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Sunday, June 5, 2011

LB Tunde Bakare looking to make big impact

Juco transfer’s goal to crack KU football starting lineup in fall

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Tunde Bakare makes a move toward a ball carrier in this 2010 file photo from when he played at Highland Community College. Bakare is hoping to make an impact with the Kansas University linebacking corps this fall as a junior.

Two years ago, linebacker Tunde Bakare left Woodbridge, Va., for Highland (Kan.) Community College and had every intention to go back.

Now, after signing on Feb. 2 and pledging to spend the final two seasons of his college career at Kansas University, Bakare has gotten used to the idea of calling the Sunflower State home.

“I never really even thought of KU,” said the 5-foot-11, 215-pound outside linebacker who nearly signed with Maryland out of high school. “I felt like Kansas was the last place I would go to. But I prayed a lot about it and I thought it was crazy that they gave me the offer. I’m just emotionally amped up to go there and get this show on the road. I’m excited.”

Being excited — or exciting — has never been much of a problem for Bakare. Throughout high school, he was known for having a motor that wouldn’t stop. During his two-year stay at Highland, he was the same wild player who flew to the ball, blew up ball carriers and made big hits.

But a funny thing happened while Bakare was off the field during the last two seasons. He learned how to become an even better player by letting his mind factor into the way he played. All of a sudden, relentless sprints to the quarterback were aided by proper technique or good angles. Head-on collisions with running backs were backed by sound form and a nose for the football. His numbers went up. His IQ did, too.

“I think I’ve gotten a lot better,” Bakare said. “Obviously, I’ve gotten better physically, but I really think I’ve gotten a lot better mentally. I don’t think I really understood the game coming out of high school. I knew I could run fast, I knew I could hit people, but I didn’t really understand the game. Coach (Mike Beagle) really helped me understand it more. There’s really nothing to do in a small town, so I just devoted myself to football.”

As the days went by, studying film became as exciting as squaring up on a ball carrier. And Bakare found himself thinking more, but still playing with the same tenacity.

“Learning more and more about quarterbacks, what their tendencies are, how they drop back,” said Bakare of what areas he focused on most. “Just the little things of the game. I feel like I have the physical attributes. I think if I get that stuff down to a tee, I could be really something, a force to be reckoned with.”

That’s his goal for his two seasons at Kansas. Because of the current state of the KU roster, he has a chance to fulfill them. Bakare — one of six linebackers signed by KU coach Turner Gill in the Class of 2011 — comes to a team that lost two of its top three linebackers from last year’s team. Senior-to-be Steven Johnson (last year’s leading tackler) is the only returning linebacker who played a significant role in 2010, and the unit also expects to be bolstered by the return of sophomore Huldon Tharp, who started as a true freshman but missed all of last season because of injury. That leaves a spot or two for the newcomers, and Bakare already has his eye on one of them.

“My goal is to come there and start,” he said. “Help us get to a championship, that’s what my goal is.”

Because of his speed — he’s been clocked at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash — Bakare said the KU coaching staff has told him they’d like to utilize him as a linebacker and a nickel back.

“They want to bring me in as a nickel rover,” he said. “I’m an outside linebacker, but I also can do the things required of a strong safety so I can really do two things and it’s going to help them be able to keep their linebackers on the field and not feel like they have to bring in a DB when they go to that nickel coverage.”

Like everyone who plays for Gill, Bakare’s going to have to earn his way onto the field. But if what Gill says of the incoming linebackers is true, it’s a safe bet that several of them will play meaningful snaps this fall.

“These guys have shown that they can go from sideline to sideline,” said Gill of his new linebackers on signing day. “They can hit people, they can splatter people, they can knock the ball out. They showed that.”

It remains to be seen what Bakare’s role will be, but one thing already is certain.

“I’m ready to get down there and make things happen,” Bakare said. “(Kansas was) the best opportunity for me and my family. It has the best academics, it has a great coach, it has great players and I think they’re hungry to win and to change history there.”

Bakare and the rest of the incoming class will report to campus tonight.

Comments

ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 1 month ago

I'll say it. . . I like this kid. Decent size, pretty fast, and based on the quotes he seems to have a good head on his shoulders. Do work son!

And yes it's really me. Nobody hacked my account or created a similar screen name using the same avatar.

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David Hodges 3 years, 1 month ago

Apher... +1 I'm liking the new you. Did you change your diet recently? All jokes aside, i'ts nice to see your positive side. Now when you have something critical to say I will remember your genuine spirit. Your views become much more credible when they aren't so one-sided. Keep-em coming buddy! And yes... I too like this kid. Rock Chalk!

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Funhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

The exorcism really worked.

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Kman_blue 3 years, 1 month ago

I had the chance to talk briefly with Tunde at the spring game and he's just as impressive of a guy in person as he appears to be from this article. I believe once fans get to know him, he'll be an easy one to cheer for. I also think we'll be seeing plenty of him on the field over the next 2 years here at KU.

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jhox 3 years, 1 month ago

Of all of the video clips I've seen of the new recruits, his clips probably made me the most excited. It's been a long time since KU had a linebacker with anywhere near the speed of this guy. He's a big hitter too. It's going to be fun watching him.

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BleedingCrimsonAndBlue 3 years, 1 month ago

I agree. Dude really does play sideline to sideline

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

Depending on how close to accurate 4.35 is, Tunde should be one of the fastest guys on the field. It will also be interesting to see how things shake out since Johnson and Tharp return, and Willis and Walker had such good reviews during Spring ball. It would be nice to have some fast quality depth, and resulting fresh legs in the game.

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nwk_jayhawk74 3 years, 1 month ago

1st thought...Willie Pless. (KU) could only hope.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 1 month ago

i will say what scares the FIRE out of me and should scare you as well. every incoming recruit has mentioned "championship" in one way or another and they are not championship level talent. which they are going to find out sooner than later (just please gawd don't let it be mcneese state). with the staff building these guys up in the recruiting process to think they are going to be bcs contenters is going to backfire hard once they step on the field and get it handed to them by the big boys. possibly creating all kinds of mental distractions, maybe making them give up, and starting to believe in the messages they hear on these boards.

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fromthatstandpoint 3 years, 1 month ago

That really bothers you, doesn't it. Personally, I couldn't care less whether a player (or a coach) wants to mention or credit God, Allah, Jesus, Budda, Baal, Kali, Shiva, Hera, Zeus, Odin, Thor or Chance (god of the atheist). As long as he is willing to work his tail off and give it 100%

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

The messages in these boards? Like the messages last fall that said all the recruits would be jumping ship any day as they saw how badly we performed last year?

Hmm, ahper, weren't you one of those predicting the recruiting demise? And how'd that turn out? Not only did the early recruits stick, but we also got walk-ons that are already contributing.

So if you're a recruiting whiff last fall, maybe you don't have a clue about evaluating talent either. Personally, I'm glad they have goals to work toward even if they don't reach them.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 1 month ago

ummmmmmmmmm, i do know this is hard for some of you but we finished 6th out of 10 in conference recruiting and mid 30's in the nation.

i'm so excited! hopefully in a few years if things go to plan we will be able to see Kansas (1) in the other recieving votes section of the ap poll.(1)

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Ethan Berger 3 years, 1 month ago

out of a 119 teams in the BCS, over 60 play in bowl games, I say ranking in the 30s is pretty good. You think, we have the three major Texas schools, the two major Oklahoma schools, Id say its not a bad thing finishing 6th in the conference. Remember things can turn around in a snap of the finger(1-10 to 12-1) and from (12-1 to 3-9)

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 1 month ago

30'ish is decent. However 6th in conferences gives you 5 losses leaving us to beat mu and ksu to be bowl eligible.

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Ethan Berger 3 years, 1 month ago

If based on recruiting alone yes. We don't know how that will turn, it could go from us being 12-1. Im sure we didnt have the best recruiting class against all those teams we beat, or we could lose even to the lower teams. Va Tech never ranks high recruiting, but always finish in the top 10.

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Funhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

The cyber exorcism already wore off.

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79ictjhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Yup, no cyber exorcism....must of just been gas. Eat some more beans ahperse!

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fromthatstandpoint 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes, reminds me of the outlandish things Buffalo players, that had never had any success ever, said about winning a conference championship and going to a bowl game. What an outlandish thing for them to say. The QB came out in the summer talking about going to a bowl game and everyone wondered what kind of mind altering chemicals he had been exposing himself to.

Of course, it did turn out to be true.

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KanFan27 3 years, 1 month ago

Every Kansas fan should know that it does not take top talent to win a BCS game. It takes a group of guys who work hard and work together. Here are a few statistics for you about what the 07 team had and what we have now.

The 07 team only had 6 four star recruits in all of the recruiting classes that contributed to the 07 roster. Only one of those 6 was actually active on that 07 team (Redshirting Freshman Ryan Murphy).

This 2011 team has had 11 four star recruits in the recruiting classes that contributed to the roster. 7 of which will be active.

Of the recruiting classes that contributed to the 07 team 4 of them ranked in the top 50. The highest ranked class was ranked 38th the others were 39th, 48th, and 50th.

Of the classes contributing to this years team there are also 4 classes ranking in the top 50. The highest ranked class was ranked 31st the others were ranked 34th 40th and 50th.

On the 07 team there were 29 players that I remembered making every game contributions. Of those 29, 15 were 3 star recruits. 14 were 2 star recruits. None were 4 star recruits.

Of all the recruiting classes contributing to both teams Kansas State out recruited Kansas 3 times, yet Kansas won 30 to 24.

Colorado out recruited us 4 times yet we beat them 19 to 14

Texas A&M out recruited us 5 times and yet we won 19 to 11

Nebraska out recruited us 4 times and we beat them 76 to 39

Oklahoma State out recruited us 5 times and we beat them 40 to 28

Iowa State only out recruited us once but we beat them 45 to 17

Virginia Tech out recruited us 5 times and we beat them on our biggest stage 24 to 17.

This post has been long winded, but my point is that it does not matter what the rankings say. Its not the number of stars next to the recruit. Its how hard the recruits work and how well they work together.

I also want to mention that we are actually better off in recruiting than we have ever been and Gill is getting these guys to work hard and become a family oriented team. I'm not trying to say we will be back in the Orange Bowl anytime soon, but we will not be down for long.

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kujayhox 3 years, 1 month ago

If all these recruits are talking about a championship i think that is awesome! Let them get in the winning mindset and hopefully we can get back to a bowl this yeat and start competing for the league crown. i dont think it is impossible.

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NebraskaJayhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

I am amped to see this young man on the field this season. However....although he as proven that he has speed and he's been "splattering" guys on the field, keep in mind that most of these players he played against at Highland are little more than high school seniors and not div 1 football players. Please be all that you are being advertised to be, Bakare.

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Ben Kliewer 3 years, 1 month ago

I just want to remind everyone that guys like Reesing and Meier (at not-QB) and Talib and all those guys weren't considered "Championship" caliber players when they were recruited either. They were one win away from playing for the Big 12 title, and won the Orange Bowl, which technically makes them a BCS Champion (Not National Champion, but one of the BCS Champions...one reason the BCS system is screwy...) But the other point I'd like to address is this... There's this attitude that some people seem to be expressing; that Coach Gill is filling the heads of these poor sap lousy football players that they'll play for some sort of championship, and that Coach Gill is ridiculous and stupid and a poor coach for doing so. Has anyone here, who's actually played football, ever played for a coaching staff that was like "Yeah, we're probably not going to be very good...we'll probably win a couple...or not, I dunno...eh, do whatever the hell you want..." No, because that's preposterous. Every fracking coach for every football team says "we're playing for a championship" because that's the goal. No football team, no matter what caliber of talent they have, aims for anything less. Now, the realistic possibilities may be that your team may just not have what it takes to get to that point, yet...But that is still the goal, that is always the goal. It's becoming more and more clear on these message boards who actually understands how football works and comes here to read about and support the team, and the other two categories. People who know nothing about football and want to support KU football, and people who know nothing about football and want to sh*t all over everything for no reason.

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