Two factors weigh against Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong, an early entry into the NFL draft: His 40 time of 4.87 and 2017 sack total of 1.5.
Factors weighing in Armstrong's favor: Arm length (34.75 inches), hand size (10 inches), three-cone drill time (7.12), 20-yard shuttle time (4.23), 2016 sack total (10) and relentless effort during a three-year Kansas career.
Put it all in a blender and what does it spit out in terms of where Armstrong will be selected in this week's NFL draft?
I'll set the over/under at the 124th overall selection, which comes in the fourth round and belongs to the Kansas City Chiefs.
I'd like to hear feedback on whether Armstrong will go before pick No. 124 or after and why.
Top 25 defensive end draft prospects, per draftcountdown.com, who logged times of 4.87 or worse at NFL draft combine:
|Ht/Wt||40 time||2017 sacks|
|3. Sam Hubbard (Ohio State)||6-5-3/8, 270||4.95||7|
|8. Arden Key (LSU)||6-4-7/8, 238||4.88||4|
|12. Chad Thomas (Miami)||6-5, 281||4.92||5.5|
|14. Breeland Speaks (Ole Miss)||6-2-7/8, 283||4.87||7|
|15. Dorance Armstrong (Kansas)||6-3-5/8, 257||4.87||1.5|
|18. Kentavius Street (NC State)||6-2-1/4, 280||4.87||2.5|
So what do yo say, will Armstrong go before or after selection No. 124 in the NFL draft? The first round takes place Thursday, the second and third rounds Friday, and the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds Saturday.
If Armstrong were to go to the Chiefs at No. 124, that would make him the highest Kansas draft pick since safety Darrell Stuckey went to the Chargers in the fourth round with the 110th overall selection in 2010.
Before taking one look at the name on his diploma and deciding you don’t like him, first consider that new Kansas offensive line coach A.J. Ricker once inspired a big ovation from you at Memorial Stadium.
“Out on that field right there, with Brad Smith at quarterback, he was (calling an audible) and I snapped it early and he wasn’t ready for it,” said Ricker, a 2003 first-team All-Big 12 center at Missouri. “I never thought you could shotgun-snap a ball 20 yards. I sure did.”
And the fans cheered. Not that Ricker’s face could have turned any redder than it already had.
“The worse feeling in the world is when you’re playing the line, you’re blocking a guy, and his eyes get big,” Ricker said. “Why is nobody doing anything? And you turn around and Brad Smith is trying to get the 20-yard shotgun snap.”
The verbal darts sent on walks from the visiting locker room to the team bus, those he enjoyed. Such is the fate of a visiting player in a big-time rivalry. You get to play the role of villain, which can bring out the best in competitors.
“I just remember going in the parking lot, whether it was the cheerleaders or whoever it was, giving you nice gestures,” Ricker said. “Man, it was awesome. The only thing that got corny to me, when we beat each other we would tear down the goalposts. I’m like, ‘What are we doing?' It’s a rivalry.”
On hiatus to the chagrin of Ricker and players from both sides of the Border War.
“I like rivalries,” Ricker said. “Growing up in Texas, Texas and Texas A&M don’t play anymore. I was a part of Missouri-Illinois, that border-war game. Nobody wants to play that game to open up the season. I get that, but it is kind of sad seeing those rivalries going away.”
Bitter feelings have a way of lingering.
“I heard from teammates,” Ricker said of going to work for the other side. “They’ll all never talk to me, that’s what they say. They would all do the same thing obviously. The rivalry has kind of gone away. That’s what’s crazy. They don’t play each other anymore. I did have to hear about it for about a week. (Former Missouri coach Gary) Pinkel texted me congratulating me.”
Missouri went 11-3 in Ricker’s first season as Pinkel’s offensive line coach, lost his job when Pinkel retired and then went to Illinois, but it was short stay because the Illini made a coaching change, hiring Lovie Smith.
“So Lovie cut me for a third time,” Ricker said.
Smith was coach of the Chicago Bears when he cut Ricker.
“Twice,” Ricker said. “Not once, but twice. … Lovie’s a great coach. I get it. Obviously, being in the profession, I get it.”
He no doubt also gets that job openings don’t come about if everything was going great for the predecessor.
It’s easy to make the case that Ricker has the toughest job in the Big 12. Exhibit A: Kansas doesn’t have enough healthy bodies at O-line to play a spring football game and instead will hold a public practice, 1 p.m. Saturday.
Left tackle Hakeem Adeniji (shoulder surgeries) and right guard Chris Hughes and reserve tackle Cam Durley have been limited by injuries this spring and were unavailable to play in the spring game, which left KU with nine healthy offensive linemen. Returning center Mesa Ribordy retired from football because of a concussion history.
David Beaty has toned down his wild-eyed optimism this spring, a conscious move that has resulted in the compliments he does pay to certain aspects of his fourth team carry more credibility.
Beaty singled out the cornerback position as the most improved on the team, which is a good thing, because it had such a long way to go.
"I am most excited about the corners," Beaty said. "I just keep coming back every week to the corner group. And we've got more of them, and we still have two more coming, which is great."
The most intriguing of the two cornerbacks who will join the program in June are Elijah Jones, who had committed to Central Florida but backed out after head coach Scott Frost left for Nebraska. He's a three-star recruit who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 175 pounds. Jones is a native of Fort Meyers, Fla. who played juco ball in Iowa. Elmore Hempstead, 6-0, 185, turned down scholarship offers from Arizona State, Central Florida and Iowa State to sign with Kansas.
They'll add depth, but it's primarily four corners already in camp who have convinced Beaty the team's pass coverage will be better: juniors Hasan Defense and Kyle Mayberry, freshman Corione Harris and senior Shakial Taylor.
"Each week I see one of those guys getting better," Beaty said. "Shak Taylor sticks out to me this week. Corione Harris is getting better by the day at what we're doing. He's very athletic, but he's becoming more of an efficient player because he's learning what to do."
It's not uncommon for cornerbacks to make big strides in their second year in the Big 12 after the shocking baptism that long, fast receivers put them through as rookies.
"Definitely," Defense said of expecting a big improvement in his second year in the pass-happy conference. "Big things are in store, I can promise you that."
Clint Bowen coaches cornerbacks now and Kenny Perry has moved to a new role as special teams coach.
"There's just a whole slew of them," Beaty said of corners who have improved. "Kyle Mayberry is doing some things over there that I wasn't quite sure that I would see him do. But he's done a nice job. I think Coach Bowen has done a really good job with those guys."
Kansas finished 126th in the nation with 296.8 passing yards allowed per game and surrendered 31 touchdown passes with just four interceptions in 2017. Dreadful numbers.
The beauty of the rule that allows college players to declare for the NBA draft without hiring an agent and then attend the NBA draft combine is that some of the best basketball mechanics in the world give them a free look under the hood and then present them with options and advice on how to become more efficient.
One of those options is to return to school if NBA talent judges tell them they aren’t ready for the world’s most competitive league and let them know what they need to improve to become more prepared.
From the outside, it seems as if Udoka Azubuike faces two easy decisions: Declare for the draft without hiring and agent and then return to school for another year after the NBA people tell them what they undoubtedly will, which is that he needs to develop a face-the-basket shot and a better shot from the free-throw line. With any luck, Ricky Barry will be hired at the last minute to work the camp.
Azubuike represents a classic example of a player who would benefit from returning to school. His high ceiling means that by jumping too soon he’ll deny himself the opportunity to come closer to his ceiling if he jumps too soon and rots on an NBA bench.
Even the G League isn’t a great option for him because most guards in that league hog the ball and would deny Azubuike the touches he needs to develop a better offensive game. He never would gain the confidence needed to become significantly better offensively. Plus, he can work on doing a better job of guarding face-up big men and improve his ability to guard the pick-and-roll, which he'll need to do constantly in the NBA.
He’ll have an even better chance to figure out how to score and pass out of double-teams next season. Defenses won’t be as mindful of shutting down 3-point shooters simply because Kansas won’t have as many, so Azubuike will be a great focal point of defenses. He'll need to become more creative and he has shown, even more than most, the more experience he gains, the better he becomes.
Why even go to the combine? Better question: why not?
He’s not likely to hear anything his coaches don’t already tell him, but affirmation never hurts. Azubuike’s a tremendous NBA prospect, but at this point that’s all he is, a prospect. He’ll add more polish playing in pressure-packed games in front of big crowds than in the G League and will gain more confidence as one of the main pieces of a highly ranked team.
Bookmark pgatour.com to follow former three University of Kansas golfers who are members of three different PGA tours.
Gary Woodland scored his third career PGA Tour victory at the Pheonix Open on Super Bowl Sunday. After missing the cut at The Masters, Woodland is taking off a second week in a row before resuming his schedule.
Chris Thompson of the Web.com Tour finished in a tie for seventh at the Panama Championship the same day Wooldand won. Thompson tees off No. 10 Thursday in the first round of the North Mississippi Classic.
Defending Big 12 individual champion Chase Hanna is playing on the Latinoamerica Tour, which makes a stop in Buenos Aires, Argentina this week. Hanna tees off at 11:40 a.m. Thursday.
Live scoring is available for all three tours, and extensive statistical information is tracked for players on the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour. A look at how Woodland, 33, Thompson, 21, and Hanna, 23, are doing so far this season.
|Former KU golfer
||61.77 pct. (89)
||58.33 pct. (90)
You likely have heard it uttered about Jim Boeheim, John Calipari, Tom Izzo or Bill Self, if not all four, at least once: "Yeah, but he's only won one national title."
As if coaches who have won multiple titles are walking all over the place at the Final Four. Before reading the next paragraph, close your eyes and see if you can guess how many active college basketball coaches have won multiple national titles.
Now open them. The answer is three: Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (five), North Carolina's Roy Williams (three) and Villanova's Jay Wright.
There are only seven active coaches who have won at least one.
|Mike Krzyzewski (5)
||Duke||1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015
|Roy Williams (3)
||2005, 2009, 2017
|Jay Wright (2)
In addition to the three active college coaches with multiple NCAA tournament titles, 11 coaches who are either deceased, retired or working in the NBA have won more than once.
||1948, 1949, 1951, 1958
||UCLA||1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969
1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975
||Indiana||1976, 1981, 1987
||1999, 2004, 2011
The Montell Cozart who played one season for Boise State was so superior to the quarterback who played parts of four seasons with Kansas that it became easy to draw a couple of conclusions.
First, Cozart must have had better blockers and receivers surrounding him in his final season. Second, he must have received superior coaching.
Cozart’s numbers playing half of his Kansas career for Charlie Weis weren’t much different from his numbers playing for David Beaty.
Then Cozart competed for Bryan Harsin at Boise State in 2017 and was a completely different quarterback.
Cozart at Kansas: 5.7 yards per pass attempt, 14 touchdown passes, 19 interceptions. Cozart at Boise State: 7.8 yards per pass attempt, 10 touchdown passes, one interception. Under Beaty, Cozart and Ryan Willis, both graduates of Bishop Miege High, lost the job to each other. Neither QB ever played consistently well enough to claim it outright.
Cozart headed west as a graduate transfer, Willis east to Virginia Tech, where he sat out a season as a redshirt.
Early returns suggest Willis might be in line for a big improvement as well. Josh Jackson is expected to start at quarterback for Virginia Tech, but it was Willis who had the more impressive spring football game Saturday.
Willis completed 10 of 15 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns. He hit Sean Savoy in stride on a sideline sprint that went 83 yards. Willis also completed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Phil Patterson on a post pattern.
Willis has two remaining years of eligibility. In two seasons at Kansas, he compiled statistics similar to Cozart’s. Willis averaged 5.9 yards per pass attempt. He threw 11 interceptions and 17 touchdown passes.
Tight end Jace Sternberger joined Cozart and Willis in leaving the KU football program after 2016, his second season in Lawrence. Sternberger redshirted in 2015 and was used mainly on special teams in 2016. His only reception, for a 5-yard gain, came on opening week against Rhode Island.
Confident in his ability to draw interest as a junior-college recruit, Sternberger had a big juco season, signed with new Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher and stood out Saturday in the Aggies’ spring game. Sternberger caught eight passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. The first question put to Aggies quarterback was about Sternberger’s value.
“Very, very valuable,” QB Nick Starkel said. “He’s a playmaker. He’s been making those plays every day, ever since he got here. Coach [Tim] Brewster’s on him really hard every day because he sees the potential in him, and I see the potential in him. I tell him every day, ‘Man, you’re a great tight end. Let’s go be great out there.’ ”
Successful football coaches have a way of drawing greatness out of talented athletes.
Shortly after the Boston Celtics hired as head coach Brad Stevens away from Butler in 2013, I had an informal discussion with someone who works in the NBA about what type of college coaches are best equipped to make the transition and whether Bill Self was among them.
He said a college coach had to be smart enough to know that not everything that works with college athletes works with professionals, so the coach had to be willing to adjust and couldn’t be too dictatorial, too stubborn to change.
He also said that his personal list of coaches able to fit just that one criterion was very short. Self was on his list. So was Billy Donovan, since hired by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jay Wright of Villanova and Chris Mack, who recently left Xavier for Louisville.
Now that’s just one man’s list and it doesn’t mean his list of nearly five years ago has anything in common with that of current New York Knicks management, but it is interesting that the Knicks reportedly have reached out to Wright, winner of two of the past three NCAA championships.
Should Wright turn down the Knicks, could Self be contacted next? Anything’s possible. The Cleveland Cavaliers, shortly before re-signing LeBron James, expressed interest in stealing Self from Kansas, but the interest wasn’t mutual.
I've always viewed an NBA job as something that only would interest Self as a last stop toward retirement, but with the landscape of recruiting in college basketball under so much scrutiny and possibly headed for change, many college coaches might find the NBA more tempting than in the past.
After the Celtics hired Stevens, Matt Norlander of CBSsports.com compiled records of coaches who left college jobs for the NBA in the previous 22 years. The damning data: a .559-900 (.383) record in the regular season, 3-12 in the playoffs. P.J. Carlesimo coached three playoff victories and went 136-109 in the regular season.
Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Tim Floyd, Mike Montgomery, Reggie Theus and Leonard Hamilton all posted losing records, although Pitino went 90-74 in an earlier stint with the Knicks.
Stevens (221-189 regular season, 11-17 playoffs) and Donovan (150-96/12-11) have bucked the trend. Fred Hoiberg (110-136/2-4) hasn’t fared as well.
It makes sense that Wright was the first college coach mentioned for the Knicks' job. Watching Villanova attack Kansas with five skilled players armed with 3-point range it was difficult not to think of the Golden State Warriors and other NBA franchises.
Entering his 11th season in Durham, head football coach David Cutcliffe really has things humming at Duke, former perennial football doormat.
Cutcliffe's Blue Devils, who hammered Kansas 41-3 in 2013, have had a winning record in four of the past five seasons. His 2012 squad ended the school's 18-year bowl drought. Despite all that success, the Blue Devils still must play in front of so many empty seats.
Among the 65 power-five schools, plus Notre Dame, Duke had the second-lowest average attendance in the nation (26,797) in 2017. It's not cool to be a football fan at Duke. Krzyzewskiville is cool. Shame.
At least Kansas has a legitimate excuse for even smaller, albeit just barely, crowds (26,641). The Jayhawks are 3-33 the past three seasons. Nobody wants to watch their teams lose, especially in such uncompetitive fashion.
Eighty percent of power-five football programs draw more than 40,000 fans per game and 97 percent draw more than 30,000 a game, Duke and Kansas being the lone exceptions.
For winners and losers, though, crowds at college football games have been on a steady decline in recent years. A look at the 13 power-five schools with the smallest football crowds:
|Power 5 School||2017 Attendance
Most children dream about becoming rock stars and professional athletes, lottery winners and world-famous fashion designers, cops and firefighters, doctors and lawyers, stuff along those lines.
Just in case a boy or girl out there with eyes closed is imaging the pageantry of inauguration day and that first year as chancellor of the University of Kansas, snap out of it, and don’t ever let yourself go there again.
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, welcome to the chancellor’s mansion, aka “The Outlook.” Where would you like me to put your bags down? Over here, OK, enjoy your new residence and prestigious job.
Hello, ticket scandal. It happened Gray-Little’s first year at the prestigious post and turned it into a waking nightmare for a while.
Dr. Douglas Girod, your turn. Hope you enjoyed those opening months of relative calm, aside from the weekly embarrassments on the gridiron, which not many people witnessed anyway. Now your have your very own version of the ticket scandal: Adidas payola.
Girod’s baptism included witnessing a 14th consecutive Big 12 basketball title and a trip to the Final Four. Time will tell if all that really happened or was just an illusion captured by the word "Vacated."
Silvio De Sousa, as hungry a rebounder as Kansas has had in quite some time, became a productive player just in time to help KU make it to the Final Four, even with center Udoka Azubuike slowed by a sprained MCL of the left knee.
The federal indictment released Tuesday charged that the guardian of a player who announced on August 30 he would be attending Kansas, proving wrong those who guessed he would attend Maryland, would receive payment from Adidas.
De Sousa’s guardian, Fenny Falmagne, denied to the Journal-World’s Matt Tait taking any money to steer the power forward to Kansas.
If it’s proven that De Sousa was steered with a payment and he knew about it, the NCAA could rule that Kansas played an ineligible player and he would have to forfeit eight victories from the Big 12 regular season, one nonconference victory (Texas A&M), three Big 12 tournament games on the way to the title, four NCAA tournament games, and the word “Kansas” would be changed in the 2018 Final Four record book to “Vacated,” which could explain why Villanova had such an easy time scoring.
It’s all such messy stuff to have to come across a chancellor’s desk. Normally, I’d say football season can’t come soon enough for the chancellor, but we all know how that story will unfold.
By the way, walking in East Lawrence Tuesday evening, I caught up to Gray-Little. As much as I hate being the bearer of bad news, I was the first to let her know that the Adidas scandal had reached Kansas and asked her if she would want to give me a comment.
“Oh, no,” she said.