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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

blackhawkjayhawk 3 years, 5 months 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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hawk316 3 years, 5 months ago

With a strong running game, you can control time of possession. Perhaps, two of our greatest strengths are running back and offensive line. That combination could keep us in a lot of games.

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COjayrocks 3 years, 4 months ago

I find it very hard to believe that we are thin at LB. Sure, we might not have as much experience, but Sims is the only returning contributing RB so its not like we are experienced there either although Keegan suggested otherwise. I would argue that we have as much speed/skill at LB than we have had in a long, long time. Maybe since Nick Reid's era. It's just that not many have seen them play yet. Watch out for Tharp, Willis, Bakare, Walker, Johnson because I think they are going to be an explosive group that moves much better in space than last year. HUGE step up.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 5 months ago

Pretty sure last seasons performance is keeping ticket sales down.

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Pbbut 3 years, 5 months 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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jhawkrulz 3 years, 5 months 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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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 5 months ago

you couldn't be more right. whoever is advising gill with the media is doing a horrible job.last year when he needed to be pulling reporters over to the side to tell them we might be taking a few steps back be patient and spread the word to the public. he lead them on to believe that we were going to be just fine if not better than previous years.

now when he needs to be generating some sort of excitement and optimism he is shutting everyone out. bring these guys in and show them the "jayhawk" offense, let them see how TO has improved on the defensive side of the ball, or this new freshman running back that seems to be the man. give us something to have some sort of hope and maybe sell a ticket or two for next season.

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daverinoku 3 years, 5 months ago

May be better to be secretive and surprise the competition. Let wins sell the tickets, not buzz.

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Viggo3003 3 years, 5 months ago

Hey can you tell me who your guy is? I need some of that stuff.

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Jamaal25Chiefs 3 years, 5 months 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, 5 months ago

Than why not let the media in, so they can start talking about the 8 wins? Or that they think this team looks bowl bound.

The negative comments that I have is on the way we are providing media and hype to the public. This sells tickets and builds excitement for the season.

I'm excited for the season to begin, but I hear more about OU, UT and NU than about KU. If you let the KU reporters in, than they would be talking, instead, I get to hear about the other schools.

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Jamaal25Chiefs 3 years, 5 months ago

Who cares about other schools. . . We hear enough about them. . . Its alot more interesting and fun to talk about schools who will surprise people if you ask me. . . OU, UT, and NU are expected to do great. . . . Its not like we need to restate that fact 400 times like the media already does. . . I over exaggerated on 8 wins. .. I feel 6 will meet what I expect but I really think they will surprise alot of people. . . Turner Gill is a great coach I love what he is doing.

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texashawk10 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm one of the biggest optimists on KU football there is, but I'm struggling to find more than 1 game in which KU will be favored. KU could be a significantly improved team on the field from last season, but still go 1-11. KU should beat McNeese St. but after last year nothing is certain, and Iowa St. and K-State may be the only Big 12 teams that KU can realistically beat and not be considered a huge upset.

As for the freshman, I don't expect many of them to have any significant impact until the 2013 season, so hopefully the new AD will at least Gill a chance to develop this class and see what they can do as juniors and RS sophomores. If KU isn't in a bowl game by that point, then Gill has to be fired.

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justinryman 3 years, 5 months 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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jartiv 3 years, 4 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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jacobjones2011 3 years, 4 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 3 years, 4 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 3 years, 4 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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