Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back in action: RB Brandon Bourbon cleared to return from injury

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon fields a punt during practice on Monday, April 11, 2011 at the practice fields near Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon fields a punt during practice on Monday, April 11, 2011 at the practice fields near Memorial Stadium.


Thirteen weeks after suffering an injury that ended his spring, red-shirt freshman running back Brandon Bourbon appears to be back in action and gearing up for the 2011 season.

Mark Casey, Bourbon’s high school coach at Potosi (Mo.) High, said Bourbon was cleared by doctors to resume full football activities about 10 days ago.

Bourbon, 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, injured his leg during spring practice on April 18. At the time, KU coach Turner Gill said Bourbon would be out 6-8 weeks but added that he expected him to return in plenty of time for preseason camp. Casey, who remains in close contact with his former player, said Bourbon was right on track for a full return.

“It seems like he’s doing pretty good,” Casey said. “He was cleared to go back to full football activities and to do everything that everybody else is doing. I think the injury might have put him a little bit behind. The way he likes to work out, he loves to hit the weight room and really hit it hard, and I don’t think he’s been able to do it the way that he’s used to doing it. But he’s still on pretty good track right now.”

Although the injury stalled his progress, Casey said Bourbon had shown great improvement from where he was during the spring of 2010 and seemed poised to inherit a bigger role in the Jayhawks’ offense this fall.

“Back in spring ball, before Brandon got hurt, I remember talking to (running backs) coach (Reggie) Mitchell about him and he said he was looking the best he had looked through all of spring ball the day he broke his leg,” Casey said. “I don’t think he feels like he’s 100 percent because he hasn’t gone out there and tested it in that manner yet. But I think he’s feeling really, really close. I know he’s biting at the bit to get back out there.”

In some ways, Casey believes that fighting through the first serious injury of his football career may have been good for Bourbon, much in the same way that red-shirting was in 2010.

“He’s never really been injured before, especially to this extent,” Casey said. “So it’s just going to make him a stronger person being able to fight through it. Now that it’s all over with, he just has that much more experience and he still has four years of eligibility left. I think in a lot of ways, it went the best way it could’ve gone for him.”

One thing Casey believes will help Bourbon is the presence of other talented running backs on KU’s roster, guys like sophomore James Sims and freshmen Darrian Miller and Anthony Pierson who can do their part to make sure Bourbon doesn’t have to do too much too soon.

“They’re similar guys,” said Casey of Bourbon and Sims. “And I think they’d put out about the same numbers. That could be a good 1-2 punch. And then, with the youngsters coming in, they could have something pretty special.”

Bouncing back from injuries can change the way players approach the game. Some are hesitant and uncertain in their return and others hit the field as if nothing ever happened. Casey said he believed Bourbon would fall into the latter category because of his tenacity.

“I think early on it took him a little while to adjust,” Casey said. “Not just to college football but to college life in general. But I think he’s kind of gotten over that rookie hump now and he’s a lot more comfortable.”

Bourbon and his teammates will continue summer conditioning for the next couple of weeks and will report to fall camp on Aug. 3, when they’ll begin preparing for the Sept. 3 season opener against McNeese State at Memorial Stadium.


Kman_blue 9 years, 4 months ago

It's great news that Brandon is back and 100%! I think he'll see plenty of carries this year with him and Sims providing a double hit of power and speed. I think it's going to be fun watching our RB's this fall.

It's really too bad to hear about Dreamius not qualifying. He's a beast with deceptive break-away speed. Hopefully his stint at the JUCO will only be for 1 year and we'll see him back up in Lawrence next year. Maybe he can redshirt at the JUCO and not lose any eligibility for when he (hopefully) comes back to KU next year?

Kman_blue 9 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, I think you and dagger are both correct. If you're a NQ out of high school you have to obtain a degree from the JUCO before you can go back to Div-1. I don't know if there's a time period set on it though(that it has to be 2 years). For instance, if you can get a degree in 1 year or 1 year and a summer, depending on if you have any college eligible credits from high school or how many hours you take, etc. I know of some guys who had about 1 year of college credit right out of high school.

If it's 2 full years or 1 1/2 or whatever, hopefully things work out in the end for Dreamius and he's back at KU.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 4 months ago

I believe that the crucial distinction is whether an athlete qualifies out of HS or not. If you qualify out of HS, there aren't the same restictions rgarding JC, as for a NQ. I believe NQ's are required to graduate (AA) or lose a yr of eligibility.

KU_Alumn_2000 9 years, 4 months ago

Have never seen Bourbon play...but from what I've heard...the guy has physicalities that 95 percent of college D1 tailbacks don't have. Hope this guy just explodes onto the college football scene and tears it up !

KGphoto 9 years, 4 months ago

Oh no. Don't say "tears it up".

And don't say "Break a leg" either.

DallasHawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Sucks about Dreamius... I had a feeling something was up. Good luck Dreamius and I hope to see you in Lawrence soon!

ahpersecoachingexperlence 9 years, 4 months ago

I have to admit I'm really excited about seeing Bourbon play. Starting to get excited about Jayhawk football!

Too bad about Dreamius. He has too good a name not to be on the field, but I guess I can wait a couple more years...

ahpersecoachingexperlence 9 years, 4 months ago

An imposter! then again, that's a nice lookin picture you have...

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 4 months ago

Ummmmmmmmmmmk wow! 3 of us today.

Let's face it boys, the real ahperse would step up and post a video link to deal with this situation:

Then kick a little football knowledge that most homers haven't thought about: With Dreamius and Phil not being on campus our actual enrolled recruiting ranking is going to drop to the mid to low 40's

And finish it off with a jab to turner like it's all his fault: Recruit! Recruit! Recruit!

I'd ask the ljw staff to remove these no talent @$$clowns but I think they might be working for them (black helicopter theory). Maybe 1st year j school interns on a summer project?

Whoever it is you don't have the knowledge, wit, or TIME to keep up with me. So if you want to do this, in the words of Al Bundy "let's rock"

ahpersecoachingexperlence 9 years, 4 months ago

Six paragraphs??? I smell 100 at work. Can these comments be removed?

ahpersecoachingexperlence 9 years, 4 months ago

Your telling me that we lost TWO commits to eligibility and STILL have a top 50 recruiting class? After finishing last in the conference and loosing to NDSU?? I'll go head and say it.

Recruit! Recruit! Recruit!

KGphoto 9 years, 4 months ago

Is Dreamius his real name, or is that just what he does in class?

Snap out of it boy, before you find yourself out of college, and out of football altogether. Either that or get real good at basketball, real fast, so the Kentucky Squid will take care of that pesky ACT, make you OAD and send you to the NBA. Easy as 123.

orbiter 9 years, 4 months ago

You should talk down to Dreamius, mock his name and call him a "boy" to his face. Put your righteous indignation into the real world instead of a just being a racist internet punk.

KGphoto 9 years, 4 months ago

Wow! Did you wake up on the wrong side of the planet, orbiter?

He IS a boy. He DID take the ACT as many times as they would let him. He IS going to be out of football if he doesn't learn to study harder. And Coach Cal WILL take care of his ACT for him, if he's a OAD prospect.

Somehow this makes me racist internet punk?

Ethan Berger 9 years, 4 months ago

What if it didn't click for him? Just because you study doesn't mean you are going to do well. I studied my butt of many times for the SAT and did horrible every single time. Now I teach history. Somethings people just don't get. Since he took it as many times he could implies to me that he worked his butt off. It's just something that didn't click.

KGphoto 9 years, 4 months ago

So I'm assuming you have at least a master's degree in History. Well how the hell did you pass those tests?

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 4 months ago

Just curious? ? ? How is he a racist when the article doesn't address the color of Dreamius' skin? Are you saying a white guy can't be named Dreamius then wouldn't that make you...

Oh and kg " or... what he does in class" lmao!!!

Ethan Berger 9 years, 4 months ago

pictures. All you do is type in his name in

Dirk Medema 9 years, 4 months ago

Respect to you KG, but I'm recalling the article I read about Dreamius saying his grades (classwork) was fine. He just doesn't test well.

My guess is he (& Phil) does fine at the JC, and hopefully comes back to KU with that much more experience.

Jayhawk1116 9 years, 4 months ago

"Classwork is fine, but doesn't test well" tells me he has tutors "helping" with his studies, but can't be there for his test.

Ethan Berger 9 years, 4 months ago

There are 3 levels in class work. Test, quizzes and daily work. On quizzes and daily work you can achieve an A but still fail the test. You can also manage to make a b because of that. It has happened to me, some people just don't test well.

texashawk10 9 years, 4 months ago

Brandon Bourbon is going to end a linebacker before his career at KU is done. KU is loaded at RB with depth and good talent while LB continues to be a position lacking depth and good talent. Bourbon has the athleticism to be a good OLB and I wouldn't be shocked if Bourbon doesn't get many carries early on this season, you could see Vic Shealy trying to get his hands on Bourbon and working him into the LB rotation for 2012.

Jayhawk1116 9 years, 4 months ago

I'd be okay with that, but I'd love for him to be the "great white hope" at running back even more...

Kman_blue 9 years, 4 months ago

Lacking depth at LB?

There's 19 LB's on the roster and that includes 13 on scholarship. That's not exactly lacking depth. I'd argue the LB core is one of the strongest units on the team this year. Our starting 3 all look very solid, maybe being the best starting LB's KU has had in a number of years. The backups look good as well with more speed than we've had at the position in many years. Here's the LB's on roster with a break after the guys currently on the 2-deep, and another break after the guys on scholarship, with their heights and weights.

Huldon Tharp 6-0/217 - Freshman All-American 2 years ago, but sat out last year with injury. Darius Willis 6-3/243 - Was tearing it up all year last year on the practice squad, since he had to sit out 1 year being a transfer. Steven Johnson 6-1/237 - Leading tackler on the team last year and probably the best LB KU had last year. Prinz Kande 6-0/194 - DB speed, likes to hit, but still is bulking up. Malcom Walker 6-1/220 - Fast athletic JUCO guy who walked on to KU over an offer from an SEC school, but got a schollie when Ford didn't qualify. Steve Mestan 6-2/240 - Played mostly special teams last year, but also had 6 tackles on the season. Brings good size and run stopping abilities.

Tunde Bakare 5-10/215 - Another JUCO transfer who's fast, athletic and loves to hit. He didn't get on campus in the spring like Walker, but look for him to earn plenty of PT this fall. Jake Farley 6-3/228 - RS Freshman who's dad is the head coach at Northern Iowa and used to be an assistant coach at KU. Very smart player with good skills. Ed Fink 6-3/221 - Blue collar type guy who's a real hard worker, kind of Nick Reid style. Not saying he's that good, just that style. Collin Garrett 6-1/215 - He and the next 3 are all true freshman, all of whom were 3 star guys. Ben Heeney 6-1/210 Jake Love 6-0/195 Jason Hensley 6-2/222

Ryan Karlin 6-0/225 Isaac Wright 6-3/240 Brian Blackwell 6-0/210 Brandon Esposito 5-11/220 Blake Abbott 6-0/218 Tyler Hunt 6-2/240

If Bourbon can't crack the rotation at RB (that means we're really stacked at RB!), then maybe they'll think about moving him to LB, but otherwise I don't see it happening.

texashawk10 9 years, 4 months ago

There's a difference between having a a lot of players listed at a position and having quality depth and KU does not have much quality depth at LB. Of the 19 players you listed, there's maybe 5 or 6 who can step in and play at the D1 level right now without getting embarassed by opposing offenses. Tharp, Willis, and Johnson will be the likely starters with Kande and Bakare likely getting the majority of their reps in nickel situations because of their speed and coverage abilities. Walker or Farley could contribute next as well which means KU has 7 players at most who can play LB at a D1 school right now. The incoming freshmen could be good, but none of them are ready to play at this level right now and the other guys you listed will likely never contribute anything beyond special teams.

Kman_blue 9 years, 4 months ago

Tharp, WIllis, Johnson, Kande, Bakare, Walker, Farley, amd Mestan are all quality D1 LB's who can hold there own right now IMO. That's 8 quality, ready to go LB's and I think Collin Garrett has enough talent to at least make the staff think about not redshirting him, although I do think they will end up RS him unless there's several injuries. I only listed all 19 to establish that KU has tremendous depth at the position, and I added notes next to the guys who I thought added the quality(right now) to the position.

Tharp, Willis, and Johnson are the starters as of right now and I'd say they're the most talented group of starters KU has had since at least the Nick Reid era. You're right that Kande and Bakare will be used mostly in nickel situations because they both can fly, but they both really like to hit and can bring the wood too. I don't know about you, but 7 quality LB's is as much or more than most D1 teams have and I don't think Bourbon would beat out the top 4 or 5 right now, so unless he just can't crack the RB rotation at all, I don't think it would be a good move to try and switch him to LB.

I guess I beg to differ when you don't think we have quality depth at LB. I think it's possibly the 2nd strongest position on the team right now outside of RB (and possibly the S's).

Kman_blue 9 years, 4 months ago

That should read "...but 8 quality LB's..." even though I think the point remains if I only thought there were 7.

texashawk10 9 years, 4 months ago

This is one of those things that we will have to agree to disagree on. KU has way too many question marks at LB for me to say that there is any real depth at the position. Johnson is the only returning player who has played and not suffered a major injury. Tharp, Willis, and Kande all have had season ending injuries and are returning from those. Everyone else is either a special teams/practice or freshman. There is potential, but for now that's all it is.

Kman_blue 9 years, 4 months ago

Huh? Kande didn't have a season ending injury...or any injury that I can recall. He RS in 2009 and played in all 12 games last year, but at S and on special teams. Willis also didn't have any injury. He was tearing it up all season on the practice squad(he was named the practice squad player of the year on D last year) because he had to sit out being a transfer. Walker turned down an SEC offer to walk-on at KU and both he and Bakare are the JUCO guys coming in. Only Tharp is coming off a season ending injury, but he was a freshman All-American before that and looked very good in the spring, so I think it's safe to say he'll be solid. Mestan is the only special teams/practice type guy from last year in the bunch who is on scholarship and he's only a SO.

Kman_blue 9 years, 4 months ago

Just figured out you were probably talking about Willis' injury back at Buffalo, but he's had 1 full year of playing in practice (in addition to spring practice and summer conditioning this year) since then, unlike Tharp who's only had 1 spring's worth of practice and 1 summer's worth of conditioning since his injury.

And yeah, we disagree. I think 13 LB's on scholarship means you've got depth and that 7 or 8 of them are quality enough to be legit D1 LB's right now.

smartjayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

If Bourbon is forced to play defense only, he will transfer.

I can see him playing both ways though. He is a good enough athlete to do it.

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