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Monday, July 2, 2012

Sights set on senior season, LHS’ Strauss trains with ex-KU QB Webb

Lawrence High quarterback Brad Strauss, right, works out with former Kansas University quarterback Jordan Webb on Friday, June 29, 2012, at LHS. Strauss has tried to prepare for his senior season in the fall by spending much of the spring and summer training with Webb.

Lawrence High quarterback Brad Strauss, right, works out with former Kansas University quarterback Jordan Webb on Friday, June 29, 2012, at LHS. Strauss has tried to prepare for his senior season in the fall by spending much of the spring and summer training with Webb.

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Early this year, as a junior still months away from the start of his senior football season at Lawrence High, quarterback Brad Strauss sat down with his coach, Dirk Wedd.

The coach wanted to talk to his all-Sunflower League QB about the fall, with the primary topic being what it would take to make sure Strauss had the best senior year possible.

Basically, the two came up with the high school equivalent of spring football. Strauss would spend as much of his spare time as he could working on his game — from footwork to arm strength, and everything in between.

The next step for Wedd was finding the right person to work with Strauss, because high school coaches are limited in how much they can instruct players during certain parts of the offseason.

That’s where former Kansas University quarterback Jordan Webb came in. The LHS coach knew Webb, who left the KU football program in January but had no intention of giving up on his college career, would want to keep his skills fresh. Wedd gave the QB a call and let it be known Lawrence had a bunch of receivers he could throw to if he wouldn’t mind working with the Lions’ signal-caller in the process.

In early March, Webb and Strauss started working out together two or three times a week at LHS. They kept at it through June. Wedd said the workouts have helped Strauss immensely.

“There’s a lot of kids that would have as much success as he’s had in his high school career (and) kind of sit back, enjoy life,” the Lions coach said. “He just rolled up his sleeves.”

Both Strauss and Webb are listed at 6 feet tall, making Webb’s insight even more helpful.

“Him and I are both smaller quarterbacks,” Strauss said, “so we’ve gotta be able to move around and create throwing lanes.”

Webb, who is transferring to Colorado, said the workouts were helpful for him, as well. He eventually wants to become a coach and enjoyed working with a high school player who was eager to improve.

“Any day that I call him up, he’s ready to throw,” Webb said. “It’s refreshing to see that.”

Preparing for his senior year is just one benefit of the workouts for Strauss, who has communicated with various college coaches about playing at the next level. He said they all want to see tape from his first few games of the upcoming season and go from there.

“I’m interested in just about everywhere right now. They’re just not interested in me,” Strauss joked.

An experienced NCAA Division I FBS quarterback, Webb said Strauss has the tools to play at that level.

“First of all, his work ethic is gonna take him places,” Webb said. “Physically, he’s got a great arm; athletically, quick feet, fast kid. And he’s a really good leader. You can just tell the guys respect him.”

The LHS receivers have spent more time with the quarterback than anyone. Strauss began organizing throwing sessions with them back in January, before they joined in on the sessions with Webb.

“We have a good bond and a good connection,” Strauss said of the receiving corps, which include Isaiah Boldridge, Drake Hofer, Erick Mayo, Josh Seybert and Will Thompson.

Hofer said adding Webb to the mix helped the receivers, too, because even though he was working with Strauss, the college QB gave the receivers tips.

“It was nice to just give us a jump-start,” Hofer said. “A lot of schools aren’t out there doing that.”

Webb was impressed by the number of receivers who were dedicated to putting in work with the quarterbacks.

“You don’t see that a lot in high school,” he said, “so hopefully it pays off for them this year.”

Lawrence’s offseason progress stalled somewhat the first week of June, when Strauss injured his right ankle early on at Emporia State’s two-day team camp. The frustrated QB had just fully recovered from a more severe left-ankle injury he suffered in the fall and essentially had to watch the entire camp from the sideline. Making matters worse, LHS running back Tyrone Jenkins was injured, too, and backup QB Braxton Bressler broke an ankle on the second day of the team camp.

Strauss is back feeling 100 percent now, and Jenkins has recovered, while Bressler is expected to miss some of the regular season.

With all the work they’ve put in, Strauss said the Lions can’t wait for the 2012 season to start.

“I feel like we’ve got something to prove,” he said, “myself personally and this team.”

Comments

Keith Hummel 1 year, 9 months ago

I think a lot of folks have forgotten how well Jordan Webb was playing at the start of the season last year. In the second game against Northern Illinois he completed 21 of 30 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns. We won that game on a 4th and goal play where Webb threw a TD pass to Beshears, the third receiver in his progression. In fact, he played so well in that game that he actually overshadowed UNI's QB, Chandler Harnish, who would go on to be drafted by the Colts. Yes, it was only UNI, but KU was 2-0 at that point and we had reason to be hopeful largely because of Jordan Webb's improvement.

Unfortunately, Georgia Tech knocked the wheels off KU's wagon the very next week, exposing the Jayhawk defense for the mess it was, and exposing the weaknesses of our offense and play calling. Webb actually played a good game, at least before it became a joke in the second half. But as we all know KU never recovered from that loss, and Webb spent the bulk of the season either running for his life or watching Rell Lewis run the Wildcat (I refuse to call it "the Jayhawk" ).

Jordan Webb is helped off the field after a big hit by the Texas A&M defense Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011 at Kyle Stadium in College Station, Texas.

Jordan Webb is helped off the field after a big hit by the Texas A&M defense Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011 at Kyle Stadium in College Station, Texas. by AtlJaybird

Was Jordan Webb capable of being the next Todd Reesing? Perhaps not, but how would anyone really know given the circumstances he played under. What I do know is he worked his tail off to become a hugely improved QB at the start of the 2011 season, and did nothing less than give KU everything he had. For that, and the first class way he has conducted himself, I am forever a Jordan Webb fan and wish him nothing but the best at CU.

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BleedingCrimsonAndBlue 1 year, 9 months ago

As a KU fan that grew up in Texas, I had to wrap my mind around "High School equivalent of Spring Football." KSHAA needs to get with the times and allow Kansas high schoolers to play spring football (amongst getting rid of some other highly restrictive rules). Spring football is an essential part of developing talent, especially in High School.

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Fototherapist 1 year, 9 months ago

Maybe it's just me, but working out with high school kids doesn't seem very prestigious. If you're a D1 quarterback, shouldn't you be hoping to work out with some pros in the off season?

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Ian Sadler 1 year, 9 months ago

Webb is a great guy, I wish him tons of success at Colorado. Please tell Brad not to cross his feet in his drop step!

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OK_Jayhawk79 1 year, 9 months ago

I already had a lot of respect for Jordan Webb. This article only furthered that respect. You never had to doubt whether he was giving everything he could for our team. I just wish we could have had some better pieces around him in the passing game. Class act guy and I hope he does well at Colorado!

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JHWKDW 1 year, 9 months ago

Webb you are a class act!

Wish nothing but the best for you in the future!You are a cool dude in my eyes.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 1 year, 9 months ago

Shouldn't it be "School High Lawrence"?

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