Monday, August 5, 2013


Opinion: Don’t count out Kansas LB Schyler Miles

Kansas’ Schyler Miles (32) forces Rice’s Donte Moore to fumble the kickoff return during their game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas’ Schyler Miles (32) forces Rice’s Donte Moore to fumble the kickoff return during their game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.



Kansas’ Schyler Miles (32) forces Rice’s Donte Moore to fumble the kickoff return during their game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

The tendency in today’s world of college athletics is to write off a guy if he doesn’t come in and make a major impact as a true freshman.

In some cases, freshmen who red-shirt during their first years on campus are given a free pass because, in the eyes of fans, they’re still untapped potential and represent, at least in some small way, hope for the future.

And then there are guys like Kansas University linebacker Schyler Miles, a sophomore who played in 11 games last season but did not do enough on the stat sheet to wow fans or foes.

While the adjustment from high school to college and the experience of players ahead of him played a small part in Miles’ slow start, there was a bigger reason for his lack of production. Miles, a 6-foot-2, 224-pound middle linebacker from Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Fla., who made just nine tackles during his first season of college football, played injured throughout 2012, taking the field each week on a knee that was not fit for wake-boarding, let alone Div. I football.

Miles has been on the mend throughout the offseason. He spent the spring doing everything he could during KU’s 15 practices but sat out of contact drills and missed the spring game. If all went well, he should enter Thursday’s fall camp feeling better than he has since high school and also should be given a chance to show what he can do when healthy.

Remember, this is a guy who chose Kansas over Florida on signing day in 2012. A guy whom Florida head coach and former Auburn and Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp wanted and a guy whom KU defensive coordinator Dave Campo said was the type of player you could build a defense around.

With a reputation like that and the physical gifts and good instincts Miles possesses, it seems like giving him another chance to make a first impression would be wise.

Too often too many players on college football rosters are labeled bums just because they don’t light up scoreboards and fill up highlight reels. Think about it. Each Saturday, only 30-40 of the 85 scholarship players on any given roster contribute directly to the outcome of the game. The rest, whether they’re red-shirting or waiting for their chance to play, are thought of as not good enough, if they’re thought of at all.

The Jayhawks added four linebackers in the 2013 recruiting class — two high school seniors and two junior-college prospects. One, Pierce College transfer Marcus Jenkins-Moore, is injured and unlikely to playthis season, and true freshmen Kellen Ash and Colton Goeas are in the same position today that Miles was a year ago.

When you consider that the KU defense lost 120 tackles from 2012 linebackers who either graduated or decided to hang up their cleats, it’s clear that Campo and company will be counting on at least a couple of fresh faces to step up and take those stats.

Here’s betting that Miles, who could open the season as the immediate back-up to junior Ben Heeney, will be one of them.

Biere inked by Atlanta

Former KU tight end Tim Biere recently signed a free-agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

Biere, 6-4, 260, from Omaha, Neb., signed a free-agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2012 NFL Draft but did not make the roster. He’ll face a stiff challenge in Atlanta, with future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez and four other tight ends — including two rookies — battling for playing time this preseason.

Biere ranks fifth on KU’s all-time list for receptions by a tight end with 66. He hauled in 798 yards and six touchdowns during his four seasons at KU.

McDougald, Opurum make depth chart

Rookie free agents and former Jayhawks Bradley McDougald and Toben Opurum made the Kansas City Chiefs’ initial depth chart of the 2013 season.

McDougald, a safety, was listed as a third-string strong safety behind Eric Berry and Quintin Demps. Opurum, a fullback who played three seasons of defense while at KU, also was listed as a third-teamer behind third-year pro Anthony Sherman and 2013 sixth-round pick Braden Wilson, of Kansas State.


Michael Sillman 4 years, 10 months ago

Matt, any chance of more details on what was wrong with Miles' knee? Your article said that he should feel better but what percentage better? 100%? 90%?

VaJay 4 years, 10 months ago

A little bit cruel, but VERY funny nonetheless.

TheBoHawk 4 years, 10 months ago

awww man, I missed it..... can you surmise the statement w/o violating?

nuleafjhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

There are LOTS of reasons that many players come in and don't make a major impact as freshmen.

That's why they should all stay in college four years. Football and Basketball players.

They get better.

Steve Reigle 4 years, 10 months ago

Agree. I never thought of Miles as not having it or as a bum or any of the other terms mentioned. I thought of it as he just needs more time to adjust to the college game. I guess I missed during the season that he was playing injured. Or maybe it wasn't publicized. In any case, it's impressive that he wanted to play badly enough to play through the injury. I look forward to seeing what he can do.

Matt Tait 4 years, 10 months ago

We didn't know about the injury until after the season, though looking back it should've been obvious since he always looked a step slow...

hawk316 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes, but Matt is right. There is a tendency by some to write off a player if he doesn't make an immediate impact, but as this article makes clear, there are many factors that can inhibit the process.

I'm looking forward to seeing what a healthy Schyler Miles can do on the field.

Ron Prichard 4 years, 10 months ago

It's a formidable scent... It stings the nostrils. In a good way.

KGphoto 4 years, 10 months ago

Darius Willis is moving from BUCK to his natural MLB position, and if I had to guess, I’d say he’s gonna get 2nd string snaps behind Heeney.

Let’s face it, barring injury Heeney will be the starter for the next two seasons. That leaves Miles fighting for 2nd string next year, likely with Goeas. His senior season he’ll have a chance to shine with Heeney gone.

Miles could be a good starting MLB in 2015, but remember he wasn’t recruited to Florida and Notre Dame, etc. to play LB. He was recruited to play FB and he came to KU because we offered to let him play LB.

If Miles doesn’t make a major improvement this season, perhaps he could go back to his FB duties. He might make more of an impact there. To tell you the truth he’s already made a bigger impact as a FB with KU, scoring a TD on a 1 yard plunge.

However it unfolds, good luck Schyler!

Dirk Medema 4 years, 10 months ago

Goeas is actually listed at Buck on the roster.

Ultimately, it is all about getting better and playing the best players. It is good to have the competition, and great that our best recruit from the transitional class would be middle of the pack in the current class.

KGphoto 4 years, 10 months ago

Ah, yes. Good catch on Goeas. Wonder if Faifili is being considered for MLB. At 6’ 240 he sure is built for it.

Absolutely love the competition. I’m still a big Schyler Miles fan. Didn’t know he was playing through injury last year, and it WILL be interesting to see him play at full strength. If Campo thinks that much of him, he must have something going. It’s just tough luck for him with Heeney exploding like he has.

Matt Tait 4 years, 10 months ago

I wouldn't count Willis out of that Buck position... He has experience as an edge rusher and showed he could make some plays from there. He may compete with Reynolds and Goodman out there and if he's one of the top 2 then Miles easily falls in at MLB. Time will tell...

KGphoto 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree, the BUCK is the key in this defense. With the loss of Martin I know Weis and Campo will be doing everything possible to increase the competition there. In fact I would venture to guess you could add BUCK to the list of most competitive positions.

However, I don’t think they’ll continue utilizing 4 guys at BUCK throughout the season, so Willis or Goeas would appear to be in line to compete with Miles for 2nd string MLB. Somebody has to slide in there, yes?

texashawk10 4 years, 10 months ago

I know Miles is supposed to have above average instincts, but does he have enough speed to play OLB? That seems like it would be a good fit for him if he has the speed. Instincts can make up for slight lack of speed, but someone who can instinctively disrupt a slant or cross or jump a pass in the flat is something KU hasn't had in a while.

Matt Tait 4 years, 10 months ago

Don't think they're even considering him on the outside. My guess is the only way that would change would be because of injuries...

Joseph Kuebel 4 years, 10 months ago

If he's got enough speed to play MLB he can play outside LB. If he's that talented I don't see why they'd just stick him on the bench. Urlacher was a safety that moved to MLB, MLBs are usually as fast as Sam or Wills strong side or weak side.

vd 4 years, 10 months ago

Too bad they didn't redshirt him last year and let him heal. LBs are the heart of special teams, and you need many.

Randy Bombardier 4 years, 10 months ago

Why would anyone expect a freshman to come in and wow the stands? If he were a phenom maybe but even then I never expect much from a freshman.

I had forgotten about Miles. wish he could play opposite Heeney instead of behind him.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 10 months ago

Definitely agree. Freshmen impacts in BB, but not so much in FB. They seem more like the exception than the norm.

Ouch - just noticed it was Matt that wrote this. Definitely been hanging around TK too much.

babytate 4 years, 10 months ago

Anyone know why we would start camp a few days later than most. I know we start with a bye week but most camps started monday. just curious. Maybe Tait could elaborate.

Foster Coburn 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm sure there is an NCAA rule allowing a certain number of practices before the first game or that practice can start a certain number of days before the first game. Since we have a bye the first week, we also start practice later than most.

Matt Tait 4 years, 10 months ago

Bingo. Fall camp practices are restricted by the NCAA so the only way for KU to start earlier would be if they spaced out their practices two days apart a couple of times throughout the month. No need to do that, though, so they start a little later.

August practice schedule shows 20 practices between now and Aug. 22

Jason Sinclair 4 years, 10 months ago

I don't feel strongly about it, but it seems to me that starting today and then taking a few extra days off during the first month would be highly beneficial; both from a mental/learning curve perspective and from a physical (rest) perspective.

The only disadvantage I can see is making the kids arrive in town a few days earlier, which is an issue - but a rather insignificant one, it seems.

jaymar74 4 years, 10 months ago

Miles will be part of much needed improvement in special teams, look for more 'starters' to play on special teams this year as we try and do a better job in the field position battle and create a few more turnovers.

Jim Jackson 4 years, 10 months ago

Tait, any news on Prinz Kande? Has he healed completely?

Also, don't count out Victor Simmons; I remember playing OU and D - Coordinator Vic Shealy stated clearly that Victor as a DB had the speed to match all the OU receivers.

Now he weighs 220 lbs and is a LB. Should be interesting.

Matt Tait 4 years, 10 months ago

Absolutely agree. Simmons is in the mix in a big way and will have a shot to compete for an OLB spot.

As for Kande, I haven't heard a ton about his rehab, which leads me to believe he's not quite all the way back. He was having a pretty good year when he went down last season, but you have to wonder if he'll be able to get back to that level -- physically and mentally -- in time for it to matter.

I'll ask about both.

Mark Lindrud 4 years, 10 months ago

I never considered him a bum, just not ready. I hope he finds a way to shine.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.