Kansas football top 25 difference-makers: No. 3, WR Steven Sims
Nobody ever uses the word “potential” when discussing junior wide receiver Steven Sims because he’s so buttoned-up he brings everything he has and doesn’t leave anybody wondering what he might become.
It didn’t take first-year offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Doug Meacham long to single out Sims as the most advanced player in his position group.
Defensive backs and receivers, when asked to name the receiver who stood out the most in spring practice and fall camp, all mentioned Sims first.
Sims’ 72 receptions and 859 yards were the most ever in a season by any Kansas receiver who didn’t have Todd Reesing throwing to him. Kerry Meier (102 in 2009, 97 in 2008) and Dezmon Briscoe (92 in 2008, 84 in 2009) are the only KU players to catch more passes in a season.
The coaching staff also has charged Sims with improving the embarrassingly bad punt return unit from a year ago. KU returned just seven punts for negative-10 yards last season, a number partly attributed to La Quvionte Gonzalez’s inability to field punts.
If Sims can prove he has a knack for returning punts, that will help his chances of making an NFL roster two years from now so it wasn’t a tough sell, not that Sims needs to be sold on doing anything the coaches think he can do to give Kansas a better shot at winning.
Gonzalez, a terrific talent but in many ways the anti-Sims, was kicked off the team. In contrast, Sims has become such a fixture and such a symbol of a model for younger players to follow that a reporter assumed he was one of the team’s five captains and asked him to explain the responsibilities that come with that.
“I’m not a captain,” Sims said.
Reporter: “You’re not?”
Sims: “Not a captain. It’s all right. I want to be a captain, but my peers, they didn’t vote me captain. I’m not mad about it at all. I can continue to lead even though I’m not a captain. My voice can still be heard on the team. So I’m still going to lead in any way I can.”
KU's five captains are defensive linemen Dorance Armstrong and Daniel Wise, linebacker Joe Dineen, wide receiver Jeremiah Booker and out-for-the-season special-teams standout Denzel Evans.
Sims is a candidate to lead the team in receptions, reception yardage, punt-return yardage and receiving touchdowns. That alone will provide plenty of leadership.