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John Reagan knows how to build blockers, but needs more building blocks

In addition to designing an offense that makes sense for the personnel on hand, new Kansas University football offensive coordinator John Reagan must develop young blockers into Big 12-ready offensive linemen.

It’s not an easy task for anyone, but it’s not as if Reagan hasn’t been there, done that. Reagan built quite the resume in his five seasons as O-line coach under Mark Mangino (2005-2009). In 2008, Reagan’s line featured a pair of red-shirt freshmen (Jeremiah Hatch and Jeff Spikes) at tackle and a former walk-on (Adrian Mayes) at one of the guard spots.

Reagan’s known throughout the industry as a relentless driller of fundamentals.

But the former Syracuse lineman faces quite the challenge in working his magic in time to provide ample protection for Jake Heaps, the favorite to earn the starting quarterback job, provided the coaches are confident he won’t face the same pass rush that hammered him into retreat mode the first two-thirds of last season.

On paper, KU looks as if it has enough strength and experience to get the job done in the middle three positions.

Center Joe Gibson impressed during his red-shirt season. Juco recruit Keyon Haughton, enrolling for second semester, will get a chance to show what he has at center and guard in spring football. Returning guards Ngalu Fusimalohi, Damon Martin and Mike Smithburg make that a position of strength.

It’s at tackle that KU appears frighteningly thin and could use a boost from a graduating transfer with one remaining year of eligibility. (Rice has no such players who fit the profile.) Sometimes, the most frank assessments of position outlooks are offered by players who have used up their eligibility, such as Gavin Howard, who spent five years in the program and made at least one start at all five O-line positions.

“Losing that experience always is going to hurt, but the good thing is we have the three guards coming back that all have good experience,” he said. “And I’m really expecting big things out of some of those young guys. (Brian) Beckmann, I’m expecting big things out of him. He’s just got to get his confidence down. He’s got great footwork. He’s long. He’s got a good body. I’m expecting big things out of Beckmann next year.”

A 6-foot-6, 300-pound 2012 graduate of Blue Valley West High, Beckmann was ranked third-best overall prospect in Kansas heading into a senior season he missed with a shoulder injury. A three-star recruit, he also was offered a scholarship from Kansas State. A tackle, he has three remaining years of eligibility and has yet to appear in a game.

Howard also praised Gibson and mentioned Bryan Peters, who will be a fourth-year junior, as a ready-for-prime-time tackle prospect.

“Peters, he came in a little soft as far as weight-room wise,” Howard said. “But he’s really started hitting the weight room a lot, so I’m expecting good things out of him next year. There’s definitely talent there. The real issue is going to be there are not very many guys.” Devon Williams, a 6-5, 340-pound tackle from Georgia Military, has made a verbal commitment. It would be nice to have the luxury of red-shirting juco linemen, but he’ll be a candidate for a starting position the day he walks on campus for summer conditioning.

At least the linemen will be taught well.

“Coach Reagan’s a good guy,” said Howard, recruited to KU by Reagan and instructed by him during his red-shirt season. “He plays smart football. He knew about angles and how to take angles to get up there. And he really worked well with younger guys like Tanner (Hawkinson) as a freshman, Spikes and Hatch as freshman tackles. He did a real good job with younger guys. I think he’ll do a good job of molding those younger guys like he did when he was at Kansas with (Mark) Mangino.”

Still, Reagan will need more materials than what the roster offers at the moment.

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Comments

Dirk Medema 9 months ago

Pat Lewandowski, OT, 6-5 1/2, 295, Sr.

Zach Fondal, OT, 6-5, 295, Sr.

Joey Bloomfield, OT, 6-6, 295, RSFr.

Brian Beckmann, OT, 6-6, 300, RSFr.

Sean Connolly, OT, 6-7, 295, RSFr.

Ngalu Fusimalohi, OG, 6-2, 310, Sr.

Mike Smithburg, OG, 6-3, 300, Sr.

Damon Martin, OG, 6-3, 300, Jr.

Bryan Peters, OG, 6-3 1/2, 295, Jr.

Keyon Haughton,#8 OG (JC), 6’2’', 305, Jr.

Devon Williams, #13 OG (JC), 6’5’', 330, Jr. (redshirt?)

Apa Visinia, #61 OG, 6’3’', 396, Fr.

Dylan Admire, OC, 6-3, 280, Jr.

Joe Gibson, OC, 6-3, 280, RSFr.

Jacob Bragg, #3 OC, 6’4’’, 314, Fr.

No mention of Top 300 Recruit Jacob Bragg. Not often that true Fr play, much less as the qb of the OL, but a top 300 recruit would seem to be a good candidate. Also, with 5 OT's, 7 OG's, and half a recruiting class to go, it would seem that there are a few blocks to build with. The 2nd half of this class could be important none the less.

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Jim Stauffer 9 months ago

This same group with a different coach might look less than it does with Reagan as the coach. He can build not only individuals on the line but a cohesive unit as well. That is what was needed this past year.

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Aaron Paisley 9 months ago

Pick the 5 best linemen and put them on the field.

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Brandon Mahon 9 months ago

Reagan has shown that he can build a solid offensive line.... look back at the orange bowl run.., We still have a over a month until signing day. Reagan, Weis, and Mitchell need to get out there and get us some more recruits. There still plenty of top 300 players uncommitted hopefully we could steal one or two of them....

The one thing I can hope for is that Weis makes a couple more staff changes. Idk if he is waiting until the season is over or if he cant find anyone but I think the QBs and the WRs need a little change of coaching scenery, if you know what I mean.

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