Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tanner Hawkinson’s house divided


Wildcats successful thanks to discipline

Kansas football players and coaches credited Kansas State's success to good coaching and discipline on the field rather than star power.

They’re everywhere these days, but it’s possible that the Hawkinson family was one that inspired the license plates that read: A House Divided.

Back in McPherson, where junior offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson grew up, his house — and ancestry, really — clearly defined the line between Jayhawks and Wildcats. His mother, Kathy, and nearly all of her relatives were Kansas University people. His father, Griff, came from Kansas State blood.

As the two schools prepare to tangle at 11 a.m. Saturday for the annual Sunflower Showdown at Memorial Stadium, many memories have come rushing back at the Hawkinson house.

Although Tanner and his three siblings leaned toward and ultimately attended KU, his father’s influence was a factor.

“I remember growing up, he took me and my brother to a couple K-State games,” Hawkinson said. “But my mom’s side was pretty much all KU, so he was a little outnumbered.”

That’s what made it weird when K-State was the first school to contact Hawkinson about playing college football. At the time, Griff secretly hoped that the early interest from his alma mater might be enough to sway his son. But he wasn’t optimistic.

“I knew from the beginning that, if he had an opportunity, which none of us really anticipated, he’d probably end up at KU,” Griff said. “At that point, whatever he wanted to do was fine.”

So fine, in fact, that Griff drove Hawkinson to Lawrence for camps throughout high school. It was on one of those father-son road trips, the summer before Hawkinson’s senior year at McPherson High, that he broke the news to his dad. He was going to be a Jayhawk.

Griff has come to terms with his son’s standing as one of KU’s best and most experienced players. He has learned to embrace it, even though, as he says, he has yet to wave the wheat.

“I’m actually wearing blue to the games,” Griff said. “I actually have worn some apparel that says Kansas on the front, which was hard to come by the first couple of years. And, during this game, yes, I will always cheer for the Jayhawks as long as Tanner’s playing. I cheer as hard as I can. I pull for them as best as I can, but I’m still a Wildcat at heart.”

As far as the rest of the family’s concerned, that’s good enough.

“As a family, we tried not to play the rivalry up,” Kathy said. “But it’s definitely been a thrill to see Tanner at KU because there’s an awful lot of tradition involved.”

Strike up the band

As if preparing offensive and defensive game plans doesn’t take enough time, KSU coach Bill Snyder has made sure to focus on one extra detail during this week’s practice.

While working out his team at Snyder Family Stadium, the veteran KSU coach has instructed school officials to blare the KU fight song repeatedly throughout practice. While the tune probably made most Wildcats a little queasy, at least one saw the move for its intended purpose.

“It will help us get accustomed to what Memorial Stadium is like and what it sounds like when everybody is in full swing playing the KU fight song and chant,” KSU lineman B.J. Finney said. “It is just a mental preparation for us.”

“It’s a rivalry game (and that) gets the blood flowing, gives us some extra motivation,” junior tight end Travis Tannahill said of hearing the KU fight song. “Coach is just giving us a little more to get us going. The song wasn’t on for long. We need it to practice our audibles and center snaps, so it really does help get us ready for Saturday.”

Gill on Klein

KU coach Turner Gill said Tuesday that weeks such as this were the type that get him fired up enough to want to put on a uniform.

But while Gill was known at Nebraska as an elite running quarterback, he’ll have to leave the rushing to K-State’s Collin Klein this week, who leads the Wildcats with 578 yards and 10 touchdowns. The yardage total ranks fourth in the Big 12. The touchdowns are the most by a Big 12 player so far this season. The combination, along with 739 yards and seven touchdowns through the air, have earned Gill’s respect.

“Collin Klein is definitely a good runner,” Gill said. “He’s big and strong. He’s probably faster than what you’d think to look at him. It doesn’t look like he’s moving, but he’s moving. He’s also powerful. He can run over you, and he can do a lot of good things. You’ve got to stop the run first. That’s what they do.”

Sunflower natives

The current rosters for each school reveal that Kansas State has more than twice as many players from Kansas on its roster. Including walk-ons, K-State suits 52 players from the Sunflower State, while KU rolls out just 24 Kansans.

Some are former high school teammates. KU’s Adonis Saunders, Victor Simmons and Kevin Young teamed with K-State’s Tre Walker at Olathe North High. It’s that kind of bond, among other factors, that makes the rivalry special

“I actually received a call from Tre last night, asking me if I was ready,” Simmons said Tuesday. “We’re not gonna do any trash-talking to each other yet, but it’s all out of love.

Tharp now questionable

The only change on the injury front for KU on Wednesday involved sophomore linebacker Huldon Tharp, who is questionable for Saturday because of a rib injury. Also questionable are safety Keeston Terry and center Jeremiah Hatch. Gill said Hatch’s availability was likely to be decided on Saturday. Senior running back Rell Lewis remains out, and red-shirt freshman tailback Brandon Bourbon is expected to return.


KState_Wildcats 6 years, 7 months ago

Your chickenhawk house won't be divided on Saturday. It will be the first ever PURPLE OUT in Lawrence! Looking forward to your halftime adjustments, LOL!

Can't wait til Saturday!


kujakehawk 6 years, 7 months ago

EMAW is THE DUMBEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD. purple is disgusting, you guys havent won a bcs bowl game, we have beat you more times than you have beat us, you will never have a "purple out" in lawrence, you have as many passing yards as snyder has hairs on his head. we will see when you play OU how your QB draw works, and how your DB's can defend OSU.. Dont post your purple filth on this site. You must be desperate for news or scared or intrested in KU if you are looking at what we have to say on here...

nuleafjhawk 6 years, 7 months ago




Rockchlk1333 6 years, 7 months ago

I will definitely be laughing when Kansas wins this game. That is actually my prediction.

There is no way statistically that KSU wins another game through defense. You have to be efficient offensively too, and they are clearly not.

KSU is clearly the better team, but can't only rely on defense to win. When the Mildcats go up against OU, OSU, they will struggle.

Jayhawks pull off an upset - Jayhawks 34 - Mildcats 28

milehighhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

EMAW is seriously the stupidest slogan anyone could possibly have.

You literally sound like a jackass saying that.

ForeverWildcat 6 years, 7 months ago

Don't be jealous. EMAJBODBS (Every man a jayhawk, but only during basketball season) just doesn't roll off the tongue well.

jhox 6 years, 7 months ago

My first thought reading this article was how on Earth can someone have a kid playing football at KU and not be a complete convert? But then I pondered what I would do if my son had played a sport at KSU, and I realized I could never, ever wear purple. So from that standpoint, he's done more than I would ever do. And, if my son every played a sport at MU I'd have disowned him, plain and simple.

Robert Brock 6 years, 7 months ago

K-State has 52 Kansans on their roster. KU has only 24. The Hawks can't recruit in their own state and resort to recruiting Texas leftovers - after UT, OU, OSU, TTech, and Baylor get their fill. And now, TCU will take players that KU would have had a shot at. Sheesh...

LSHawk 6 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

danmoore 6 years, 7 months ago

We all have to take Texas leftovers. I've never liked the fact that a state the size of Kansas has two D1 schools fighting for its recruits. Mizou has no in state competition and they have a bigger population which gives them a recruiting advantage. Don't know how the recruiting will change when/if they join SEC.

Dennis Mahorney 6 years, 7 months ago

We could switch our rivals recruiting class with them....but then we would be10th and they would be 6th.

ForeverWildcat 6 years, 7 months ago

We could switch coaches and recruits with our rival, but then we would be 2-4 instead of 6-0

Brak 6 years, 7 months ago

Why would you want to switch coaches and players with Iowa State?

kellerman411 6 years, 7 months ago

Oh yeah Brock, you got it, securing the in-state recruiting here in Kansas is a real priority for any program trying to make it to the national stage. Coaches pining for Kansas talent, what a sad affair. If you guys recruit Kansas so well, what happened with Jake Sharp? He grew up 45 minutes from Manhattan and you lost him, how embarassing. KU seemed to fair pretty well with him. That is if an Orange bowl trophy tickles your fancy. It does mine.

Rian Ankerholz 6 years, 7 months ago

EMAW !?! I would really have a hard time getting behind a slogan that sounds like you are calling for your mother. And, no, I'm not an Oklahoma fan; I just like the shirt.

ForeverWildcat 6 years, 7 months ago

So "rock, chalk, jayhawk" is better.... fear us, our buildings are made of limestone and they make dust.

Rian Ankerholz 6 years, 7 months ago

Limestone equals dust? Nice try. It is still better than the EMAW sound that Ned Beatty squealed in Deliverance.

ForeverWildcat 6 years, 7 months ago

Only Jayhawks squeal like Ned Beatty from delivernce, Wildcat have pride. EMAW

kellerman411 6 years, 7 months ago

Kansas State:

  1. The only school in the entire Big 12 to never win a national title in any varsity sport.

  2. By far the lowest endowment of any school in the entire Big 12.

Those are facts.

Poor athletics, weak academics, and ignorant fans.

Rian Ankerholz 6 years, 7 months ago

How clever! You had to borrow from my comment to attempt a snappy comeback? That is pathetic, even from a wildcat. And you type like old people copulate: slow and sloppy.

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