Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Tom Keegan: Praise for a quarterback named Peyton

Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender (6) drops back to pass against Washington in the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender (6) drops back to pass against Washington in the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)


I know what you’re going to do, so you might as well do it now so that you don’t have to hear even a single word of what I’m about to say. So go ahead, take your left hand and press it hard against your left ear. Now take your right hand and press it hard against your right ear. Now start babbling as loudly as you possibly can to ensure that not even a hint of my voice violates your cone of silence.

I get it. Your heart was broken, not once but twice, because you believed all the hype about a transfer quarterback who was supposed to make NFL scouts sell out every hotel room in Lawrence and surrounding towns just to catch a glimpse of his greatness.

And then Dayne Crist played his way out of the Kansas starting lineup, replaced by Michael Cummings. A year later, Jake Heaps would make everyone forget the sound of Crist backfiring. Instead, more hearing damage for those close to that scene. Montell Cozart replaced Heaps midway through the season, sparing Heaps the beatings.

So the last thing anybody wants to hear is more hype about a transfer quarterback bound to pull the Kansas offense out of the dumps where it has resided since Todd Reesing entered the business world.

Never mind that Peyton Bender, the jewel of the mid-year recruiting class, has nothing in common with Crist or Heaps. Never mind that Charlie Weis’ offense has nothing in common with the Air Raid that David Beaty prefers. Bender’s a transfer, so you don’t want to run the risk of what’s left of your heart breaking yet again.

OK, but remember, many believe that the opposite of love is not hate, it’s fear. So don’t fear the idea of a talented transfer bringing the Kansas offense into 21st-century productivity levels. Love the idea. Drop your dukes and embrace it. You know, third time’s the charm and all that.

Give Peyton a chance. And I’ll do my part this time by trying to tame the hype. In fact, in case you haven’t noticed, I already have shown considerable restraint. Not once have I referred to him as Peyton “Better than Manning” Bender. Not once, at least so far today, have I mentioned that Bender threw for 566 yards in a 44-42 loss to East Mississippi Community College, the school featured in amazing Netflix Documentary “Last Chance U.” EMCC went on to win the national championship.

Bender grew up in Georgia but played high school football in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after the family moved there. He spent one year as a redshirt and played one year for Mike Leach at Washington State. Then it was off to Itawamba CC in Mississippi for a season in which he threw 21 touchdown passes and four interceptions.

For the sake of comparison purposes, Beaty referenced Michael Brewer, who played for Texas Tech and Virginia Tech.

“Saw Michael Brewer play when he was at Lake Travis (High) and until I saw Peyton Bender it was the quickest, most efficient release I’ve ever seen,” Beaty said. “Peyton reminded me, when I saw his tape and went down and watched him throw, I was like, that’s Michael Brewer’s release. There’s not many people that have that. The thing that does is, man, it gets you out of trouble. There’s so many times on his tape where he’s about to get hit and boom, that ball is out so quick.”

Beaty went on to praise Carter Stanley, who sparked the offense when he took over late in the season.

“The kid could barely lift his arm on Wednesday before we played K-State,” said Beaty, who added that on one play in that game Stanley’s arm locked up on him and he couldn’t complete the throw. “That’s a tough dude.”

And a smart one, which means that in the likely event that Bender wins the two-man spring competition, Stanley will make the ideal backup.

Bender has two years of eligibility remaining. He stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 180 pounds. Beaty praised more than his quick release and on-field poise.

“Kid’s got a freakish arm,” Beaty said. “He can throw it. He can make every throw. Talented guy. I watched him make every single throw right in front of me. He can do it. He can spin it. He can make every throw: post, out, deep comeback, over route, post curl, hitches, quick screens. That ball gets out so quick on screens, man. That makes a difference on screens, the ball getting out quick. The ball doesn’t get out quick, man, those screens are dead.”

Beaty loves screens. Bender executes them efficiently. Match made in Air Raid heaven.

This time, Kansas football truly is in the early stages of a voyage back from oceanic depths. Why wait to hear about it from others who buy into it? Why not be on the front end of the recovery and that way you can do the talking and let others listen.

OK, I’m done now. You can put your hands back by your sides and stop screaming.


Andy Tweedy 4 years, 1 month ago

Seriously not being snarky here, or putting my fingers in both ears for fear of being let down. But one obvious reason someone would question a kid who goes D1 then JUCO after a year is what didn't work out at WSU... So why didn't it work out at WSU? Grades? Talent? Some even more freakishly good QB in front of him on the depth chart? I've been burned by these transfers too many times to even take the time to research this myself, somebody who has can help me out?

Michael Maris 4 years, 1 month ago

I believe he was failing academically at Washington State. And, that is why he left and transferred to the Mississippi Junior College.

Michael Maris 4 years, 1 month ago

Hopefully, the ''Freakish Arm'' isn't the only thing that Peyton Bender has working in his favor.

Bender will need a good noggin (up on one's shoulders) as well to go with that ''Freakish Arm''. Joe Montana didn't have a Freakish Arm, and I believe that he performed quite well in his past football endeavors. Same can be said for Tom Brady. I seem to recall that the reason he was drafted so low was based on his arm strength. And, I believe that he's still doing quite well these days in his football endeavors.

In what I seen from Carter Stanley in the last couple of starts, he seems to have a good head on his shoulder. And, the more experience that he gets, the better he's going to get at reading the difference defensive schemes that are facing him play in and play out.


Brian Hosfelt 4 years, 1 month ago

one of his strengths is that he's a great leader.....that should be in the classroom to, not just the football field....for some reason I like Carter Stanley, but hey if Benders better then I'm on board.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 1 month ago

Crist and Heaps were practically anointed starters by Weis, media and fans before they even arrived on campus. I don't get the same feel for Bender. Maybe that's because of the Crist/Heaps hangover. Maybe it's because Bender wasn't inherently a "Beaty guy" like Crist and Heaps were "Weis guys." Or, maybe, it's because Carter Stanley proved to be the type of QB that can keep KU competitive.

Regardless, I expect a fair QB competition to take place this coming Spring.

Dale Rogers 4 years, 1 month ago

I suspect that difference has to do with the difference between Weis and Beaty. Weis was a salesman, more akin to a con man. Beaty is more realistic. He touts the talents he sees but also says the guy has to earn the position. A lot like Bill Self in that respect. Beaty knows not to push expectations too high. Rather, he's telling us the kid's strengths and will let us see for ourselves what he can and cannot do.

Kevin Robert Fest 4 years, 1 month ago

This is ASSUMING he beats Stanley out for the QB position. I feel bad for CS he came in mid season did the best he could sparked Beatys lousy offensive system then gets a "Thanks kids but we got a transfer qb who's going to take your job." No way Beaty doesnt play him since hes a transfer who picked KU over a last minute pitch from Georgia. We all saw how deaf dumb and blind he was to Cozart, so lm guessing Peyton plays inspite of Stanleys efforts. Ill take ANYONE who can make anything out of Beatys poop of an offense.

Dale Rogers 4 years ago

I don't agree. I think the QB who shows best in practice and the spring game will play to start the season.

Steve Corder 4 years, 1 month ago

Tom, please remind me during spring practice that QB evaluations should be tempered by saying: "This is only practice, not a game against a B12 defense with 50-80K watching."

Dirk Medema 4 years, 1 month ago

It is interesting that there is somewhere between very little and no mention of the other QBs. It will be interesting to see what comes of them.

Part of the background on WSU is they have/had a QB (Faulk?) ahead of Bender. Peyton's starts were after an injury to the starter - against rival/ranked UW. Watched part last night. Yes to the quick release and he looked good to start the game but not so much as it went on. Some really bad decisions leading to TOs and pts. It was his first start and UW was 20. It also had me fearing we might have another QB with talent that can excel against lesser competition (like HS and FCS/JC) but not FBS.

No anointing but glad for competition. Hmmm could Tyriek "RS" Starks slip in under the radar and surprise everyone? Definitely can't put all your eggs in those unproven baskets so good move to get the best option available.

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