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Tale of the Tait

Another 2017 O-Lineman de-commits from KU Football

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

Back in January, as the Kansas football coaching staff was racing to finalize its 2016 recruiting class, David Beaty and company picked up a couple of commitments from 2017 offensive linemen within hours of one another.

Today, neither lineman remains committed to Kansas.

Grant Polley (6-5, 275, Denton (Texas) High) de-committed almost exactly a month ago, and, on Tuesday, Jared Hocker (6-5, 290, North Richland Hills, Texas) followed Polley's lead. The two situations are unrelated other than the fact that both committed very early and soon found that interest from other schools with winning pedigrees was headed their way.

Hocker explained via Twitter on Tuesday.

"After a long period of deliberation, I have decided to de-commit from the Jayhawks and reopen my recruiting. When I received my offer from KU, I wasn't familiar with the recruiting process and, in hindsight, I made a premature decision. There is a great deal I like, even love, about KU not the least of which is the coaching staff. Coaches Beaty, (Zach) Yenser and (Kenny) Perry have all been wonderful to me and it is with the deepest regret that I feel I must re-examine my options. Please respect my privacy with no interviews due to my decision. Thank you."

Although the loss of both linemen certainly qualifies as a disappointment for the Jayhawks, it also comes as no surprise. Any time players of their caliber — or, really, any caliber — commit as early as they did to a place like KU, it's always a challenge for the Jayhawks to hang on to them.

That's not to say it can't be done, but when bigger and better programs come calling, it often can be tough for these players to stick with Kansas. That's human nature in many ways and understandable, as well.

With Hocker specifically, recent visits to Texas A&M and Texas Tech illustrate the point perfectly.

So it's back to the drawing board for Kansas, which will continue to seek offensive linemen in the 2017 class and is in on some pretty solid secondary options, including a couple of in-state linemen.

With Hocker now off the list, KU has oral commitments from six players in the Class of 2017 and room to add somewhere in the range of 15 more, depending on how many additions to the current roster wind up counting forward to the 2017 class via the blue shirt rule.

Reply 8 comments from Greg Ledom Carter Patterson Matt Tait John Myers Glen Steve Corder Andy Godwin Gavin Fritton

If you could change the outcome of one KU game in history, which would you pick?

Kansas head coach Bill Self walks the sideline during the second half of KU's loss to Virginia Commonwealth Sunday, March 27, 2011 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Kansas head coach Bill Self walks the sideline during the second half of KU's loss to Virginia Commonwealth Sunday, March 27, 2011 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. by Mike Yoder

I recently saw something on Deadspin that seemed like it might be a good idea to bring to Jayhawk Nation.

The article, which ran last Thursday and was inspired by a Tweet from Grantland writer @SheaSerrano, was short and sweet and asked one simple question: If You Could Change Any Championship Outcome, Which Would It Be?

For KU fans, this might be easy, but there are more than a few options:

• The 1940 or 1953 title-game losses to Indiana

• Wilt's triple-OT loss to Carolina in 1957

• The 1991 loss to Duke in Roy Williams’ third season at KU

• The 2003 loss to Syracuse in Roy’s final game

• The 2012 loss to a stacked Kentucky squad in New Orleans

And that’s just basketball.

You might even throw a football game or two in there, most notably the 2007 loss to Missouri at Arrowhead that cost the Jayhawks the Big 12 North title and a spot in the Big 12 title game but wound up working out just fine.

And, if you want to take this a step farther and include games outside of just championship-type contests, the list expands big time.

What about Mark Mangino’s final game as KU’s coach at Arrowhead against the Tigers? Could Lew Perkins really have forced him out if Mangino had just knocked off Mizzou to secure a third straight bowl berth for the Jayhawks?

How about the loss to VCU in the 2011 Elite Eight? The road to Bill Self’s second title had opened up that year and the Jayhawks were loaded.

Heck, even last year’s loss to Villanova might be the choice of some of you.

Either way, I thought it was an interesting exercise and figured it would be fun to narrow it to just Kansas athletics and bring it to KUsports.com.

So what say you? Which KU game — in any sport — would you reverse the outcome of if you had a magic wand for one day?

Reply 77 comments from Harlan Hobbs David Kemp Garry Wright Lance Hobson Robert Brown Michael Brady Steve Jacob Brad Sherp Jayhawkmarshall Titus Canby and 38 others

Arkansas RB transferring to KU?

The Kansas University football program’s continued efforts to add depth and talent to its suddenly thin backfield ventured into SEC territory recently and may have found something of value.

According to the Twitter accounts of both his brother and his girlfriend, Arkansas running back Denzel Evans is transferring to Kansas.

Evans, a 5-foot-11, 217-pound junior-to-be, was a three-star prospect coming out of Houston’s Bellaire High when he signed with the Razorbacks out of high school in 2013. At the time, Evans also held offers from Arizona State, Colorado, Houston, Kansas State, Michigan State, Minnesota and SMU.

Nothing official has come out of KU on the possible addition of Evans, but if he were to be added to the KU backfield, he would be the second running back rumored to join the Jayhawks this spring, with former Colorado State running back Deron Thompson (a likely walk-on) also choosing to come to Lawrence.

The Jayhawks certainly could use all the help they can get at the running back position. What, for years, was one of the deepest positions on the team, has become one of the least experienced, with only returning starter Ke’aun Kinner having seen any legitimate game.

Sophomores Taylor Martin and Ryan Schadler, both have game experience, but neither received much work at running back last season. Last weekend, freshman Khalil Herbert, a two-star back from Plantation, Florida, was expected to report to campus in time for summer workouts and his addition, also would give the Jayhawks depth at a spot in which teams cannot have too much.

Last season at Arkansas, Evans played in six games and logged six carries for 48 yards with a long of 31. As was the case with Thompson at CSU, Evans found himself in a crowded backfield and began looking for opportunities elsewhere.

Ironically, that elsewhere might wind up being the very spot where Arkansas running backs coach Reggie Mitchell just worked.

Evans is close to graduating from Arkansas and is attempting to finish up his class requirements this summer. If he is able to, he would be immediately eligible to play at Kansas during the upcoming 2016 season.

Reply 8 comments from John Boyle Frederick Heckel Dirk Medema Brett McCabe Michael Maris Randy Maxwell

Ranking KU basketball’s 2016-17 non-conference games

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski reacts during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015. Duke won 90-60. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski reacts during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015. Duke won 90-60. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Now that the schedule has been released and we know that KU fans only have to wait 151 more days until the exhibition opener for the 2016-17 men’s basketball season — Nov. 1 vs. Washburn at Allen Fieldhouse — let’s dive into the non-con portion of the schedule a little deeper.

As expected — and as always — the non-Big 12 portion of KU’s 2016-17 schedule is loaded with big names and potentially tough games. KU coach Bill Self always has preferred it to be this way because of the challenge the tough schedule poses and the potential for more rapid sink-or-swim type growth that it brings his team.

Every once in a while we get that season when Self says he may have been too aggressive and ambitious with the schedule and wishes he would have pulled back a little, but even then, he rarely eases up the following year. Call it a habit, part of the guy’s DNA, something that just wouldn’t seem right otherwise.

With that in mind, Self and the KU scheduling gurus were back at it again for 2016-17 and now that we know the identity of all of the opponents, we can rank the games from most difficult to easiest.

Keep in mind, many of the non-con games are played in Allen Fieldhouse, giving the Jayhawks a huge advantage right off the bat.

1. vs. Duke, Champions Classic – Even with some other marquee programs on the schedule, I don’t think there’s any debating this selection. The Blue Devils are the likely preseason No. 1 and should enter the 2016-17 season as the favorite to win it all, with their fantastic blend of talented experience and dynamic newcomers. There’s no doubting that Coach K will have this team rolling next season. The question left to answer for Kansas fans is this: Will he have the Blue Devils rolling when they face the Jayhawks in NYC? Either way, this game will be a monster.

2. at Kentucky, SEC/Big 12 Challenge – As usual, the Wildcats will be loaded — they’re bringing in three of the Top 10 players in the Class of 2016 — and, this time, they’ll have revenge on their minds when the Jayhawks come to Rupp Arena in late January. Kansas will have the more experienced team and should not be intimidated in the least to go into that type of environment. But it’ll be hopping and the buzz surrounding Big Blue Nation will make it a tough game.

3. vs. Indiana, Armed Forces Classic – Yogi Ferrell may be gone, but the Hoosiers welcome back sophomore big man Thomas Bryant and guard James Blackmon Jr., who should provide a nice 1-2 punch for a team learning to play a different brand of basketball without the tiny floor general Ferrell leading the charge. KU’s biggest strength, its backcourt, versus an Indiana backcourt trying to find itself early in the season should give the Jayhawks a huge advantage in this one. But the Hoosiers proved during last season’s run to the Sweet 16 that they were more than just Yogi and crew. If this game came later in the season and the UK game was earlier, those two games easily would flip-flop on this list.

4. vs. George Washington, CBE Classic – The defending postseason NIT champions return a deep and big lineup as well as leading scorer Tyler Cavanaugh for what can only be described as an NCAA-Tournament-or-bust type of season for the Colonials. The Jayhawks are not guaranteed to play GW in the CBE Event in Kansas City, but are likely to do so.

5. at UNLV – One of just a couple pre-Big 12 true road games, the Jayhawks will have to not only contend with a UNLV squad led by new head coach Marvin Menzies, but also manage the hype and excitement that comes with playing a game in Sin City.

6. vs. Georgia, CBE Classic – Georgia coach Mark Fox will not be bringing his best team to Kansas City, but he does have athletes and a group that is used to seeing top-level basketball against teams like Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida and others in the SEC. Electric forward Yante Maten made huge strides during his second year in the program, jumping from 5 points and 4.3 rebounds in Year 1 to 16.5 points and 8 rebounds per game a year ago. He’ll be the cornerstone of the young UGA squad that also features the return of senior guard J.J. Frazier, who led the team with 5 assists per game. KU will either play George Washington or Georgia in the CBE Classic but not both.

7. vs. Nebraska – Cornhuskers coach Tim Miles has always been a huge fan of Kansas basketball, so you can bet he’ll take the opportunity to coach in Allen Fieldhouse very seriously and won’t want his team to embarrass the game by bringing sub-par effort. In addition to that, the ‘Huskers will bring to Lawrence a veteran team that features former KU sharp-shooter Andrew White III, who, no doubt, will want to put on a show in his return to his former home.

8. vs. Long Beach State – Long and athletic, with eight returners standing between 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-9, the 49ers team that missed an NCAA Tournament berth by four points in last season’s Big West final — and averaged 102 ppg on the season — will be much more experienced and hungry to make a statement with a strong showing against one of college basketball’s blue bloods.

9. vs. Davidson, Jayhawk Classic – He may not have Steph Curry on his roster any longer, but Davidson coach Bob McKillop is still a heck of a leader and he’ll have his team ready to play in a game that the Jayhawks sometimes struggle to get up for, mid-December in Kansas City. In fact, it was a McKillop-led Davidson club that handed the 2012 national runner-up Jayhawks a December loss at Sprint Center in this very event. And, even though both rosters have been completely remade, you can bet the Wildcats’ coach will draw on that experience when getting ready for this one.

10. vs. UNC Asheville – An NCAA Tournament team a season ago, Asheville returns all but two players from last year’s roster, including leading scorer Dylan Smith, a sophomore guard, who, as a freshman, led the Bulldogs with averages of 14 points and 5 assists per game.

11. vs. Stanford – The Cardnial may now be led by former Jayhawk Jerod Haase, but there’s a reason he got the job — last year’s team was not very good. With just a couple of players remaining from the team that upset KU in the NCAA Tournament in 2014 (role players at that) Stanford will be in full rebuilding mode and will be forced to deal with their Pac-12 membership status helping ensure Kansas will get up for the game.

12. vs. UAB, CBE Classic – UAB enjoyed a terrific 26-7 season, Conference USA regular season title and No. 81 ranking in the final RPI poll, but also lost its coach (now current Stanford coach Jerod Haase) in the offseason. That transition, along with the loss of some key players should bring the Blazers back to Earth a little bit. Like George Washington and Georgia, KU is not guaranteed to play UAB in the November event.

13. vs. Siena – The Saints finished the 2015-16 season ranked 123rd in the RPI and eight games above .500 at 21-13. Siena will bring to Lawrence several players who gained valuable experience a year ago and their recent history of playing games at Wisconsin and at Duke will make it easier for them to come into a hostile environment like Allen Fieldhouse than it is for most teams. But the Saints lack size and also said goodbye to one of their key leaders in guard Ryan Oliver.

14. vs. UMKC – The Roos were a wreck a season ago, finishing with an RPI rating of 288 and a 12-19 record while playing in the WAC. UMKC has brought some tough teams into Allen Fieldhouse in the past, but this won’t be one of them.

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Big 12 summer meetings not likely to produce major headlines but still big nonetheless

There are a thousand reasons why but only one way to say it — this is a big week for the Big 12 Conference.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting the Big 12 presidents, ADs and other brass to emerge from this week’s meetings in Dallas with everything figured out and an announcement to share. But they don’t have to find a solution to the number of serious issues that loom to make this a big week. Just getting together to discuss things makes it big enough.

And, boy are there things to discuss.

None of them are new, of course. And, despite what you might read on message boards or social media, there really is not that much buzz surrounding any of them inside the walls of the conference room. In fact, when I recently asked a member of the KU administration if I should make the trip down to Dallas to stalk the hotel hallways and wait outside the conference room doors for news — remember those good ol’ days of conference realignment chaos just down the road at the Country Club Plaza in KCMO? — I was told simply that it most likely would be a waste of a trip.

But people are going to notice and pay attention any time you can put a group together to talk expansion, a television network, ongoing discussions about bringing back a conference championship game in football and high drama like what just went down at Baylor with Art Briles and AD Ian McCaw. And how can you blame them? Any of those issues alone would make for an interesting week. But adding them all together just multiplies the interest and intensity.

One thing worth noting here: I saw Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News recently Tweet that at least six conference schools — and possibly as many as eight, which is the number required in a vote — are now in favor of expansion.

Having said that, I’m actually expecting a rather quiet week. It sounds as if the overwhelming vibe within the Big 12 right now is that too many people have been talking too much — particularly recently — and it’s time to put a stop to all of the rogue and random chatter and get down to business together.

If the all-for-one-and-one-for-all vibe is tough for you to buy coming from this cast of characters, I don’t blame you. But it does seem like even some of the most outspoken voices in the Big 12 Conference actually understand that all of the extracurricular chatter is not helping.

The bottom line is this: There are still eight years remaining on the Big 12’s grant of rights agreement and no huge rush by ESPN of FOX — the league’s two main television partners — to offer up more money for the addition of any of the universities that are deemed available or downright campaigning for a spot. Those facts pretty much squash any thoughts of a Big 12 network or expansion, unless, of course, there is some major revelation this week. Say, for example, all 10 schools and their representatives all of a sudden decide that it’s time to be bold and want to become the first conference to 16. That won’t happen, but if the Tex-Mex or a particularly good batch of margaritas get these folks feeling frisky, then anything is back on the table.

Don’t count on it, though.

There will be headlines and soundbites and story lines that are deemed “interesting,” perhaps even downright “exciting.” But more than likely, this big week for the Big 12 will come and go without the conference making any major moves or any major changes or decisions.

And the way this motley crew has been going at it these past five years, that might actually wind up being good news in the end.

Time will tell. But be sure to stay tuned. You know, just in case... We'll be tracking things the rest of the week.

Reply 8 comments from Doug Wallace Steve Corder Gary McCullough Pius Waldman Matt Tait Robert Brown Michael Lorraine

Monday Morning QB writer goes one-on-one with Chris Harris

I know there are dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of you out there who always have wondered how well you'd fare against a professional athlete in your chosen sport.

Well, so did Monday Morning Quarterback writer Andy Benoit, a 29-year-old who recently challenged for Kansas University cornerback to a round of one-on-ones in Bixby, Oklahoma, at Harris' youth camp.

Benoit, who seemed to be a decent athlete in his own right, wrote a nice recap of his afternoon matching up with one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and he also included the following video, which makes for some serious entertainment.

You can see that Harris, ever the professional, took it serious enough to keep his reputation in tact but also did not bring anywhere near the noise that he brings snap after snap on Sundays with the Broncos. The reason? He didn't exactly have to.

Either way, it's a good read and a fun video. Props to Harris for accepting Benoit's challenge and to Benoit for giving it a shot.

From the article, here's how Benoit found himself on the field with Harris...

"I told my bosses, Peter King and editor Mark Mravic, that I wanted to play wide receiver one-on-one against an NFL cornerback and write about it. Peter and Mark became the first in a long line of people who would laugh at me. After convincing them I was serious, Peter said I could do it if I found a superstar to face. Perhaps this was Peter’s polite, backdoor method of discouraging the idea—like how you might tell a kid he can get his own house if his lemonade sales raise enough funds. My pool of prospects went from 130 corners to less than 10. But to my surprise, the man at the top of my list, Denver Broncos star Chris Harris, immediately said yes, almost no questions asked. In our business, that’s like finding a holy grail filled with winning scratch tickets."

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KU football locker room renovations under way

An artist's rendering of the new-look KU football locker room, coming this summer. Illustration courtesy of Kansas Athletics.

An artist's rendering of the new-look KU football locker room, coming this summer. Illustration courtesy of Kansas Athletics. by Matt Tait

You may have read a couple of weeks ago about the $2-2.5 million Anderson Family Football Complex upgrades planned for the Kansas University football program.

A new-look locker room, new players lounge and updated Mrkonic Auditorium film and meeting room were the cornerstones of the project and the goal was for the upgrades to be finished in time for preseason camp and the 2016 season.

Now, thanks to KU staff member Tyler Olker, we have visual evidence that the project is 100 percent under way.

Olker, KU's director of recruiting, posted to Twitter four pics of the early stages of the locker room makeover and you can see that construction crews are wasting no time getting going.

In case you forgot, the photo at the top of the blog is an artist's rendering of what the finished locker room will look like. Below are Olker's four photos of the initial progress.

Stay tuned for more...

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker by Matt Tait

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker by Matt Tait

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker by Matt Tait

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker

Locker Room renovation photo, courtesy of @TylerOlker by Matt Tait

Reply 6 comments from Texashawk10_2 Dirk Medema Steve Corder Michael Maris Greg Ledom Brett McCabe

100 days out from another KU football opener & why you should care

Well, here we are, 100 days away from the start of yet another college football season.

And, as much as that’s a national holiday for the rest of the country, it often is a day to dread for Kansas fans. Not only is the interest in this program at an all-time low — and you can say that by any number of measures from season ticket sales to message board traffic and everything in between — but the idea of actually attending a football game and, heaven forbid actually staying to watch it, seems to have become something people get mocked for around here.

That only makes a hard job harder for second-year coach David Beaty and his Jayhawks, who, like every other college football team in America, have been working their butts off since the end of the 2015 season in hopes that the work they put in during the down months will pay off in the fall.

Knowing that it’s going to take more than the abstract promise of continued improvement to get KU fans fired up for another football season, let’s look at six reasons to get excited about the arrival of game day, exactly 100 days from today.

1. Game 1 is winnable. Big time. Not only should the Jayhawks be favored to beat Rhode Island in the opener, they should do it. It’s been a long time since KU put a hurting on an opponent in a season opener and there’s no better way to get the fan base jacked than by putting up a big number and rolling to a comfortable rout during Week 1. During the final four seasons under Mark Mangino, KU won its opener by an average of 38 points. In the six seasons — and three head coaches — since Mangino left town, KU has won four openers by an average of 14 points and lost two. Nothing would be more helpful toward getting things turned around than an old-fashioned butt-kicking on Sept. 3 at Memorial Stadium.

2. New offenses can be fun. Especially when they’re Air Raid offenses designed to get the ball to playmakers in space and operate at a pace that puts the defense on its heels. Forget about what you saw last year and consider KU’s 2015 offense the bridge between Charlie Weis’ pro style packages and what Beaty believes KU can run. If you show up on Sept. 3 and see more of the same, head back to the car and take that cooler full of cold beverages to the pool or the lake. But at least show up and check it out. Who knows? Even though KU does not have the talent it had during the Todd Reesing era, this new-look offense might remind you a little of that and you just might like it.

3. KU’s defense figures to be much improved. We saw evidence of this in the spring, when the KU defense most often got the better of the offense during scrimmages and the spring game. And I’ve heard some chatter about defensive coordinator Clint Bowen really getting his crew to buy in to what he wants to do. Some of the credit for that goes to experience. Some of it goes to the leaders like Fish Smithson, Joe Dineen, Marcquis Roberts and Brandon Stewart. And some of it goes to the addition of linebackers coach Todd Bradford and his ability to work well with Bowen and the other defensive assistants. Time will tell just how good this group actually can be, but you can expect to see a confident crew that takes the field with some bounce and swagger on Sept. 3.

4. Time to meet the new faces. By the time Sept. 3 rolls around, you’ll have read plenty about cornerback Kyle Mayberry, defensive linemen DeeIsaac Davis and Isi Holani, linebacker Maciah Long, cornerback Stephan Robinson and defensive end Isaiah Bean. But this will be your first chance to actually see them play. You never know when KU’s coaching staff is going to land that player or pack of players that might be responsible for jump-starting a turn-around. Could he be on the list of names above?

5. The weather should be gorgeous. I know it’s a long ways away still and weathermen and women don’t normally forecast 100 days out, but if history tells us anything the opener should be very nice. According to usclimatedata.com, September is one of just two months each year in which the average high temperature in Lawrence is in the 70s. And they don’t play football around here in May, so why not take advantage of that?

6. Tailgating, man. My esteemed colleague Gary Bedore has called KU’s tailgating atmosphere one of the best decisions the athletic department ever made. Remember, there was a time not that long ago when fans were not allowed to consume adult beverages and enjoy one of the best parts about college football anywhere near Memorial Stadium. That changed back in 2001, and today, even when the likelihood of KU winning a game inside the stadium is low, the buzz outside the stadium is high, both from a participation perspective and the way the whole scene makes the areas surrounding Memorial Stadium, from the hill to the parking lots, look like a big time college football environment.

In the next 99 days, we'll have all kinds of info and analysis of the season ahead, but hopefully what you just read will whet your appetite just a little for that season opener against Rhode Island that is closer than you think.

In case it didn't, here are a few recent comments from Beaty on the opener...

"We gotta win some games. And that starts with one. We are focused on going 1-0 against Rhode Island I honestly don’t even know who else is on our schedule. I am focused on that game. And our kids are too.”

“It’s the most important game in the history of our program because it’s the next one. Period.”

“We’re gonna focus on winning one game at a time and putting a premium on winning. Winning is important. So we’re not gonna sugarcoat it. We came here to win and these kids want to win. We’ve worked our (butt) off and the kids have too. They deserve it. So we just gotta keep earning it.”

Reply 24 comments from Dirk Medema Joe Ross Greg Ledom Maria Ungaro Matt Tait Jim Stauffer Rhett Place Gavin Fritton Jmfitz85 Bob Bailey and 5 others

Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

KU catcher Michael Tinsley's quest to become the first Jayhawk since 1997 to finish a season hitting above .400 is over.

Tinsley, who was red hot in the month of April but cooled off in the middle of May, went 1-for-4 in both games of a double header at Oklahoma State on Friday night — both KU losses — and now has just one game remaining in his season given that the losses eliminated KU (20-34-1 overall, 6-16 Big 12) from postseason play.

Tinsley, a junior who is likely to be selected in this summer's MLB draft, was vying to become the seventh Jayhawk since 1971 to accomplish the magical feat of eclipsing the .400 mark in a single season.

As it stands, he figures to finish with the highest batting average since Brian Heere hit .393 in 2010 and Tony Thompson hit .389 during his triple crown season of 2009. In addition, Tinsley will become the fourth Jayhawk since 1988 to finish a season above .370.

It was a heck of a run and very cool to see him climb above .400 so late in the season. He peaked at .402 on May 8. But his inability to stay there is just further testament to the strong pitching the Big 12 Conference throws out there night in and night out.

Let's take a look, one more time...

Updated Batting Average: .381

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: Doubleheader ---> 1-for-4 in 4-3 road loss and 1-for-4 in 9-2 road loss at Oklahoma State on Tuesday, May 20.

Details: Tinsley managed just one hit in each of KU's Friday losses, but one of those hits was a 2-RBI shot down the left field line. Tinsley did not walk or strikeout in either game and watched his average drop from .386 entering Friday to .381 at the end of the night. He is now 80 for 210 this season, with one game to play. A 4-for-4 showing in today's season finale would push Tinsley back to .393 and make him just the fourth Jayhawk since 1987 to finish above .390. A 3-for-4 effort would land him at .388, while 2-for-4 would result in .383, 1-for-4 would drop him to .379 and a hitless finale would leave him at .374.

Up next: 3 p.m. today at Oklahoma State.

Reply 1 comment from Dirk Medema

Rankings place KU football dead last in Big 12 in 6 of 8 position groups

ESPN.com recently wrapped up its annual look at the post-spring position rankings among Big 12 football teams and, to no one’s surprise, Kansas finished at the bottom.

There is good news here, though, KU fans — the Jayhawks did not rank dead last at every position. And let’s face it; it would have been real easy for the Big 12 bloggers at ESPN to pencil in the Jayhawks at 10 each time and move on from there.

Good for them for not taking the lazy approach, something that surely was made particularly more challenging given the fact that, because of the current state of the KU program, those guys aren’t around KU enough to really know what the program looks like top to bottom and inside and out.

The Jayhawks ranked dead last at six of the eight positions ESPN.com examined, all four spots on offense (QB, RB, WR, OL) as well as defensive line and special teams.

The Kansas linebackers, led by returning starters Joe Dineen and Marcquis Roberts, ranked 8th out of 10 and the KU secondary, which features second-team all-Big 12 pick Fish Smithson and a host of young talent, ranked 9th out of 10, giving KU an average ranking of 9.6 over all eight positions.

It’s hard to argue with any of their rankings. As you know, the Big 12 is a dynamic quarterback league and neither Ryan Willis nor Montell Cozart have shown enough to be ranked above any of their counterparts at this point. KU’s running back corps lacks depth and proven talent and the receivers, though talented and packed with potential, remain largely a work in progress.

KU’s offensive line was the worst in the league last season by a long shot and will have to prove that all of that talk we’ve heard about that group getting stronger and making one of the biggest leaps this offseason is warranted.

As has been examined a lot on this site during the past few weeks, KU’s special teams ranked at the bottom of just about every important category in the third phase of the game last year, making its placement at the bottom as easy as any of the rankings in the entire exercise.

I applaud them for giving KU’s linebackers the love they deserve — it wouldn’t surprise me for a second if this group actually performs close to the Top 5 than the bottom when the season plays out — and I also think bumping KU up a spot from dead last to ninth in the secondary was kind given that the secondary features a bunch of young and still unproven bodies.

If there’s one area that could — and I strongly emphasize could here — be wrongly ranked at the bottom, it might be the defensive line. The KU D-Line still has to prove it and has a long way to go, but the addition of a couple of key juco transfers (Isi Holani and DeeIsaac Davis), the growth of edge rushers like Dorance Armstrong, Damani Mosby and Anthony Olobia, and the junkyard dog play of Daniel Wise, Jacky Dezir and D.J. Williams could give KU its best set of run stoppers and pass rushers in the trenches in years.

It should be noted that even if KU’s D-Line makes a jump and delivers a great season, the absolute highest it could probably climb in one year is 8th. Remember, this is the Big 12 and the conference routinely cranks out NFL Draft picks from that position.

Overall, I thought the ESPN.com positional rankings were a fair representation of where KU currently sits and those guys did a nice job of continually pointing out that it looks as if the talent and depth within the KU program is being upgraded, slowly but surely.

Reply 10 comments from Jim Stauffer Bob Bailey Matt Tait Bob Forer Dirk Medema Tommy Gallegos Brad Avery Randy Maxwell Table_rock_jayhawk

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