Advertisement

Smithology

15 KU football greats decorate Memorial Stadium’s old exterior

Banners of famed Kansas football players have been added to many of the archways set within the north end of Memorial Stadium. The stadium is pictured on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

Banners of famed Kansas football players have been added to many of the archways set within the north end of Memorial Stadium. The stadium is pictured on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. by Nick Krug

When fans descend upon Memorial Stadium for the first time this season, before they even enter the gates they will be greeted by fond memories, thanks to some of the prominently-displayed most recognizable faces in Kansas football history.

From John Hadl and Gale Sayers to Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, the giant likenesses of Jayhawks associated with on-field success are now plastered on the outside of the team’s nearly century-old home.

One of the 15 player banners even represents someone they can watch live and in person — the most talented player on the 2017 roster, star defensive lineman Dorance Armstrong Jr.

Third-year Kansas football coach David Beaty never has seen junior Armstrong get a big head about any of his accomplishments, so it was an easy decision to sign off on adding the standout defensive end to the stadium’s exterior.

“The one thing that is basically the common denominator amongst those guys is production, right? Dorance is the first All-Big 12 unanimous pick that we’ve had here,” Beaty said. “So that really was where the decision-making was, because that was all above my pay grade, in terms of who went in there. They certainly talked to me about it a little bit.”

When the banners first began appearing on the old facade, someone texted a photo of Armstrong’s to him the first day it went up, in early August.

“I had to make that drive over there and take a picture for myself and send it to my family,” Armstrong said. “I was excited for it.”

Predictably, Armstrong’s family members — particularly his mother, Carol Watson, who “put it out everywhere” — were thrilled by the latest distinction for the Big 12’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

As usual, the humble defensive lineman downplayed the honor.

“I don’t want one thing to feel bigger than the other. It’s keeping me going,” Armstrong said. “That’s what I’m going to use it as.”

Here’s a quick look at the 15 KU players represented on the stadium — although Beaty hinted he’d like to see more former players added in the future.

Nick Reid

The Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, as a senior the linebacker made 112 total tackles, including 13 for loss. His 416 career tackles are second in program history (Willie Pless, No. 1, 633).

Aqib Talib

A first-team All-American in 2007 and the MVP of the 2008 Orange Bowl, the former KU corner picked off 13 passes in his college days, ranking him second all-time in program history.

Dorance Armstrong Jr.

A consensus All-Big 12 first-team defensive end as a sophomore, Armstrong racked up 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks a year ago, making him the leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year as a junior.

Ben Heeney

In two of his final three seasons the home-state linebacker recorded triple-digit tackles: 112 total as a sophomore and 127 as a senior.

Chris Harris

During four seasons, the cornerback totaled 290 tackles (198 solo). As a junior, in 2009, Harris’ nine passes defended ranked 10th in the nation.

Charles Gordon

He played both receiver and corner for the Jayhawks. In 2005, his final season at KU, Gordon made 34 receptions, scored two offensive touchdowns, totaled 28 tackles and picked off two passes. His seven interceptions in 2004 are the third-best single-season total in program history. He also has returned more career punts (96) than any other Jayhawk.

Ray Evans, John Hadl and Gale Sayers

The only three players whose jerseys have been retired by KU.

Evans (No. 42) is the program’s all-time leader in interceptions, with 17 in the 1940s, including a Kansas-best 10 in 1942. He made first-team All-America in 1947.

Hadl (No. 21) received first-team All-America nods in both 1960 and 1961. He played quarterback and halfback and became a three-time all-conference selection, ending his career with 1,281 passing yards and 1,016 rushing yards.

Sayers (No. 48) joined Hadl as a two-time All-American in 1963 and 1964. He rushed for 2,675 yards and 19 touchdowns in his career. In 1962 he averaged 7.1 yards per carry.

Darrell Stuckey

A key contributor in the secondary and as a returner, Stuckey topped 90 total tackles in each of his final two college seasons, 2008 and 2009. He averaged 25.6 yards per kickoff return as a senior. As a junior, he picked off five passes, contributing to his career total of eight.

Dezmon Briscoe

KU’s all-time leader in receiving yards (3,240), touchdown receptions (31) and 100-yard games (14), Briscoe also is responsible for the two best individual receiving games in program history: 269 yards versus Oklahoma in 2008, and 242 against Missouri in 2009.

JaCorey Shepherd

A receiver-turned-defensive back, Shepherd also returned a Big-12 best 37 kickoffs as as senior, in 2014, leading the league with 773 yards in that category. In his final two seasons, as a corner, he defended 24 passes. Shepherd’s 14 defended as a senior ranked seventh nationally.

Kerry Meier

The Jayhawks’ all-time leader in receptions (226), Meier owns the two best season totals in that category, too, with 102 in 2009, a year after totaling 97. Meier’s 2,309 career yards and 18 career TD’s rank second to Briscoe.

Anthony Collins

A first-team All-American offensive lineman his junior year, in 2007, Collins was an Outland Trophy finalist. The massive tackle helped block for two of the 14 1,000-yard rushers in KU history, Jon Cornish and Brandon McAnderson

Todd Reesing

Name a KU career passing record and Reesing owns it: total yards (11,194), completions (932), attempts (1,461), TD passes (90), completion percentage (63.3%), yards per game (273), 400-yard passing games (4), 300-yard passing games (18).

Reply 7 comments from Dirk Medema Dannyboy4hawks Sae36 Lee Henry Underdog Maxhawk

Say What? Smith discusses KU football’s season-opener vs. SEMO on KLWN

KUsports.com's Kansas football beat writer, Benton Smith, joins Nick Schwerdt on KLWN's Rock Chalk Sports Talk — beginning at the 37:20 mark — to discuss the Jayhawks' Saturday opener versus Southeast Missouri State.

Reply

Kansas football’s top 25 difference-makers: No. 2, DT Daniel Wise

Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise takes off his helmet as he listens to instructions during practice on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise takes off his helmet as he listens to instructions during practice on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. by Nick Krug

Tom Keegan and I collaborated on a list of 25 potential difference-makers for the Kansas football team in 2017 and will release one each weekday leading up to the Sept. 2 season-opener vs. SEMO, at Memorial Stadium. We will list them in reverse order of how indispensable/potentially impactful they are for KU's hopes of having a more competitive season.

No one on the Kansas football roster has started more games for the Jayhawks than redshirt junior Daniel Wise (18). So the massive, fun-loving defensive tackle from Lewisville, Texas, is one of the few people in KU’s locker room who can get away with giving star defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. a hard time.

Wise pounded the interior of so many opposing offensive lines, causing so much trouble in 2016, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound tackle might say, it made Armstrong’s job that much easier on the edge.

Be honest, Daniel. Aren’t you at least partially responsible for Dorance’s success, and his Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year status?

“I let him know,” Wise responded, while laughing. “I trash-talk to him every now and then. I tell him I should get half the award. But, nah, I’m just kidding. He earned it all himself. He went out there and got all those sacks and TFL’s. He put in the work and he deserves it.”

While Armstrong racked up 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks as a sophomore, Wise made 10 takedowns in the backfield of his own while contributing three sacks, helping him land on the Associated Press All-Big 12 second team.

With two stars setting the tone at the line of scrimmage, Wise is eager to see just how productive KU’s defense can become this fall.

“Excited to see what we have and put it together, come against SEMO, our first game of the season,” Wise said. “And obviously still building. A lot more to build and a lot more to prove to people who don’t know us and people who don’t know what’s going on.”

Wise and Armstrong already have the most of the Big 12’s attention, so it’s easy for them to hold each other accountable and inspire the best out of their teammates on the defensive side of the field. What’s more, Wise and Armstrong feed off of each other, because they know the whole team needs that from them.

“It’s a brotherhood. So it’s not that hard,” Wise said. “You see your brother going through some stuff, trying to reach his goal. And that’s my brother (Armstrong), so I’m going to help him reach his goal — not only me, but he helps me, as well.”

KU football's top 25 difference-makers

25 - Quan Hampton

24 - Ryan Schadler

23 - Taylor Martin

22 - Ben Johnson

21 - Isaiah Bean

20 - Josh Ehambe

19 - Bryce Torneden

18 - Keith Loneker Jr.

17 - Dom Williams

16 - Derrick Neal

15 - Khalil Herbert

14 - Charles Baldwin

13 - Shakial Taylor

12 - Chase Harrell

11 - Joe Dineen

10 - Hasan Defense

9 - Mesa Ribordy

8 - Carter Stanley

7 - Mike Lee

6 - Hakeem Adeniji

5 - Daylon Charlot

4 - Peyton Bender

3 - Steven Sims

Reply

Kansas football’s top 25 difference-makers: No. 4, QB Peyton Bender

Kansas junior quarterback Peyton Bender throws during the spring game, on Saturday, April 15, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas junior quarterback Peyton Bender throws during the spring game, on Saturday, April 15, at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Tom Keegan and I collaborated on a list of 25 potential difference-makers for the Kansas football team in 2017 and will release one each weekday leading up to the Sept. 2 season-opener vs. SEMO, at Memorial Stadium. We will list them in reverse order of how indispensable/potentially impactful they are for KU's hopes of having a more competitive season.

The first Saturday of the Kansas football season is upon us, and so, too, is the highly anticipated KU debut of junior quarterback Peyton Bender.

Expected to be the kind of QB the program has lacked for years, Bender, a 6-foot-1 former Mike Leach protégé at Washington State, where he spent his first two seasons, has the familiarity with the Air Raid offense to not just hit the ground running, but hit the turf throwing.

Although the hundreds of quick reads and releases he has made at KU practices through the spring, summer seven-on-sevens and preseason have come almost exclusively behind closed gates, fans and everyone else who cares enough to follow the Jayhawks closely will finally see what Bender can do to invigorate a long-stumbling offense this weekend, versus Southeast Missouri State (6 p.m. kickoff, Memorial Stadium).

Third-year head coach David Beaty hasn’t said as much publicly, but Bender is the inevitable starter entering the season, and is poised to take off with the help of first-year KU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, a deep receiving corps and what Beaty extols as a much-improved offensive line.

No one is proclaiming Bender as a program-altering talent, but Beaty, Meacham and his teammates often during the past several weeks have referenced the ball security displayed during practices and scrimmages.

“The thing that has stuck out to me is just management of a team, and management is a lot of things,” Beaty said of what encouraged him during camp about Bender and redshirt sophomore Carter Stanley. “The number one thing is taking care of the football, not putting the ball in jeopardy and seeing us really focus on an area that we were not very good at last year, which was throwing the ball to the other team.”

And while Bender so often is characterized as a smart read-and-react pocket passer, his position coach, Garrett Riley, says the aspiring Air Raid expert can do more than put the ball on the money.

“I’ll tell you what, Bender can really make some plays with his feet, as well,” Riley said of the former juco standout’s ability outside of the pocket.”

Bender won’t be asked to play like a young Peyton Manning, but he will be charged with distributing the ball expediently to a variety of targets.

Expect to see more moving chains and scoring drives out of a KU offense than you have in nearly a decade — if you’ve bothered keeping up that long.

The Peyton Bender era is here, and for a change, the Kansas offense shouldn’t be unbearable to watch.

KU football's top 25 difference-makers

25 - Quan Hampton

24 - Ryan Schadler

23 - Taylor Martin

22 - Ben Johnson

21 - Isaiah Bean

20 - Josh Ehambe

19 - Bryce Torneden

18 - Keith Loneker Jr.

17 - Dom Williams

16 - Derrick Neal

15 - Khalil Herbert

14 - Charles Baldwin

13 - Shakial Taylor

12 - Chase Harrell

11 - Joe Dineen

10 - Hasan Defense

9 - Mesa Ribordy

8 - Carter Stanley

7 - Mike Lee

6 - Hakeem Adeniji

5 - Daylon Charlot

Reply 13 comments from Randy Bombardier Jmfitz85 Dirk Medema Brock Wells Chrisdeweese Brett McCabe Catsandwich Karen Mansfield-Stewart Steve Corder

Former KU safety Fish Smithson makes a pick, reveals secret behind his name

Washington Redskins defensive back Fish Smithson (25) rushes the ball after intercepting a pass attempt by Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron in the second half of a preseason NFL football game, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Redskins defensive back Fish Smithson (25) rushes the ball after intercepting a pass attempt by Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron in the second half of a preseason NFL football game, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Sunday proved the biggest day to date in former Kansas safety Fish Smithton’s budding professional career.

An undrafted rookie trying to make Washington’s roster, Smithson came up with his first highlight play of the NFL’s preseason, intercepting a pass on national television during the fourth quarter against Cincinnati.

Smithson returned the pick 63 yards in what became the Redskins’ first win of the exhibition schedule.

The 5-foot-11, 196-pound NFL hopeful was feeling so good afterward, he even finally revealed the origin of his nickname-turned-given-name. You may remember that Smithson was born Anthony but hasn’t gone by that in years. During a post-game interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic Sunday, Smithson divulged the secret of how he became Fish.

As he has alluded to before, Smithson said his grandmother made the name stick when he was a boy. It turns out she called him Fish because, at the time, he was scared of the limbless, water-dwelling creatures.

"I used to go fishing with my grandfather a lot when I was younger and he used to reel them into the boat and I always used to run from it,” Smithson said.

The young defensive back has since conquered his ichthyophobia, but also made another confession: he can’t swim.

In three preseason games, Smithson has four solo tackles (six total) and one interception.

Smithson and countless other players around the league will learn what the next several months will look like for them later this week, when NFL teams must trim their rosters to 53 players.

None by NFL

Reply 1 comment from Brett McCabe

Kansas football’s top 25 difference-makers: No. 6, LT Hakeem Adeniji

Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji runs through warmups on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji runs through warmups on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark. by Nick Krug

Tom Keegan and I collaborated on a list of 25 potential difference-makers for the Kansas football team in 2017 and will release one each weekday leading up to the Sept. 2 season-opener vs. SEMO, at Memorial Stadium. We will list them in reverse order of how indispensable/potentially impactful they are for KU's hopes of having a more competitive season.

It takes a special kind of true freshman offensive lineman to start 12 games at tackle, and that’s exactly what Hakeem Adeniji did for Kansas in his debut season.

The 6-foot-4 blocker from Garland, Texas, solidified himself as the left tackle of the present and future for the Jayhawks in 2016. Aiming to play at around 295 pounds in his upcoming sophomore year, Adeniji might not be as heavy as some of the Big 12’s most notable O-linemen, but he’s sturdy, nimble and a natural at his position.

KU’s O-line coach, Zach Yenser, says Adeniji is the rare kind of lineman who can be shown something once and immediately pick it up.

And as Adeniji described earlier this summer, in an interview with KLWN’s Rock Chalk Sports Talk, he also benefits from practicing against Dorance Armstrong Jr., KU’s star defensive end.

“He brings so much that you’re not going to see on a Saturday. Outside of maybe a Jordan Willis from K-State, you’re not gonna find many guys of his caliber in the country,” Adeniji said of Armstrong, a consensus All-Big 12 end as a sophomore and the conference’s Preseason Defensive Big 12 Player of the Year.

“Personally, I love it, because as a competitor I want to be as good as I can be and going against him every day is just fun,” Adeniji added. “I’m always on my heels and I always have to be ready, because he’s going to come at me with something new. We just go back and forth and make each other better.”

Listed at only 265 pounds when he first joined the program just over a year ago, Adeniji takes conditioning and nutrition very seriously to avoid becoming so heavy he can’t move well and pick up his blocks. He said his mother, Semia, always made sure when he and his brother, Moshood (former Air Force O-lineman), were growing up they didn’t eat fast food or things like that. As a result, Hakeem says his body always feels good and that allows him to compete at a high level.

That approach has only developed further this past offseason, with the help of new KU strength and conditioning coach Zac Woodfin. Adeniji said he and the rest of KU’s offensive linemen are reaping the benefits of their offseason work.

“I think we’ve taken another step as far as our strength and conditioning. Personally, I just feel a lot stronger, a lot more powerful,” Adeniji shared. “Just pure strength is one thing, but your ability to unlock that and use it in certain ways, I mean, that’s one thing Coach Woodfin’s done a real good job of, taking us to the next level.”

KU football's top 25 difference-makers

25 - Quan Hampton

24 - Ryan Schadler

23 - Taylor Martin

22 - Ben Johnson

21 - Isaiah Bean

20 - Josh Ehambe

19 - Bryce Torneden

18 - Keith Loneker Jr.

17 - Dom Williams

16 - Derrick Neal

15 - Khalil Herbert

14 - Charles Baldwin

13 - Shakial Taylor

12 - Chase Harrell

11 - Joe Dineen

10 - Hasan Defense

9 - Mesa Ribordy

8 - Carter Stanley

7 - Mike Lee

Reply 2 comments from Randy Bombardier Dirk Medema

Kansas football’s top 25 difference-makers: No. 8, QB Carter Stanley

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) throws during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) throws during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Tom Keegan and I collaborated on a list of 25 potential difference-makers for the Kansas football team in 2017 and will release one each weekday leading up to the Sept. 2 season-opener vs. SEMO, at Memorial Stadium. We will list them in reverse order of how indispensable/potentially impactful they are for KU's hopes of having a more competitive season.

It’s unclear at this juncture just how much Carter Stanley will be called upon this coming season within new coordinator Doug Meacham’s offense. But we know he’s going to play — either as a backup to Peyton Bender or a starter.

The great news for David Beaty is that Stanley, even if he ends up No. 2 on the depth chart, qualifies as a better option than anyone the head coach put on the field at QB in Week 1 of 2015 or 2016.

Stanley began his redshirt freshman season as a third-stringer, but progressed enough behind the scenes to develop into a starter for KU’s final three games, and in those contests the Jayhawks beat Texas in overtime and looked far more competent and competitive than they had most of the season.

In his three starts, Stanley completed 71 of 124 passes (57.3 percent) for 693 yards, with three touchdowns and four interceptions, but he showed toughness and leadership, as well as flashes of his ability to extend plays with his feet.

That characteristic, more than anything else, tends to be the first thing referenced in KU’s QB debate when it comes to differences between Stanley and Bender.

A 6-foot-2 redshirt sophomore from Vero Beach, Fla., Stanley said the longer he’s been at KU the more comfortable he has become in making plays on the move.

via GIPHY

“I think that’s something I’ve always had as part of my game. In high school I think I was able to stay in the pocket a little bit more,” Stanley said. “I think I’ve been able to add skills to my game when I roll out since I’ve been here at KU. The coaches do a great job. We do a scramble drill at least once a week in practice. So the receivers know where to go when the quarterbacks do roll out of the pocket. I definitely think under these coaches I’ve been able to grow in that aspect.”

So is Stanley better throwing on the run, or just tucking the ball and taking off for a first down and/or a chunk-yardage play?

“I think both are there just because the coaches, they teach us about making calculating decisions and making the right decision,” Stanley said. “We’ll watch that on film sometimes and just make sure you make the right decision.”

As Beaty will tell you, most teams need to have two quarterbacks, because staying healthy for all 12 games is no guarantee. So even if Stanley doesn’t end up entering the season as a starter, he will likely still have a significant impact.

KU football's top 25 difference-makers

25 - Quan Hampton

24 - Ryan Schadler

23 - Taylor Martin

22 - Ben Johnson

21 - Isaiah Bean

20 - Josh Ehambe

19 - Bryce Torneden

18 - Keith Loneker Jr.

17 - Dom Williams

16 - Derrick Neal

15 - Khalil Herbert

14 - Charles Baldwin

13 - Shakial Taylor

12 - Chase Harrell

11 - Joe Dineen

10 - Hasan Defense

9 - Mesa Ribordy

Reply 2 comments from Jmfitz85 Randy Bombardier

Kansas football’s top 25 difference-makers: No. 10, CB Hasan Defense

Kansas cornerback Hasan Defense backpedals while covering cornerback Antonio Cole during practice on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas cornerback Hasan Defense backpedals while covering cornerback Antonio Cole during practice on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark. by Nick Krug

Tom Keegan and I collaborated on a list of 25 potential difference-makers for the Kansas football team in 2017 and will release one each weekday leading up to the Sept. 2 season-opener vs. SEMO, at Memorial Stadium. We will list them in reverse order of how indispensable/potentially impactful they are for KU's hopes of having a more competitive season.

Every February on National Signing Day, Kansas football coach David Beaty likes to play a little game with his assistants after all those letters of intent become official, and ask them who they think the “dark horse” of the class will turn out to be.

In 2017, when Beaty conducted his survey on the matter, the name that popped up most often belonged to cornerback Hasan Defense.

A Jacksonville, Fla., native who spent his first college football season at the juco level, with Kilgore College (Texas), Defense wasn’t a highly touted high school recruit, but if he produces the way KU coaches think he has the potential to, the 5-foot-11 corner might end up being the most important newcomer on the roster this fall.

Cornerback qualified as the position with the biggest questions heading into the offseason, because KU wasn’t returning anyone of note at the spot. The sophomore with an appropriate last name, Defense enrolled at Kansas in the spring semester, and soon began showing some of the skills that have him in position to start in his Kansas debut.

“This guy's a talented dude,” Beaty said. “We hope that great things are in store for him, and I know he's going to compete like crazy.”

After going through spring ball and offseason training, Defense became one of the players to stand out in the secondary during preseason camp practices, according to defensive coordinator Clint Bowen.

Ask KU’s top returning receiver, Steven Sims Jr., though, and he’ll tell you Defense began making his case to coaches during spring practices. The Jayhawks’ receiving corps might possess the deepest pool of talent on the roster in 2017, so cornerbacks had to step up or be embarrassed by the likes of Sims, Daylon Charlot, Chase Harrell, Ryan Schadler, Kerr Johnson Jr., Jeremiah Booker and others.

“It helps them,” Sims said. “Coach (Kenny) Perry always tells us that we’re making them better and they’re making us better. So it’s just, you get a lot of different type of corners. Hasan’s kind of a bigger corner. He’s more physical than some of the other guys.”

According to Charlot, the former Alabama wideout, Defense was the defensive back who gave him the most trouble throughout offseason practices and workouts.

“He makes me work every play,” Charlot said, echoing Sims’ assessment that Defense plays the position with a physical edge. “I make him work, too. … Whenever we’re about to run a route, he knows he has to be on his A-game or Coach Perry’s going to chew him out.”

Defense doesn’t get to take any reps off at practices, and it could help him become a consistent producer in KU’s secondary in his first season with the Jayhawks.

KU football's top 25 difference-makers

25 - Quan Hampton

24 - Ryan Schadler

23 - Taylor Martin

22 - Ben Johnson

21 - Isaiah Bean

20 - Josh Ehambe

19 - Bryce Torneden

18 - Keith Loneker Jr.

17 - Dom Williams

16 - Derrick Neal

15 - Khalil Herbert

14 - Charles Baldwin

13 - Shakial Taylor

12 - Chase Harrell

11 - Joe Dineen

Reply

Jayhawks reveal biggest players and plays after Friday scrimmage

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley gives a flying bump to running back Kendall Morris, obscured, as the Jayhawks gear up for practice on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley gives a flying bump to running back Kendall Morris, obscured, as the Jayhawks gear up for practice on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark. by Nick Krug

When David Beaty leaves a preseason practice, it’s difficult for the upbeat Kansas football coach to limit the best plays he saw to one or two.

So when asked Friday morning following the Jayhawks’ scrimmage what stood out on both sides of the Ball, Beaty proceeded to identify more than a dozen players who pleased him with their contributions.

Beaty said KU emphasized a lot of situational work during the morning session, and highlighted the following athletes as standouts from his perspective.

Travis Jordan, fr. WR: “Stuck out to me a lot. He had several targets that came at him and he had some health issues early in camp, and he’s coming back off that and he made several plays today, which were really nice plays — required strong hands and powerful attempts at the ball with guys hanging all over him. That was impressive.”

J.J. Holmes, jr. DT: “Made a couple really nice plays in there today.”

KU’s defense as a whole: “We were down on the goal line a few times today, and watching Joe Dineen, Mike Lee, Osaze Ogbebor, (Keith) Loneker … Daniel Wise made a couple great plays today. Those guys up front, it seems like the tighter we got down the better they played.”

Kansas cornerback Shakial Taylor watches from the sidelines during practice on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas cornerback Shakial Taylor watches from the sidelines during practice on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark. by Nick Krug

KU’s secondary: “Defensively, we’ve got to get more turnovers. But Shak Taylor still continues to show out to me, and Tyrone Miller was running around knocking people out today. Enjoyed watching him play.”

Taylor Martin, jr. RB: “Has played really well over the last week-and-a-half. He’s been explosive. He had a couple of unbelievable runs today. Another one in that stable of backs that really is doing a good job for us.”

KU quarterbacks: “I thought all three quarterbacks played pretty good today, made good decisions. We’ve had one interception in the last three scrimmages, and it was by a brand-new guy. It wasn’t by Peyton (Bender) or Carter (Stanley). So they’re taking care of the ball, which is something (offensive coordinator Doug Meacham) has done a great job of stressing.”

Kansas receiver Kerr Johnson Jr. pulls in a catch during practice on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas receiver Kerr Johnson Jr. pulls in a catch during practice on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark. by Nick Krug

Kerr Johnson Jr., jr. WR: “Everything gets quiet and the next thing you know he’s making a play.”

Quan Hampton, fr. WR: “Just the little Mighty Mouse. Number six, Quan Hampton. That dude is fast,” Beaty said, mid-chuckle, “as all get-out. He is quick and he is strong. I saw him stiff-arm somebody — I’m not going to mention him, because they’ll wear him out over it. But that little dude is strong. He is really fun to watch, man. I’m excited to see what Coach Meacham does with that guy.”

Steven Sims Jr., jr. WR: “Another one. Really good, talented guy.”

Dom Williams, fr. RB: “Man, he had a couple of really good runs today. He’s hard to tackle now. … It was early in the scrimmage and I basically put a big challenge in front of our defense about, ‘Are you gonna be able to get this guy down? Really. I mean, he’s a freshman. Can you get him down?’ And they hit him later,” Beaty said, with a laugh. “They got him one good time, knocked the breath out of him. But that dude, he can run.”

Players’ scrimmage perspective

After Beaty spoke, a few KU players offered their thoughts on the most memorable plays from the morning’s scrimmage.

Dorance Armstrong Jr., jr. DE

“The big stops in the red zone,” the Big 12’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year said. “The offense was at the five-yard line or closer and then we would come out with two or three stops like that. I think that was the most impressive thing.”

As Beaty alluded to, Armstrong thinks the defense has a tendency to respond when the players’ backs are against the wall.

“I think that’s how we’ve been for a while,” Armstrong added. “We need it to be like that every down — not just in the red zone. I like how we’ve come together. We’re like a brick wall, nothing gets through us.”

Peyton Bender, jr. QB

“There was a third down in the red zone where we just had four verticals called,” Bender shared, “and we converted that. That kind of stood out to me that everyone was dialed in, and it was good converting on third.”

On the vertical, Bender hit redshirt sophomore Chase Harrell, listed at 6-foot-4.

“It was Cover-2 and he got a good release,” Bender said. “Hit him at about the three-yard line and he just kind of reached out his arm and got it in.”

According to the junior transfer QB, Meacham called more rushing plays than usual Friday morning, to involve running backs.

“Taylor (Martin) had a really nice run on an inside zone that he took for probably 45 or 50 yards,” Bender revealed. “So I’d say out of all the plays those two kind of stood out to me.”

Carter Stanley, soph. QB

“I haven’t watched the film yet so I can’t think of one in particular, but we had some great situations,” Stanley began. “We had our first four-minute situation of camp today, which is when the offense is up and you’re just trying to run out the clock at that point and win the game.”

In that period, Stanley said he was encouraged by the consistency of the offensive linemen in front of him.

“I don’t think we had any busts up front,” the QB explained. “We ran the ball and we converted on third down, which is nice. Got the ball out to Bobby Hartzog for some first downs, so that extended the drive.”

Reply 3 comments from Benton Smith Dirk Medema Estebanbugatti

Kansas football’s top 25 difference-makers: No. 12, WR Chase Harrell

Kansas wide receiver Chase Harrell (3) is tackled by cornerback Kyle Mayberry (16) after a catch during the spring game on Saturday, April 15, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas wide receiver Chase Harrell (3) is tackled by cornerback Kyle Mayberry (16) after a catch during the spring game on Saturday, April 15, at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Tom Keegan and I collaborated on a list of 25 potential difference-makers for the Kansas football team in 2017 and will release one each weekday leading up to the Sept. 2 season-opener vs. SEMO, at Memorial Stadium. We will list them in reverse order of how indispensable/potentially impactful they are for KU's hopes of having a more competitive season.

From the day Kansas signed receiver Chase Harrell as a long, wiry receiver out of Huffman, Texas, head coach David Beaty hasn’t shied away from hyping up his potential.

In fact, on a number of occasions Beaty has told reporters Harrell reminds him of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mike Evans, a Pro Bowl wideout whom Beaty coached as an assistant at Texas A&M.

Harrell redshirted during his first season at Kansas, and in 2016 only made spot appearances while totaling five receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown in 12 games.

Now a redshirt sophomore, though, Harrell (according to his head coach) is closer to 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds than his 6-4, 215 listing in the spring. And this fall is shaping up to be a breakout season for Harrell.

Teammates rave about Harrell’s size and the extra work he put in during the offseason. If the ball is thrown up, they say, Harrell will do everything in his power to come down with it in his possession.

Harrell gave a preview of his third-year ability during KU’s spring game, when he caught three passes for 51 yards, including an incredible snag near the sideline — prompting veteran Steven Sims Jr. to think Harrell was one of the scrimmage’s MVPs.

via GIPHY

New KU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham considers Harrell not only a big target in his Air Raid scheme, but also the type of receiver whose presence forces defenses to adjust. When Meacham sends Harrell deep, he said that will benefit the Jayhawks’ running backs, too, because defenses can’t afford to leave Harrell in single-coverage down the field.

“He’s just a long fade guy. You’ve got to kind of double him or we’ll just throw the fade to him,” Meacham said of Harrell, whose size gives Kansas a different look than top receivers Sims (5-10) and Daylon Charlot (6-0). “Just having that type of body gets you a high safety, which helps you run the football to his side. There’s one less support player. It helps you in a lot of different areas. Plus, if they ever seam him up you just throw it up. That’s what we do. It’s no secret.”

Harrell recently said the start of preseason practices had him fired up for the quickly approaching campaign.

“I can tell other people are, too, because tension’s getting a little higher. You can tell testosterone’s kicking up,” Harrell said. “I know I’m ready.”

KU football's top 25 difference-makers

25 - Quan Hampton

24 - Ryan Schadler

23 - Taylor Martin

22 - Ben Johnson

21 - Isaiah Bean

20 - Josh Ehambe

19 - Bryce Torneden

18 - Keith Loneker Jr.

17 - Dom Williams

16 - Derrick Neal

15 - Khalil Herbert

14 - Charles Baldwin

13 - Shakial Taylor

Reply 4 comments from Randy Bombardier Jmfitz85 Jim Stauffer

Upload photo Browse photos