Kansas RB Brandon Bourbon impresses John Hadl, Chuck Long

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Since nothing is new on the quarterback front for Kansas University’s football team, let’s concentrate on the position creating all the buzz. Not just in football camp, not just on campus, but in the streets of Lawrence as well. Let’s focus on the running backs, one in particular.

It’s amazing what you can see strolling downtown. Peace signs flashed with a burning cigar. Once upon a time, hilarious slogans stamped on T-shirts hanging in a storefront window. A slimmed-down, should-be pro football Hall of Fame quarterback walking with an extra bounce because another college football season is around the corner.

John Hadl beamed about how good red-shirt freshman running back Brandon Bourbon looked at Saturday’s public scrimmage, then went into a downtown eatery where he was meeting his wife.

“Oh, really?” Bourbon said when told that 30 minutes later. “That’s cool. I met him on my visit. I knew he was a stud, but as far as the details of his career, I didn’t know too much. He was a quarterback, right?”

Yes, an All-American quarterback at Kansas, but before that an All-American running back for the Jayhawks. He knows a player when he sees one.

So does Chuck Long, an All-American QB at Iowa.

“Up until the scrimmage Saturday, we just didn’t know much about him yet,” Long said of the often-injured Bourbon. “Guys who are competitors, they’ll feel that sense of, ‘Hey, the clock’s ticking a little bit here. Coaches want to see me. Teammates want to see me. I got recruited for a reason. I need to show that.’ He stepped up and did that, and that was great.”

Bourbon said his favorite running back is Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings. Bourbon answered correctly when asked to name Peterson’s offensive coordinator at Oklahoma.

“Chuck Long,” he said.

How did he know that?

“He told me when he was recruiting me,” Bourbon said. “He told me he injured so many guys in practice they had to tell him to chill out some.”

How is he like his idol?

“I like how he runs, and he’s just tenacious and aggressive, and he just attacks a defender,” Bourbon said. “I have that in common with him.”

Peterson is one of those running backs who always initiates contact.

“That’s important for multiple reasons,” Bourbon said. “One, it wears a defense down, gets them tired. And those smaller safeties and cornerbacks, they kind of think about it before they come in and get some more. Also, if you’re in a defensive mode, that’s an easier way to get injured.”

Sophomore James Sims, No. 1 on the depth chart, likes the way his competitors for playing time are progressing.

“Darrian Miller has improved a lot in pass-protection,” Sims said. “Anthony Pierson has improved a lot in burst and cutting. And Brandon Bourbon is an all-round back. He can run, hit the hole and pass-protect.”

He’ll pass-protect for Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham. Nothing new there.