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Kansas football top 25 difference-makers: No. 3, WR Steven Sims

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Kansas junior receiver Steven Sims Jr. runs upfield after making a catch in preseason practice on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

Kansas junior receiver Steven Sims Jr. runs upfield after making a catch in preseason practice on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. by Mike Yoder

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.

Comments

John Fitzgerald 2 months, 3 weeks ago

There's been a lot of talk about Sims and Charlot, but it appears Jeremiah Booker may be in for a beakout season. I haven't heard a ton about him, but everything I've heard has been great. I remember in one of the articles it was mentioned that he is a possession receiver, meaning if you need a first down he's your guy.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Impressive guy and I like the fact that he wants to be a leader and wants to be recognized as one. He is a dynamic presence who should be even ore impactful this year as if we get more balance on the offense and open up the field for him.

I would prefer not to see him on punt return - we have to have other options that won't put our most dangerous offensive weapon at risk in exchange for what, in most instances, is a 4 or 5 yard gain.

Dirk Medema 2 months, 3 weeks ago

In the article about PR, the risk was discussed as well as the reward with specific references to Dede Westbrooke and future potential.

IIRC one of the games last year also went from being a comeback to a close game to out of reach based on a return TD.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah, punts sometimes get returned for touchdowns. The all time NCAA leader returned 8 for OU, second was Wes Welker with 7 on 259 attempts. So, the second best returner in history had less than a 3% chance of returning for a touchdown. The same Wes Welker that will probably go into the NFL Hall of Fame. So, assuming that Sims won't necessarily have the production of Wes Welker, let's say he has a 1% chance. It's not worth the risk with a roster this thin and so few difference makers.

And the team shouldn't be sacrificed so that the coach can enhance a player's NFL draft stock.

Randy Bombardier 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I think Sims is going to have a terrific year. Glad he will be back there handling returns. Would also like to see Schadler with his speed and Hampton with his elusiveness. Maybe Mike Lee for kicks so to speak.

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