With Kansas University sophomore running back Brandon Bourbon staring at an uptick in carries while KU starter James Sims serves a three-game suspension, the biggest question surrounding Bourbon is whether or not he will be ready.
Earlier this week, KU coach Charlie Weis updated the status of Bourbon, who missed the final three games of the 2011 season because of a leg injury.
“(Bourbon) is as close to being at full-speed as you can be,” Weis said. “I am not going to let him go full-speed because he had an injury that takes six months to be fully healed. Although he is running around full-speed out there at practice, I am always going to error on the side of caution and make sure that I have him fully ready to go.”
Bourbon has donned the red jersey throughout spring ball and Weis said at the start of the session that the 6-foot-1, 220-pound sophomore from Potosi, Mo., would be held out of all contact drills. Best thing for him or not, Bourbon has not exactly loved the lack of contact.
“(He’s) chomping at the bit to get out of the red jersey,” Weis said.
According to KU, Weis was informed by the NCAA following Thursday’s practice that the case for Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay would be reviewed next Wednesday and that a ruling could be expected Wednesday or Thursday. McCay, a 6-foot-2, 219-pound sophomore wide receiver from Bishop Miege High has requested a special waiver due to extenuating personal circumstances. If granted, he would be eligible to play during the 2012 season and would not have to sit out a year as is the case with most transfers.
Weis said Tuesday that he sensed the uncertainty was weighing on McCay, and his teammates said they were pulling for him.
“I’m hoping he gets to play,” said senior receiver Kale Pick. “That would be nice for him. I haven’t really asked him too much about it because I don’t know too much about it. But he’s a pretty talkative kid. He likes to joke around and have fun, and hopefully he gets the chance to compete this year.”
Movers and shakers?
Weis said recently that a number of players continued to move their way up and down the depth chart during spring drills.
In addition to general performance, one of the biggest reasons for player movement has been depth at any given position. Senior left tackle Tanner Hawkinson, for instance, has been a mainstay at his spot, largely because Weis and his coaching staff don’t see any other left tackles on Hawkinson’s level.
“He wouldn’t have lost the position anyway,” Weis said. “But he is not being threatened.”
At other positions, competition runs deep, with wide receiver, linebacker and tight end being three of the more competitive positions. That’s about as far as Weis would take it, though. Asked to name a few of the players who have stood out, KU’s first-year coach grinned and said, “I’d have to shoot ya.”
DP and D.J. staying put
While position switches remain possible on both sides of the ball, Weis spoke with clarity when asked if he had considered moving senior wide receivers Daymond Patterson and D.J. Beshears to cornerback to add depth to the Jayhawks’ secondary.
“Those guys are going to play receiver,” he said. “I’m not taking the first two or three receivers and (making) them backup corners.”
That’s not to say he wouldn’t consider it should the need pop up. Both Patterson and Beshears have experience at Kansas on defense.
“Now if you get depleted during the season, then I’m not opposed to taking a guy and playing him on offense and defense,” Weis continued. “I’m not opposed to that at all. But first things first, they have to settle into the position they play. If we get desperate and there’s a receiver that can help us as a nickel back then he’ll play nickel back; ask (former New England Patriot) Troy Brown. It’s just like goal line right now; when we put goal line in on offense, I guarantee there will be some guys playing defense that will be on goal line on offense, they’re just not there right now.”