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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tait

Opinion: August crucial for these 5 KU football players

Defensive end Michael Reynolds gets low during practice Aug. 3, 2012.

Defensive end Michael Reynolds gets low during practice Aug. 3, 2012.

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With the Kansas University football team’s fall camp officially under way, it’s time to start identifying the players who have the most to gain in the month of August.

While many Jayhawks, such as senior running back James Sims, junior linebacker Ben Heeney and junior speed demon Tony Pierson, already have made names for themselves and have carved out critical roles, there are dozens of others who are entrenched in battles for reps and playing time. More reps means more chances to show the coaches what they can do. And the more times a player can put quality thoughts in the minds of his coaches, the better his chances of playing this fall.

Here’s a quick look at five guys who stand to gain the most from a solid August.

DE Michael Reynolds

It could be a make-or-break camp for the junior pass rusher from Wichita. The good news for Reynolds, the defensive MVP of the spring game two years ago, is that he should have ample opportunity to show whether he has matured to the point of being a reliable, three-down player or is the same guy who has recorded 13 tackles and one sack during limited time in 23 career games.

Reynolds possesses all of the physical tools he needs to be a pass-rushing menace. In the past, his coaches have referred to him as one of the few true pass-rushers on the roster. But in order to play meaningful snaps in KU’s new fast-paced defense, players have to be more than that. And fall camp is the time for Reynolds to show whether he is.

DB Victor Simmons

As a true freshman in 2011, Simmons played 11 games at safety and was one of the emerging bright spots on a bad defense. But a free-fall down the depth chart and a move to linebacker during his sophomore season kept him from building on a pretty solid rookie season.

Simmons appears to have worked his way back into the good graces of the coaching staff, though, this time as a potential nickel back. KU coach Charlie Weis called the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Olathe product a man among boys, physically, and said coaches are giving him a chance at nickel because they didn’t want him to get buried on the depth chart at linebacker.

Junior-college transfer Cassius Sendish was listed ahead of Simmons on the fall’s initial depth chart, but with Sendish able to play cornerback and safety if need be, Simmons could snag a starting job with a solid camp.

WR Rodriguez Coleman

Here’s the deal with the juco All-American from Garden City Community College: He has great speed. And that alone should give him a chance to stand out among KU’s jumbled and unproven batch of wide receivers.

Christian Matthews and Justin McCay appear to have positioned themselves as the clear-cut top two options, but Coleman, who prefers Rodriguez and not Rod, just arrived last week and is in the infant stages of trying to prove himself.

Last year at GCCC, Coleman recorded 1,055 yards and seven touchdowns on 70 receptions. If the 6-3, 195-pound burner picks up the KU offense quickly enough to earn the trust of the coaches, he could emerge as KU’s best big-play, deep-threat option.

OG Damon Martin

The offensive line is far from set in stone, and the coaching staff is in the process of nailing down KU’s best five linemen so they can allow that group to start developing chemistry.

Martin, a 6-3, 295-pound sophomore who consistently has been one of the best performers in individual drills during the past two seasons, showed enough in 2012 to earn a start against Texas. He also showed enough to be left at home on a couple of late-season road trips. Although juco transfer Mike Smithburg entered camp ahead of Martin at right guard on the depth chart, Weis said he expected a good battle between the two, and this might be Martin’s best opportunity to win a job.

K Michael Mesh

If you’ve been reading between the lines at all this offseason, you know the place-kicking job is Mesh’s to lose. It’s also his to win. All it will take to do that is a steady showing in camp.

Anything less opens the door for fellow juco transfer Trevor Pardula and returning senior Ron Doherty to make things interesting throughout fall camp. But, as things stand today, the Hutchinson Community College transfer seems like the odds-on favorite.

Comments

JJHAWK 1 year ago

Thank you Matt. Really enjoy your articles. I am looking forward to your educated guess about KU's win/loss record this year. You are going out on the proverbial limb are you not? RCJH

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Dirk Medema 1 year ago

How about Darrian Miller instead of Mesh

Pearce Slater should be there with Martin

Andrew Bolton with Reynolds

Kevin Short & Greg Allen with Simmons

Mark Thomas with Coleman; which ever one is able to reliably stretch the field

Samson Faifili could be there, but can't see him replacing or being with any of the players listed.

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KGphoto 1 year ago

Benny Goodman with Reynolds at Buck. I think Slater is battling for a tackle position, not guard.

WR: Everybody not named McCay or Matthews.

TE: Everybody not named Mundine.

CB/S: Everybody not named McDonald or Shepherd.

OL: Everybody not named Sterling.

DL: Everybody not named Combs or Stowers.

Seems August is crucial for almost everybody this year...

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Dirk Medema 1 year ago

KG - I was seeing it more by groups (OL, DL, DB, ...) instead of positions.

Definitely agree that every player has the opp to step up and deliver crucial improvement. Seemed the point of the article was that some players carried more expectation.

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KGphoto 1 year ago

Gotcha. Just appears to be extremely difficult to knock the list down to 5.

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Matt Tait 1 year ago

It is. But a lot of the guys mentioned above are guys that I think will have no problem finding roles. Most if not all of the guys on my list are guys that need to have good camps to cement their roles.

Not a huge distinction, but take Faifili for instance. Even if he doesn't beat out Love, I think he's gonna play so there's no need to put him on this list.

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Randy Bombardier 1 year ago

I thought Miller had to sit a year, no?

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Andy Hess 1 year ago

He actually sat out last season when he was at Butler Comm College. He never actually played in a game there.

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Dirk Medema 1 year ago

It's the reason he's a soph. He also apologized to the JC coach who expecting him to be the featured back this year.

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Randy Bombardier 1 year ago

Matt, I know its Sunday but could you find out about Slater. I wont rest until I know hes in camp.

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Ron Prichard 1 year ago

Matt tweeted a pic of him in camp yesterday. You can rest easy. He's officially there.

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Robert Brock 1 year ago

I am hoping that Coleman, Matthews, and McCay will step up and CATCH SOMETHING!

Last season, the receiving corps was a receiving corpse...

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KanFan27 1 year ago

I'm not trying to say that the wide receivers were good last year, but they were not solely to blame. They were made to look worse by not having a QB that could get them the ball.

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Robert Brock 1 year ago

Our receivers rarely got open, and on those occasions when they did - and the ball hit them in the hands - they dropped the durn thang.

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Jim Jackson 1 year ago

Has Kevin Short arrived? Anyone know?

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Matt Tait 1 year ago

Not here yet. We should know by Tuesday. That's when Coach Weis talks again.

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Displayhawk 1 year ago

The play of Chuck's Trucks will be the most important part of success for the KU football team this year! If Heaps doesn't have the time to throw, then the best receivers in the world won't matter, and we will never be in range for any field goals by Mesh.

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Jason Keller 1 year ago

I had a dream last night that KU went 10-2 and went on to get beat by USC in a bowl game.

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Ron Prichard 1 year ago

Let's hope your dream is as self fulfilling as Shady's was when he decided to pick KU.

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texashawk10 1 year ago

Not necessarily because it could just mean that opposing QB's simply didn't throw in his direction last season.

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Displayhawk 1 year ago

I agree TexasHawk10. That's why Aqib Talib was lightly recruited. Opposing QB's knew not to throw there.

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John Fitzgerald 1 year ago

September 7th ... That's the only date I'm worried about right now. Our first 3 games will be the test of how we will do in the Big 12 and the rest of the season. If we can win them all by high margins, that will show we've improved and gained our confidence back. If this happens then I predict a 7 - 5 season with our big win being @ TCU. If we can win at least 2 of them, we are already better than last year. My predictions if this happens is we go 4 - 8 and winning 2 games in conference play. Or, if we can only win one of them, we set ourselves up for another year like last year only winning one game the entire year. We all know that we should win the first 3 games of the season, and by doing so we go into Big 12 play with confidence, determination, and a goal in sight that has yet to be deflamed. These next 3 games will be the biggest games of Weis's career here at Kansas, and if he can take advantage of the opportunity and treat them like the biggest games of his career, then I have no doubt we will be 3-0 when it comes time to face Texas Tech.

Rock Chalk Baby! I'm stoked for this year!

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pbouldenv 1 year ago

Prinz Kande is a guy I am expecting to have a solid year. I think Linton will do pretty well too. If not starters, at least solid minutes for both of them.

Whatever happened to Ricki Herold. He seemed to be solid player early on. His build reminds me of Brisco's.

Based on Mark Thomas' film, he seemed great at catching in traffic. I think he will surprise this year.

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