Thursday, October 27, 2011


Kansas’ top 11 football prospects


NFL scouts armed with eyes trained to detect subtle strengths and weaknesses, stopwatches, weight-room data, strength, agility and explosiveness tests, body measurements, background checks and tons of game film rate college prospects for their bosses to take into drafts.

The rest of us simply have our addiction to trying to figure out which college players will make the best professionals, even if we never watch the pros.

My guess at the best 11 NFL prospects on the Kansas University football roster, listed in reverse order with draft class in parentheses:

11. Bradley McDougald (2013): Still hasn’t put it all together and needs to prove he has a defensive player’s mentality, but has the size and athleticism that give him potential at safety.

10. Brandon Bourbon (2015): Hasn’t stayed healthy long enough to show what he can do, but has looked explosive when running the football and is only a freshman.

9. Jeff Spikes (2012): Left tackle really could have used the extra year of eligibility, but since just one of his two red-shirt seasons was caused by an injury, Spikes won’t get a sixth season. An Achilles injury kept him from practicing in 2010, so he’ll leave Kansas having played just three seasons and having practiced just four. At 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, he has the size, but needs to show he’s a relentless competitor. Also needs to cut down on penalties.

8. Tim Biere (2012): Sure-handed, agile tight end has improved blocking skills and is a proven special-teams player. Lacks the speed of most NFL tight ends and isn’t as strong as the best-blocking tight ends, but he has a shot.

7. Jeremiah Hatch (2012): Agile for a man his size, Hatch has a shot to make it as a center.

6. Keeston Terry (2015): Safety doesn’t look like the same player as at the beginning of freshman season before he suffered a knee injury in the third game, but players often need to be two years removed from knee surgery to regain full strength. With three remaining seasons of eligibility after this year, Terry will get bigger.

5. Tony Pierson (2015): An athlete with the undersized Pierson’s blurry speed and ability to cut sharply and slither through small holes can work his way into the NFL as a situation running back, a return man, maybe even a cornerback.

4. Toben Opurum (2013): Sometimes still looks like a running back trying to transform into a defensive player, but his size, speed and strength make him a pro prospect either as an outside linebacker or a fullback.

3. Greg Brown (2013): It’s difficult for a cornerback to stand out on a defense that never makes the quarterback hurry into ill-advised throws and has extra time to let receivers spring open. Brown isn’t a finished product and needs to improve as a tackler, but he is an impressive cover man.

2. Tanner Hawkinson (2013): Has excellent feet, and if he continues to enhance his strength and refine his blocking technique, has a shot to earn a nice living playing football.

1. Duane Zlatnik (2013): If he were playing in an era when everybody was tagged with a nickname, he’d be known as IHOP for all the pancake blocks he delivers. Freakishly strong, he plays with a nastiness that wears out defenders.


Eric Williams 8 years, 1 month ago

props for recognizing O-Line talent and not going straight to our stable of RBs.

Jhawk59 8 years, 1 month ago

8 and 9 should flip-flop with 10 and 11. Brown has no shot at making it to the league.

blackhawkjayhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

Darian Miller is easily the best pro prospect on the team and he didn't even make the list? Tough as nails, fast, runs inside, runs outside. If he can catch passes and pass protect, he'll be in the league.

cg1029 8 years, 1 month ago

KU has about 3 players who would even have a chance to start at a top 25 program so thinking there are 11 draftable players is a joke. Unless the XFL makes a come back get your passports ready and learn to sing Oh Canada EH!

Alex Berger 8 years, 1 month ago

NFL prospects does not mean they will get drafted. It's called undrafted free agents. NFL does a pretty good job of analyzing a single player outside of their team environment.

VaJay 8 years, 1 month ago

Must admit, I was disappointed in this after reading the headline. I was expecting (and hoping to be encouraged by) the top 11 prospects COMING IN to the program from JUCO or high school.

Mike Nicco 8 years, 1 month ago

Me too VaJay. If Coach Gill can still recruite a good class in light of this season, he makes a good case to keep him another year.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 1 month ago

Season over already? Maybe any new "prospects" for the future of KU football ought to wait to see who will be coaching next year. Unless some serious systematic changes are made, nothing much will change, another unsatisfactory coach will be hired and history will continue to repeat itself.

When is the first basketball game??

Dyrk Dugan 8 years, 1 month ago

worthless article. without Miller on the list, it's not even credible. Plus, we haven't even seen Marquis Jackson or Jacorey Shepard on what they can really do.

KGphoto 8 years, 1 month ago

Not really. Here is the list of RBs in the 2008 draft. That draft had to be the single greatest haul of RBs ever, and it included a few that were built pretty similar to Miller, or at least where will Miller will be after he packs on about 15 pounds in the weight room over the next couple of years.

From this group, I think Ray Rice stands out the most for comparison. He is 200 pounds and only 5'8". More importantly he runs even lower than that, which is exactly what Miller does. They have very similar styles overall.

Also of this group. He is faster than Mike Hart, shiftier than Felix Jones and more physical than Steve Slayton.

This is all assuming he gains at least 10 pound though. If he stays at 190, I think you are right, he won't make it.

KGphoto 8 years, 1 month ago

How about Darren Sproles? 5'6, 190 pounds. Got to give some props to my Olathe boys! He's tearing it up in New Orleans.

KGphoto 8 years, 1 month ago

Absolutely belongs on the list:

Darrian Miller: The guy is fierce. He's got the look on his face all the time. Like a vacuum packed Ray Lewis. He relishes heavy contact, bounces off of tacklers, spins, jukes, slides, accelerates, and never stops moving his feet and driving the pile. He'll end up around 205-210 pounds and be Reggie Mitchell's "perfect running back". Which translates directly to "NFL".

Probably belongs on the list:

Richard Johnson: I don't really know what his clocked speed is. Maybe he's too slow for the NFL. What I do know is, if he gets a hold of you it's over, and if he gets his crosshairs between your numbers you'll be lucky to walk away. Just ask Ryan Broyles. He was a late starter, so he may not be drafted, but he keeps getting better so I would be surprised if he didn't get plenty of attention as a free agent, and make a team through sheer determination.

If the list were expanded to 12:

Collin Garrett: See Richard Johnson. In fact Johnson is his role model. Gritty determination and surprising strength. He's getting experience as a freshman, and if he shows the same improvement over each season the way Johnson has, he'll be drafted in 2015.

Longshots: Darius Willis James Sims JaCorey Shepard Daymond Patterson Jordan Webb (Haha. Just seeing if you were paying attention)

KGphoto 8 years, 1 month ago

I'm an idiot. Steven Johnson, not Richard Johnson.

Alex Berger 8 years, 1 month ago

Haha I was a tad confused with your inclusion of Richard Johnson. Good edit.

MartyrMangino 8 years, 1 month ago

Man... It's a good thing Turner Gill brought in all of these NFL prospects to fill up the bare cupboard.. Oh, nevermind, Mark Mangino brought those guys in. If you thought our football team was frighteningly bad now, wait till Mangino's guys leave.

MartyrMangino 8 years, 1 month ago

Football sabbath? lol Good one. Blessed be the Monday off!

KGphoto 8 years, 1 month ago

Mangino also brought in Patrick Dorsey, Richard Johnson Jr., John Williams and Kevin Young, and they aren't exactly tearing up the Dline right now. Mangino recruits Darius Parrish and Jamal Greene moonlighted as felons and got themselves dismissed, so yeah, that part of the cupboard is definitely bare.

The most important corps in football, and Mangino left Gill with zero.

MartyrMangino 8 years, 1 month ago

We haven't had a decent defensive line since Charlton Keith and James McClinton left. The best we have had since is Brorson. There just aren't that many defensive linemen out there. I think it is a credit to Mangino that his teams stopped the run as well as they did without a decent defensive line. Maybe you didn't notice, but Greene and Parrish didn't become felons until Gill showed up. Coach Mangino kept those kids on the straight and narrow.

KGphoto 8 years, 1 month ago

OMG you're reaching if you think Gill was responsible for Jamal Greene breaking into someone's house and holding a gun to their head.

But you admit that Mangino couldn't recruit defensive line talent consistently. You should also admit that his defenses were never very good without Bill Young.

MartyrMangino 8 years, 1 month ago

Mangino may not have recruited the best defensive line players, but I have all of the confidence in the world that he would have fixed the problem. He fixed the problem when we couldn't score points thanks to Nick Quartaro and our offensive personel. Do you derive some kind of pleasure from trying to knock coach Mangino down a peg or two? He is the only reason we are even talking about football now. He is the only reason we have expectations for our football team.

KGphoto 8 years, 1 month ago

You're delusional. He's not a Martyr.

He's an average to above-average coach who caught lightening in a bottle with Reesing. Then he let it all go to hell, lost 7 games in a row and had a player mutiny. He knocked himself down, and I don't get any pleasure from it.

He's gone. Let it go.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

KG - You nailed that post ! That's as good a summation as I've seen in a while. Good one.

MartyrMangino 8 years, 1 month ago

Hmm...Lightning in a bottle's success and ability hasn't translated elsewhere NFL or CFL, so I guess that makes you wrong. Mangino made Reesing pretty successful for somebody who wasn't good before college or after.

KGphoto 8 years, 1 month ago

nuleaf, thanks.

Martyr, get a VW bus and follow the big guy around the country like he's the Grateful Dead, I don't care.

texashawk10 8 years, 1 month ago

Who moved McDougald to safety? Who had to convince Bourbon to stay? Who recruited Pierson? Who moved Toben to defense?

MartyrMangino 8 years, 1 month ago

Mangino has McDougald playing offense and defense his freshman year.

What difference does it make who convinced Bourbon to stay? That has no bearing on his NFL ability.

Pierson is Gill's recruit. Good job Gill. Get a guy from just up the road to come play in Lawrence.

Toben being moved to defense is only a valid point if he doesn't become a fullback in the NFL like Tom Keegan posits.

I'm really sorry my comment caused you to make yourself look so dumb.

notigers4me 8 years, 1 month ago

it's really amazing that most of the posters seem to have a better clue of what it takes to build a football than Turner Gill. The truth of the matter is Kansas Football barely has a 500 record in the history of it's football program. What makes anyone think that a major coach would want to come to Kansas and coach. We have been to 1 BCS bowl game and the truth is we are not likely to ever become a football powerhouse. I say let's give Gill the time that was promised to him and let's see if he can really turn this program around. The only way that Kansas will immediately become a really good football school is if we leave the Big 12 and join perhaps the WAC or MAC in football. Let's all be realistic in what our short term football goals should be. I believe that Gill has a plan and over time will develope Kansas into a decent football team.

MartyrMangino 8 years, 1 month ago

I assume your sentence "turn this program around" means clean up the mess he made? Nobody promised Gill anything but his money. If you want to talk about promises, how about all of the bluster that Gill feeds us about making this team better. You act like he has a degree in football coaching. He was a football player, and let's face it, he is unproven in every aspect of coaching football. We are giving Gill time, but it is obvious that progress isn't progressing. We won't hit year 3 and all of a sudden know how to play proper defense, practice hard, and have a winner's mentality. It is no lightswitch. Gill has lost the team, and the fans, and the administration because all he is is bluster and people have found out that all he is are empty words. The emperor is wearing no clothes.

KGphoto 8 years, 1 month ago

Unproven, like when he coached the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback?

MartyrMangino 8 years, 1 month ago

Wow! I didn't know that! Maybe he should stick to coaching quarterbacks because he has shown he doesn't have a knack for the other 90% of the game.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 1 month ago

What about Brock? Part Manning, Tebow, and Vick has to be a first rounder!

Ryan Shelton 8 years, 1 month ago

Congratulations. I didn't think there was any way you could throw your negativity into a piece centered around players, but you proved me wrong.

JacquesMerde 8 years, 1 month ago

Admit it. ahpersecoachingexperience is a versatile person. He can criticize anyone and anything.

The only problem is that he likes shooting fish in a barrel, i.e., piling on Gill. Hell even I know Gill is a lost cause.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 1 month ago

Yeah but I started shooting that fish when it was swimming in the ocean

Alex Berger 8 years, 1 month ago

I enjoyed this article! Also, people who haven't thought this through, he is obviously going off of what these players have shown on the college level. There is still plenty of time for our newer players to show they deserve a shot in the League.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 1 month ago

Have we even had 11 players drafted in the history of ku football?

newjayhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

Ain't that the truth! NFL ????Hell just play some decent college football first.

KGphoto 8 years, 1 month ago

There was a short period in the 90s, and believe me I know it sounds odd but I remember talking about this with my KU friends, that KU had more players in the NFL than any other school in the country. That includes Miami, Texas etc.

I'm not doing the footwork on this to prove it, and if I'm wrong, sorry. But we've represented in the NFL far beyond what we've achieved as an NCAA team.

Eric Williams 8 years, 1 month ago

if Steven Johnson played for OU, UT, aTm, an SEC school, etc. he'd be discussed as an NFL prospect.

As it stands I'd bet some team will take a flier on him in the 6th or 7th round.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.