Originally published September 17, 2013 at 01:21p.m., updated September 18, 2013 at 12:18a.m.

KU defensive lineman Marquel Combs likely to red-shirt

RB Taylor Cox also might take potential red shirt with nagging leg issues

KU defensive tackle Marquel Combs runs through a pass-rush drill during preseason practice.

KU defensive tackle Marquel Combs runs through a pass-rush drill during preseason practice.


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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Charlie Weis

Kansas coach Charlie Weis talks to reporters on Sept. 17, 2013, four days before his team's game against Louisiana Tech.

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The mystery has been solved. The future is clear. Barring something unforeseen happening during the next handful of weeks, junior-college transfer Marquel Combs will red-shirt the 2013 season.

That outcome is far from what most expected from the defensive tackle from Pierce College in California who was ranked by as the top juco prospect in the Class of 2013. But Kansas coach Charlie Weis always has been big on the five-word philosophy he learned from his mentors: Go by what you see.

So far this season, Weis has seen Combs as a player who needed time to absorb KU’s system and make the adjustment to Division I football. In addition, there are players at his position who have played better than Combs week in and week out. That’s why Combs missed the season opener against South Dakota and did not even travel to Rice last week. And that’s why he’ll spend the rest of the season honing his skills as a member of KU’s scout team.

“Everyone gets sent to the same place,” Weis said during his meeting with the media Tuesday. “There’s no prima donnas here. They all have to go to purgatory, so that’s where they’re sent.”

Weis said Combs was open to the idea of red-shirting because it would give him more time in the program and a better chance of becoming an impact player. In addition, the move helps Weis better manage the large number of juco transfers he brought in this season, ensuring they don’t all walk out the door at the same time.

“He’s on board,” Weis said. “We don’t do these things without involving the player. Between (Ty) McKinney, Tedarian Johnson, Combs and (Andrew) Bolton, we were kind of hoping we’d play two of ‘em and save two of ‘em. Everyone was more enamored with the names and we’re more enamored with what’s best for the program. McKinney and Tedarian being here a semester earlier has them way ahead, whereas we think Combs and Bolton have huge upsides.”

So far Combs’ absence on the field has not been all that noticeable. Through two games, the Jayhawks have recorded six sacks, just four fewer than they had all of last season. Some of the credit for that goes to the guys playing in Combs’ spot, and Weis said McKinney, a second-stringer behind senior Keba Agostinho, and starting nose tackle and captain Keon Stowers had been among the best players on KU’s defensive line so far this season.

“We’re gonna do our best for those guys to not see the field this year,” said Weis of Combs and Bolton. “Those are guys waiting in the wings that bode well for the future of our program.”

Cox to follow Combs?

In other red-shirt news Tuesday, Weis said senior running back Taylor Cox, who played in the season opener but left the game late with an injury, had been added to the list of potential red-shirts.

Cox missed last week’s loss at Rice, partly because of the nagging hamstring injury, which Weis said had been recurring, and partly because of a death in the family. Because KU has solid depth at running back with James Sims, Darrian Miller, Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon, the Jayhawks have the luxury of waiting to see if Cox can fully heal.

“If it doesn’t get better, we’re gonna look to medical red-shirt Taylor,” Weis said. “If it gets better to the point we can play him, we’ll go ahead and do it. But right now we’ll document it medically and that’s the direction we’re heading right now.”

Offensive changes

KU’s updated depth chart features a number of significant changes on offense, with four new starters in place and a couple of interesting moves happening behind them.

Most of the movement seems to come in response to KU’s struggle with dropped passes, as junior Rodriguez Coleman jumped ahead of junior Justin McCay at X receiver and Trent Smiley replaced Jimmay Mundine at tight end. Weis said both McCay and Mundine would remain key parts of the offense, but it was time to see what the other guys could do.

“We’re two games in,” Weis said. “I’m not cutting anybody. What I’m doing is I’m putting people first that I think give us the best chance. The second guys play, too.”

Other depth chart changes of note include: Riley Spencer moving ahead of Zach Fondal at right tackle; the center position becoming an open competition between Pat Lewandowski and Dylan Admire; and Tedarian Johnson taking Combs’ place behind Stowers at nose tackle.

Asked how the affected players had responded to the changes, Weis answered with brutal honesty.

“I don’t really care how they feel,” he said. “I’m not looking to be buddy-buddy with the players. My job is to fix the problems.”

More work for Bourbon

Junior running back Brandon Bourbon has been highly effective in limited touches so far this season and Weis said Tuesday that the Potosi, Mo., native deserved to be rewarded for his consistency.

Bourbon has averaged 8.2 yards-per-touch in two games and six tries — second, among Jayhawks with five or more touches, only to speed back Tony Pierson, who is averaging 14.8 yards per touch in 12 attempts.

“Bourbon will have an expanded role this week,” Weis said. “I haven’t been sleeping very well since Saturday night and Bourbon and Tony and a couple (other) guys will have expanded roles.”


Triceec 7 months ago

Brock it starts with the offense of line. Any QB is good if they have a OL. Look at Brady, Peyton wonderful OL.


BringMarkBack 7 months, 1 week ago

Weis' arrogance is gonna get the best of him YET again this season.


Jim Jackson 7 months, 1 week ago

I know I have repeated this excessively- but did anyone else notice that we did not run any play action against Rice after our RBs were consistently being tackled for loss?

I hope that's the last time Charlie calls a game as bad as that because last year he did a good job of creating an offense with limited capabilities.

As far as the redshirting goes; Charlie and co. know what they are doing but I'm not sure what the worry is about? It's not like they won't be able to recruit other talented D linemen from the JUCO ranks.


akgjenkintown 7 months, 1 week ago

“I haven’t been sleeping very well since Saturday night and Bourbon and Tony and a couple (other) guys will have expanded roles.” Neither have I over the terrible play calling on Saturday. Despite all of the finger pointing and dropped passes, poor coaching decisions lost that game to Baylor. Weis creates problems by trying to be too creative at times instead of just pounding the heck out of a smaller opponent (even Baylor admitted that KU players were bigger and stronger). His game plan provided Baylor a chance and they took advantage. Clearly the experts don't think much of KU if only a 10 point favorite against Bulldogs this week (if the trends continue the safe bet is the Bulldogs with the points). Looks like it could be a close contest unless Weis goes with the strength of the team and then mix in the pass. Run Charlie Run.


dumbarton 7 months, 1 week ago

Why aren't we running more delayed screen passes coming out of the backfield to Sims, Miller or Pierson?


Adam McEwen 7 months, 1 week ago

Bottom line: Defense: good enough to win games Special Teams: good enough to win games Running game: good enough to win games O-Line: not great, but good enough to win games Quarterback: good enough to win games Receivers: get open and actually catch the damn ball and we win games


Jim Jackson 7 months, 1 week ago

This is definitely a testament to the current group on the D line. Keba, Stowers and Tedarian Johnson all look pretty good as do Michael Reynolds and Ben Goodman.

Our defense is in good shape evidenced by the fact that we shut down Rice better than A&M did.


Pileofcrap 7 months, 1 week ago

I am tired of reading Matt Tait's evaluation on players. He gets me excited, but the players never perform well on the field.


Dyrk Dugan 7 months, 1 week ago

at least now we know. like someone said above, i couldn't believe a four star top JUCO recruit, couldn't crack the two deep of this team....and so with him RSing, it makes perfect sense.

so now our football team's roster is set. we are going with who's been this year, no Short, no Combs, no Jenkins-Moore, no Slater, no Bolton, no Martin and no Harwell......we're going to have to live and die with who's already been doing battle already.

it's time for another streak to end. i was in the stands when we nipped UNI in the last 10 seconds, two years ago....our last win over an FBS team. this Saturday, it's time for another one.

Go Jayhawks!


HighQ 7 months, 1 week ago

The D line coming--Along, good news for Campo--Combs proves true next year.


bigtex 7 months, 1 week ago

Prayers for the Cox family


Janet Scott 7 months, 1 week ago

Combs is another over-hyped player, who is way in over his head at Div I level. But I guess when you're as desparate as KU is for football players, grandma looks like Cindy Crawford.


Mark Lindrud 7 months, 1 week ago

none of us truly saw this as a bowl year anyway. the more redshirts, the better. Combs is on board to improve himself and help the team. wouldn't be surprised a year from now he explodes.


Pbbut 7 months, 1 week ago

All I can say is that if everyone is on board and puts in the work, there are going to be some wars starting in the spring for PT. It's got to help with game performance, and the guys not red-shirting will have a year's worth of Big 12 battles behind them.
After last Saturday, I guess I'm a little more realistic about where we are. I think we'll still have a chance to win some games this year, but after the coming weekend, we'll likely be the dog in each game unless someone goes completely off the rails.


AzHawk97 7 months, 1 week ago

So we'll be seeing those same hyped up articles next year too?


leonard 7 months, 1 week ago

A big thanks, to the LJW staff for getting the Combs situation sorted out.


Tony Bandle 7 months, 1 week ago

2013 win totals:

One would be a disaster.

Two would be mediocre.

Three would be just OK.

Four would be about right.

Five would be very encouraging.

Six schedule a parade down Massachussetts.

Seven, drug test every player, coach, manager, cheerleader and the entire band!!


Andy Tweedy 7 months, 1 week ago

Seems like an area we can take the hit, so if he's on board with it, not sure why I wouldn't be. I loved my time on the Hill, an extra year would have ruled!!!


jayhawkinATL 7 months, 1 week ago

How does the #1 rated JUCO player NOT crack the lineup of one of the crappier FBS teams??? Just doesn't add up.


Doug Cramer 7 months, 1 week ago

Maybe we can somehow get Heaps a medical redshirt too...that way we have him for a couple more years lol


Doug Cramer 7 months, 1 week ago

I do have to ask this question though. Does anyone still have the Kool-Aid IV hooked up ??? LMAO ... My 3-9 prediction may end up being too optimistic. Time to move on to basketball...and look forward to the 2014 football Jayhawks :)


Doug Cramer 7 months, 1 week ago

So next year's D-line.

Stowers - Combs - Bolton - Reynolds/Goodman at Buck ???

McKinney and Tedarian Johnson to add depth.

hmmmm....this may not be too bad. Need to get some young stud freshmen in here to start developing though.


Brandon Mahon 7 months, 1 week ago

Coleman is starting over McCay?? So McCay has not been the savior we thought he would be.... And Parmelee who is under 6 foot is starting... HMMM idk if i like the move you would think that McCay and Coleman would be the starting two and our best chances at receiver. Check out the updated depth chart


Brandon Pope 7 months, 1 week ago

I am fine with this. The defensive line (and the defense in general) has been the shining star of this very young season. If we can hold a guy like that out and still compete in the league then why not. Building for the future.


Jonathan Allison 7 months, 1 week ago

I actually like the idea of redshirting for both of these guys.

I know that Cox wants to play because he's afraid that his age will hurt his NFL stock, but he would be a heck of an asset to have on the team next season after Sims has graduated.

Combs is more likely to accept a redshirt season because it allows for him to play two more seasons with his buddy MJM. I'm sure that it's a little bit disappointing for him, but an extra year in the strength program would be very good for him.

Meanwhile, it's looking more and more like next year could be our year. Unfortunately, it means that this year keeps looking more and more like last year.


Keith Hummel 7 months, 1 week ago

While we could have used the depth this year, this is not entirely bad news for the program. If he's not ready then I'd rather have him sit out a year.


JayDocMD 7 months, 1 week ago

With this new info I'll repost my earlier post with an update.

We all knew heading into this season that this team would have very little margin. It was going to take more things going right than going wrong to turn the corner in the win-loss column. There's a lot of new players at new positions; some apparent upgrades (DB's, DL, kicking game) and some apparently not (OL,WR, QB??) And still very little depth. We needed some things to fall our way with the new guys...

Well guess what. Pretty much ALL those personnel situations have gone against us:

  • Chris Martin = not-so-smooth criminal

  • Nick Harwell = Miami of OH screwjob

  • Pearce Slater = "Family Emergency" / "what have I done leaving CA for KS"

  • Marcus Jenkins-Moore = season-ending injury

  • Marquel Combs = Red-shirt surprise

  • Kevin Short = NCAA screwjob

Did I forget anybody? Sure, we all understand the risk of JUCO's and transfers. But who would have guessed that ALL of these guys would not be playing. These are all guys who we thought would have been/should be starting. These 6 players could've represented over a quarter of a starting football team.

We were never going to be world-beaters this year. But these pre-season hits appear to be more than enough to help sink us and say "next year." The big question for me: with so few underclassmen recruits for development, will we be doing this all over again next year?

  • Side note: The biggest loss of all looks like Nick Harwell. He is just what Heaps and our stagnant offense needs.

Kip_McSmithers 7 months, 1 week ago

Well at least it's an in house decision and not the NCAAs.


jayhawk5125 7 months, 1 week ago

I thought Combs had only two to play two. Redshirting him would not be bad.


Reuben_J_Cogburn 7 months, 1 week ago

...when it rains it pours.

oh boy.


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