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Monday, July 8, 2013

Oft-injured KU RB Bourbon feeling as strong, confident as ever

Kansas University running back Brandon Bourbon (25) rushes against South Dakota State on Sept. 1, 2012, at Memorial Stadium. Bourbon, a fourth-year junior, says he feels better than ever after an injury-riddled start to his KU career.

Kansas University running back Brandon Bourbon (25) rushes against South Dakota State on Sept. 1, 2012, at Memorial Stadium. Bourbon, a fourth-year junior, says he feels better than ever after an injury-riddled start to his KU career.

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When Kansas University running back Brandon Bourbon showed up for spring practice a couple of months ago, he knew right where the locker room was, needed no help finding the training room and even had a pretty good idea of what the schedule would look like for those 15 practices in March that often mean so much to a college football team.

Not bad for a fourth-year player who had yet to go through a full spring before.

“You know what, it really does seem weird considering my first one I got knocked out early and last year they didn’t let me do any contact,” said Bourbon reflecting on the start of his injury-riddled KU career. “So it kind of is my first one.”

From the day he arrived in Lawrence as a four-star prospect from Potosi, Mo., who chose the Jayhawks over an offer from Stanford, Bourbon has had trouble cracking the lineup and staying healthy. Despite the injuries and setbacks and the frustration that came with both, Bourbon enters his fourth season as a Jayhawk with perhaps his brightest outlook yet.

“My mindset? I just have to believe that I’m the best back on the team,” Bourbon said. “Even though it hasn’t looked like it from the amount of time I’ve played, I have to think like that and play like that when I get my chances and try to increase my role.”

That’s easier said that done, especially when he has watched teammates James Sims, Tony Pierson, Taylor Cox and the returning Darrian Miller do a bang-up job on the field in his place. Bourbon knows that. But self-confidence has never been an issue for the 6-foot-1, 225-pound back.

“I don’t think it is hard,” said Bourbon of continuing to believe he can compete. “Maybe when you’re sitting out and not involved. But when you’re actually getting in there and having some success, you’re like, ‘OK, I’m the guy. Let’s just convince everybody else and we’ll be good.’ A lot of that is beyond my control, obviously. I can’t do anything about my ankle getting stuck in the turf. I just have to stay positive, which I believe I’ve done, and keep the confidence level as high as I can so when I get that chance and I get my reps in practice, I can show ‘em what I can do.”

There have been moments when Bourbon has done just that. Highlight touchdown runs in each of the past two seasons — both against Texas Tech, coincidently — have put his rare blend of power and speed on display, but injuries have kept those moments from becoming the norm. Despite the disappointments and missed opportunities, Bourbon enters 2013 brimming with the belief that the best is still ahead for him.

“I know exactly what I’m doing so I can play fast and not really have to think,” he said.

As luck would have it, Bourbon said sitting out may be the biggest factor in having his confidence level at an all-time high.

“I feel like I’m at least right with everybody else,” he said. “I feel confident that I know everything the most. Part of it was sitting out in the spring. I’m not doing it so I’m sitting there watching everybody doing it, watching every mistake and every correction. And then part of it is just the time that I’ve put into studying it.”

With his mental edge sharp and ready, Bourbon knows he must conquer his physical challenges before any of the rest matters. For that he leans on strength coach Scott Holsopple and, together, the two are making progress.

“I feel better than I’ve ever felt,” Bourbon said toward the end of spring drills. “I feel strong. I feel fast. Credit to Holsopple. He will get you right.”

Comments

Boouk 1 year, 2 months ago

With Sims, Miller, Cox, Bourbon and Spencer at RB I'd like to see Tony Peirson play almost exclusively at WR this season.

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Randy Bombardier 1 year, 2 months ago

Ditto, and on kick returns. He is our Tavon Austin, our Locket and that's how the other teams use the speedsters.

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Jerry Tompkins 1 year, 2 months ago

Your speculation about Pierson sounds correct to me. All I can say is that with all the stiff competition for running back Bourbon has his work cut out for him.

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Brett McCabe 1 year, 2 months ago

Though Bourbon has played sparingly, I would rate what I have seen as the 5th best ball-carrying option on the team. I certainly sympathize with his injury history and wish the kid no ill-will...but with Darian back...I'm not sure how Bourbon gets in a game.

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CrystalJones 1 year, 2 months ago

I love this running back unit. It's the best in the Big XII and may even be the best in the nation, top to bottom.

Now, it's great to have these guys, but my concern is the O-line. It would be an injustice if our great RB's can't get past their own linemen. I'm hoping the juco influx has a big impact, but if not then the backs may have to open the holes for each other to run through.

(BTW, SI.com stinks.)

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 2 months ago

kid has been an extreme disappointment.

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kj_hawk 1 year, 2 months ago

Your comments are always an extreme disappointment. You must be a miserable person.

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Robert Brock 1 year, 2 months ago

Well, John Wayne playing Rooster Cogburn was certainly an extreme disappointment. Just ask Charles Portis.

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Brad Farha 1 year, 2 months ago

good lord Reuben -- that's pretty harsh. This young man has faced some tough injury struggles. Given that he's performed well when able, and he's showing the right mental toughness in making a push for playing time this year, I think he's an inspiration and someone we should respect.

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BCSwede 1 year, 2 months ago

enough with these stupid questions on every story...I am about to quit coming to this site; and I have been coming to kusports.com since the early 2000's. As to Bourbon I really am looking forward to him having a big big year this year which I think can lead to even bigger things next year.

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sports4life 1 year, 2 months ago

You're complaining about having free KU sports articles? How do expect Matt to be paid? Oh wait I forgot he is pro bono.

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Brad Farha 1 year, 2 months ago

I think sports4life was being sarcastic.

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Ron Prichard 1 year, 2 months ago

Atl, I would call myself computer sufficient, but definitely not computer proficient. There are times that I access KUSports.com from random computers and don't enter my username. How would Google be tracking my profile in that case? Or, even if I am at my home computer but I'm not logged in for some reason? If anyone else wants to chime in please feel free.

As to the ads/surveys themselves, they are annoying, but it only takes about 10 seconds to click a response and get the full article, so if it keeps the site free and the quality level of the content up, then it seems a small price to pay.

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Ron Prichard 1 year, 2 months ago

Thanks for the insight. I've had questions about vacations, buying a home appliance, and something else pretty random, so I'm not sure if they are completely random or are trying to narrow things down based on specific users.

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oldalum 1 year, 2 months ago

They aren't on "every story", at least not for me. The first story of the day. It isn't that much of an inconvenience.

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VaJay 1 year, 2 months ago

I think if HCCW is really going to give the 2 back formation a shot & Bourbon can learn to flatten some people when he's not carrying the ball, he'll get a good shot & we'll see him light it up out there. His combination of speed & power will really help keep the defense on their heels. Stay healthy kid!!

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Kenneth Hillman 1 year, 2 months ago

Glad we have this guy for two more seasons of football. He has pushed through his injuries and I think that light at the end of the tunnel he has been working hard towards is going to smack some defenses in the face this year.

I am so fired up for football season. Work hard this summer Hawks!

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Ron Prichard 1 year, 2 months ago

I agree. While Bourbon may make an impact this year, I think he really has a chance to shine next year. Sims and Cox will be gone and I think Pierson will become more of a hybrid back/wide reciever over time to try and get him into open space. That wil leave Miller and Bourbon as the only two returnees with significant experience and there should be more opportunities. If Bourbon can stay healthy, he can be a beast.

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Steve Reigle 1 year, 2 months ago

Hudy and Holsopple. We need to keep them both!

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Randy Bombardier 1 year, 2 months ago

I still say a triple option with Bourban and Pierson would be dynamite. Really like his attitude. Hope he gets more reps. I think he is as good as anyone in our backfield and the toughest one to stop.

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Jim Jackson 1 year, 2 months ago

I would like to see the staff RS Taylor Cox so that we can utilize everyone. The other RBs have already burned their RS and so this will be the most effecitve way to utilize everyone's talents for as long as we can.

Question is: Will Cox be cool with taking a RS?

Tait, any thoughts?

Any news on the Jenkins-Moore ACL?

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vd 1 year, 2 months ago

No to redshirting Cox. We need that schollie for someone else. We already have enough RBs.

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Jim Jackson 1 year, 2 months ago

When I talked to Reggie Mitchell at the alumni gathering here in Chicago he told me he thought Cox was a legit NFL talent.

No need for us to waste that talent on the sideline with a crowded backfield. If we RS him, Sims will have graduated and we will be able to utilize his talents. As it stands, there are not enough carries to go around.

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Matt Tait 1 year, 2 months ago

This much I've learned about Taylor Cox in the short time I've known him... He is one heck of a nice guy and the ultimate team player. If they ask him to red-shirt (a) for the good of the team and (b) so he can get more playing time, I would think he'd do it without thinking twice.

As for the Jenkins-Moore injury rumors, I've mentioned before that no one will comment on them and that's still the case. My best guess as of today is that he is injured in some manner but that he won't be out for the season.

That's purely a guess on my part, though, based on what little info I've been able to gather.

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Jim Jackson 1 year, 2 months ago

Thanks for the feedback, Matt! Wanted to ask you; what are your thoughts on Ben Goodman? See him being a big drop off from Martin?

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Matt Tait 1 year, 2 months ago

Big might be overstating it just because I think Goodman can play and is primed for a couple of big seasons.... But Martin was a future NFL guy so the drop-off will certainly be there.

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Bryce Landon 1 year, 2 months ago

Here's hoping that Bourbon's confidence will translate into a few more Jayhawk victories. He and his teammates have suffered enough the last 3-4 years, and we the fans have suffered enough as well.

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Mangino_Maniac 1 year, 2 months ago

So did Marcus Jenkins-Moore tear his ACL or not?

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Fototherapist 1 year, 2 months ago

As much as I like this kid's attitude, he has done virtually nothing since coming to KU. Four star recruit? He will be lucky to get 100 yards all season.

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Fototherapist 1 year, 2 months ago

He had a total of 41 rushing yards last season.

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Randy Bombardier 1 year, 2 months ago

Doesn't he have the highest yards per carry?

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Randy Bombardier 1 year, 2 months ago

That must have been his sophomore year. I think his freshman year was much better.

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kay_you 1 year, 2 months ago

God I hope this kid can stay healthy. I want to see what he has.

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Mark Lindrud 1 year, 2 months ago

I know Bourbon was used as a FB at times and am curious if he would be the starting FB this year. Would be a great way to use his straight line speed and blocking skills in addition to his receiving skills.

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Kirk 1 year, 2 months ago

Nice guy, but he won't be getting time with the level of rb's on this squad.

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