Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Spring KU football breakout hopefuls


The white tents already dot the hill. You can almost smell the fried doughnuts, the sausages, the honey pork tenderloin kabobs. Footballs will fly through the air Saturday outside Memorial Stadium, where for a one-day tease, it will be football season.

Kansas football fans, young, old and in between, know how to tailgate, regardless of the prospects of their favorite college football team. No shortage of big-name former Jayhawks, from John Hadl to Darrell Stuckey and Kerry Meier, are expected to be milling about as part of their annual football reunion weekend that coincides with the spring football game.

Second-year Kansas football coach Turner Gill said after Monday’s practice he expected to determine by today the format for the spring football game. He said he wasn’t sure whether the team would have enough healthy defensive tackles to play a conventional blue-against-white scrimmage. That’s the problem with intrasquad games: It takes a shortage at just one position to foil plans.

Gill can only do what he can do, based on the available healthy bodies, but here’s hoping he has enough to play a game, and if so, that game pits the first team against the second team, rather than giving one team the first-string offense, the other the first-team defense.

The better the first-stringers look, the bigger their names will become to a fan base that hasn’t had a chance to connect to many of them yet in part because 3-9 seasons that start with a loss to an FCS team, North Dakota State. That was then. This is now: The bodies look better and so does the body language of the players. It will take a significantly stronger team to go 3-9 this coming season than a year ago because the schedule is that much tougher.

Lopsided victories will be in short supply, so you take them where you can get them, even if it’s in a game that doesn’t count, the spring game, where names can be learned, even if they can’t be made. Think about it: If you were to purchase a KU football jersey of a current player, what number would you be most likely to purchase? Tough call, but if one of the following should happen to have a big day Saturday, he’d have to be in the running:

No. 3, Darrian Miller: He ran for four touchdowns in an intrasquad game early in the spring. If he did it once, he can do it again.

No. 5, Greg Brown: Junior cornerback played as well as anyone on the team in the final weeks of last season and has inspired raves from teammates all spring.

No. 7, Kale Pick: His speed gives him the potential to become an exciting receiver the way he was an exciting running quarterback late in games during the 2009 season.

No. 9, Keeston Terry: Safety who moved like a pro as true freshman is healthy again.

No. 20, D.J. Beshears: Diminutive receiver’s a lot tougher to tackle than appearances suggest.

No. 29, James Sims: Last season’s leading rusher will have more competition than a year ago and a big spring game could make him the man to beat for the bulk of carries.

No. 35, Toben Opurum: He’s hunting quarterbacks with a free mind now.

No. 41, Jimmay Mundine: Red-shirt freshman hybrid tight end/receiver has serious talent.


100 10 years, 9 months ago

Regarding: Former Kansas football greats milling about on the hill....

How about the best running back in the history of the NFL, the Kansas Comet?

Eric Williams 10 years, 9 months ago

Top 3 NFL RBs, IMO are:

Barry Sanders Jim Brown Walter Payton

I do agree that it'd be nice to see Gale Sayers mingling, and i'd guess that's a good possibility since he's been working with KU Endowment.

Eric Williams 10 years, 9 months ago

You could always sub Payton for Emmitt Smith too.

waywardJay 10 years, 9 months ago

Kinda sad to see the rushing leader get no pub..... YOu might want to Consider Earl Campbell in there too.....

100 10 years, 9 months ago

Look at his yards. Yes his knee surgery cut his career short. Yard per carry along with the "eye" test told everyone back then undoubtedly he was the best.

Compare his yards per carry & you will be pleasantly surprised.

Gale could be in a jammed up backfield & still routinely sprout a 60 yard T'D.

He could cut like no one ever had, or has since in the open field.

Gale, as a sheer runner with the football, before his knee surgery, without a question was the best ever.

Look at his stats.

100 10 years, 9 months ago

And yes the eye test years later was fantastic with runners like Barry Sanders & Walter.

But ask any Chicago Bear fan who saw them both or any player who played with Gale....

Ditka & Butkus spent a lot of time around both. Both say without a doubt Gale was the best of all time before his injury.

As for Sanders, a great player. A blast to watch.

But he still couldn't get up to speed as quick as Gale could & cut running full speed like Gale could.

No one has.

Again... Look at his stats before injury.

Better than anyone else who ever played the game.

Isn't that the definition of best?

The "eyeball" test plus "data"?

Gale wins both of these.

The only portion he loses is "longevity"....

100 10 years, 9 months ago

Also Bill Cosby, another big Bears fan had something to say about the best ever. He did quite a shtick on Gale Sayers, how somehow his hips allowed him to be in two places at once.

He could have chosen a popular runner at the time, Walter Payton, who himself was magical to watch.... But again.... Walter couldn't accelerate to full speed from 0 to 60 in 0 seconds....

Yes Cosby could've glorified Payton...

But he didn't.

Instead Bill Cosby glorified Gale.


Because he was the best.

Kirk 10 years, 9 months ago

I agree.

If I were a coach who had to pick from among historical running backs for whole season or career, I'd go with Jim Brown, followed by Riggins.

But in a single game I'd take Sayers.

redlegger 10 years, 9 months ago

"No. 35, Toben Opurum: He’s hunting quarterbacks with a free mind now."

I like it!

Andy Tweedy 10 years, 9 months ago

AGHH!! Keegan ruined my morning. I was putting off breakfast, and he starts the article with fried donuts! Now I have to go fatten up at the cafeteria...

KGphoto 10 years, 9 months ago

I don't have to buy a new #35 or #7. I'll just unbox them and knock the dust off. By the way, the #35 might become a collectable if Toben goes off the next two years. I would imagine he would be the only KU sack leader ever to wear it.

I would imagine #3 is gonna fly off the racks regardless of the spring game outcome. And I wouldn't be surprised to see a #16 Berglund. Personally, since before last year started, I've been a #25 guy, but that's on the back burner for awhile. I would add a couple more to your list.



Both of whom, I believe are going to be impact guys this year.

Or I might just go out and buy a blank Jackson or Bakare and wait for fall.

A Bakare jersey with an iron-on Tazmanian Devil might sell well on Saturday.

10 years, 9 months ago

“I don't have to buy a new #35 or #7.”

One good thing about the NCAA regulation that doesn’t allow player names to appear on the back of jerseys sold to the public.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 9 months ago

I got my #12 jersey ready to go!

(think about it)

Ashtin Meerpohl 10 years, 9 months ago

What about #15. Patterson was one of the few playmakers we had last year. Hopefully he gets healthy and he has a big year.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 9 months ago

I thought in an earlier article they mentioned that Patterson would not be playing in the spring game...I think he is practicing in shorts. He can't do contact yet.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 9 months ago

Mix in a salad! How about starting the article like this. You can almost picture the empty seats, see every blade of grass on the vacant hill, hear bill self scrambling for a calendar to make sure a recruit isn't visiting the weekend of a home football game. It's turner gill football time!

HawkTronic 10 years, 9 months ago

You can't say he doesn't put in the hours...whatever he is, ahperse is full-time. It's the most well-informed cynicism I've ever seen.

justinryman 10 years, 9 months ago

Ahperse, is like one of those parents that hates violence on TV so their kids can't watch it, but yet they refuse to change the channel and stop watching it themselves.

If you don't like something, change it.

HawkTronic 10 years, 9 months ago

I disagree with most of his football comments, but being a fan doesn' t mean one gives up the right to complain. I recall having some un-school-sprit thoughts in late March.

Eric Williams 10 years, 9 months ago

Being a fan also means you don't bail on a coach/team before the season starts.

But then again ahperse bailed on KU when they hired Turner Gill before he even had a chance to recruit or hold a practice

waywardJay 10 years, 9 months ago

in All honesty.... AhPerse had already Bailed on Turner twice before He got hired at Kansas.

This year, I think the Break out Jersey should be 33......

I have High Hopes for Brown's running mate....Some reason I see a future in this young one.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm still trying to figure out who fries donuts at a tailgate.

waywardJay 10 years, 9 months ago

Keegan probably forget to eat Breakfast on the way in....

Mmmmmm Donuuuuuuuts !

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 9 months ago

I continue to hope that we stay healthy, some of the recruits step up, and that we continue to be focused.

Here is to another football season. It'll be a tough battle again this year and I agree with Keegan this year will have a more difficult schedule, which duplicating a 3-9 record will be hard to do. I hope we have a lot of improvement and I hope that we are able to 1) Win more games, 2) If a loss happens to occur, i hope that they aren't lopsided like last year, and 3) I would love to see a bowl game this year.

Chris Bailey 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm as hopefull as anyone for the 2011 season but to hope for a bowl game is putting a ton of pressure on this team. You may just be hoping so understand I'm not directing this at you. I worry that just like last year our fans think anything short of a bowl game will be a failure. Looking at this years schedule looks pretty rough. We will win 2 non-conference games and then it gets dicey, not saying we can't win more but..... Lets face it our win over G-Tech last season was a surprise. Going into their place this year with them having a chip on their shoulder will be pretty tough. We could win games against ISU and KSU but every other game IMO would be an upset at this point. I said in an earlier post that 4 or 5 wins would be huge and I would consider it a great season. My hope is we keep the games closer and stay competitive and hopefully we can do that with our running game being upgraded. That said I'm excited for the season and can't wait for the game Saturday should be fun! RCJH!

justanotherfan 10 years, 9 months ago

The biggest question marks going into this season -

1) Health - as with every football team, your top players MUST stay healthy. We have some more depth than last year, but one or two key injuries could still leave us lacking, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

2) Line play - we got manhandled at the point of attack last season. We couldn't run the ball. Couldn't stop the run. Couldn't pressure the QB. Couldn't protect the QB. It sounds like Toben may force teams to either double him, or chip him with a TE or RB, but our other linemen, particularly the tackles, have to exploit that extra attention that Toben gets and win those 1-on-1 matchups. On the offensive side, health is one question for the line, but the other issue is experience. I don't care who the QB is, they need time. I don't care who the RB is, they need running lanes.

3) Newcomer contributions - We will be relying heavily on either freshmen or transfers to provide either major contributions or depth at just about every spot on the field. If we are to succeed, some of those guys have to come up big for us.

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