Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Weis singles out stars of KU football camp

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon carries a ball through drills during the first day of football practice on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon carries a ball through drills during the first day of football practice on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo


One week into fall camp, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis has seen enough to feel comfortable handing out a few gold stars.

The positive reports, which came during a meeting with the media Tuesday morning between two-a-day practice sessions, included both newcomers and veterans and reached both sides of the line of scrimmage.

And while Weis praised a half-dozen players individually, few received the kind of glowing review that Weis gave junior running back Brandon Bourbon.

“If we asked everyone to rate the best five players in camp, he’d be on everyone’s list,” Weis of the 6-foot-1, 225-pound “F” back, who opened camp with the second team behind junior Tony Pierson. “Offensive coaches and defensive coaches would all put him on the list. So that’s good for us because he runs, he catches, he runs routes. It’s really given us another guy that we thought would be a back-up guy but now you’re trying to find more ways to get him involved and get him on the field.”

While that may be tough to do in an offense that appears to be loaded with weapons — particularly at running back, where Weis said everyone had looked sharp but senior James Sims was “still clearly No. 1” — finding a similar camp gem on defense has been a piece of cake. And that’s because of junior-college transfer Cassius Sendish, the Jayhawks’ first-string nickel back.

“It’s pretty obvious when we’re out on the field that one of the people that stands out, both as a leader and performer, has been Cassius,” said Weis, noting he was not surprised. “I’m very happy to see how that’s gone. (Sendish is) a corner-type guy who can rush the passer, drop into zones and also play man coverage. And, at that position, you need to be able to do all those things.”

The other standouts whom Weis singled out on Tuesday were wide receiver Rodriguez Coleman and linebacker Ben Heeney.

Coleman, 6-3, 195 pounds from Garden City Community College, has impressed coaches from Day 1, particularly with regard to his superior physical shape.

“He could’ve run the conditioning test again after he ran the conditioning test,” Weis said. “Stock is way up on Rod. Once again, if we’re rating players on the team and people talk about wide receivers, everyone would bring up Coleman.”

Later, when asked how Heeney had looked thus far, Weis left no doubts about the junior’s status as the rock of the defense.

“I have no concerns with Ben at this point,” Weis said. “Ben is ready to go. He looks like a caveman, but he’s ready to go. I might institute a cut-your-beard policy here before too long, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be one of the main factors in not only performance but also leadership of our defense.”

QB update

Weis said junior quarterback Jake Heaps had carried over his terrific offseason into fall camp, but had even greater compliments for the guys on the depth chart behind him.

“Michael’s had a really good camp,” said Weis of second-string QB Michael Cummings. “I didn’t know whether Michael’d be competing to be No. 3 or competing to be No. 1. I didn’t know which way that would go. But he’s competing to be No. 1.”

Weis later clarified his comments and said Heaps remained the clear-cut top option at quarterback but emphasized that Cummings was pushing him every day.

As for freshmen Montell Cozart and Jordan Darling, Bishop Miege grad Cozart has taken the early lead in the battle for No. 3.

“Montell might be playing as good as anybody,” Weis said.

Linebacker battle

Weis said the battle at Will linebacker between sophomore returner Jake Love and juco newcomer Samson Faifili was so strong that he was considering cross-training whichever guy did not win the job.

“Those two guys have played so good that I could see one of those guys rotating in and out at Mike linebacker,” Weis said.

Special teams crowded

It’s still early in the special teams battles and Weis said nothing had been settled. Place-kicker Michael Mesh has had a couple of good days, but fellow newcomer Trevor Pardula has looked better from long distance.

“I could possibly see using a shorter field goal kicker and a longer field goal kicker,” Weis said. “But we’ll just wait and see how it plays out.”

As for return duties, Weis said six guys were in the mix for kickoff return and three or four had been working on returning punts. Neither group included junior Tony Pierson, who Weis said likely would be his choice to handle either job if the Jayhawks faced a must-deliver return scenario.


Lloyd Kinnison 8 months ago

The bottom line is that the Jayhawks post more wins than last year! I predict .more than 100% wins over the prior year


Ralster Jayhawk 8 months ago

Dont underestimate what this entire coaching staff can do, once the talent level reaches "BigXII average". That is the strength of the Weis hire by Zenger. And proving he was better than his NDame experience is the fire that drives Weis, which is good for KU, and has given us a coaching staff better than what Weis had at NDame. I'm not worried about Weis himself, as he proved his abilities prior to NDame, and he proved himself after NDame, most notably with the Chiefs. You are seeing Weis in the process of getting-it-done.


KJD 8 months ago

Seeing a three-deep depth chart has been good in better seeing where the re-building process is at for Weis and company. Overall I'm seeing an 18 month window for this group due to the small number of Seniors penciled in to play significant roles. I definitely can see why the current class being recruited can be geared towards signing many more High School Seniors. I know that this depth chart can change a lot next week, though it still says something about where the coaching staff plan is at and what they think they've got as they enter camp and pursue recruits.

There are 8 Seniors listed on Offense of the 38 players listed with 4 Seniors currently listed on the first team. Slater and Fondal sound like guys with size and talent tot plug into the first team Tackle spots for 2014 and both seem like they will compete this year for playing time behind the two Seniors of Sterling and Spencer. Losing Sims and Cox will be a bummer at H back though Miller, Bourbon and Pierson will all be back plus Wrench is committed. Sounds like Coleman is already pushing Matthews at Z, at least with Coleman's work ethic, conditioning and his speed.

Of the 33 listed on defense, there are only 5 Seniors and only Linton is listed to run first team going into camp. Even the 'Specialists' group will return most everyone for 2014.


KGphoto 8 months ago

Speaking of stars of camp. Anybody watch McDougald man-up against the Saints last week? Five solo tackles and one complete mugging of their all pro TE Graham. That guy is making the team.


shelleysue 8 months ago

Have I said yet today how much I hope our coaches and players take all the crap being said about Kansas and use it as motivation to shut all these people up?! SO sick of hearing how awful KU is. But then I guess our own coach did call them a pile of crap, so ... Even after the 2007 season and Orange Bowl win, Kansas got absolutely no respect. I hope on September 7, we kill them at every position. And keep pounding, and keep pounding and keep pounding. ROCK CHALK!!


vd 8 months ago

Sims had a 3 game suspension last year for his off the field problem. Has any one heard what Heeney's punishment is going to be? I'm guessing that there will be different treatment this year, because CW has more pressure to win.


Jim Jackson 8 months ago

Anyone know if Kevin Short has arrived?


Jonathan Allison 8 months ago

31 days till I get to see it with my own eyes. Come on Sept. 14


Keith Hummel 8 months ago

The reports about Bourbon just add more proof that we have the best running backs in the Big-12. Anxious to see what he can do this year.

But I think the best news I heard yesterday was about Coleman. We have desperately needed a receiver who can spread the field, and he is looking more and more like that guy.


Jim Erickson 8 months ago

Sims and Pierson combine for a great 1-2 RB punch... Any chance Miller can play WR?


Jason Keller 8 months ago

I'm not happy to hear that Michael Cummings is "pushing" Heaps. I mean I'm happy for Michael of course but I was just hoping Jake would be a huge upgrade over what we had last year. Unless Cummings just improved that much..


Dirk Medema 8 months ago

Gotta love that Bourbon and Coleman are getting such strong reviews. Especially Coleman from a need perspective. Sounds like CW is going to figure out ways to get BB & Tony on the field with the ball in space. Lots of misdirection options with those 2 on opposite sides.


ahpersecoachingexperience 8 months ago

I feel like HCCW and the LJW staff may know a little more than what they are letting out. A hidden optimism?!? Could some thing special be brewing in Larryville?!?!?


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