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David Beaty identifies spring standouts on offense, special teams

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Kansas sophomore quarterback Miles Kendrick pulls back to throw during practice on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Kansas sophomore quarterback Miles Kendrick pulls back to throw during practice on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. by Nick Krug

During the first couple of weeks of spring football, Kansas coach David Beaty hesitated to heap too much praise on individual players for their performances.

Though measured again in his tenor, the fourth-year KU coach found himself more willing to identify spring standouts earlier this week, having observed nine of the team’s 15 practice sessions.

When solicited to disclose which offensive players have delivered behind the closed gates of the practice fields, Beaty said several Jayhawks “have really stuck out” and “deserve to be mentioned.”

The first skill position player’s name to leave Beaty’s mouth belonged to the program’s newest quarterback, sophomore Miles Kendrick.

“His work ethic,” Beaty began, regarding the 5-foot-10 QB who transferred to KU from College of San Mateo (Calif.). “He's thrown 127 passes in the spring through team and seven-on-seven, and he's had two balls intercepted. That's not bad. That's good ball security. That means a guy's prepared and he knows what he's seeing.”

Next, Beaty lauded a pair of upperclassman receivers, both of whom are expected to feature prominently within the team’s passing game this coming fall.

Steven Sims sticks out to me again, just athletically,” Beaty said of the 5-10 senior from Houston. “But just understanding how to become even more of a savvy route-runner, he's doing a nice job.”

The coach then pointed to 6-3 junior Evan Fairs, who began to stand out in November of 2017, with a seven-catch game at Texas and six receptions versus Oklahoma.

“I think he can be a really good player,” Beaty said of Fairs. “I really think he can. We have high hopes for him.”

Subsequently, the coach shifted his focus to what’s left of the team’s offensive line — numerous injuries at the position led KU to cancel a traditional spring game and replace it with a practice. Beaty began at left guard, with redshirt sophomore Malik Clark.

“He's kind of been forced to take more reps than probably he would like. But I think back to him coming in … he was 350-something pounds, and he's down to 325 or so (listed at 320), and he looks good,” Beaty said of Clark, a New Orleans native. “He's getting a lot of reps, and you're starting to see him improve.”

Kansas offensive lineman Andru Tovi, right, Antoine Frazier and Beau Lawrence shuffle through a line of pads during practice on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Kansas offensive lineman Andru Tovi, right, Antoine Frazier and Beau Lawrence shuffle through a line of pads during practice on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. by Nick Krug

KU’s head coach also mentioned banged-up junior O-lineman Antione Frazier before extolling the development of redshirt junior Clyde McCauley, “another guy that nobody talks about very much,” Beaty said of the 6-5, 305-pound tackle, McCauley. “But he may be one of the more improved guys that we've had up front, which is good. He's going into year four for him, so you're starting to see guys' experience pay off a little bit.”

Beaty then circled back to the quarterback position and the improvement of senior Peyton Bender, calling him a “very, very talented guy,” who, like Kendrick, is completing more than 70% of his passes at practices, during team periods and seven-on-sevens.

“Some of the things that we're doing with understanding what we're seeing,” Beaty said in reference to Bender reading defenses, “I think it's really helping him.”

The coach closed his spiel by mentioning tight ends James Sosinski and Mavin Saunders, too, but actually led into his whole rundown of high-quality offensive performers by hailing the efforts of two special-teamers.

“Maybe one of the guys that is most well-respected on this team is Gabe Rui,” Beaty declared of the redshirt senior kicker who made 17 of 20 field goals and went 23-for-23 on extra points in 2017. “Now I know he is not an offensive football player, but he puts up a lot of numbers for us. He has had a terrific spring. He's really done well. His confidence is pretty impressive for a kicker.”

At an often overlooked position, long snapper, Beaty commended redshirt senior John Wirtel for reshaping his body.

“He's almost 255, 260 pounds now,” the coach said of the specialist who missed most of both the 2016 and 2017 seasons with injuries. “He's got NFL caliber. He's a talented guy. Having him back healthy has been good.”

Comments

[''] 2 months, 4 weeks ago

If Sims, Herbert , Adeniji & Wise can stay healthy and Coach Miller can grab the reins on defense (to make them top-90 in total defense instead of Bowen's usual bottom-5 in defensive scoring) this team can start out 2-0. No Big12 wins but 2-10 gets everyone extensions and raises around here so that's all they care about.

Bryson Stricker 2 months, 4 weeks ago

I think you'd be surprised what 2-0 start could do. Could give the confidence needed to play against Rutgers and compete and possibly win. Thats the crazy thing with sports, the ball rolls your way on the right day, a lot of things can happen differently than they would if it didn't.

Look, We beat texas because ball rolled our way, we got #RaiseTheChant activated a year early, signed some kids we wouldn't have gotten and Beaty got an extension.

Was all of that necessary? That's a good argument to have, but that is just the effect of the ball rolling our way ONE TIME.

Bryson Stricker 2 months, 4 weeks ago

MilesKendrickEra is upon us!

That kid is a stud and a leader. Hopefully results on the field will let him reshape our culture this year.

Kevin Robert Fest 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Zzzzzzzz We heard all of this last year and they got killed. Let's just get the season started and see for ourselves. Basically this is the same team that lost 11 games now minus our starting center and best defensive player and oh yeah we don't have enough healthy o linemen.

John Fitzgerald 2 months, 4 weeks ago

I expect Kendrick to start this year. Also if Bender ends up ahead of Stanley on the depth chart I wouldn't be surprised to see Stanley transfer.

John Brazelton 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Every year is a different season. We finally have upper class players through out the team and very close to 85 scholarship players. Once again, it will all depend upon Coach Riker developing a Big 12 Caliber offensive line.

[''] 2 months, 4 weeks ago

And what if Riker is successful and we score 30 points/game but give up our usual 45 points/game?

Aaron Paisley 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Probably means KU would be competitive against most of the Big 12 with the exception of OU and could win some shootouts against the bottom and middle of the Big 12.

Lucas Town 2 months, 3 weeks ago

From Jake Trotter's twitter feed:

David Beaty said Kansas is still 3 years away from getting to the 85 scholarship limit. KU is up to 70 now, which Beaty was actually pumped about. Jayhawks were in the low 50s when Beaty arrived in 2015.

Kevin Robert Fest 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Then we will have a new coach next year l suspect.

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