Predicting 2019’s top Jayhawks: No. 4, CB Hasan Defense
As the start of the college football season inches closer by the minute, here at KUsports.com and the Lawrence Journal-World we are counting down to kickoff by each day revealing a new KU player on Benton Smith’s list predicting the top 11 Jayhawks for the 2019 season.
Les Miles will lead the Kansas football team onto the field for the first time on Aug. 31 versus Indiana State.
Switching positions proved to be a serious test for Hasan Defense a year ago. A cornerback at heart, Defense gladly made the move the Kansas coaches asked him to, though.
Playing safety came with some road bumps and miscues. And somehow Defense still led the Jayhawks with seven pass breakups and tied Shakial Taylor for the team lead with three interceptions.
Now that the 6-foot, 193-pound senior from Jacksonville, Fla., is back at corner, he feels poised for his best season in a KU uniform.
New defensive backs coach Chevis Jackson decided to put Defense at the right cornerback spot ahead of spring football, and once Jackson did, other veterans in the secondary noticed the difference.
Said senior Bryce Torneden: “Hasan moving back to corner, he’s balling out.”
It was at cornerback as a sophomore in 2017 where Defense led Kansas with nine pass breakups and also picked off two passes, while playing his first year at the FBS level, after transferring in from Kilgore College (TX) as a three-star juco corner in the Class of 2017.
And it’s at corner where Defense now plans to show he can flourish as a playmaker.
“It’s been fun,” he said of returning to his old spot. “It was a great experience playing safety, loved being able to work with (Clint) Bowen. But I’m happy to be back at corner. Things are back feeling like I’m at home.”
The safety experiment also seemed to sharpen Defense’s leadership abilities and drive him to step up his game. He’s always been comfortable voicing his opinions, but adjusting to a new spot also helped him recognize he would need to perform to speak with authority.
“It’s hard to lead when you’re kind of battling your own battles, you know what I mean?” Bowen said, recalling the lowest points of Defense’s junior year. “The first rule of leadership is you have to be able to do your job. Nobody follows the guy who can’t do their own job. So as he got more comfortable doing his job it started to show.”
Of course, Defense kept moving in that direction as he returned to cornerback. Plus, he said his appreciation for his fellow corners has helped stave off complacency.
“I’m not in a position where I feel comfortable, like being able to slack off or anything, because I have Elmore (Hempstead) behind me, and he’s working every day,” Defense said. “I look at him sometimes, and I’m like, ‘Damn, maybe he should start.’ So I’ve got to work harder.”
With just a few months of college football left to play, Defense is more invested and mature than ever. His new head coach appreciates what he’s seen out of the senior corner, as well.
“He’s a physical man,” Miles said. “Yeah, I think we’ll like him.”