Matt Tait’s KU football notebook

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Linebacker dismissed

Kansas University football coach Turner Gill announced Tuesday that linebacker Jacoby Thomas, a red-shirt freshman from Texarkana, Texas, had been removed from the team for academic reasons.

The departure of Thomas, along with the loss of true freshman linebacker Ed Fink, whom Gill announced Tuesday was out for the season, leaves the Jayhawks pretty thin at linebacker. Last week, KU learned that sophomore starter Huldon Tharp also would be out for the season with a foot injury, and outside of projected starters Drew Dudley, Steven Johnson and Justin Springer, the Jayhawks have very little experience at the position.

Gill said Steve Mestan, 6-foot-2, 231 pounds, from Delavan, Wis., had impressed him recently and most likely worked his way into the top four or five at the position.

Walk-ons awarded scholarships for 2010

A pair of walk-ons received great news this week, as Gill announced that offensive lineman Alex Smith and wide receiver Reece Petty earned scholarships for the 2010 season. Gill said a number of factors went into the decision to award Smith and Petty the scholarships. At the top of the list were strong work ethic, outstanding academics and the fact that, as seniors, they’ve shown tremendous loyalty.

“We’re happy for them,” Gill said. “I know our players were pretty excited when I made the announcement. And, obviously they were excited, too. I know their parents are somewhat excited also.”

QB battle rages on

The battle to become the successor to Todd Reesing appears to be as close as ever, with sophomore Kale Pick and red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb battling toe-to-toe into the third week of preseason practice. Gill reiterated Tuesday that there was no timetable for a decision and said he and offensive coordinator Chuck Long would pick a starter when one separated himself from the other.

“Chuck and I believe that both of these guys can move our football team,” Gill said. “We do feel good that Pick and Webb are guys who can play Div. I football and who can help us win. Obviously, the only question we don’t have (answered) is how they’re going to respond in a game. But you have to give them an opportunity to do that, just like in life. Either way it goes, we’re going to have two good quarterbacks on our football team. Whichever way we decide, we feel like we’re going to be in good shape.”

Moving up food chain?

Gill had some high praise for cornerbacks Greg Brown and Isiah Barfield, tight end Tim Biere and defensive end Tyrone Sellers on Tuesday, saying that all four have shown great production and leadership during recent practices.

Brown and Barfield are vying for playing time in a crowded defensive backfield. Biere seems to be locked in as the starting tight end — one who could have a monster year — and Sellers, according to Gill, is competing with Kevin Young for playing time at the defensive end spot opposite of senior Jake Laptad.