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Spring dates and other KU football notes

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With temperatures warming and March Madness nearly upon us, those in the Kansas University football program have turned their eyes toward upcoming spring practices.

First-year KU coach David Beaty announced earlier this week that the Jayhawks would kick off their 15-practice spring schedule on March 24. Beaty's first spring in charge of the program will wrap up with the April 25 spring game, scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium.

Portions of the spring practices will be open to the media and both Beaty and his assistant coaches will be available for interviews. According to the schedule released by KU earlier this week, no players will be made available to the media this spring.

Beaty and the Jayhawks enter the spring will all kinds of questions to answer and holes to fill. Although quarterback Michael Cummings distinguished himself as the better option in 2014, the battle for the starting job in 2015 appears to be an open competition. In addition, KU lost nearly all of its pass catchers and questions remain about the make-up and talent of the offensive line.

Returning running backs Corey Avery, De'Andre Mann and Taylor Cox highlight the known commodities on the KU offense.

Defensively, the Jayhawks will be looking to replace three of the five starters in the secondary along with productive defensive linemen Keon Stowers, Michael Reynolds and Tedarian Johnson, and, of course, all-Big 12 linebacker Ben Heeney.

That leaves both questions and opportunities all over the field for Clint Bowen's defense.

Several KU assistant coaches have taken to Twitter recently to announce their excitement for the upcoming spring drills and the theme of the program, at least for now, seems to be "earn it" as several recent Tweets have been accompanied by the hashtag #earnit.

Shepherd honored again

Falling under the “stop me if you've heard this one” category, former KU cornerback JaCorey Shepherd is in line to collect some more hardware for his off-the-field efforts. Shepherd, a senior from Mesquite, Texas, has been named one of 15 KU Men of Merit for 2015.

According to the release, the group includes “students, faculty and staff positively defining masculinity through challenging norms, taking action and leading by example while making contributions to university and/or the community.”

Shepherd is on schedule to graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in management and leadership with an emphasis in entrepreneurship.

He is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 Second Team honoree and a four-time Athletic Director's Honor Roll member. He recently was named the Lee Roy Selmon Community Spirit Award and Haier Achievement Award winner and was a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. He took home the Rock Chalk Choice Award for Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role and was the KU nominee for the 2013-14 Big 12 Conference Male Sportsperson of the Year. Shepherd is also active in the community through Big Brothers, Big Sisters where he has established a relationship with a "little brother" Christopher and at local schools where he volunteers as a reader and at carnivals, field days and football clinics.

A reception celebrating this year's Men of Merit honorees will take place Monday from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union.

McDougald inks with Bucs Former KU safety Bradley McDougald, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2013, has re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team announced Wednesday.

McDougald, who became a starter for Tampa Bay toward the end of last season, logged 42 tackles (36 solo) during the final six weeks of 2014. New Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith raved about McDougald down the stretch last season and several outlets who cover the Buccaneers believe McDougald is in position to enter 2015 as the team's starting strong safety.

McDougald is one of four former KU defensive backs making significant contributions for their current NFL teams. Chris Harris and Aqib Talib are starting cornerbacks in Denver and Darrell Stuckey, a back-up safety and special teams captain in San Diego, just earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

Powlus back at Notre Dame Former KU quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus, who once starred and later coached at Notre Dame, has returned to his alma mater in an off-the-field role on Brian Kelly's staff.

Powlus, earlier this week, was named the Fighting Irish's director of player development. Before coming to Kansas to work for former KU coach Charlie Weis, Powlus was an assistant at Notre Dame and Akron.

During his playing days at Notre Dame, he set 20 school records from 1994-97.

Comments

Jonathan Briles 6 years, 9 months ago

New coaches have open tryouts and no guaranteed starting spots because new coaches usually bring new schemes with them. Cummings was without a doubt the best QB on our roster last year, but that was in the old system. Beaty will be running something completely different and its possible Cummings is not the best suited QB for the new system. One of the freshman ran this offense all through HS so he may be a real possibility to start. I am rooting for Cummings to win the job because he has payed his dues and stuck with it and did a lot of good things for us last year. I would hate a staff that came in and said "well you started so you're going to start again under my regime". That would be a horrible way for a coach to go about things. He has to see for himself who fits the system he is brining in. I want Cummings to be the QB, but I respect the staff for not just handing him the job.

Doug Merrill 6 years, 9 months ago

Brett, I think you are probably having more difficulty understanding this approach to the QB succession than is Michael Cummings. No football player at a LOSING Div I program is going to be surprised that he has to earn his spot, particularly when there are potentially good options coming on board. He would find it pretty obvious given that the coaches have changed, as well. Had Cummings excelled when all around him failed - and he did not - then he might be surprised, but I doubt it. The news that he is going to be given a chance is pretty good, as some programs would want to start fresh there, no matter what.

Your polemics about the coaching staff are even more difficult to digest, given that they have done so little wrong and in such a short time, too! The fact that half of your expressed concern about them is for comments that you admit you don't know if they made is illogical at best. You also complain because they worked in Texas, which is a trait that most fans consider a positive, given the large amount of recruiting needed there. Even if that was actually a drawback, is that their problem to own? Should they have kept turning down jobs in Texas until something, anything came available inside the Kansas state line? Dude!

Get happy! Hope springs eternal and Spring brings football and more hope! RCJH!

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 9 months ago

Michael Cummings has won 1 game with KU. He's likely going to win the starting job, but it's not like he's been so far ahead of everyone else that nobody could beat him out. Competition breeds improvement and not guaranteeing Cummings as the starter should push him to keep improving and leave no doubt who the starter should be.

David Meredith 6 years, 9 months ago

It is unfortunate for Beaty that KU lost Heeney, and so many members of the secondary... as well as their 2 best WR's... the cupboard is pretty dry as far as proven players. Weis didn't do the program any favors with his JC recruiting... hopefully Beaty and Bown can start something this year and bring some stability... results may take some time though.

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