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What caught my eye on Day 12 of KU football's spring practices

After going through much of the spring without getting a look at the 2014 version of the Kansas University football, we got a peek and then some on Saturday morning.

Not only as the media able to attend the annual Hannah & Friends football clinic where the Jayhawks and dozens of local people with different abilities ran through football drills and had a rocking good time, but we also were treated to more than an hour of an actual practice, complete with individual drills, one-on-one competitions and seven-on-seven scrimmage.

There was too much out there to waste any more time leading into what I saw, so let's just get right to it. Short and sweet, but it should give you answers to a bunch of questions about this team.

Make sure you scroll down to the bottom for my best guess at what the current spring depth chart looks like, based mostly off of what I saw today.

Here goes:

• It looks as if senior Jake Heaps and sophomore Montell Cozart have established themselves as the top two quarterbacks. Both took reps with the first team on Saturday and Heaps was the first to go out there. After that, Michael Cummings took the next most reps followed closely by UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart throws during drills during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart throws during drills during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

• Offensive line coach John Reagan looks like a difference maker. He coaches with a style that is 100 percent hands-on all the time and he really emphasizes little details and gives great one-on-one attention to every player in his group. Check next week for another blog entry about Reagan. I was so impressed by what he did and how he did it that I think it warrants its own blog.

• The new KU passing game, which was featured during seven-on-seven drills, includes a variety of short, intermediate and deep routes and uses the entire field, sideline to sideline. The tempo is good, the routes appear to be simple but effective and the quarterbacks (all of them) really seemed to have a good feel for how the offense is run and how the routes develop.

• The first-string defense that KU used on Saturday featured five defensive backs and included seven seniors and four juniors.

• It may just be spring practice, but it's obvious that these guys have been working hard. Many guys look bigger and leaner and almost the entire roster gave maximum effort on every drill.

• You might have read the coaches' comments about sophomore defensive back Greg Allen having a great spring. Now I see why they were so impressed. Allen is playing with a ton of confidence and even a little swagger right now. He's big, physical and appears to be playing on instinct rather than having to think.

• It's a minor detail, but I overheard defensive backs coach Dave Campo getting after newcomer Ronnie Davis a little bit during the seven-on-seven portion of practice. It wasn't Campo's ribbing that caught my ear, rather what he said. He pointed out that Davis' feet are too good to allow a receiver to beat him to the inside and such a comment along with when he took his turn during drills leads me to believe Davis already is a second-string cornerback in KU's secondary.

Kansas cornerback Kevin Short (7) knocks the ball loose from a receiver during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas cornerback Kevin Short (7) knocks the ball loose from a receiver during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

• Before seven-on-seven got under way, the wideouts and DBs did a few rounds of one-on-one battles. The best battles by far were: Tony Pierson vs. Dexter McDonald; Nick Harwell vs. JaCorey Shepherd; and Rodriguez Coleman vs. Kevin Short. Each guy won a battle or two during the time these guys locked up but it was the all-out competitiveness that existed between them that most impressed me.

Kansas offensive lineman Damon Martin, left, works with other offensive lineman during drills at a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas offensive lineman Damon Martin, left, works with other offensive lineman during drills at a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

• I already talked about Reagan and how he coaches the offensive line, but it's worth pointing out a couple of things about the players he coaches. Walk-on center Joe Gibson has good size and appears to be in an intense battle with juco transfer Keyon Haughton at center. Haughton appears to be a little more polished and comfortable at the moment, but this one could go on for a while. Pat Lewandowski worked with the first team at left tackle and he looks a little more cut than what he played at last season. Senior Zach Fondal seems to be right there with him, competing for the job, though, so that one is far from settled. Mike Smithburg and Ngalu Fusimalohi appear to be locked in at the guard spots (both have added five pounds) and Damon Martin looks very good at right tackle. If today is any indication of how the rest of the spring has gone, it's safe to say the offensive line is coming together much more quickly and much nicer than the group did last year.

Kansas wide receiver coach Eric Kiesau participates in drills during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas wide receiver coach Eric Kiesau participates in drills during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

• Another new coach who I got my first look at on Saturday was wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau and I was nearly just as impressed by him as I was Reagan. Kiesau is active during drills and he goes out there and physically demonstrates how he wants things to be done and what he wants his guys to do. It was just an hour of one practice, but the receiving corps looks a lot better already.

• Nothing major here either, but the guys who went back to field punts during the final session we saw were: Tre' Parmalee, Isaiah Johnson, Nick Harwell and Kevin Short. All except Parmalee are projected starters elsewhere on the field and all should be in the mix for the job come fall.

Kansas wide receiver Tony Pierson, (3) goes against cornerback Kevin Short (7) in drills during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas wide receiver Tony Pierson, (3) goes against cornerback Kevin Short (7) in drills during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

• Here's a quick look at some seven-on-seven stats (which might very well be meaningless but give you an idea of how the passing game looked): Passing — Jake Heaps 4-for-7; Montell Cozart 1-for-5; Michael Cummings 3-for-4; T.J. Millweard 3-for-4. Receiving — Rodriguez Coleman 4 receptions on 6 targets; Nick Harwell 2 receptions on 3 targets; Tre' Parmalee 2 receptions on 2 targets; Andrew Turzili 2 receptions on 2 targets; Justin McCay 1 reception on 1 target; Jordan Shelley-Smith 0 receptions on 1 target; Tony Pierson 0 receptions on 4 targets; Trent Smiley 0 receptions on 1 target. Defensive Pass Break-Ups — Dexter McDonald 3 (1 interception), Jake Love 1, Kevin Short 1.

All right, now onto my best guess at the current depth chart, which has probably changed a lot over the spring and, no doubt, will change some more when the rest of the 2014 recruiting class arrives this summer.

OFFENSE

WR Nick Harwell 6-1, 193, Sr.
Tre' Parmalee 5-10, 175, Jr.

LT Pat Lewandowski 6-5, 290, Sr.
Zach Fondal 6-5, 295, Sr.

LG Ngalu Fusimalohi 6-2, 315, Sr.
Bryan Peters 6-3, 295, Jr.

C Keyon Haughton 6-2, 300, Jr.
Joe Gibson 6-3, 295, RS-Fr.

RG Mike Smithburg 6-3, 305, Sr.
Joey Bloomfield 6-6, 295, RS-Fr.

RT Damon Martin 6-3, 305, Jr.
Brian Beckmann 6-6, 300, Soph.

TE Jimmay Mundine 6-2, 240, Sr.
Ben Johnson 6-5, 235, RS-Fr.

RB Brandon Bourbon 6-1, 225, Sr.
Darrian Miller 5-10, 195, Jr.

QB Jake Heaps 6-1, 210, Sr.
Montell Cozart 6-2, 195, Soph.

WR Tony Pierson 5-10, 175, Sr.
Andrew Turzilli 6-3, 194, Sr.

WR Rodriguez Coleman 6-3, 190, Jr.
Justin McCay 6-2, 210, Sr.

DEFENSE

LC Kevin Short 6-2, 190, Jr.
Ronnie Davis 6-0, 185, Jr.

NB JaCorey Shepherd 5-11, 190, Sr.
Greg Allen 5-11, 210, Soph.

LE/T Andrew Bolton 6-3, 285, Jr.
Tyler Holmes 6-3, 280, Soph.

N Keon Stowers 6-3, 297, Sr.
Tedarian Johnson 6-2, 290, Sr.

RE/T Ben Goodman 6-3, 250, Jr.
T.J. Semke 6-2, 265, Jr.

BUCK Michael Reynolds 6-1, 240, Sr.
Victor Simmons 6-1, 225, Sr.

RC Dexter McDonald 6-1, 205, Sr.
Brandon Hollomon 5-10, 175, Jr.

SS Isaiah Johnson 6-1, 210, Jr.
Tevin Shaw 5-11, 192, Soph.

MLB Ben Heeney 6-0, 230, Sr.
Colton Goeas 6-2, 245, RS-Fr.

WLB Jake Love 6-0, 220, Jr.
Schyler Miles 6-2, 235, Jr.

FS Cassius Sendish 6-0, 195, Sr.
Fish Smithson 5-11, 190, Soph.

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Comments

Michael Sillman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Isn't Smithburg a Senior? How serious is the loss of McKinney?

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Dirk Medema 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Smithburg is probably one of the JC's we got with 3 yrs of eligibility. There were quite a few actually, and just part of the reason all the JC rants last year were so ignorant.

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Matt Tait 5 months, 2 weeks ago

No. Michael's right. Smithburg's a senior. Sorry about that. It's fixed now. Victimized by some copying and pasting from last year's depth chart. Thought I changed 'em all, but obviously not. Thanks for pointing it out.

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Dirk Medema 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Adding up the 7-7 numbers, there were:

9 incomplete passes by QB's

8 non-receptions by WR's

5 pass breakups by DB's

Is the # disparity a matter of throw aways, drops, or bad note taking?

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Matt Tait 5 months, 2 weeks ago

There were a few drops and a couple of overthrows... Overall, the offense looked pretty good during seven-on-seven drills, especially the first-string guys.

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Dirk Medema 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Is Martin (projected) starting at RT and Bloomfield backing up inside at RG one of those cases of putting the best players on the field. Positionally, it would seem that they would be switched, but Martin certainly would be expected to be ahead of Bloomfield.

Is Faifili back from his injury? Seems odd to not even see him listed on your 2 deep.

Is Cox back? Jenkins-Moore?

Hopefully, at least 1 of the JC DE's/T can step in an at least be a solid back-up by September.

It is tough to think about the back-up QB only completing 20% of his passes, and that's just practice.

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Matt Tait 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I think Martin starting at RT is the plan... Remember, Weis said if he wasn't starting at RG he'd start at RT and with the way Smithburg and Fusimalohi have done/looked at the guard spots, I think Martin's best position right now is RT. He's the strongest lineman on the team and, provided he can pick up the nuances there, he should be a decent to solid option. The most important part about it is they're identifying it and working him there now instead of later.

I don't think Faifili's in the mix.

Cox is back out there, as is Jenkins-Moore, but neither looks quite 100 percent yet.

As for Cozart, I wouldn't sweat the very limited sample size. A couple of his throws were drops. He looked good and looks a little bigger and a lot more confident than a year ago at this time.

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Mark Lindrud 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm glad to hear the recievers and line are showing improvement. Hopefully that ends up being the case and they are ready for the season. I had a feeling Heaps would be the guy. Shall see if that remains the case.

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Matt Tait 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Yeah, Mark... Kiesau is a big upgrade for the WRs... He's sharp, good with the guys, has a ton of experience and works very well with Reagan and the rest of the staff. It's almost like he's been here for years already. Great pick-up.

And Jake looks good. I'm not even just talking about his throws and physical play. He has a whole different energy and bounce to him out there now, almost as if he's been energized by the new offense and he's looking at his senior season as a do-over, a chance to erase last year's disappointing season. Good to see.

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Blake McFarland 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Matt-

What about MJM? Is he still not practicing?

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Matt Tait 5 months, 2 weeks ago

He was out there. He's working at Buck and appears to be behind Reynolds and Simmons. Doesn't look like he's quite 100 percent but it sounds like he's getting closer every day. Still, a lot of guys ahead of him and that's a big obstacle having to come back from that injury.

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Jonathan Allison 5 months, 2 weeks ago

So, if I'm counting right, then 11 projected starters were in the big transfer class last year(including Dex McDonald and Harwell, not including Heaps who was recruited the year before), and 10 of them are JC transfers.

I kinda get the feeling that people want to see MJM and Cox listed up there, as though them earning a spot would serve to validate Weis's Juco recruiting, but there are already a ton of JC guys up there on the top line. This season should show us what our current coaching staff can do with JC guys. If we don't get better results this season then that will be a huge red flag about the coaching staff.

I've been backing Weis for two years, but this season HAS to show a turnaround or else the bandwagon is going to get really, really, really light.

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Mark Lindrud 5 months, 2 weeks ago

So, is TJ out of the running to be #2 QB? How has he looked compared to Montell? It sounds like it is Jake's job to lose, but I am hoping TJ pushes Cozart so that whoever earns the backup spot is truly ready.

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Matt Tait 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I wouldn't say out of the running, but it looks like he's lagging behind in the competition.

Cozart has some experience and looks to be bigger, stronger and more confident than he was a year ago. Heaps is such a veteran that he makes everything look pretty smooth out there during practice.

In my opinion, it'll be hard for anyone to pass either of them...

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