Friday morning marked the final workout of the summer offseason for the Kansas University football team. And thanks to some wild imaginations, the Jayhawks went out in style.
Instead of donning their regular weight-room attire — blue shorts, KU T-Shirts and tennis shoes — the Jayhawks were invited to loosen up and have fun with the final offseason grinder led by KU strength coach Scott Holsopple.
Boy did they. Some dressed like the Village People, others wore lumberjack gear, Army fatigues or Superman duds, and even Buzz Lightyear (linebacker Ben Heeney) and Rick James (defensive lineman Marquel Combs) stopped by.
Although the costumes made for a fun environment on the final day of lifting, the atmosphere remained business-like when it was time to go to work.
“Holsopple puts us through a lot,” Heeney said. “But it’s all love and it’s all for us to win. We feel like we worked harder than anybody else this summer and it’s all about getting better. There’s really nowhere to go but up from 1-11.”
Most Jayhawks leave Saturday for short trips back to their hometowns and are scheduled to return Aug. 7, when they will report for the start of fall camp.
Former KU cornerback Tyler Patmon, a three-year starter who graduated in May and elected to transfer to Oklahoma State for his final season, is making a name for himself with his new team.
Earlier this week at Big 12 media days in Dallas, OSU linebacker Shaun Lewis talked about what he’d seen from Patmon thus far.
“He’s hungry,” Lewis said. “He stays every day after workouts to do extra and he’s just willing to get better and help us out any way he can. He’s gonna be able to help us out right away. He’s gonna be a good player.”
Lewis said he remembered watching “the 33” at KU and added that the Cowboys had no trouble welcoming a former foe into the fold this summer.
“Look at the way the NBA’s going today,” Lewis said. “Anybody who wants to win, bring ‘em on. And anybody that doesn’t want to win, get ‘em outta here.”
As for Patmon — he now wears No. 26 — facing his former team on Nov. 9 in Stillwater, Okla., Lewis said he thought Patmon had the date circled on his calendar.
“I’m pretty sure he does,” Lewis said.
One of the lasting images of a rough 2012 KU football season was the play made by then-sophomore linebacker Ben Heeney just before halftime in KU’s loss at Kansas State.
With the Jayhawks trailing just 21-14 and the Wildcats threatening to add a late touchdown before heading into the locker room, Heeney sprinted down the goal line and dragged down KSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein short of the end zone as time expired. The play sent the Jayhawks off the field in a frenzy but KU could never capitalize on the momentum in a 58-16 loss. Asked at Big 12 media days how often he thought about the play, Heeney’s answer surprised.
“Every time my mom texts me,” he said with a laugh. “She has that specific play recorded on the TV at home and she’ll text me, ‘Hey, we just watched the Collin Klein stop on TV, so excited for the season,’ and stuff. But that’s really the only time I think about it. But that was obviously one of my highlights from last season. That was really cool.”
While sounding off on a number of topics from pay-for-play to college football’s new playoff system and the favorite in the Big 12 this season, Iowa State running back Jeff Woody talked sportsmanship at media days.
Woody, who had a monster game against Kansas in 2012 — 89 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries — said he appreciated the way the Jayhawks played football.
“I think the teams I look forward to playing the most are the teams that, when they make a tackle, help you off the ground and say, ‘Hey, good job, man. Keep coming,’” Woody said. “Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma are the three that come to mind as being the most sportsmanlike teams rather than saying something negative and going with general trash talk.”
As for why everything clicked for him in last year’s win over KU, Woody knew exactly what happened.
“I got healthy that week,” he said. “I sprained my ankle in the first week of the season and sprained my MCL in the third week of the season. The weeks before I was 80 percent, 90 percent and by the time Kansas rolled around I was close to 100 percent and was finally able to unleash whatever potential we had and I stumbled upon a great game.”