Ten games into his second year with Kansas football, Steven Sims Jr. examined the preseason goals he set for himself, compared them to his current statistics and reached a realization: he needs more goals.
The sophomore receiver from Houston already checked 60 receptions, 700 yards and seven touchdowns off his to-do list, after a nine-catch effort and a touchdown this past weekend in KU’s loss to Iowa State.
With two games left on the schedule, Sims has accumulated 739 receiving yards, 60 receptions and seven TDs. So now the speedy pass-catcher is thinking bigger.
“My new goal is 1,000 yards,” Sims said. “Just gonna continue to try and make higher goals and reach those goals and keep doing what I do.”
Entering the Jayhawks’ home finale — Saturday versus Texas (2:30 p.m. kickoff, ABC) — Sims is averaging 73.9 yards per game. Some quick math contends regular-sized efforts against the Longhorns and Kansas State over the next two weeks would leave Sims more than 100 yards shy of his objective.
Three times this year Sims has eclipsed 100 yards: 124 against Rhode Island, 114 against Ohio and 124 at West Virginia. He’ll have to out-do himself in order to reach 1,000. The confident young wideout needs just more than 130 yards each of his final two outings to make it happen.
“I don’t think it’s gonna be difficult,” Sims responded when asked whether his new target was attainable. “I just have to keep coming to work every day and preparing hard — attention to details, studying film, studying my opponents. I think that’s all, and the rest will take care of itself.”
Kansas head coach David Beaty said Sims reminds him of Ryan Swope, a receiver he had at Texas A & M.
“You know, he's not the biggest guy,” Beaty said of Sims, listed at 5-foot-10 and 176 pounds, “but, man, acceleration-wise, he's got some juice to him now. He is a quick, quick dude.”
Swope finished his senior season under Beaty’s tutelage with 72 catches, 913 yards and eight touchdowns. A 6-foot target for Johnny Manziel who played a key role in the Aggies’ road upset of Alabama in 2012, Swope posted the fourth-best 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL Draft Combine and was taken in the sixth round before retiring due to a history of concussions. Beaty called him as “good of an accelerator as anybody” he ever has coached.
“Ryan finished runs a little bit more than Steven did, but I also had him when he was a senior. So I don't think he was always that way. But (Sims) does remind me a little bit of Swope. Swope was a little bigger than he was. But I like the guy's development,” Beaty said of Sims, who had 30 catches for 349 yards, with two touchdowns, as a freshman in 2015. “There is no doubt about it. He's a talented guy. He can play just about anywhere.”
Sims has made at least one catch in 21 consecutive games for Kansas and says he can feel his confidence building every game.
“Especially from last year,” Sims said. “Last year, I was kind of still nervous out there. Just playing, having fun. This year, I’m more focused and I feel like I’m a reliable guy for Carter (Stanley, KU’s new No. 1 quarterback) every play, to be honest.”
In his mind, Sims wouldn’t have accomplished all of his sophomore goals already without the help of first-year Kansas receivers coach Jason Phillips, who worked previously at SMU, Houston and Baylor.
“Another year with him, I can’t wait to see what I do,” Sims said.
In the meantime, KU’s leading receiver will try his best to hit his updated — and lofty — goal.