Offensive line remains soft spot for Kansas football
The Kansas football team has improved its depth through personnel additions and experience at running back, quarterback, the secondary, linebacker and on the defensive line. But the offensive line remains the shallowest, least talented unit on the roster.
New offensive line coach A.J. Ricker has a steep challenge on his hands.
Center Mesa Ribordy's retirement, forced by concussions, set back the team, but Ricker likes what he sees so far from Andru Tovi, who started at left guard last season.
"I think he’s where he needs to be center-wise," Ricker said. "Obviously with his length, he’s got some natural leverage to him. He’s got some grit. Right now we don’t have enough of that. It’s something we’re trying to instill in guys. We’re really concentrating on things that take no talent, like your mindset, your demeanor. But I think he’s at the true position he needs to be for us to be successful.”
Malik Clark worked with the first team at left guard during the spring.
“He’s made some huge strides, still has a long way to go and he knows it," Ricker said. "He’s shown flashes of what Malik can be. It’s just we’re looking for consistency.”
Hakeem Adeniji returns at left tackle but was limited during the spring because he was coming off of shoulder surgeries.
“Hakeem is so athletic," Ricker said. "Is he a prototypical tackle? Probably not, but at the end of the day if he’s our best lineman, that’s where we need him.”
Chris Hughes, injured for much of the spring, returns at right guard, and no obvious candidate has emerged at right tackle. Tackle prospect Cam Durley also battled injuries throughout the spring.
"We haven't seen enough of Cam Durley, but from what I've seen in little flashes, I think he has a shot," Ricker said. "Antione Frazier is what (tackles) are supposed to look like and continued to get better, day by day."
It's rare for incoming freshmen to start at O-line, but Jacobi Lott, a 6-foot-5, 308-pound native of Amarillo, Texas, might have a shot to battle his way onto the depth chart with strong summer and fall camps.
Plus, Ricker said he has not finished recruiting.
In recent years, Kansas has recruited players late, counting them toward the next recruiting class. The commitment of such players is non-binding, so they are able to change their minds right up until the first day of school.
Guard Eddie Tatola, one of Miles Kendrick's blockers last season at College of San Mateo, has told friends he plans to attend Kansas to play football. He passes the grit test.