Saturday, August 27, 2011

Buffalo transfer Nick Sizemore eager to add new element to KU offense

Kansas University's Nick Sizemore participates in a drill in this 2011 file photo from spring practices.

Kansas University's Nick Sizemore participates in a drill in this 2011 file photo from spring practices.


All Kansas University fullback Nick Sizemore ever wanted to do was play linebacker.

Back at Manheim Township High in Lititz, Pa., Sizemore was an all-state selection after finishing his senior year with 111 tackles and 5.5 sacks. For his career, he finished with a school-record 311 tackles while earning letters each season.

Even with all of the stops and all of the hits, Sizemore signed at the University of Buffalo as a fullback. As one of three true freshmen to play for UB in 2009, Sizemore received a taste of his old position on special teams, where he made four tackles in 12 games. While clinging to his dream, Sizemore began to see that his new position might not be so bad.

Although he didn’t carry the ball during the ’09 season, he started to realize that playing fullback the way he played linebacker not only was possible but also was a lot of fun. With Sizemore leading Buffalo’s tailbacks into the holes and past the offensive line, he found out that knocking heads with the guys who played his old position had become an effective part of the UB offense. And he loved it.

“I’m going for the linebacker the whole time,” he said. “I’m picking the biggest one. That’s always been my thing, picking the biggest one and knocking him down.”

Just when he started to get comfortable on offense, his coach, Turner Gill, left for Kansas, and the coaching staff that came in behind him switched Sizemore to offensive line.

“At first I was gonna stay and stick it out and see what happened,” Sizemore said. “But then I got moved to offensive line, and they told me to put on a bunch of weight, and I wasn’t interested in doing that.”

So he left, not knowing for sure where he would end up. A quick phone call turned into a visit. A visit turned into an eye-opener. And Sizemore turned into a Jayhawk.

“Once I left Buffalo, I got in touch with coach Gill again and came out for a visit,” Sizemore said. “I fell in love with Kansas right away. I mean, he’s a great coach, but I really fell in love with the school. It really fit me well. Playing for my old coach and a few guys I knew already just made it better.”

Two years ago, Sizemore was just happy to find a place to play college football. Now, he’s playing in the Big 12. While reuniting with Gill and moving to Lawrence were dream-come-true scenarios, Sizemore said jumping into one of the best football conferences in the country forced him to pinch himself a time or two.

“That was part of it, too,” he said. “I mean, would you rather be an offensive lineman in the MAC or a fullback in the Big 12?”

After transferring to Kansas, Sizemore sat out the 2010 season. He played fullback on the scout team and did his best to adjust to a new level of football.

Now, with his first season of college football in two years just a week away, KU’s first-string fullback is eager to get on the field and make a difference. His teammates have been waiting.

“I think the fact that we weren’t able to use him last year kind of hurt us, and he’s going to be a strong asset to our offense this year,” said KU junior Toben Opurum, a former fullback who now plays on the defensive line. “Nick Sizemore’s tough. He’s a guy that not a lot of guys want to be across from at the line of scrimmage. He lays the wood, and he’s done a really good job on his pass-blocking and run-blocking.”

Although Gill has talked about his desire to feature a strong ground game since his arrival, circumstances and the lack of a true fullback dictated more passing than running during 2010. But the Jayhawks expect things to be different in 2011. For starters, Gill’s squad features four tailbacks with serious talent. Each is a little different and brings something unique to the offense. The one thing they all have in common? They all love playing behind Sizemore.

“I know he can open up holes,” projected starter James Sims said. “He’s a good fit, and he’s gonna be in there a lot, so I’m excited about that. When he hits you, he’s gonna hit you real hard.”

Several of KU’s defensive players have learned that the hard way.

“He comes at me,” Opurum said. “He’s not scared of anybody. He’ll take the chance to hit somebody whenever he gets it.”

According to Sizemore, that’s the linebacker in him.

“I’m not scared of contact at all,” he said. “That’s what you’ve gotta have to play the position. You don’t necessarily have to be crazy, banging your head into lockers or anything like that. Close. But not all the way.”

Added junior cornerback Greg Brown: “He’ll take on anybody. He’s a big, quick guy, and he’s a big part of our offense. He can even run the ball, too.”

That last part is a little secret that the Jayhawks hope will surprise opponents this season. With so many defenses geared to stop Sims or freshmen Brandon Bourbon, Darrian Miller and Tony Pierson, Sizemore may sneak a carry or two the way his idol, former Tampa Bay fullback Mike Alstott, used to.

When he does?

“He’ll be a weapon,” KU quarterback Jordan Webb said. “Don’t be surprised if he finds the end zone this year.”


100 6 years, 7 months ago

"I really fell in love with the school..."

....Welcome to the University of Kansas, Nick!

Signed, the Jayhawk Nation

P.S. Let's go win some games!

hawk316 6 years, 7 months ago

I have had a very good feeling about this guy almost from the first time I heard about him. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he turns out to be one of the most valuable additions to this team in recent years and one of its greatest weapons.

johnnyhrdwd 6 years, 7 months ago

What's not to love, can we start running the option yet?

Jeremy Bolinger 6 years, 7 months ago

Had this guy in my Sport management class. Good dude. Wish him well here!

Laurence Cooley 6 years, 7 months ago

the backs we have get me excited for the season. if nothing, we should be able to run the ball and run it well. we have speed, power and the right amount of bodies to do it every week.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 7 months ago

If he's good enough to lead an Super Bowl Champion TB to a conference championship (MAC) as a freshmen ...

Eric Williams 6 years, 7 months ago

If he has the ability to garner cynicism from ahperse, then he must be doing something right...

waywardJay 6 years, 7 months ago

Why again, Did he stay at Fullback if He has always wanted to be a linebacker ????

Mike Suellentrop 6 years, 7 months ago

Smaller school players never make it big.


Jerry Rice

fromthatstandpoint 6 years, 7 months ago

Also signed Walter Payton.

Though, in fairness, he did have a D1 offer.

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years, 7 months ago

Ah man! I listed a million different names of those that went to smaller schools but right when I went to post I deleted them.

Michael Maris 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm convinced that you are beginning to feel the pressure that Gill might actually know what he is doing. Your comments are becoming few and far between lately.

God forbid that you would have to actually begin to change your attitude and support Coach Gill and his staff.

nuleafjhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

Here's a modified quote from the movie "Drowning Mona", addressed to ahpersecoachingexperience:

KU fan: You're supposed to have that thing in your head that says, "BAD F***ING IDEA, AHPERSE!"

Ahperse: I do have it! It just don't work!

fromthatstandpoint 6 years, 7 months ago

In fact there were at least three first year starters transfer out of Buffalo. All transferred to BCS league schools. All are slated to start at their new schools.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 7 months ago

2 for KU, where's the 3rd.

Recruit, recruit, recruit

fromthatstandpoint 6 years, 7 months ago

Zach Maynard dual threat QB for California. The only way Buffalo's new coaching staff would agree to release him was if he did not go to KU. So he is in California with his half-brother, a WR. Maynard had just short of 3000 yards of total offense in his true soph year at Buffalo, but with the loss of James Starks (Packers RB) before the start of the season, he tried to carry the team and often tried to do too much. So, he tended to get picked with some frequency (esp in the red zone).

KUfbfan4 6 years, 7 months ago

I think a lot of people fail to realize that a kid who plays as a true freshman in the MAC is just as good, if not better, than a kid who has offers from everywhere but rides the bench for 3 years at a BCS school. It can take a lot for a coach to offer a player a scholarship, but once you get on campus its a level playing field. For that reason alone kids that have actually performed at the Division I level (aka Willis and Sizemore) should never be considered lesser recruits than some kid who got a look from Texas cause he laid down a fast 40 at some combine.

JJHAWK 6 years, 7 months ago

Lots of very good football players come from PA. Penn State's long term success is certainly proof of that.

I wonder what part of "All State Selection" purse puppy missed.

He is good enough to beat out all competition at his position - and we shouldn't play him?

I think I'm having reception difficulty!?

texashawk10 6 years, 7 months ago

Western PA and eastern Ohio is probably the 4th best recruiting area in the country and is also where a lot of good college coaches come from.

Randy Bombardier 6 years, 7 months ago

I hope we wear out our opponents this year. Late in the game when we need ball-control the most he will still be punishing them. Sizemore is a big part of what we need to do. Love the name. You know he has to have a lot of fun with that in the locker room. Good luck Nick. Go hit some linebackers.

Dennis Mahorney 6 years, 7 months ago

I knew when I saw the positive headline about a transfer from a lesser school like Buffalo, that Ahpherse would try to connect the dots.

Dennis Mahorney 6 years, 7 months ago

You have the observational humor of Steven Wright, but the gloomy outlook of a Rodney Dangerfield. Still funny at times...if taken with a grain of salt.

nuleafjhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

What's the chance of us using those red footballs this year? Those are radical.

fromthatstandpoint 6 years, 7 months ago

Not much, they are actually a cloth sleeve, if I am not mistaken. It is designed to make the ball harder to hang on to so the ball carrier has to secure both points of the ball or he is likely to fumble. Probably not something you would choose to use in a game.

nuleafjhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

That's interesting, I did not know that - thanks. But I still think we ought to see about getting some made. Hey Boise State has their field, maybe we could be know for red .....footballs.

newjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

The first time I met this kid , my first thought was "damn , that's one imposing linebacker".....I spoke to a few kids later and told me me that he was the fullback. I was totally stunned . This is one imposing kid . They regularly tell me that he does not shy away from any contact . This is my pick for difference maker of the year ! The opponents better be weary of stepping in front of this kid . I guarantee you this !

Mike Kendall 6 years, 7 months ago

"I'm going for the linebacker the whole time," Sizemore said. "I'm picking the biggest one. That's always been my thing, picking the biggest one and knocking him down."

My kind of football player! Here kitty, kitty----welcome to Lawrence, again! Meet my very, very special friend----Mr. Sizemore! Rock Chalk, baby!

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