What caught my eye from Day 12 of spring drills
With just two practices and Saturday’s spring game remaining on the schedule before the Kansas University football team hangs up the equipment until August, things are starting to become a little clearer in terms of who fits in where on the Jayhawks’ two-deep depth chart.
Of course, with more than 20 incoming freshmen set to arrive for preaseason camp, things could change quite a bit in the months leading up to the start of the regular season.
For now, here’s what we know based on the small portion of the handful of practices we’ve been able to observe this spring:
• Patterson Back in Pads — After sitting out the last several practices, Daymond Patterson was back on the field Monday, participating at less than full speed. Patterson wore a helmet and pads but was in shorts instead of pants. After taking the field with a little extra adrenaline, Patterson quickly received treatment from the trainers and then joined his teammates. He seemed to be in good spirits and, clearly, was thrilled to be back out there. But he’s still not at 100 percent and I don’t expect to see too much from him Saturday. The important thing here is that Patterson’s leg injury heels in time for the start of the season. Right now, he’s the only proven wide receiver on the roster and there’s no way the coaches are going to jeopardize his season by asking him to do too much during spring ball.
• New Name at Nickel — Sophomore cornerback Dexter Linton was running with the first team defense as the nickel back on Monday. Linton, 5-foot-11, 200 pounds from Arlington, Texas, brings the kind of size and corner skills to the position that former KU defensive back Chris Harris (5-10, 190) did in 2010.
• Bourbon Out 6-8 Weeks — KU running back Brandon Bourbon, a red-shirt freshman from Potosi, Mo., suffered a lower leg injury last week and will be out the next couple of months. Gill said on Monday that he was encouraged by the nature of Bourbon’s injury and that he expected the 6-foot-1, 210-pound back to be ready to go by the time preseason camp opens in August. “He’ll definitely be ready to go in the fall,” Gill said. “It’s an unfortunate situation, but he will be fine and ready to go (this) summer, and, no doubt, he’ll be ready to go in the fall.”
• D-Line Still A Question Mark — The defensive line appears to have undergone another overhaul, as only defensive end Toben Opurum remained in his first-string position from what we saw the last time we were out at practice. Joining Opurum on the D-Line on Monday were tackles Pat Lewandowski and John Williams along with the outside-then-inside-then-back-out defensive end Keba Agostinho. Patrick Dorsey, Richard Johnson and Julius Green all ran with the second unit on Monday.
• Safeties Seem Set — No position is more concrete in terms of first-string talent than safety. Junior Bradley McDougald and sophomore Keeston Terry are your starters there and nobody is even remotely close to pushing them out of those spots.
• O-Line Looking Fine — KU coach Turner Gill has talked a lot about wanting to find seven or eight offensive linemen he feels good about in a rotation. I believe he’s close. The first team is set with Jeremiah Hatch at center, Duane Zlatnik and Trevor Marrongelli at the guards and Jeff Spikes and Tanner Hawkinson at tackle. Beyond them, freshman Dylan Admire has looked good as the second-string center and Randall Dent, Michael Martinovich, Gavin Howard and Tom Mabry have solidified themselves as second-stringers. Those last five were working with the second unit throughout practice Monday. Add to them, the expected return of Riley Spencer and the addition of four or five freshmen and this group has a chance to be deep and talented.
• Thank You, Ms. Lonergan — Lastly, a note of thanks from our staff to KU sports information director Katy Lonergan, who saved KUsports.com online editor Jesse Newell from a total meltdown when she showed him how to reboot his iPhone at the start of Monday's practice. With his phone — which brings you the great videos from practice you've seen this spring — looking dead, Newell had tried everything. He tried to turn it off and then on again, tried to charge it, even searched for a battery to take out and put back in. Nothing worked. But then Katy told him to hold down the button on the top and the "home" button at the same time and within seconds the phone kicked back on and order was restored. Newell quickly went to work on a video of KU's tight ends in action, which should be up shortly. Thanks, Katy!