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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Keegan

RB Darrian Miller drawing attention

Kansas running back Darrian Miller pulls in a pass during spring workouts at the practice facility on Friday, April 1, 2011.

Kansas running back Darrian Miller pulls in a pass during spring workouts at the practice facility on Friday, April 1, 2011.

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So far, Kansas University football coach Turner Gill has decided to bar the media from watching his team’s intrasquad scrimmages, which has resulted in keeping the buzz about the 2011 season at barely audible levels and has kept ticket sales from reaching levels they might otherwise reach.

Still, even though the media never has seen first-semester freshman Darrian Miller carry the football for Kansas, word about his abilities has made the program’s fan base curious to know more about him.

Miller, from Blue Springs (Mo.) High, ran for four touchdowns in an intrasquad scrimmage April 9 and ran for another score in the next scrimmage, a week later.

Reggie Mitchell, KU’s recruiting coordinator and running-backs coach, knew he had landed a big fish when he received a commitment from the four-star Miller. He just didn’t know how big.

“Darrian, when the ball is in his hands, he has a chance to make a big play all the time,” Mitchell said. “He’s got a great feel for running the ball, good vision and good feet, so he’s been a pleasant surprise.”

Last season, no KU running back had a run longer than the 28-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown by freshman James Sims, which put Kansas ahead of Colorado during the season-highlight comeback victory.

The presence of Sims and Miller softens the blow of the loss of Brandon Bourbon, whose spring ended Monday and whose 2011 season is in question after he suffered a leg injury. The contrasting styles brought by Sims and Miller give Kansas, which will be the underdog in roughly all but three games, a shot at shortening games by featuring the running game. The shorter the game, the better the chance to pull off an upset.

“Darrian’s more of a change-of-pace type guy, whereas James is an inside-the tackles runner, but he has the ability to get on the edge as well,” Mitchell said. “It’s a good combination so far.”

If Miller is called upon to be an every-down runner, Mitchell said he thinks he could do it as a freshman.

“He’s bigger than you think,” Mitchell said. “He’s about 195 pounds. He has this wiry body. He’s put together pretty good. He’s made people miss, and he’s run through arm tackles. If he’s the guy, he’ll be able to carry the ball.”

Mitchell’s done an amazing job of luring running backs to KU. Bourbon was committed to Stanford, and Mitchell convinced him to sign with Kansas. Miller was a huge coup and arrived a semester earlier than two other highly ranked backs, burner Anthony Pierson from East St. Louis, Ill., and Dreamius Smith of Wichita.

“I’ve been pleased with the running backs, and the offensive line has done a great job,” Mitchell said. “We’re a lot further ahead from where we were last year, not only from a scheme standpoint, but from a talent standpoint.”

On paper, Kansas looks short on talent and/or experience at several spots — quarterback, wideout, defensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker — but the running-back position appears to feature ample talent to compensate for a lack of experience. At running back, more so than any position, talent always takes precedence over experience.

Comments

jacobjones2011 2 years, 11 months ago

great job darrian. we grew up playing kickball in the upper elemetary together, and everytime i got out you'd tell me to keep trying. Thats exactly what you did. You made it. not only a college athlete now, but a friend to me. and for everyone who doubts him, and his 195 pound frame, well, he's just getting started. good luck to you darrian, -sincerely, Jones

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jacobjones2011 2 years, 11 months ago

great job darrian. we grew up playing kickball in the upper elemetary together, and everytime i got out you'd tell me to keep trying. Thats exactly what you did. You made it. not only a college athlete now, but a friend to me. and for everyone who doubts him, and his 195 pound frame, well, he's just getting started. good luck to you darrian, -sincerely, Jones

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jacobjones2011 2 years, 11 months ago

great job darrian. we grew up playing kickball in the upper elemetary together, and everytime i got out you'd tell me to keep trying. Thats exactly what you did. You made it. not only a college athlete now, but a friend to me. and for everyone who doubts him, and his 195 pound frame, well, he's just getting started. good luck to you darrian, -sincerely, Jones

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jartiv 2 years, 12 months ago

“He’s bigger than you think,” Mitchell said. “He’s about 195 pounds. He has this wiry body. He’s put together pretty good. He’s made people miss, and he’s run through arm tackles. If he’s the guy, he’ll be able to carry the ball.”

So what you're telling me is that our D can't wrap up 195lbs of freshman?

Sorry, I feel negative today. I get it, this guy has potential.

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justinryman 3 years ago

To play devils advocate here, why does the media need to be let into every practice? Just to keep us up to date? So the fans will buy more tickets to the spring game? So when something doesn't go right then the media can blast the coaching staff or single out a player?

It happens all over college football, that head coaches don't let the media in every day. How many days were the media let into KU basketball practices this past year? No, really how many?

Now would I like more information? Why? It's spring practice, the whole team is not there, they are not going to show a bunch of new formations or anything, so I actually am ok with the not being let into every practice.

We live in a society that is microwaved. And if it's not at our finger tips within an instant we are upset. Thanks to the internet and social media we expect instant gratification with everything, news, sports, family, school and so on.

Perhaps Keegan and others should try and remember when they had to wait for the actual printing of the paper to come out each morning and then stand back and relax a little bit. I think Keegs, is long enough in the tooth to remember the only print days of news papers and such.

I don't get to involved with spring football as some, but it really isn't that great to begin with. I like my football in the fall, when it really counts. And I will venture a guess come this fall practices might just be open a lot more than they are now.

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Jamaal25Chiefs 3 years ago

Why are there so many negative cry baby, whiney ass fans on here. . . . If you don't have anything positive to say then do not even post. . . These are the same fans who don't call themselves KU football fans unless we actually do good, then they hop on the bandwagon. . . . We are MUCH MUCH improved at Linebacker, and D-Line. . . The recruits we brought it, and people coming off injury, they are going to be great! . . . KU has NO pressure on them, nobody is talking about them, Turner Gill's off season program will imrpove this team just like Todd Haley did with the Chiefs. . . . I personally think we will win 8 or more games, the leadership is there, and we have a load of players who DO NOT want to repeat last season. . . Basically our whole Line is coming back, and I hear nothing post great things about Admire, and Phil Ford.

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jhawkrulz 3 years ago

I agree with Keegan on this one. Why is Gill being so secretive? Let the press in, to give some buzz about some of the players. It is sad that you have a limited amount of practices in the spring, and you aren't hyping up the team. You see other Big XII teams on National TV (for the spring games) and encouraging others to come out to other practices. Whereas we are practicing in secret. I can understand not inviting other team in to watch the practices, but bringing in some media outlets to start talking about some of the players and some of the rookies to get people amped up.

I also agree with Alpherse, that yes last year's performance on the field didn't sell any tickets. There are many analysts saying that this year won't be much different.

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Pbbut 3 years ago

1004-I like your optimism, and I hope you're right. The reality is that many of the players you've noted have not played one down of football in this conference.
While they may end up being quality players, it likely won't happen this year, especially for these freshmen.
The truth is that some of the guys you've mentioned are on the field when Miller was running for four touchdowns in this scrimmage and if he wasn't a mid-year graduate, he'd still be in high school.

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phog1004 3 years ago

I know we look thin at DT, DE, and LB, but I think we will be a lot better off than what we showed last year. We have 6 legitimate DT's now that Pat bulked up and moved from DE. DE is going to be ok with Julius Green and Toben, along with Arps, and the 3 freshman that are supposed to be really decent players (Michael Reynolds, Ben Goodman, and Javonte Daniel). LB's may have improved dramatically even with the loss of 2 experienced seniors. Johnson was solid last year, Darius Willis will surprise people and may be the bast LB this year, and the return of Hulden who received awards as a freshamn, we have a solid starting 3. Then add in players like Fink, Farley, the 4 decently touted Freshman (Colin Garrett, Ben Heeney, Jason Hensley, Jake Love), and the Juco transfer who runs a freaking sub 4.4 in the 40-yard (Bakare). Yeah, freshman don't always pan out (but some do), and some may be moved....but we certainly aren't thin.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years ago

Pretty sure last seasons performance is keeping ticket sales down.

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blackhawkjayhawk 3 years ago

When you are thin at defensive tackle.....defensive end.....and linebacker......you better hope you can run the ball a long, long time.

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