Thursday, July 25, 2013


Opinion: KU football media guide cover picks hit the mark



2013 Kansas football media guide cover.

You can tell some things about a book by its cover. Last year, the Kansas University football program’s book of hype, known as the media guide, centered on one player, savior Dayne Crist, and had two others, Tanner Hawkinson and Toben Opurum, flanking him. The eye goes right to Crist though.

This year’s cover gives equal billing to three players who need no hype because they already have proven it on the field: running back James Sims, middle linebacker Ben Heeney and hybrid receiver/running back Tony Pierson.

Kansas coach Charlie Weis hypes this season’s newcomers plenty with his words, but he didn’t throw savior pressure on them before they had played a game for the Jayhawks. Unlike basketball counterpart Bill Self, Weis has multiple experienced options worthy of receiving the honor.

Had Weis gone with ballyhooed newcomers, he could have had no problem coming up with an appealing trio: quarterback Jake Heaps and his favorite target, Justin McCay, plus defensive tackle Marquel Combs. No hurry. If they are as good as Weis thinks they are, they can prove it on the field and then take their turns on the front of the 2014 media guide.

Sims, a senior, earned the distinction by leading Kansas in rushing every season since he stepped on campus. Recruited by the staffs of Mark Mangino and Turner Gill, Sims played two seasons for Gill and is in his second with Weis. None of the changes seem to bother Sims, and he just keeps plugging away by running with terrific vision, good power and just enough speed to get around the guy trying to bring him down. He has rushed for 2,482 yards and 27 touchdowns. He deserved better than second-team All-Big 12 honors last season in rushing for 1,013 yards in nine games.

Pierson, the most exciting player on the roster because he makes you watch every play he’s on the field for fear you’ll miss him dashing to the end zone, also earned a place on the cover. He averaged 6.5 yards on his 117 carries and 13.9 yards on his 26 receptions. A full-time running back a year ago as a sophomore, Pierson caught two more touchdown passes than all of the team’s wide receivers combined, which is another way of saying he caught two touchdown passes.

Heeney, a rugged middle linebacker blessed with speed, ranked third in the Big 12 in tackles (112, 9.3 per game) and fifth in tackles for loss (12). He earned second-team All-Big 12 honors.

Weis did bring newcomers Heaps and defensive back Cassius Sendish to Big 12 Media Day, also a nice honor, but wisely let returning players decorate the media guide. The Media Day honor goes to those who represent the program well in practice and public appearances. The front-of-the-publication honor speaks more to game performance.

Expectations already eased on Heaps because of how far short Crist fell, Weis leaving him off the cover of the media guide subtly helps as well.

Heaps, with better mobility and a cleaner injury history than Crist, is more suited to withstand the pressure defenses bring. Even before he takes a snap, he faces less pressure than Crist, who turned one season to make it happen into a half-season and was replaced by backup Michael Cummings.


Jeff Coffman 4 years, 11 months ago

Few notes

1) Crist may have struggled on the field, but he worked hard and brought a lot of recruits to Ku, including heaps.

2) If heaps proves to be a decent qb, like his 300 yards against Texas with 1 td and 1 interception at ut or his 200+ game against olé miss with several td and no interceptions, we will enjoy the season.

3) mccay and heaps being on the practice squad together all season long may have benefited Ku more than any other thing that occurred.

4) I'm fine with people at the media events...but to have heaps, mccay or others on it would have been fine

Jim Stauffer 4 years, 11 months ago

I think Heaps has a quicker release than Crist as well. He throws the ball with more zip and just has a crisper game as far as his reaction to what he sees on the field. Dayne seemed to have some rust on him and appeared to be tentative at times.

Robert Brock 4 years, 11 months ago

KU's receivers were remarkably bad last season. They made the QBs look worse than they were.

vd 4 years, 11 months ago

But they were the same group as the year before, and everyone knows the whole problem the year before was Webb. Just ask Charlie. He didn't ask any of the receivers to leave, he asked the QB.

TheBoHawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Yeah... I really have to agree with you.. I distinctly remember thinking, as I was watching the game last year, that Dayne Crist was likely the worst QB I've seen at KU...I was 11 in 1992 when I really started to pay attention to FB @ KU (Aloha Bowl w/ Dana Stubblefield and Gilbert Brown)

Mark Lindrud 4 years, 10 months ago

No doubt Crist doesn't get all the blame because he didn't have dependable receivers. Lets all hope that Heaps, McCay and with Pierson playing more of the slot that the passing game improves tremendously. Of course, the improvement of Mundine should help. I'm confident we will have an improved offense and be more competitive this year. It should be a more exciting year to watch.

Jim Jackson 4 years, 11 months ago

Would love to know the status of Nick Harwell. Is he enrolled in those online classes at Miami?

vd 4 years, 11 months ago

Among the RBs that Simms will have to contend with is his teammate, Miller.

KGphoto 4 years, 11 months ago

Most teams are using multiple backs now though. I don’t know if we’ll see anybody with 1,500 yards and 20 TDs. Seastrunk maybe.

Kawatchi 4 years, 11 months ago

Tom, explain why these picks "hit the mark". So far I see two guys pictured who have been arrested for DUI since getting to KU, one of whom has also tacked on an arrest for battery. I think it's safe to say that the pictures on the front of the media guide completely "missed the mark".

Kawatchi 4 years, 11 months ago

Turner Gill was a disaster and I am a Weis believer. I believe the message of putting these guys on the cover is contrary to Charlie's message up until now, though. Heeney would be kicked off of a lot of teams.

Chris Bailey 4 years, 11 months ago

I was pretty sure Heeney had good wheels. He ran away from a lot of people in highschool. I think he had 4.5 speed. I'm guessing he is 4.6ish now with his added weight. Still pretty quick though.

KGphoto 4 years, 11 months ago

Can’t figure out why they’d use last year’s helmets on the 2013 Media Guide.

If they aren’t using the real uniforms they might as well give Heeney a jersey #01, then they would spell out 2013.

Chris Bruning 4 years, 10 months ago

well wouldn't that be supercalifragilisticexpialodociously awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gary Denning 4 years, 11 months ago

Might have been nice to actually name the players on the cover for readers who don't know the team by number.....

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