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.


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.”


Kirk 9 months, 1 week ago

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


JHWKDW 9 months, 1 week ago

Good luck Bourbon! It will be a battle in the RB area to get playing time, and determine who will be the starter. Regardless of who it is, this could be fun to watch maybe a very good 3 headed monster

This will be the best position on our team this season. Now if the passing game can just be modest, and make some completions here and there, the sky could be the limit with this offense.


Bewareofthephog Fifety-Five 9 months, 1 week ago

Bourbon is good, but I don't know if I want him to start in 2014 after Sims and Cox graduate. We will be loaded at halfback with Pierson, Miller, and Spencer, but we will need another powerback, perhaps we could change Jake Love into a RB.


Mark Lindrud 9 months, 1 week 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.


kay_you 9 months, 1 week ago

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


Fototherapist 9 months, 1 week 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.


Mangino_Maniac 9 months, 1 week ago

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


Bryce Landon 9 months, 1 week 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.


Jim Jackson 9 months, 1 week 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?


Randy Bombardier 9 months, 1 week 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.


iamakufan 9 months, 1 week ago

Hudy and Holsopple. We need to keep them both!


Kenneth Hillman 9 months, 1 week 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!


VaJay 9 months, 1 week 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!!


BCSwede 9 months, 1 week ago

enough with these stupid questions on every story...I am about to quit coming to this site; and I have been coming to 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.


Keith Hummel 9 months, 1 week ago

I think Bourbon could have a very big year. Ignoring the fact he coughed up the ball, he looked really good in the the Spring game. He ran downhill better and did a better job of hitting the holes than I've ever seen from him. His combination of size and speed is tough on defenses, and I think we could see him break some huge runs this year. I also think he will be more durable after a year and a half with Holsopple. Gotta love our running backs!


Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 months, 1 week ago

kid has been an extreme disappointment.


Jerry Tompkins 9 months, 1 week 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.


Boouk 9 months, 1 week 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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