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Monday, July 16, 2012

Tough guys: staff picks for Kansas enforcers

Journal-World staff picks for Kansas University "tough guys."

Journal-World staff picks for Kansas University "tough guys."

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All in all, we’re a pretty friendly group of reporters. We enjoy our jobs, love our families and like to have a good time away from work with a number of different hobbies.

The things we do and the places we go don’t necessarily conjure up images of trouble, but it’s a crazy world out there, and you never know when you might need a little help to get out of a sticky situation.

Luckily, for the next installment of our summer series, which takes a look back at some of the most memorable Jayhawks from the past, KU has had no shortage of tough guys come through Lawrence.

With that in mind, here are our lists of the top four Jayhawks we would pick to be our bodyguards in hostile territory. Whether it’s muscle, scrappiness or intimidation that’s needed get out of a tough spot, these guys surely have you covered.

Matt Tait

Joe Mortensen — You’ve heard of the saying, “If looks could kill?” Well, the former KU linebacker, who actually was one of the nicest dudes I’ve ever covered, has that down pat.

Jake Sharp — Not only is Sharp incredibly fast and strong, he’s also a little bit crazy — the good kind — which makes him a guy you want on your side every time.

Carl Nesmith — They called this man “The Butcher,” for goodness sake. And he loved to lower the boom from his spot at safety in the late ’90s.

Sheahon Zenger — There’s more to getting out of a tough situation than brute strength. I’ll put Zenger’s mind up against anybody.

Andrew Hartsock

Jeff Niemeier — Catcher on KU’s only College World Series baseball team (in 1993), Niemeier was built like a tank, and everybody knows you don’t jack with the catcher.

Dion Rayford — Former KU defensive end was big, fast and strong. Just mentioning the word “chalupa” would send him into a blind rage (or Taco Bell drive-thru window, whichever was closer).

Wilt Chamberlain — I’ve been around some big dudes and been made to feel awfully small, but I recall when Chamberlain returned to KU to have his jersey retired in 1998, and all I could think was, “That’s one large human.” Even the biggest big men get dwarfed inside Allen Fieldhouse, but not Wilt.

Mark Mangino — I’ve been around some big dudes and been made to feel awfully small, but … the thing that makes me want Mangino around me in a brawl is not his stature but his bulldoggedness. I would NOT want to cross him.

Tom Keegan

Keith Loneker — Running into him makes me think of massive retired slugger Frank Howard leaning against the batting cage in Anaheim Stadium while working as a coach for whatever team was visiting that mid-1980’s night. “Frank Howard, one of the nicest men in baseball,” then Angels manager Gene Mauch said before one of his long, signature pauses. “Thank God!” Keith Loneker, one of the nicest men in Lawrence. ... Thank God!

Bill Nieder — I used to type so much faster. Then I met Bill Nieder and shook his hand. More than 50 years after winning a silver medal in the 1956 Olympics and a gold in 1960 in the shot put, Nieder helped to subdue a terrorist on a commercial flight.

Al Oerter — Outstanding at throwing heavy metal objects, the late, great winner of the gold medal in the discus in four consecutive Olympic Games, Oerter certainly wouldn’t have any trouble throwing humans.

Aqib Talib — Just in case things get really out of hand.

Jesse Newell

Thomas Robinson — He probably has the best build of any KU men’s basketball player in the Bill Self era.

Jeff Spikes — I wouldn’t have any problems with Spikes — at 6-foot-6, 325 pounds — protecting my blind side.

Mason Finley — Pictures don’t do this KU shot put/discus thrower justice; rumor is that he’s approaching 6-foot-9 and 400 pounds, and from being around him, I would guess that’s not too far off.

Andrea Hudy — She is there for intimidation; with the glare she gives when she’s mad, I’d feel pretty safe.

Gary Bedore

Darnell Jackson — He’s big and strong and an immovable object

Keith Loneker — He’s a Hollywood actor, but no prima donna. He’d flatten anybody attempting to cause trouble.

Sherron Collins — I still think he should try boxing. He reminds me of the late Joe Frazier — similar build/bulldog attitude.

Scot Pollard — He’s big and looks menacing but has such a good personality he’d probably say something funny to calm any situation.

Comments

mikehawk 1 year, 9 months ago

I don't really know the football players, so I can't comment there. Aside from that, I'll go with Sherron Collins, who if nothing else, could verbally AND physically intimidate anyone heading off most rumbles before they ever occured. If it came to blows, I think he would be a tough out there, also. But, Thomas Robinson had some sort of deep drive, chip on shoulder, "I'm trying to save what is left of my family" attitude. Wth his physical presence and size, I'll take Thomas Robinson.

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UncleMiltyN 1 year, 9 months ago

Big Dub would certainly make my list.

I have a very vivid memory of him grabbing a held ball in the tourney and throwing the other guy into the seats.

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Joe Ross 1 year, 9 months ago

Jeff Graves should be at the top of every list. Period. Travesty that he was left off.

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scrumizzou 1 year, 9 months ago

Don't forget Ron Warner. Sacked QB to beat MU. Total stud.

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hail2olku 1 year, 9 months ago

Glen Mason Gilbert Brown Thomas Robinson Chris Maumalanga

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Steve Hilker 1 year, 9 months ago

John Zook. Just a pure badass. Bobby Douglas. Have him for kickin in the door. Ray Evans. Took time off for WWII then came back. My dad. Teamate of Evans as a Freshman. Tight End. Played one year. Enlisted as a paratrooper. Wounded three different times. Never played again. Definitely had the skills you would want if things went South!

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northlawrence 1 year, 9 months ago

Dana Stubblefield - all time sack leader

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Lance Hobson 1 year, 9 months ago

Kieth Loneker really was a nice guy, and is from what I hear. I assume he's still doing his acting gigs.

So, the only tough guy in the Roy Williams era is Jeff Graves. Roy coached the rest of them too softly. It's no coincidence that we nearly won a title with Graves roaming the lane.

Under Bill Self, well I'd say the list is too long to mention. I will say that I yelled "Rock Chalk" at Andrea Hudy while holding up my 4-month-old as she was getting on the bus to go to the Ohio State game in New Orleans. She looked up at me for about a half a second with an all business look that still gives me chills. Don't mess with her. Seriously.

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jayhawkintexas 1 year, 9 months ago

The name SteveTowle seems to be about right but I can't be sure if that is who I am thinking about.

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jayhawkintexas 1 year, 9 months ago

For the life of me I can't remember the name but in there was a linebacker in the '70s (I think) that went up and punched Ralphie the Buffalo in the kisser at the University of Colorado. He also had a "greaser glove" that he used to use on guys with long greasy hair. That was one tough, mean dude!!

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buckleyhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Moran Norris for sure. To this day strongest man by far I've ever seen in a weight room. Did triceps with 90-lb dumbbells -- Bill Bradsky-esque.

Also, Scott Russell, the big Canuck thrower for track and field. That guy is pretty much Mason Finley size.

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Dan Cook 1 year, 9 months ago

Good call on Pierre Russell to themole. Anyone remember Tommie Smith from hoops circa-1974? That guy is on my tough team.

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Dirk Medema 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm forgetting which Penny it was, but one of them was a thrower for KU in the 50's (?). He was unassuming but use to make extra money during the off season working for his dad's ready mix plant. The extra money wasn't so much from a salary as it was from winning bets with the masons about being able to pick up the 1 cubic yard blocks of extra/waste concrete.

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Dirk Medema 1 year, 9 months ago

No one mentions DZ. Didn't he lead the team in pancakes last year? Probably a result of his wrestling background. I seem to recall hearing that he is just a little crazy too.

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JHawk252 1 year, 9 months ago

Wow, I had somehow missed the story about Bill Nieder and the airplane wacko. Nieder helped take down a would-be terrorist at the age of 77, and with a bad hip to boot? As far as I'm concerned, everybody else mentioned here is competing for second place on the all-time KU tough-guy list.

Here's a link to the story, in case somebody else missed it too:

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2011/may/09/lawrence-native-helps-subdue-unruly-airline-passen/?city_local

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justinryman 1 year, 9 months ago

Toben Opurum

Both sides of the ball he punishes people. And he does it for the name on the front of the Jersey not his own.

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Woody Cragg 1 year, 9 months ago

If a guy entered the lane to score on Big Clyde, he went DOWN!

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ltownatrain 1 year, 9 months ago

Mike McCormack Gilbert Brown Steven Johnson I like John Riggins but for the sake of originality I will go with Brandon McAnderson as I am quite sure he could steam roll just about anybody.

Also I don't get why people keep saying Sayers...He's one of the last I want in a fight because if I was in a brawl I want to make sure I am faster than everyone else because then I could just outrun the others if we start losing.

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HAWKS1 1 year, 9 months ago

Art Housey - 6'10", 7th degree Blackbelt and one bad mofo. Not a great basketball player but tougher than anyone I've ever seen personally. No player ever started anything with Housey 'cause they knew they would end up on the floor in severe pain. Victor Mitchell was a giant who was tough too, but I'd still take Housey. I'd say Danny Manning was a lot tougher than he got credit for too - not aggressively so but he stood his ground well. On the football field, I'd have to go with John Riggins.

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packywacky88 1 year, 9 months ago

Willie Pless. He was not very big, but he was scary tough. I was in the band during his time, and we were even afraid to step on the field with him.

http://www2.kusports.com/football/unforgettable_hawks/

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Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Good god! They left off Russell Robinson who hounded opposing pointguards mercilessly! 100% enforcer at the guard spot, even more so than Sherron (whose photo is used above). RussRob probably the best "enforcer" guard we have had at KU in 20yrs, as they dont come any tougher. And he never lost his cool on the court.

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Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Regarding LJW's use of Thomas Robinson's face in the photo-mix...TRob definitely had the tools, the athleticism, and the mentality also I think to enforce...and he did on the offensive end. But, the team strategy almost certainly was told to him repeatedly to "avoid fouls", as the level of his fouling was a 180deg turnaround from the previous year. Credit Thomas and Self for controlling the foul frequency, as TRob was way, way more valuable on the floor for offensive reasons, compared to any value as an 'enforcer' (not his role on a thin-bench team). But he may put some hurt on NBA bodies...just guessing...

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Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Morris twins in the Div1 battles, for sure. And I mean this in a good way. Occasionally a coach or team needs to "show" by winning the positioning/rebounding battles that their teams are not "soft"...and after their frosh initiation and getting ridiculed up&down by Self-->the Twins emerged: Took a tuffie from MichState, Raymar Morgan and broke his nose. Gave that white enforcer/bully forward from UCLA (Nelson) a good black eye. And of course Marcus crossed the line reacting to the vicious cheap shot (caught on certain film) by that forward from Cal. He learned right then. But the Twins became as tough as Self wanted. And they backed up their talk. I also think Cole was alot tougher than given credit for. He planted Alecs Marik of Nebr (Sadler's "enforcer") on the hardwood, and Marik did not get up for several seconds. This after Nebr knocked out Cole's tooth the year before. Cole did not get intimidated by that Dorsey clown of Memphis either, and totally enforced over flop-tuff psychoT of UNC. Cole also frustrated the hell out of that star small forward from Texas, who tried to climb all over Cole's back. Cole took up a hell alot of space with his wingspan, and wasnt too movable at 245lbs. Dexter Pittman couldnt move Cole either.

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qringer 1 year, 9 months ago

Morris twins - at least good for throwing a football player or two down the stairs.

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1timbob 1 year, 9 months ago

Jake Sharp sucked! Nuleafjhawk I wouldn't have the guts to hit him in fear of him crying. However I would allow him to hit me just so he can feel like a big man.

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justinryman 1 year, 9 months ago

NIck Collison

Thomas Robinson

Darnell Jackson

and if they survive those three guys they can take on my ultimate degender,

Gilbert Brown.

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Hozzy11 1 year, 9 months ago

Even though he was a nice guy and all, I think Brandon McAnderson could do some damage to some people if he wanted too! At 5-10 235 that's a brick wall.

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ku_foaf 1 year, 9 months ago

Nuleafjhawk,

I got a big kick out of the mention of Rufus R. Jones! What about Bob Geigle?? Rufus was from "Amarillo, Texas" they'd announce, but no one in Texas knew him. KC area celeb.

I was in Birmingham in '97. There was severe shock and ladies crying. No one thought we'd lose. Arizona bragged, and backed it up! I will always recall the Providence fans being jerks & yelling stuff at us, also at Chattanooga. We didn't even play them! We went back to cheer for AZ and at least enjoyed seeing PC get beat in the Regional Final. I still hate them.

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Scott Smetana 1 year, 9 months ago

Played football at KU in the early 90's and the toughest hitter to me by far that was like hitting a brick wall was safety Gerald McBurroughs. I believe he played for the Cardinals for awhile. He gave me 3 concussions and I'm not sure he even felt my hits as a fullback.

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NJHAWK 1 year, 9 months ago

Raef Lafrentz.....just for taking down Jason Sutherland of Missery

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1timbob 1 year, 9 months ago

Jake Sharp? No way Matt. That guy would fall on the first hit. What about Dana Stubbelfield or Gilbert Brown, Chris Maumalanga, L.T Levine, June Henley, Cornish, John Riggins, Kevin Kane, Jeff Graves, Nolan Cromwell, Alonzo Jamison, Bill Whittemore and Duhh the toughest guy we know Don Fambrough.

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REHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

I'll keep my picks to basketball in the Bill Self era: Graves, Collins, Robinson, Jackson. They can all back up Andrea Hudy, who could bounce a step or two ahead of them in crucial tough situations!

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jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

P.P.P.S.: And back in the day, defensive ends could be pretty cruel and vicious, but even the most vicious of them have always been compromised by having to develop a mentality of covering short occasionally, of pulling up to cover screens, and of having the presence of mind to try to turn the option and the sweep inside, rather than simply going for the kill all the time.

P.P.P.P.S: Some would argue for strong safeties, because in some defensive schemes these require the psychological profile of a serial hit and run sociopath. Think Kurt Knoff, or on a grand scale, Ronny Lott. But it is linebackers that live every play for the kill, that pursue the ball like hungry lions pursuing a weakened impala. It is line backers that stare into the eyes of the opponents across the line of scrimmage not to intimidate them, but in a wild frenzy of legally condoned killing instinct. Dick Butkus never had to fake his look. He could probably have been declared criminally insane during the snap count. It is the linebacker that thirsts to fight through the blockers, to injure the blockers, if possible, and to then to knock the brains out of the ear holes of the ball carriers helmet each play. Big defensive line men? They just like to get to fall on guys a hundred pounds lighter than them and listen to them groan, gasp and cry out. Big linemen would have no taste for attacking someone 50 pounds bigger than them. A linebacker? Prey is prey to a linebacker. The bigger the better frankly. Greater size justifies even more violence. Dropping off for coverage is serious business for a strong safety, because getting beaten could mean a touchdown. But a linebacker dropping off for coverage only means he has a greater running start to try to knock the brains out of the ear holes of the helmet of an opponent. A great line backer is as awesome and fearsome as a great white shark, and in the moment of impact just as single minded. Ask any running back that has met one either head on at full speed, or been blind sided by one as he was staggering in the grasp of another. Great linebackers are the last hold out of the wild human animal in sport. Skill and technique are important to linebacking to get 9/10s of the way to the ball carrier, but the last tenth is a truly savage journey into the heart of human darkness. I know. I played some a little line backer when I was in junior high and high school, and I have met some great ones at KU and in adulthood over the years. It does not matter what they look, or act like, in street clothes. It does not matter what they do in the 9/10s of the play on the field. It is what they do in the last tenth that defines them all. Some of them, like Dick Butkus, could play almost 10/10thss this way. Most are busy with technique for 9/10s, but all become adrenal savages for the last tenth and that makes all the difference in the world. Enforcers? Linebackers. Definitely. They don't just like to kill the prey. They like to tear it to pieces.

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Robert Brown 1 year, 9 months ago

I like that Oerter and Neider were mentioned just to remind everyone that KU used to be force in track and field. As the Olympics approach, all KU fans should watch this video of the only American to win the 10,000 meters.

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Jeff Suther 1 year, 9 months ago

How does no one pick Jeff Graves??? Biggest thug/bully in ku bball history

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jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

P.S.: Even in the age of XTReme Muscle Ball, mentioning a basketball player for top enforcer is an insult to the game of basketball, and an insult to linebackers.

P.S.S.: Nieder and Oerter, along with Steve Wilhelm and Karl Salb, I will move to the front of the line, if throwing things is required. :-)

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jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

Football linebackers, any one of them, plus Riggins.

Why linebackers?

Because they like to injure people for sport.

Why Riggins?

Because he liked to injure linebackers for sport.

Give me a special forces platoon of former linebackers and Riggins in their primes, plus a year of special forces training, and I will overthrow any dictator in the world in 6 weeks.

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 9 months ago

Bob Probert, Bob Plager, Tony Twist, Dave "The Hammer" Schultz....none of them went to Kansas and none of them played football or basketball, but if I'm in an alley fight, I'll take these four over anybody named here.

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Ian Sadler 1 year, 9 months ago

Joe Mortenson - one bad mutha (hush yo mouth!)

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texashawk10 1 year, 9 months ago

I know he never attended KU, but I wouldn't mind having Victor Ortiz on my side in a fight. John Riggins would probably be good in a bar fight. Aqib Talib would defend you at all costs. Mark Mangino in a rage is probably similar to the Incredible Hulk.

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Chris Shaw 1 year, 9 months ago

3 guys I thought of which have already been mentioned are Riggins, R. Scott, and A. Jamison.

Gale Sayers Baby!

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ccarp 1 year, 9 months ago

Alonzo Jamison and the offensive line from 2007 - 2008. Man, that O-line was legit!

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Vernon Riggs 1 year, 9 months ago

Art Housey and Victor Mitchell

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Martin Rosenblum 1 year, 9 months ago

Two obscure candidates:

Carl Henry

Jerod Hasse

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kingwm67 1 year, 9 months ago

Bill Nieder,s football career lasted one game before a bad knee injury. After that he wore a knee brace. He set shot put records be fore the windup style used today. He probably could not have thrown with this style.

Bill Bridges was a good person to have one your side in a fight, He went up into the Missouri stands to assist Wayne Hightower in a fight with MO fans.

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Jason Keller 1 year, 9 months ago

Jake Sharp was the man, I went to camp with him when we were about 11 or 12. He was a beast back then too, he showed up plenty of the older kids. When he transferred to Salina, we all thought he was gonna be in the league for sure. I think he still could.

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manginorh00lz 1 year, 9 months ago

No Jeff Graves? dub-tee-(e-underscore)

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Larry Smith 1 year, 9 months ago

The Aqib Talib comment made me laugh. That's some funny stuff.

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Jay Dogger 1 year, 9 months ago

Hey Tom, thanks for mentioning Bill Nieder. After learning about him I updated his Wikipedia entry and added him to their list of notable KU athletes (I was surprised he already wasn't listed). Interesting tidbits: Nieder, who set the shot put world record on three occasions, tried boxing when his track and field career ended following the 1960 Olympics. He was knocked out in his first bout and hung up the gloves for good.

He was employed by 3M and was instrumental in developing artificial athletic turf. Nieder sold the first-ever synthetic track surface for an Olympic Games to 1968 Mexico City organizers.

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Mike Young 1 year, 9 months ago

Richard Scott. He was an undersized rebounder when Ku didn't have any.

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