Monday, August 8, 2011

The big three: Isiah Barfield, Tyler Patmon and Greg Brown hope to continue rise

From left, Isiah Barfield, Tyler Patmon and Greg Brown, hope to pick up where they left off last season.

From left, Isiah Barfield, Tyler Patmon and Greg Brown, hope to pick up where they left off last season.


Reader poll

Which KU offensive unit do you feel best about heading into the 2011 season?

  • Quarterbacks 2% 18 votes
  • Running backs/fullbacks 72% 439 votes
  • Receivers 6% 39 votes
  • Offensive line 14% 88 votes
  • Tight ends 4% 25 votes

609 total votes.

If the 2010 season had been three or four games longer, Kansas University cornerbacks Isiah Barfield, Greg Brown and Tyler Patmon might have been in the running for all-conference honors.

Instead, the improvement those three players made from the season opener to the end of the season was something they carried with them into the offseason as they continued to work to improve at a rapid pace.

Early in the year, all three players went unnoticed. Inexperience and the challenge of slowing down some of the nation’s top offenses undercut their confidence, and KU’s pass defense suffered.

But about midway through the season, something clicked for the three players, and the Jayhawks’ secondary started to look a little more stout.

Brown became nastier, physical enough to spar at the line of scrimmage and fast enough to sprint with receivers down the field.

Barfield became tougher, not afraid to lower the boom with a big hit or stick his head in to support the run.

And Patmon became a playmaker.

It took time for that to develop, in part because the players were learning a new system and adjusting to a new coaching staff. This year, the Jayhawks, who struggled to create turnovers in 2010, expect to jump in where they left off.

“We’re gonna be a little more aggressive,” KU coach Turner Gill said.

That attitude, along with the improvement shown by KU’s big three, landed Brown, Patmon and Barfield in the top three spots in the Journal-World and’s rankings of this team’s top cornerbacks, a tougher task than at most positions.

The reason? In addition to a little experience, the Jayhawks now have speed in the secondary, as well.

Several incoming freshmen showed up on campus determined to play, a luxury that, if they can prove they belong on the field, would give KU solid depth at this spot for years to come. Regardless of how quickly they can crack the lineup, Gill has said he’s thrilled with the group’s potential.

“It’s just great to have athletes like that on the field,” he said. “We’re looking for guys that can make plays. Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to.”

Here’s a look at our opinion of KU’s top options at cornerback.

Matt Tait’s list

  1. Greg Brown: Was playing at an All-Big 12 level at the end of 2010. Can he pick up where he left off?
  2. Tyler Patmon: Bona fide playmaker who has star potential if he can do the little things as well as he does the big ones.
  3. Isiah Barfield: All that experience should lead to confidence right out of the gate.
  4. Chris Robinson: Small for now, but has enough speed to get on the Corners field and stay with receivers.
  5. Anthony Davis: Continues to improve each year and is now experienced enough to be relied upon.

Tom Keegan’s list

  1. Greg Brown: If Toben Opurum’s not the most talented player on the defense, then fleet Brown is.
  2. Tyler Patmon: Makes big plays, but must continue to improve at preventing them.
  3. Isiah Barfield: Improved during course of 2010 season.
  4. Anthony Davis: Experience makes him valuable reserve.
  5. Corrigan Powell: Needs to improve to get in games.

Jesse Newell’s list

  1. Greg Brown: Impressive end to the season included interception against Missouri, forced fumble against Iowa State and 10-tackle game against Nebraska.
  2. Tyler Patmon: Must have had poor spring to move down on depth chart; one of KU’s best defensive playmakers in 2010.
  3. Isiah Barfield: Tied for team lead with two interceptions last year.
  4. Anthony Davis: Picked up playing time as the year went on; had four tackles in two of last three games in 2010.
  5. Chris Robinson: Not sure if he’ll be the best of the incoming freshmen, but his speed will give him a chance.

Journal-World Consensus Top 5 Cornerbacks

Five points awarded for first, four points for second, three points for third, two points for fourth and one point for fifth.

  1. Greg Brown (15)
  2. Tyler Patmon (12)
  3. Isiah Barfield (9)
  4. Anthony Davis (5)
  5. Chris Robinson (3)

Others receiving vote: Corrigan Powell (1).


Fortesque Beagleton 2 years, 8 months ago

Moving Toben to LB might be best for him personally, especially if he wants to someday make it to the pros. If he can become a Von Miller type blitzer then he might have a shot. At 6-1 240 pounds he'll never be able to play DE at the pro level. All that said, the extent to which he initially struggled at LB leaves me worried. Of course Opurum is a very, very intelligent guy so if anybody can make the switch this late in their career it could be him. Personally it still makes more sense to me to leave him at DE since our line is already a weakness and the LBs we have should be a pretty strong unit. I hope he'll be able to make the transition (once again) and be productive at LB. We could use a Von Miller type out there making plays. I just hope that at this point in his career he doesn't struggle with yet another position change. He's only got two seasons left and alot of ground to make up.


texashawk10 2 years, 8 months ago

"The defense is having to adjust to switching its base to a 3-4 defense. Toben Opurum, who is being shifted to outside linebacker from defensive end said his responsibilities on the defense have changed."

I know this article is about the cornerbacks that KU has, but the above statement will have a huge impact on KU's entire defense. I know the corners started playing a lot better towards the end of last season, but a lot of that had to do with the improving pass rush KU was developing which started with Opurum being moved to DE which appears to be negated now with Toben moving back to LB. It doesn't matter how much speed or talent a secondary has, if they have to defend the opposing receivers for more than 4 seconds, they will give up a lot of completions and yardage. This is a basic rule of football and KU appears headed towards being victimized by it next season with the personnel changes KU is making in the front 7. I just hope that the switch to the 3-4 isn't a temporary switch to try and get the fastest athletes on the field at expense of players who play sound fundamental defense because switching defenses every year to suit your personnel is a one way ticket to failure in the long run. Hopefully this is a permanent switch to the 3-4 and KU will start recruiting players who fit the 3-4 instead of recruiting 4-3 players and forcing round pegs to fit in square holes on defense.


justinryman 2 years, 8 months ago

p> staff, is there any news or leaks about this years uniforms?

It seems to be pretty much a non story so I am thinking they are the same as last years. Just wondering.


KGphoto 2 years, 8 months ago

Okay so now I'm just shocked. How did I never see this whole series by Micah Brown. I could've been watching this for a year?!?!

I never got to see ANY of the CU comeback footage. Now I get this?

Why hasn't anyone shown me this before?!



KGphoto 2 years, 8 months ago

Nice video. Also lots of great stuff here.

Basically a 20 minute Hard Knocks for KU football. Very cool. I didn't hear anything about them producing this, but I'm glad KUAthletics did!



justinryman 2 years, 8 months ago

Here is a clip from all access found on, wait til the 1:15 mark and you can see how Coach Gill works with players instead of berates them. Kind of refreshing to see these days.



Ichabodhawk 2 years, 8 months ago

Not only is Isaiah a friend of mine, but I played against him in high school. He is a freak athlete and has the ability to be the next great corner KU has seen. His speed will help him cover the WRs and his ability to make plays will help in both the run and the pass. I look for him to have a great year and be an all league player this year.


Keith Hummel 2 years, 8 months ago

Agree with dagger. How many times last year did our corners get burned last year because they had to cheat on run support because our LB's were routinely getting out-flanked. I think we have the necessary talent now in our defensive backfield but the DL continues to concern me, especially the pass rush. Given enough time any D1 QB will find an open receiver, no matter how good the corners and safeties are. We can make up for some DL shortcomings by blitzing LB's, but as the old saying goes - teams that live by the blitz also die by the blitz. It's going to be an interesting season to say the least. Lots of potential, but also lots of concerns.


Dirk Medema 2 years, 8 months ago

No coincidence.

It should also help to have more speed covering more ground at LB, as well as healthy McDougald, Terry & Smith at safety. If we can get some push in the middle of the DL, ...


KGphoto 2 years, 8 months ago

Semi-coincidence that they started looking good once TobO started rushing the passer?


100 2 years, 8 months ago

Keep bringin in that speeeeeed Coach Gill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Commenting has been disabled for this item.