Another early practice came with another batch of serious energy from the Kansas University football squad.
Thursday morning's first session marked the beginning of the second day of two-a-days for the Jayhawks this month and, maybe it's the cooler weather or maybe it's their hunger to prove people wrong, but the early wake-up call and looming long day has done nothing to zap the spirits of these guys.
During the time we were allowed to watch practice, I saw more than a dozen guys really bringing it in terms of energy. Some were doing that physically, with their performance during drills and from station to station and others were doing that vocally, shouting encouragement and instructions whenever they thought the intensity was dipping.
Senior defensive tackle Kevin Young was probably the most notable guy in the vocal department. During one D-Line drill, Young seemed to sense that his guys were just going through the motions and, rather than looking the other way, he spoke up.
“We're out here,” Young barked. “We might as well have fun.”
Immediately, the energy of the entire group perked up, as guys started screaming and hollering and going a littl harder.
Here's a quick look at what else caught my eye this morning:
• The other day, I noted that Ty McKinney looked a little sluggish. That was not the case today. Not at all. McKinney may have had the most energy of anybody I saw out there today. His juice and excitement during stretching and warm-ups carried over into the drills and even though he wasn't the fastest or the smoothest dude during the drills he definitely looked like the one giving it max effort. Good to see. I talked to him yesterday and he said he felt great and that things had been going great for him and he was starting to feel very comfortable. The guy's a load and if he's in good shape and picking things up at a good pace, he'll definitely help the D-Line this year and could emerge as a major factor.
• It might have been because I just talked to them all yesterday, but I found myself pulled to the D-Line today. Luckily, there's a lot to watch there. For the first few minutes I was over there, I zeroed in on Keba Agostinho and I have to admit he looked like a different player. Both he and Kevin Young look much more explosive and also seem to have improved their footwork a great deal. It's hard to say exactly what their roles will be this season, but if those two are regular contributors and can make a legit impact, it stands to be one of the cooler stories of the season.
• Granted, it was only a couple of drills, but former walk-on Shane Smith received a lot of love from D-Line coach Buddy Wyatt while I was out there. Makes sense to me. Smith's a hard-working, no-frills kind of guy and, even if he doesn't play a down, he still has a great deal of pride and desire to be the best he can be and do things the right way. There are a ton of guys on the depth chart ahead of him, so it would be really easy for a guy like Smith to just half-ass it. But he doesn't. Ever. That's a major credit to him and I gotta think that could at least land him some kind of role on special teams.
• Finally, I got a closer look at Andrew Bolton today and the potential is obvious. The guy is an athletic specimen and, even while recovering from the knee injury he suffered during his last season of juco ball, you can tell that he's the real deal. Listed at 6-3, 280, Bolton's explosiveness measures off the charts, as proven by the fact that while doing a leverage drill under a four-foot high platform, Bolton was the only one in the D-Line group who consistently banged his helmet off the bar while exploding out of his stance. As mentioned in this article, he's got some rust to shake off but you can see the potential for something special is there.