Friday, June 3, 2011


Tweaking KU football LB corps tempting


For the record, I’m not interested in the linebackers vacancy on Turner Gill’s staff unless I can coach Jimmay Mundine and Brandon Bourbon.

They both play for offensive coordinator Chuck Long, not for defensive coordinator Vic Shealy, which is good for Long, bad for Shealy.

The previous coaching staff recruited Mundine as a linebacker and to look at the way he’s built is to imagine Lawrence Taylor at a similar age. Mundine’s an inch shorter, but he’s cut the same way. He just looks like a linebacker, a fast, thick, versatile linebacker. Yet, once the new staff took over and had to re-recruit the players, they decided to lure Mundine as a tight end.

“I watched some film of him and once I came back and told coach (Gill), I said, ‘This guy could be a great linebacker, but he’s already a great tight end.’ I mean, he’s an athletic guy,” retiring defensive coordinator Carl Torbush said.

So far, Mundine hasn’t been interested in switching to linebacker. Same for Brandon Bourbon, who changed his commitment from Stanford to KU. Both guys have all-conference potential at linebacker.

When a defensive coach recommends such a talented defensive prospect as a tight end to the head coach, that says something.

Bourbon, another outstanding athlete, competes at the team’s deepest position, but he’s confident he’ll rise to the top and turned down an offer to play defense.

“The more of those guys you can get that can play here (offense) or here (defense), the more opportunities you’ve got to win,” Torbush said. “Toben Opurum is the perfect example. Pretty good running back, got a chance to be a really outstanding defensive end by the time he leaves here. You want those athletic type guys who can run and have the ability to play both sides.”

Mundine’s leaping ability and agility in going up, down, over and out to grab off-target passes will come in handy. In the spring game, when he caught three passes, he looked as if he’ll catch everything thrown near him and has the strength to rip 50-50 balls away from defenders. Look for Long to find a way to use Mundine and three-year starter Tim Biere together as much as possible.

Bourbon, faster than James Sims and even Darrian Miller, made a big impression at running back during the spring before suffering an injury.

Still, it’s tough not to daydream about a linebacker trio of Mundine, Darius Willis and Bourbon without picturing a faster version of Mike Rivera, Joe Mortensen and James Holt.

At Tuesday’s news conference to announce that Torbush was retiring because he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, Gill also announced Shealy’s promotion and Buddy Wyatt’s adding co-coordinator to his defensive line title.

As a cagey way of determining whether I wanted the linebackers job, I asked if the new assistant would have any shot at coaching Mundine and Bourbon.

Gill laughed.

“We’ll see,” he said, then ended the press conference, saying, “All right, we’re good.”

Unlike Donald Trump, I’m not about to say I could have had the job if I wanted it.


ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 7 months ago

Why not be head coach? Your .000 career winning percentage is pretty close to Turners.

Steve Corder 8 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, why not be President. His .000 career winning percentage on the economy is pretty close to Obama's.

Chris Bailey 8 years, 7 months ago

+1 except you left out everything else he's batting .000 with including he's rediculous health care bill. The only time he hasn't swung and missed was Bin Laden but then that was more of a sac fly considering he only gave the go ahead.

Kevin Studer 8 years, 7 months ago

Conservatives have scary one-track minds. No wonder they call educated, well-rounded people "elitists."

hometownhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Mundine was always recruited as a tight end.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 7 months ago

I think the last couple of sentences tell you all you need to know about how Mr. Keegan is viewed as a journalist.

Cagey is not the adjective they're thinking of when he speaks.

KGphoto 8 years, 7 months ago

You're daydreaming about a linebacking corps of Mundine, Willis, and Bourbon and you haven't seen two of those guys play linebacker yet. You might want to send apologies out to Tharp and Johnson asap. Or don't, and just sit there and look like an ass.

Having two good TEs is really were you want to be. So I can't imagine moving a guy with that much potential out of that spot, especially when Biere is gone next year, and we are a solid two-deep at LB now with Kande shifting down into the box.

I would just cry out loud if Bourbon got moved to LB before he gets a chance break free into the secondary. I'd rather move Sands to LB before Bourbon, and yes, I realize the hilarity of that notion.

beenahawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Not as hilarious as you might think. Tommy Oakson was about the same size and garnered All Big 8 recognition back in the early 70's. The question is do you want the 1.5 yards per carry or a possible tackle to save a TD?

Dirk Medema 8 years, 7 months ago

You mention Kande, though he is still an unknown, but really shouldn't stop there. We have recruited a bunch of undersized but speedy LB's (DB's projecting as LB's in a few lbs.) LB is so much less a concern this year, especially relative to last year. As the article says though, it is really nice to have the athletes available to dream about playing either side of the ball.

KGphoto 8 years, 7 months ago

But Kande isn't really an unknown at LB. He is a proven defensive player. He was recruited as a safety, who often supports run defense and even rushes the passer. And he was a physical safety at that. His move was natural. Like moving a DE to DL.

Then we have Bakare and Walker to complete a nice looking two-deep at LB. I would say LB is right behind WR and RB in terms of depth. It's just not worth sacrificing the potential greatness at RB or TE.

I like to dream, but I'd rather dream about the guys playing well at there current positions.

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