired comedian Jay Leno to quip, “It was so hot in Baltimore, Rafael Palmeiro switched to injecting himself with Freon (instead of steroids).”

Meanwhile, the Kansas University football players continued to saw wood, making themselves better one sweat bead at a time. Camp Dawson, the voluntary workouts under the direction of strength and conditioning coach Chris Dawson, are vital to the success of a football program that has shown remarkable success at making men out of teenagers, Big 12 football players out of bypassed prospects.

As the quality of the athletes recruited by Mark Mangino and his assistants continues to improve, the hope is that the high-caliber athletes will improve just as much as the less talented ones have through the years.

With that in mind, 10 men who have high ceilings but haven’t yet shown enough as student-athletes at the Div. I level to guarantee they will have productive seasons could bolster KU’s already optimistic outlook significantly by getting the most out of summer school, summer conditioning and then preseason practices. A look at those players:

1. Dezmon Briscoe WR: Obviously, Briscoe has shown more than enough on the field, but needs to fulfill all the obligations of a student-athlete to prove he can be counted on for another huge season. Mangino doesn’t play favorites. The rules are the rules, and the options are either follow them or lose your uniform.

2. Tanner Hawkinson, LT: His red-shirt freshman season will be spent at one of the most important positions on the football field, left tackle. That Mangino would make such a move with a player who was recruited as a tight end and spent much of his red-shirt season working at defensive end proves how much the coach thinks of his physical tools, head and heart. By all accounts, he had an impressive spring.

3. Quintin Woods, DE: One-time Michigan signee comes out of junior college with a strong reputation for rushing the passer. With Jake Laptad bringing heat from the other side, a big year from Woods would help the secondary immeasurably.

4. John Williams, LG: He weighs 338 pounds, so the hope is he can show enough in preseason workouts to win the job. He didn’t show enough in the spring.

5. Jeff Spikes, RT: Smart and quick for his size (6-foot-6, 314 pounds), Spikes didn’t put it all together as a red-shirt freshman starter, but the potential for great things is there.

6. Justin Springer, LB: Was playing extremely well when he suffered a knee injury. Can he recover completely, or will he look a little slower, as Joe Mortensen did in the wake of his knee surgery?

7. Vernon Brooks, LB: A late addition from the junior-college ranks, Brooks chose KU instead of Oklahoma, Tennessee, Auburn and Tulsa. He plays the right position to earn immediate playing time if he shows well during workouts.

8. Angus Quigley, LB: He’s big, he’s fast, he’s physical. But is he a football player? The likable Quigley has a brand-new chance to answer that question in the affirmative after not making it as a running back.

9. Toben Opurum, RB: Since Jocques Crawford’s status remains in doubt and Quigley has switched to running back, bruising freshman running back could be counted on to spell Jake Sharp.

10. Calvin Rubles, CB: Mangino has encountered mixed results bringing in junior-college defensive backs. Rubles helped his chances by arriving one semester early.

Which of the 10 will have break-through years, maturing just in time to play a big part in the success of a team destined for big things? Probably the ones who work the hardest and pay the greatest attention to detail on a daily basis.


CrimsonPhoenix 10 years, 11 months ago

"Since Jocques Crawford’s status remains in doubt and Quigley has switched to running back,"


stravinsky 10 years, 11 months ago

I'm curious about the Hawkinson move. I met the kid the other day and he doesn't look that big (for a LT I mean. He's a rather large dude) I'd probably say 260-270 at max. I'm intrigued, not worried though, there's a reason why Mangino is a great D1 coach and I'm not, but he is definitely something to watch.

Brad Avery 10 years, 11 months ago

The most impressive running back in the spring game outside of Jake Sharp was Rell Lewis.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 11 months ago

Briscoe should not be on the list. we know what he can do. now if it's a matter of his suspension in the spring....totally different matter. if he's on the field, we'll get results....but it doesn't matter if he's not playing.

that's the same with this whole list. Quigley is the most intriguing. I'm not counting on Springer....for the mentioned knee injury. I'm not worried about Hawkinson or Spikes....John Williams hasn't ever played a down at KU, so why count on him now? we have plenty of guards.

Same with Brooks, Opurum and Rubles. i would agree with the above post....we have landed two 4 star DBs from high school....those are the guys that could give an athletic lift.

jmsuther 10 years, 11 months ago

Im not sure why we dont move Quigley back to RB when we may not have a back up outside of a freshman

esteshawk 10 years, 11 months ago

I like the idea of Quiqley at LB. He never really figured out how to keep his shoulders low when running the ball, always looked like he was trying to take out the tackler instead of running the ball. Hopefully Mangino and Bowen can turn that agressive tendancy into serious defensive pop.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 11 months ago

At first glance, having Briscoe on the list is a double take, but IMO it goes even deeper than him being on the field. Dez made the comment after his big OU game that maybe he needed to try hard each game. He had been non-existant at times, especially early last year. Is his head in the game?

Another reason this is huge IMO is the impact on '10. If he plays his game early, we can get out to leads early, and Pick can get some experience in place of Todd.

bg_duck1 10 years, 11 months ago

There is an absolutely ZERO % chance that Dez plays for KU in '10 he's going to be playing on Sundays after this season (if he ends up playing this season, knock on wood)

Kman_blue 10 years, 11 months ago

"9. Toben Opurum, RB: Since Jocques Crawford’s status remains in doubt and Quigley has switched to running back, bruising freshman running back could be counted on to spell Jake Sharp."

Just a typo I think, but you mean Quigley has switched to "line backer", not "running back".

bg_duck1, I think dagger means that if Dez plays well early in games so we get leads, that Pick will get more experience in 2009, so he won't be totally green when he(assuming he wins the job) will be our QB in 2010.

jayhawkinATL 10 years, 11 months ago

I agree, bg_duck1...Briscoe will be declaring early.

MitchumMan 10 years, 11 months ago

Check out this article. The title is, "Next year's top receiver prospects feature a variety of skills."

Our own Kerry Meier is #15. Not bad for last years backup quarterback.

KGphoto 10 years, 11 months ago

How about a coach to watch. Tom Sims.

If he can do for the D-line what Beaty does with receivers, well, that'll change everything.

Kevin Long 10 years, 11 months ago

I just hope it all comes together soon rather than later. We can't afford to lose any cheap ones.

David Lara 10 years, 11 months ago

Nice NFL article MitchumMan, although Meier being compared to Jordy Nelson... i don't really see that. I have no doubt whatsoever that Meier's talents will be appreciated at the next level, but i see him very much more in the Dallas Clark mold. He's definitely got a future as that type of hybrid tight end: GREAT hands, good route running, a QB's dream of consistency, mismatches due to his speed/size combination, etc. He has good speed. Deceptively good in fact, but Jordy Nelson speed?? No, not really

FlaHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Meier does not have Joordy type speed, but may have better hands. They are both great Kansas HS products!

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