With Saturday’s 1 p.m. kickoff against Baylor set to mark the final home game in the careers of 15 Kansas University football seniors, I thought this would be a good time for a quick look back at each guy.
We’ve heard throughout the week, from teammates and coaches alike, what this group of seniors has meant to this team, to head coach Turner Gill and to the university as a whole.
For the most part, their strong character and unselfishness have been the traits most often talked about. Gill said this week that this year’s seniors have been instrumental in buying in to his approach and helping the program move forward with Gill’s philosophies as its foundation.
“I think that shows what type of people they are,” Gill said. “To understand that it’s about the program, the team and the university shows how unselfish they are. The best way to describe this senior group is they are unselfish and they understand the big picture. I think when you’re able to teach young people to look at the big picture, they’re going to be successful as they move along in their lives. I know success in football is about wins, but I think it’s also going to help those guys understand when they go up against things in life, like interviews and jobs and decisions. We all know in our society today that there is so much instability in our country. Football just helps our guys to be prepared to go on in their lives. We can all be proud of this senior group because of how unselfish they are and they realize what the big picture is all about.”
With that in mind, here’s an individual look at each of the 15 KU seniors who will suit up at Memorial Stadium for the final time on Saturday. It comes complete with a mini-bio, a fun fact and a quote from one of KU’s coaches, Gill, Vic Shealy or Chuck Long.
-- It should be noted that even though WR Daymond Patterson is listed as a senior on the roster, he's been injured most of this year and is likely to return in 2012 after applying for a medical red-shirt. --
No. 19 Isiah Barfield — 5-11, 185, Cornerback, Haven High, Haven, Kan.
Major: American Studies
Fun Fact: In addition to playing football, participated in basketball, track and power lifting in high school.
Shealy Says: “He’s guy that’s well liked by his teammates and is respected by our team and staff alike because you won't ever hear him make an excuse for having made a mistake. He just says, `Yes, sir' and goes on. As a coach you respect that."
No. 86 Tim Biere — 6-4, 250, Tight End, Westside High, Omaha, Neb.
Major: Marketing, with political science minor
Fun Fact: Biere also was a stud on defense in high school and his prep baseball team won a state title in 2006.
Gill Says: “Obviously, Tim Biere’s been outstanding. He’s an outstanding blocker, and outstanding receiver.”
No. 37 Brian Blackwell — 6-0, 210, Linebacker, Herington High, Herington, Kan.
Major: Mechanical engineering.
Fun Fact: Skipped a trip of a lifetime to Shanghai, China for the 2010 World’s Fair to stay in Lawrence with his teammates for two-a-day practices.
Gill Says: “He’s been a linebacker and a strong safety for us, too, and he’s a been a really good leader for us. He encourages and he continues to do things well and also is a very, very good student.”
No. 30 Anthony Davis — 5-11, 205, Cornerback, East Central High, Tulsa, Okla.
Major: African and African-American Studies
Fun Fact: Lists bowling as one of his hobbies. Others include: Video games and eating.
Gill Says: “He’s a guy who can do both as far as playing our field corner and our boundary corner. He’s been playing pretty well these last couple of games.”
No. 92 Patrick Dorsey — 6-0, 273, Defensive Tackle, Yates High, Houston, Texas
Major: African-American Studies and communications
Fun Fact: Was a two-year member of the National Honor Society in high school.
Gill Says: “Pat Dorsey, unfortunately, was hurt earlier in the year, and he’s just now getting back from that foot injury and he played well in this last ballgame against Iowa State.”
No. 77 Jeremiah Hatch — 6-3, 308, Center, Carter High, Dallas, Texas
Fun Fact: Likes to rap and is the leader of a regular practice ritual in which he yells out, “Make ‘Em Say, Ugh” in honor of the Master P song.
Gill Says: “He really has matured just in the year I’ve known him. He probably was a little more reserved than I wanted him to be, but if that’s who he is, that’s who he is. But I’ve seen him kind of get out of that shell a little bit. He’s a different guy from last year to this year. There’s no question about it. In every way. As a football player, as a person, academically, everything.”
No. 97 Richard Johnson Jr. — 6-3, 283, Defensive Tackle, Jefferson City High, Jefferson City, Mo.
Major: American studies
Fun Fact: One cousin, Tony Galbreath played 12 seasons in the NFL. Another, Eric Galbreath played fullback at KU from 1993-96.
Gill Says: “Richard Johnson has definitely come on strong and has done well for us. He continues to improve on the defensive side of the ball.”
No. 52 Steven Johnson — 6-1, 237, Linebacker, Strath Haven High, Media, Pa.
Major: Economics with a minor in business
Fun Fact: In addition to playing in the NFL, hopes to someday start a sporting goods franchise and workout facility.
Gill Says: “He is a guy that is all in to the game. He is very passionate about the game of football and has that same passion about how he goes about talking to his teammates. He wants to perform well and he wants to be the best.”
No. 26 Chase Knighton — 5-11, 184, Wide Receiver, Athens High, Athens, Texas
Major: Computer science
Fun Fact: Transferred to KU from nearby Tabor College and spent some time as a quarterback on the Jayhawks’ scout team.
Gill Says: “He’s played a big role on our scout team or compete team and he’s done a good job as a leader, encouraging his teammates. He’s also a very good student.”
No. 6 Rell Lewis — 5-9, 205, Running Back, Muskogee High, Muskogee, Okla.
Major: Communication studies
Fun Fact: As a red-shirt freshman in 2008, finished the year with three tackles.
Long Says: “Don’t forget about Rell, now. He’s a very valuable member of our running back unit because of his experience. He’s played in some games and he’s a little more reliable in pass protection.”
No. 65 Michael Martinovich 6-5, 279, Defensive Tackle, Cascia Hall Prep, Tulsa, Okla.
Major: Plans to go to law school.
Fun Fact: Father, Rob, played football at Notre Dame and was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Gill says: “He’s done pretty good there for us. We moved him from offensive line to defensive line early in the year to make sure we had some depth there and he’s done a good job for us when called upon.”
No. 87 Ted McNulty — 6-5, 235, Tight End, West High, Iowa City, Iowa
Fun Fact: Younger brother, Andrew, is a quarterback at North Texas, where former KU player and coach Clint Bowen is the defensive coordinator.
Gill Says: “McNulty’s been great on special teams, he’s also been a guy that we can play in a couple of different spots at tight end and he’s been very, very solid for us.”
No. 8 Quinn Mecham — 6-2, 210, Quarterback, Timpview High, Provo, Utah
Fun Fact: Has 12 brothers and sisters.
Long Says: “One thing about Quinn, he’s very smart. He’s one of those guys that we don’t think needs a lot of reps to finish the game or whatever the case may be. And I say that, but everybody needs the repetitions. They need that work. He certainly needs the work. But he’s been so good about paying attention and studying the game and paying attention to who’s in there that at least he’s getting that mental rep up.”
No. 74 Jeff Spikes — 6-6, 325, Offensive Tackle, Harvey High, Painesville, Ohio
Major: Communication studies
Fun Fact: Would like to start a private practice in psychology and become a motivational speaker.
Gill says: “We’re really happy with (Spikes) coming back from injury and helping us solidify our offensive line. He’s played well this year, he’s done very, very good with what we’ve wanted to get accomplished and he’s done well in school also.”
No. 11 A.J. Steward — 6-3, 233, Tight End, Riverview Gardens High, St. Louis, Mo.
Major: Health and physical education
Fun Fact: As a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, spent a few minutes after the Cards beat the Texas Rangers in this year’s World Series running up and down the halls rubbing it in to all his teammates from the Lone Star State.
Gill Says: “A.J.’s more of a pass catching tight end and he’s a real good athlete, as well. He’s really been a good leader for this team as a senior, both on and off the field.”