Kansas linebacker Denzel Feaster shows fire during productive spring
The transition from high school football can take a few years. First there is the issue of identifying the correct position for an athlete making the switch, which can be a fluid process before the right spot becomes obvious. Then there is the challenge of adding weight without losing speed, and, of course, staying healthy enough to continue to refine technique in practice. Redshirt junior Denzel Feaster has had his challenges along the way, but everything seems to be falling into place for the linebacker out of Austin.
On signing day in Feb. of 2015, head coach David Beaty praised then receivers coach Klint Kubiak for finding Feaster, a quarterback who according to Beaty had played just five games on defense. He was recruited as a safety, was switched to linebacker after his redshirt season, and gained as much ground as anyone during the just-completed spring.
For the moment at least, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Feaster has leapfrogged returning starter Keith Loneker and second-teamer Osaze Ogbebor to become a first-team linebacker.
Feaster missed a lot of time with injuries in summer camp leading into the 2017 season, but stayed healthy this spring and put into action the words Beaty said about him on signing day in 2015, when he lauded Feaster’s instincts.
“He will come downhill and he will knock the fire out of you,” Beaty said. “He puts his head on the ball. He doesn’t even know what he’s doing there yet.”
Feaster still “knocks the fire out of you,” but now knows what he’s doing.
He showed as much on the one live kickoff play that was part of the spring showcase when he knocked the fire out of Quan Hampton.
“The thing that I saw in that is I saw Denzel do exactly what we wanted him to do, cross space, near foot compression, hit across the ball, knock the crap out of the guy, which is exactly what he's supposed to do, right, and I saw Quan play at full speed so he didn't get hurt,” Beaty said. “When you start slowing down, you get hurt sometimes. He did a good job there. I know the NCAA and the NFL, they're trying to eliminate that play, and I get it, it's dangerous, but until they eliminate it, we've got to learn how to play it.”