He has yet to play an actual down for Kansas University’s football team, but red-shirt freshman Jimmay Mundine already has created some competition.
The story goes like this: Last fall, while Mundine, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound tight end from Denison, Texas, was adding bulk to his then-226-pound frame, he often was asked to put pressure on KU’s first-string defense in practices by being the best tight end he could be. Mundine took the challenge seriously and, before long, was giving KU’s entire secondary fits.
“That kid right there, he’s gonna be a stud,” former KU defensive back Chris Harris said of Mundine. “If he’s not making an impact next year, that’d be a big surprise. He’s a guy that we (had) trouble with every day.”
As the practices went by and Mundine outdid all challengers, he and Harris worked toward a showdown.
“(Defensive coordinator Carl) Coach Torbush told the defense not to even let me catch the ball, and I still caught it on ’em,” Mundine said. “Then, I went against every single defensive back, and I made ’em all look bad except Chris Harris, so it was a big deal because coach (Vic) Shealy walked up to me and asked, ‘Who haven’t you embarrassed?’ I told him it was Chris, and then the next day I embarrassed Chris.”
Though Mundine made a name for himself in practice, he recognized that there was a big difference between starring with the scout team and doing it during a game. Now that his red-shirt season is behind him, his focus has shifted to becoming the same player — perhaps better — when things heat up during spring ball and this fall. It’s something his coach thinks is very possible.
“He has what you’re looking for, the explosiveness,” KU coach Turner Gill said. “He can make plays down the field, he can make plays on the short pass being able to catch and make people miss and go the distance.”
Mundine said it was tough to sit out, especially on Saturdays when he was forced to watch the Jayhawks struggle from the stands. But he said red-shirting turned out to be the best thing for him.
“At first I was mad,” Mundine said. “But then I realized that next season, I’ll be fully ready, and I can be a complete tight end. I’m not saying I’m gonna be starting or anything, but I know I’m damn sure I’m gonna try to get the spot. Me and coach Gill talked about me red-shirting, and he said it wasn’t that he didn’t think I was ready to play or anything like that, it was just that he simply wanted me to learn more and get bigger.”
Originally, there was talk of Mundine moving to a different position.
“When I first got here, coach Gill told me he was looking at me at tight end, and he said if he didn’t like what he saw or I wasn’t doing good then he would move me to linebacker,” Mundine said. “When I went in for my meeting after the season, he told me he liked what he saw and that I was a playmaker, so he was gonna keep me there.”
That’s a good idea according to one KU safety.
“To be honest with you, I know it’s two different levels, but he always reminds me of an Antonio Gates-type of guy,” freshman Keeston Terry said of the San Diego Chargers tight end. “He’s real dependable, he gets open, he has great hands, and he’ll definitely be a great asset to our team.”
If he can live up to the hype, the only thing left for Mundine to sort out will be setting people straight on his full name, Jimmayshun, which people have shortened to Jimmay, pronounced just like it’s spelled: “Jim-May.”
“Right before I was born, my dad’s parents died,” Mundine said. “My grandma’s name was Jimmy, so my mom took the Jim out of that. My grandpa’s name was Maynard, so she took the May out of that. And she put the Shun on there by herself.”
Mundine continued: “When I played football in high school and we played around at different stadiums, no announcers ever got my name right. Unless we were playing at home. When we were on the road, my name was definitely going to be messed up.”
If the progress Mundine has shown so far continues during his second season, it won’t take Jayhawk fans long to learn the name.