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Originally published August 19, 2010 at 03:22p.m., updated August 20, 2010 at 12:00a.m.

Pick the pick: Sophomore from Dodge City will be KU starting QB

Kale Pick runs drills in spring practice on March 28. Pick is in a quarterback battle with Jordan Webb.

Kale Pick runs drills in spring practice on March 28. Pick is in a quarterback battle with Jordan Webb.

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Kale Pick named as starting KU quarterback

Pick got the coveted spot, and Toben Opurum will be switching from running back to linebacker.

Audio clip

KU coach Turner Gill announces Kale Pick as the starter

Audio clip

Toben Opurum on Tuesday, Aug. 17, discussed whether he'd be interested in switching to linebacker. On Thursday, Aug. 19, KU coach Turner Gill announced Opurum would be switching to linebacker this season.

The quarterback on the roster who spent the most time with Todd Reesing will get the first crack at replacing him.

Kansas University football coach Turner Gill announced Thursday that Kale Pick would be the Jayhawks’ starting quarterback when they take the field this fall.

Pick, a third-year sophomore from Dodge City, beat out red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb to earn the starting job, ultimately by being the more polished of the two.

“He separated himself in a couple of different aspects,” Gill said. “Ball security was huge. He didn’t really turn the ball over. That was a big separation between the two. And then also the intangibles; I love his demeanor. Kale Pick’s been a little bit better in the huddle, outside the huddle, when plays are going well, when plays are not going well. I like how he’s handled himself in that aspect of things.”

The decision to go with Pick, 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, came after nearly 30 practices of evaluation that went through spring drills and into the first two weeks of fall camp. Gill informed his quarterbacks of the decision as a group on Thursday. He then met with each one individually. It was at that point that Pick allowed himself to celebrate.

“I definitely had a smile when I received the news,” he said. “It’s definitely exciting. I’m glad that they made that decision, and I’m definitely looking forward to our season. I think we can do some pretty big things if we stay on the grind and keep working hard every day.”

Although Webb will begin the season as the backup, Gill stressed the importance of both QBs.

“I feel very good about our two quarterbacks,” Gill said. “Webb and Pick are very good football players. We’re going to need them both.”

Asked if he had spoken to Webb much in the hours following the announcement, Pick said he had but that he was trying to give his friend and teammate space to deal with the decision.

“I talked to him. He’s obviously not happy,” Pick said. “But I wouldn’t be either. It’s tough.”

Everything about Pick drips college quarterback. The son of a former college football player — dad, Mark, played at Iowa State — Pick was a standout two-way player at Dodge City High, setting 12 passing records before heading to KU. An injury during the first game of his senior year cost him his final season, but he has more than made up for that missed experience in his two years at Kansas.

During his red-shirt season in 2008, Pick was named the Jayhawks’ offensive scout team player of the year. Last year, as the immediate backup to Reesing, Pick appeared in seven games, completed four-of-five passes for 22 yards and rushed 14 times for 167 yards. Though he has some experience, Gill is a lot more interested in seeing how he performs in his new role, with all eyes on him.

“The next thing is Kale has to prove it on gameday,” Gill said. “He has to prove it in a game.”

Gill continued: “Until (he’s) the guy and (he’s) underneath that center and it all revolves around (him), you don’t know how he’s going to respond. But all the things are set there that he will be able to handle that in a very good way and he will be able to lift the play of all of our players.”

Pick’s teammates agree.

Said senior center and team captain Sal Capra, “Kale’s a great guy. He’s a great player. I think he can lead our team to great things this year.”

Added senior Justin Springer: “Kale’s got good confidence out there, he’s out there running the show. Your quarterback’s a leader out there on the field, too, and I think he’ll be a good leader for us. On and off the field, he’s just a great guy. He’s a great friend to all of us. Out there on the field, he carries himself really well and he can throw the ball really well, too. I think it’s a great fit.”

In other news Thursday, Gill announced a pair of position changes for the upcoming season.

Sophomore running back Toben Opurum, the team’s leading returning rusher, was unable to play his way onto the depth chart at running back and has been moved to linebacker. When asked if the move was because of the Jayhawks’ need at linebacker — KU has lost three linebackers from its roster since camp opened — or because of Opurum’s performance as a runner, Gill was direct with his answer.

“All of the above. All of the above,” he said. “There’s a need at that position and then playing time at the running back position will be very limited if we had to play today, therefore we sat down and chatted with him about it and tried to put a scenario out there where he could get onto the football field and maybe help our team this year.”

As for the other move, Keeston Terry, a four-star receiver from Blue Springs (Mo.) High, is moving from wideout to safety. Gill said the move was made to find Terry some playing time.

“We looked at him as a safety or wide receiver when we recruited him, so this is not totally out of whack for us,” Gill said. “We just thought that he would give us a little bit more speed (at safety) and that he was somebody that would want to take a chance to have a chance to play. And this gives him an opportunity to play and go from there.”

Gill said both Opurum and Terry would have to prove that they could play 15-20 snaps per game at their new positions in order for him to put them on the field. If they can’t, red-shirting is a possibility for both.

In notable depth chart news, sixth-year senior Angus Quigley was listed as the No. 1 running back, with red-shirt freshman Deshaun Sands and junior Rell Lewis behind him; the offensive line was listed, from left to right, as Tanner Hawkinson, Duane Zlatnik, Sal Capra, Trevor Marrongelli and Brad Thorson. Junior Jeremiah Hatch, a former starter on the O-line, appeared as Capra’s backup; Johnathan Wilson, Daymond Patterson and Bradley McDougald were listed as the top three receivers; Chris Harris and Isiah Barfield were the starting cornerbacks, with Olaitan Oguntodu and Lubbock Smith as the top two safeties; Tyrone Sellers was the top name at defensive end opposite Jake Laptad and Richard Johnson and Patrick Dorsey were slated as the top defensive tackles.

Gill said evaluations still were ongoing at several positions.

Comments

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 7 months ago

Is Toben still practicing on offense? Used to be a lot of players played both sides of the ball, back in the dark ages. So, him playing defense before he breaks through on offense means little. The real issue seems to be whether he is still getting the opportunity to play RB. I think that is what is really important.

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pigballin 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't understand all the beef over TO moving.He is not going to be an all conference back and he just lacks the speed..A good fullback in the I fromation..but if he wants any chance to play football beyond college ,he needs to try LB.Heck ,,beef him up and play OC.Capra came in as a LB.

Quigley looked fairly good when he played.MM thought he fumbled too much and i think people know from last year that MM had little patience in certain situations and too much patience in other situations/positiions on defense.

I have heard on that Sims and Bourbon will be pushing for playing time this year.One will probably redshirt.Anyhow that is the report from some supposedly credible sources according to another site.

Speed is the name of the game and KU was very lacking in the speed department at certain positions on Defense ..

Someone mentioned the surprise that Strozier is not starting.Well,i am surprised he is second team..Phillip is too slow to play upper D1 ball.The time he was in there he looked like he was grandma trying to catch the cat..He is that slow for this conference..so Gill knew he had to increase the speed at DB.

I think Quig will do well as long as he can hold on to the ball.I guess Gill is willing to give him the chance and has improved his ball carrying .But there is no doubt the guy can break tackles and has some decent speed for some long runs.

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gardenjay 3 years, 7 months ago

Why all this focus on the offensive side of the ball? I for one am glad to our best athletes on the field for the other half of the game.

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jhawk314 3 years, 8 months ago

This is complete BULLS***!!!! Opurum should be the starting RB, pound the ball with Opurum then pound the ball again with Angus and with Picks good running ability KU's running game would be top 3 in the big 12. Opurum to LB is just stupid

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JBurtin 3 years, 8 months ago

I didn't really see that it took a long time for the staff to pick a starter at QB.

-They only had sixteen days in the Spring and got a group of six prospects narrowed down to the best 2.

-Then it took them another 19 days or so to choose a definite starter.

If this had been an incumbent staff then things might have been different, but there's a lot of evaluating to do when you're coming into a whole new team.

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yovoy 3 years, 8 months ago

terry played db in hs, his dad played db here, and played for the chiefs too. i'm sure that move isn't a "tough" transition for the kid. he'll know what he's doing.

as for moving opUrum (it's a 'u', not an 'e' between the 'p' and the 'r'), i'm okay-ish with it. i was really jacked to see quigley and O beat teams up. i've praised his wisdon and maturity above his athletic ability, so it comes as no surprise to me that (publicly) he's okay with it. he's a smart kid, a great athlete, a HUGE body, and i'm mostly sure that we haven't seen the last of him carrying a football (for us). i hope we haven't because i love the kid's demeanor.

i've seen and heard that pick has won lots of awards, that he's been to "elite" camps, that he's a phenom, and that he's a kid of a former qb, but he just didn't look comfortable to me last year. were the plays where he gained so many yards busted plays or were they designed "one-look-then-run" type plays? i'm asking because i don't know, and i just never have really seen his passing ability.

i realize there's been considerable complaining that it took so long to decide the qb. i also realize that it would be nice to have a situation at THIS university that other schools (like OU/UT/TT, etc) have: a situation where if one guy goes down, you have a plug-and-play qb at your disposal. do we have that? i mean, do we drop waaaay off if we lose pick? we were spoiled with sparky, he wouldn't be denied being on the field. would we have been okay with pick had we lost him?

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Tony Bandle 3 years, 8 months ago

If Kale gets a slight injury, will it be called a Pick Nick?

Does Kale have a peck of pickled peppers in his locker?

Has anyone ever met anyone named Kale or Pick, much less both names together?

Will the Kansas S.I. department come up with a different slang term for an interception?

Is Kale lucky at the lottery or just fast [Quick Pick]

Is his major mining engineering? [Pick and Shovel]

Or is it Cooking? [Pick and Roll]

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jaymar74 3 years, 8 months ago

Isn't it a positive when our best running back from last year cannot crack the two deep this year? Isn't is a positive when the new Freshman running backs behind our best back from last year are predicted to pass him up in ability in the near future? Why should we all have hoped the best we had last year would be our best this year?

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hawksince51 3 years, 8 months ago

A few years from now, it would be great if Kale could be mentioned in the same sentence as some of our past in-state QB's i.e. my classmate John Hadl and later Bobby Douglas and David Jaynes.

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slowplay 3 years, 8 months ago

Good move both ways. I'll leave it to the coaches to decide the talent levels at each position and hold any criticism until the end of the year. As for Opurum, this is his best shot at making it to the next level (NFL). He didn't have chance at FB, but his size and toughness could give him an opportunity at LB. The only intangible I'm not sure of is his reactive speed.

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rolo2383 3 years, 8 months ago

I like all of the moves the staff has made. They gave everyone a chance to play the position they wanted to. Very few players have been moved from those positions.

Terry was a stud playing DB in high school so the move should be seamless.

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Randy Maxwell 3 years, 8 months ago

For all of you who somehow thought Pick was a running QB After his sophomore year of high school, he went to an elite quarterback competition in Nebraska. He came home with the trophy. Landry Jones (now the starter at Oklahoma) and Blaine Gabbert (Missouri) did not. He won the thing again the next year. About that time Major Applewhite, who was then an assistant at Alabama, asked Pick to visit Tuscaloosa. Oklahoma wanted him to check out Norman. But Pick was committed to Arkansas and coach Houston Nutt and declined the offers. PS he didn't win those trophy's by running.

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Randy Maxwell 3 years, 8 months ago

Somewhere in Florida Mangino is laughing his big butt off at seeing Quigley atop the RB depth chart and Operum moving to defense.

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Benjamin Piehler 3 years, 8 months ago

trying to get excited about the team.... i sorta dont care who won the qb battle. the running back that replaces TO better impress me if turner gill wants to earn my respect.

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Brak 3 years, 8 months ago

So I am assuming that all of you naysayers that are knocking HCTGs decision to move TO and Keeston to D went to every practice and spent time observing them in the weight room and know something that a former elite football player and d1 head coach doesn't know. If TO was better than AQ he would be playing PERIOD. Bottom line is that AQ outplayed TO and most programs would say to TO, "Sorry but you suck and you'll be ridin' the pine", so the fact that HCTG is giving these guys an opportunity to get some playing this year is commendable and if things work out on D thats great if not they will certainly have the option of returning to their given positions next season.

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Jaminrawk 3 years, 8 months ago

I'll give the staff the benefit of the doubt. They've been doing this for a long time. But TO's 4.2 yards per carry last year seemed to bode well for his future IMO. I do like that he has no qualms about moving guys to positions he thinks they would perform better at. Maybe we'll look back at teh end of the year and realize Opurum is the bast linebacker on the team. I can only hope.

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Lindsey Buscher 3 years, 8 months ago

“I talked to him [Webb]. He’s obviously not happy...”

Um, why not? I understand being disappointed but you've got to be happy that (1) a decision has been made and (2) you've got to be supportive of your teammate.

We have seen situations before where a coach goes into the season refusing to settle on a starting quarterback, and that never works out. This is a good thing.

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waywardJay 3 years, 8 months ago

I just have a feeling this is going to wokr out on all three counts.

Toben may not be ready full on for the transition until conference slate, but I have full confidence in his abilities both mentally and physically for this move.

This shows that McGriff, Omigie and Matthews are Serious threats on the Second string. If Pick can throw, depth at the receiver position must be 3 deep.

As For Pick, he's got wheels, and what appears to be a solid line. He has a veteran ( I think he was in 'Nam ) in Quigley an a slew of other runners to move the chains and as i mentioend earlier a fleet of toys to get the ball down the field.

I think this is excellent news, most of all because the kids seem to be willing about the moves.

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omari1911 3 years, 8 months ago

Remember this? Hopefully this is the AQ we see more of this season... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=190pze...

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NinjaJayhawk 3 years, 8 months ago

For those of you questioning the Keeston Terry position switch, he actually played safety in high school. Many college coaches thought he graded out higher at that position. He did want to play receiver, but we have so much depth there that his best chance of contributing is on defense were we lack depth at every position. I think this is a good move.

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HawkfromHays 3 years, 8 months ago

I can't imagine Keeston Terry (a four-star receiver) is happy about his switch either. My guess is that both he and Toben will be gone before too long.

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HawkfromHays 3 years, 8 months ago

This is a terrible idea. Things on defense must be worse than we all thought.

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Kip Reiserer 3 years, 8 months ago

I think we all agree that we are not sure about the Toben move and possibly Keeston, but I have to think that Turner Gill knows what he's doing and what will help the team. I honestly was looking forward to seeing Toben run this year, but whatever makes us stronger I'm all in for.

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 8 months ago

Congrats Kale! 2 weeks to really get the 1's cranking on O.

Toben's switch could have as much to do with a couple freshmen coming up behind him as anything. Coach Gill has also comment over and over again about wanting to increase team speed. Terry's switch to S is not about depth, b/c we have plenty of DB's. Again, I would suspect it is more about team speed, and Keeston just not being as fast as the other receivers.

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Fortesque Beagleton 3 years, 8 months ago

All I know is you can subtract at least 550 yards and 9 touchdowns from our offense this year. If he's not at least a #2 linebacker then this was a wasted move. Here's hoping Opurum still see's the field on offense in certain situations and that this is a move that he wants and will do well with. I know he has the talent and athleticism to make things happen but LB isn't a position you can just pick up. You got to have the smarts to go with the skills, and nothing against Toben, but that just takes time. I hope this means we're absolutely stacked at RB. As far as Pick goes, he's my man. I love Webb and have been super impressed with him since last year's spring game. Nonetheless I've been uneasy at the thought of him running our offense, and my gut says that Pick is the man. Hopefully these moves give us a boost where we need it.

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oldalum 3 years, 8 months ago

There is an audio clip posted above that was made on Tuesday. Toben was asked how he would feel about switching to linebacker, and he said he's be fine with it--anything to help the team.

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mulaza 3 years, 8 months ago

you guys are riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. i was talking about us going to a bowl! i mean all bowl contenders come into the season having lost 7 straight from the previous season along with their best players from that team in addition to having to adjust to a new coach/system. then wait until close to the last minute to decide who is going to be qb while moving some offensive players to the defensive side because they are so short handed. what did you think i was talking about? what are you getting at? are you thinking that i am doubting this team and this coach? you know he does have january bowl coaching experience! so what if it was the international bowl and the game was in toronto.

here is to this coach leading us to a bowl game in canada. . . in january. . .cheers!

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Kyle Rohde 3 years, 8 months ago

Ironic that our two highest-rated (or at least two of the) recruits of the past couple years, Terry and Bradley McDougald, played WR and S in high school, respectively, but get to KU and switch to opposite positions. Hope Terry does better than Bradley has so far.

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DevilHawk 3 years, 8 months ago

A staff member may want to do a quick fix on a typo in the article - "going" instead of "goign"...

'I feel very good about our two quarterbacks. Webb and Pick are very good football players. We’re goign to need them both.'

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justinryman 3 years, 8 months ago

Could the move of TO be in part because of his hip injury? I mean getting hit as a RB and getting all twisted in a pile is different than putting on a hit, he won't get twisted at the hips as much either. Just thoughts.

But as stated above, I doubt that this staff just moved him over to LB without having more than a few talks with him and getting his input? Maybe he pulled a #10 and asked to do it and to be a "team" player??

Who knows?

That's why they coach and we watch!!

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honk_for_hawks 3 years, 8 months ago

Am I the only one that kind of likes the TO move? I mean, we saw last year that he loves to hit people, so why not make that his job while we are incredibly thin at LB. Quigley is the same, but he isn't as fast or athletic as TO. I think this will actually work out pretty well.

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Aaron Carpenter 3 years, 8 months ago

I am a vote for no on this, but then that is why i do not coach for KU. Also, Perkins is a turd. Thanks You.

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drum1984 3 years, 8 months ago

Why on earth would you take your best returning skill position player and make him a linebacker. Did we not just see how stupid an idea this was last season with Quigley?

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KU_FanSince75 3 years, 8 months ago

mulaza, mulaza, mulaza-----trufan--Amen to that! Long season means going to a bowl. Any bowl would be Sweeeeeeeeeeeet. Oh, mulaza, did I use too many e's?

As far as, moving TO to linebacker--it seems like a brilliant move on Gill's part. Like hawksince51 said, "See what happens after 3 or 4 games. Sometimes these kinds of moves work okay in high school football but not so much in college football on the D1 level. Like the saying goes--- "Gill looks like a genius, if this works; or, he could look like a billy goat, if this fails." I am still excited for the season! Rock Chalk!

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mulaza 3 years, 8 months ago

reading this article while watching this alabama show on espn. we are sooooooooo far from that level of football. we have to move rb to become lb and wr to s just to field those positions. gonna be a looooooooong season!

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jesusisajhawk 3 years, 8 months ago

I wouldn't be surprised if Opurum still gets in the game during goal line and short yardage situations. I like Angus and have always kind of rooted for him, but nobody drags a pile like Toben.

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hawksince51 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm happy for Kale and believe he will do very well for us at QB. He appears to have all the OB tools and also because Chuck Long is on the coaching staff. Some of the other position changes are a little surprising but I will trust the coaching staff's judgment, at least until we have played 3 or 4 games.

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Ben Kliewer 3 years, 8 months ago

Off topic... I just moved to Los Angeles... Any other 'Hawks fans out here? I was in Wichita, and now I won't be able to get...well, any Jayhawk football...that I know of. What can I do? Is there an online broadcast? Please help...

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muffdivn 3 years, 8 months ago

Also. Congratulations to fellow Red Demon, Kale Pick. Make Jayhawk Nation Proud!

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muffdivn 3 years, 8 months ago

If he was one of the top two at running back he would be playing that position. Others are looking a lot stronger than him right now so therefore the move to LB is a good decision to get your fastest, strongest players on the field. I, of course, am ass-u-ming all of this.

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HawkDigestCom 3 years, 8 months ago

I love AQ at running back, but he'll be gone in a year. Another year of shared experience in the backfield for TO and he would have been ready for a monster year in 2011. Put me down as a no vote for this move.

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Dyrk Dugan 3 years, 8 months ago

we have no LBs basically...past our starters of Dudley, Johnson and Springer....everyone is either hurt or ineligible. somebody has to play there....and Quigley tried to make the switch last year...it didn't work out, he gets a sixth year...and now he has one last shot at glory at RB. Toben still has a RS year plus, three more years of eligibility...he could still play RB at KU.

Terry is a good athlete, he'll be a fine DB. we're pretty loaded at wideout so he again, still has plenty of time to make his mark.

Pick was the inevitable choice...he's athletic, with a strong arm. he's the dual threat QB, the likes we haven't seen at Kansas in some time. (Chip Hilleary anyone?)

i'm cautiously optimistic on the season. we need a bit of luck to avoid injuries during the season...because we're thin at best right now across the board. but we have talent.

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TaCityHawkFan 3 years, 8 months ago

There are a couple of errors on the Depth chart that is posted.

  • Sellers or Young or Woods is listed opposite of Laptad at DE.
  • Sands or Lewis are listed as second string RB.

The Keeston Terry move surprises me, butwe are loaded at WR and need some defensive playmakers. I was thinking abou Opurum to LB earlier today thinking that if he still hasn't cracked the Two Deep that it might be imminent. Like everyone else, I hope that he does not choose to transfer as he seems to be a stand-up young man. Good future at LB position with Tharp (next year) and Opurum. If he isn't going to play much this year I hope they RS him so that he doesn't waste a year getting into the rythm. The other surprise was Lubbock Smith has overtaken the top spot at FS from Phillip Strozier. I saw some talen in him last year near the end of the year but it is still a surprise.

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Tribehawk 3 years, 8 months ago

Moving Terry is a huge surprise as well. 4 star receiver being moved to defense? I wonder if he really has a nose for safety or if he was such a poor receiver (relative to our depth there) that Gill wanted to keep him satisfied and threw him a bone by suggesting he try defense.

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Annette Lee 3 years, 8 months ago

Look LB is the weak link and TO is really bright so maybe he requested the move because he could pick it up fast and this is temporary.

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jaymar74 3 years, 8 months ago

I believe the key factor in the Opurum move is Sands. I think Gill likes what he has in Sands and he wants a break away back to go with Quigley and not another power back. Look for Sands to be the biggest surprise of 2010.

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Dirk Andrews 3 years, 8 months ago

I really don't know about moving Opurum to the Linebacker spot. Last year, as a true freshman, this guy came in and did a phenomenal job replacing SR. Jake Sharp when he went down with injury. I loved watching Opurum run last year, made me think of Brandon Jacobs. Why switch him? This is giving me deja vu of last year when Mangino had people switching from one side of the ball to the other.
I will say this though. I trust that Gill is making the right decision, because he is our coach. If Opurum is cool with the move, then I say get after it and knock some heads off. We know he has great athleticism for such a big guy. This must also mean that Sands and Quigley are looking good at RB.
I would just hate to lose such a great talent in Opurum, if this decision does upset him and he chooses to transfer.

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Randy Maxwell 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm beginning to question some of these decisions. not the QB choice but moving Operum and moving Capra to center replacing Hatch. Hope I'm poved wrong.

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dallashawk05 3 years, 8 months ago

Yeah I wonder how this sits with Opurum, he seems like a quality guy though, and lord knows KU needs a linebacker or two, or three.... I think I like the move of Keeston Terry to defense.... KU seems to have a lot of young recievers, need the talent and athleticism on the defensive end....

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jhawk314 3 years, 8 months ago

I like what Gills doing but moving Opurum to LB is stupid IMO. I think Opurum should be starting running back. he showed me more than more potential and talent than Quilgly did when he was RB. I just hope Opurum doesn't transfer

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Jaminrawk 3 years, 8 months ago

Soooo how long before Opurum transfers to play runnig back somewhere else? Granted, we need backers but he chose KU because he wanted to run the ball. Hmmm.

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tpatt 3 years, 8 months ago

Well, isn't that something?

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KUBlue0809 3 years, 8 months ago

Great Choice by Turner Gill and staff ! Being an inexperienced quarterback in a new system, it's great that he has some wheels !

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