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Posts tagged with Ku Football

Heeney lives up to wild man reputation at Kauffman Stadium

Sunday was KU night at the K, where the Kansas City Royals hosted the Cleveland Indians as part of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball national broadcast.

Before the Royals and Indians took the field, the Jayhawks held court at Kauffman Stadium, entertaining hundreds of KU fans with autographs, high fives and handshakes prior to game time.

However, the no-brainer highlight of KU's appearance at the K came during the ceremonial first pitch when senior linebacker Ben Heeney threw high and tight on Big Jay and beaned him in the head. KU receiver Nick Harwell was out there to be Heeney's catcher and was the intended target, but Heeney's fastball got away from him and Big Jay went down.

KU put together a nice video of the team's time at Kauffman. Included in the autograph line at the K were: Heeney, Harwell and fellow captain Cassius Sendish along with quarterback Montell Cozart, defensive lineman Keon Stowers and offensive lineman Pat Lewandowski as well as head coach Charlie Weis, defensive coordinator Clint Bowen and offensive coordinator John Reagan.

Here's a look at the video...

And here's a quick look at some of the reaction from the players following KU night at the K...

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McDougald, Patmon latest former Jayhawks to find NFL success

Kansas safety Bradley McDougald takes off up the field after an interception in the third quarter against South Dakota State, Saturday, September 1, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas safety Bradley McDougald takes off up the field after an interception in the third quarter against South Dakota State, Saturday, September 1, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Kansas University's run of having undrafted players land on 53-man NFL rosters continued rolling along last weekend, as four former Jayhawks who were passed up during their respective NFL Drafts survived their teams' final cuts and enter the season ready for work in the NFL.

Not a bad first day at a new job.

Two of the four were pretty much no surprise. Denver cornerback Chris Harris has become one of the top and most respected defensive backs in the league and Broncos' linebacker Steven Johnson, though still in that position of not being able to let up for a second, also has made himself a valuable piece of what the Broncos hope will be another Super Bowl bound puzzle.

Both guys were never in jeopardy of getting cut and both guys continue to improve and impress the powers that be in Denver.

While those two sticking was hardly a surprise, the other two fell-good moments for KU football might qualify as just that.

After a fantastic preseason, cornerback Tyler Patmon made the final roster with the Dallas Cowboys and safety Bradley McDougald made good on his shot with his second team by being one of the final 53 kept by the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Patmon's story is a little more remarkable than McDougald's because there were plenty of people, both at the NFL and college level, who always believed McDougald would get plenty of chances to stick. That he's done it so quickly and with such certainty is a credit to him, both mentally and physically, and the work he has put in to make his dream a reality.

McDougald was one of just four safeties and 10 defensive backs kept by Tampa Bay.

Patmon's success story was born from opportunity. After leaving KU following his forgettable junior season, Patmon landed at Oklahoma State and became a key part of the OSU secondary that helped lead Cowboys to a Cotton Bowl berth last season.

Patmon looked like a different player during his final season in college, like a guy who needed a change and who was energized by the fresh start and new surroundings.

His strong senior season — not to mention OSU's team success — earned him an opportunity to prove his worth with the Cowboys this season; not bad for a Texas kid. Although he needed a tryout just to be included in the crop of 90 NFL hopefuls who opened Cowboys' training camp, Patmon survived cut after cut and made play after play. No moment was bigger than his two-interception preseason game in which he looked more like a seasoned NFL veteran than a desperate rookie just trying to survive.

“He just kind of has that way about him,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett told the team's official web site. “Some guys do. If you watch his Pop Warner tape, he was probably making those kinds of plays. That’s just a part of him being able to play, and that’s a good thing.”

Added Cowboys' cornerback Morris Claiborne: “As soon as he came in, he’s one of those guys that’s got that type of mentality, swagger about himself where when he walks in, he kind of (commands) that attention. He goes out and he plays lights out. It goes from the practice field, from seeing him work and taking it on to practice and from practice to the games, it’s amazing.”

So is the fact that Patmon is starting his pro career on an active NFL roster, but like Harris and Johnson before him, his story is proof that hard work and being ready to take advantage of the limited opportunities that come your way at this level of football can pay off big time.

There's no hiding the fact that Patmon benefited from a couple of injuries to key guys ahead of him on the Dallas depth chart. But the guys who get these chances tend to be the guys who stay ready and don't worry about the overwhelming odds stacked against them.

Harris, Johnson, McDougald and Patmon all stared up at that mountain at one point in their post-college lives. And today all four are sitting on top of it with a Jayhawk flag planted at the peak and a huge smile on their faces.

In other former KU NFL news from last weekend:

• Former KU running back/defensive lineman Toben Opurum made it to the final cut of the Houston Texans but was not a part of the team's final 53-man roster when it was announced. The Texans, however, quickly signed Opurum to their practice squad and I think it's a safe bet that you'll see him active at some point — perhaps multiple points — this season.

• Former KU wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe was cut by the Dallas Cowboys, with whom he landed temporarily after being released by the Washington Redskins, his fourth team in a slow-starting five-year NFL career.

• Former Jayhawks who were drafted into the league such as Aqib Talib (Denver), Anthony Collins (Tampa Bay), Darrell Stuckey (San Diego) and Tanner Hawkinson (Cincinnati) easily made their teams' final 53, as expected.

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7 KU football players flying under the radar entering 2014

Kansas receiver Derrick Neal pulls in a catch during Fan Appreciation Day, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas receiver Derrick Neal pulls in a catch during Fan Appreciation Day, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

With the 2014 Kansas University football opener now just 11 days away, it's time for what has become one of my favorite blogs to write.

It's not a prediction blog. That one's always tough. Because I spend so much time around these guys and see how much time, effort and energy they're putting into it, I often lean toward the sunny side of things and have to make sure to remember that players and coaches at Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU and Duke are doing the same thing.

I will say this, though, because four or five times a week I get asked, 'How many games the Jayhawks will win this season?' I think they've got a real shot to be better than they have been in a long time.

Let's drop a quick percentage wheel into the blog to illustrate what that means. This percentage wheel will measure my guess for a given range of win totals...

2014 WIN-TOTAL PERCENTAGE WHEEL:

  1. 4 or 5 wins – 51%
  2. 3 wins – 23%
  3. 6 wins or more – 13%
  4. 2 wins or less – 13%

All right. Now that that's out of the way, let's get back to the original topic of the blog... Seven Jayhawks flying under the radar entering the 2014 season.

Everyone knows about Ben Heeney, Cassius Sendish and Montell Cozart. But every team has a player or two who comes out of nowhere to play an important role. Here's my best guess at seven guys who could fill that role for the Jayhawks this fall.

1. Sophomore S Tevin Shaw — Weis ever-so-quietly called the third-year sophomore one of the most improved players on the entire roster midway through camp. And it makes sense. Shaw's a natural football player with a strong physical presence and the passion to go all-out all the time. During his first couple of years in town, that effort was stonewalled by his having to learn the system and pick up the college game. More comfortable today than he has been since high school, the guy Weis said might be the team's most physical player, pound-for-pound, can use that nasty streak to make plays. He won't push starting safeties Cassius Sendish and Isaiah Johnson, but, if Shaw really is in for his breakout year, KU's depth at safety — with Fish Smithson also having a fantastic camp — looks pretty salty.

2. Freshman CB Matthew Boateng — One of the most confident newcomers in the program, Boateng has done nothing but hit the field day after day with the belief that he belongs. That can go a long way for a freshman, as learning to have confidence at this level is often one of the toughest adjustments a young player has to make. Speaking of adjustments, I've heard that Boateng's transition to college life hasn't been a problem because he already went through a version of it when he went away for high school. Fast and athletic, with good feet and the size needed to compete immediately, Boateng's could be a name you hear sooner rather than later.

3. Junior DE Kapil Fletcher — A lot was made in the offseason about the pass rushers KU brought into the mix in its latest recruiting class. But with Anthony Olobia injured for who knows how long and Damani Mosby being a late arrival, the opportunity for one of those new guys to make an impact seems to be Fletcher's all to himself. Big enough to bang inside but quick enough to use his hands and play on the edge, Fletcher's blend of skills makes him an intriguing prospect. He may not be needed right away. But if Andrew Bolton, Michael Reynolds, Victor Simmons and the rest of the KU D-Line struggle to get pressure on the quarterback, Fletcher could be a guy they turn to.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings makes a pass during a passing drill at the Fan Appreciation Day open practice Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings makes a pass during a passing drill at the Fan Appreciation Day open practice Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, at Memorial Stadium. by John Young

4. Junior QB Michael Cummings — We haven't seen an updated version yet, but it seems like a safe bet that Cummings will open the season No. 2 on the depth chart at quarterback. Don't be surprised if he plays. There are a number of things that could get Cummings onto the field and not all of them are bad. Sure, he'll be first in line if Cozart gets knocked around, but is it possible that there's something built into John Reagan's offense specifically for Cummings? Maybe that's a Wildcat package. Maybe he's a red zone guy. Maybe he and Cozart are on the field together. Maybe not. But by all accounts Cummings had a fantastic preseason camp and, while quarterback after quarterback has been brought in and placed ahead of him on the depth chart, all he has done is work harder and get better. Props to him for that whether he plays a down this season or not.

Kansas linebacker Courtney Arnick (58) trails Kansas receiver Colin Spencer during a spring practice on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas linebacker Courtney Arnick (58) trails Kansas receiver Colin Spencer during a spring practice on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

5. Sophomore LB Courtney Arnick — It's easy to forget about guys who play early in their careers and that might be the case with Arnick, who red-shirted as a true freshman and a played in all 12 games — with six starts — last year as a red-shirt freshman. When Arnick came to the program from Dallas' Carter High (same school as freshman RB Corey Avery), he brought with him a dose of speed that the Jayhawks didn't really have. They do now, but that doesn't mean Arnick can't still contribute. He's added muscle to his frame without putting on weight and looks like the kind of linebacker KU's looking for to play in space and run down ball carriers in the Big 12. Arnick opens the year with the second unit behind Jake Love at Will linebacker but with his experience as a nickelback and KU's limited depth at linebacker, I'm guessing he'll be used somewhat regularly.

6. Freshman WR Derrick Neal — Neal was one of the guys who really impressed me during that open practice we saw a couple of weeks ago. He functions like a jitterbug out there and it seems like he'd be hard to keep tabs on. Blessed with speed, quickness, good hands and, most importantly, confidence, Neal seems to me to be one of those guys who has special circumstances guy written all over him. He may not be in the regular rotation at wide receiver, which suddenly has a ton of depth, but I'm guessing John Reagan and Eric Kiesau will find ways to get this guy the ball this season.

7. Senior DT Tedarian Johnson — At 6-foot-2, 290 pounds, Johnnson is one of the team's bigger defensive linemen who not only brings size but also valuable experience. Johnson was very good at times during his first season in Lawrence, but consistency issues kept him from standing out. The Jayhawks have moved to a lighter, quicker look in the defensive trenches this season, so it's hard to know what's going to happen to Johnson's opportunities. He opened camp second string behind senior workhorse Keon Stowers, but if the Jayhawks ever feel the need to go big up front, I could see Johnson and Stowers playing side-by-side.

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Weis Jr. works with Patriots; Willis returns to KU; another Mitchell on board and more

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis and his son, Charlie Weis Jr. watch from the sidelines during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis and his son, Charlie Weis Jr. watch from the sidelines during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

Friday was the final day of our access to KU's preseason camp, and rather than talking to players or position coaches, we were given the chance to speak with some of the support staff, people who help make KU football go.

It offered a rare opportunity to get to some of the guys who do the work behind the scenes that doesn't always get noticed and it produced some fun stories and soundbites.

Some of the names you'll know. Some of them you'll have heard but forgotten. But all of them play a key role in what KU does on a day-to-day basis. Here's a quick look at some of the most notable interviews I conducted Friday.

Weis Jr. expands work to NFL

Kansas University football student manager Charlie Weis Jr., son of KU head coach Charlie Weis, attended a family reunion this summer, but none of the people there were his relatives.

Instead, Weis Jr., returned to Massachusetts and spent some time this summer working an internship with the New England Patriots, where Weis won three Super Bowls and spent five years as an offensive coordinator.

“A lot of them knew me from when I was there before,” Weis Jr., said with a big smile. “But they were all good to me and I didn't have to deal with any (hazing or harassment). It was awesome.” Most awesome, as you might guess, was the reconnection with New England quarterback Tom Brady.

“When I was a kid, I looked up to those guys,” Weis Jr., said. “They were idols to me. And to go from wearing a Tom Brady jersey to being able to kind of work with him a little bit was really cool.”

Weis Jr., who is used to being around more than 100 football players at any given KU practice, said he marveled at the behind-the-scenes work that went into cutting the Patriots' final roster to the 53-man limit.

“When my dad was there I was obviously pretty young so this was my first time working in the NFL style,” he said. “It was a really good experience and it kind of got me some exposure.”

Willis thrilled to be coaching at alma mater

Less than a year after running onto the field with a KU helmet, jersey with his name on the back and full set of pads, Darius Willis finds himself preparing to run onto the same field in a very different manner.

Willis, who graduated from KU last May, is in his first year with the KU coaching staff, serving as one of four graduate assistants on the staff. Despite the quick change from player to professor, Willis said he's enjoyed every second.

Kansas senior Darius Willis (2) reacts to a video of himself during a senior day recognition before the Jayhawks game against KSU Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas senior Darius Willis (2) reacts to a video of himself during a senior day recognition before the Jayhawks game against KSU Saturday at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

“I don't feel weird,” the former linebacker and defensive lineman said. “It's just something that comes naturally to me. I've always said in the back of my head that I wanted to be a coach when I was done playing and this is a great opportunity.”

Willis got the opportunity at the last minute when another former Jayhawk, Max Onyegbule, left the program for a job elsewhere. Willis got the call and jumped at the chance to stick around Lawrence.

“I'm just taking it one day at a time and trying to keep motivate myself and make the dudes around me better,” Willis said. “You always want to see where you played succeed. Being here and actually being a part of it is great.”

Another Mitchell on board

After playing for his father for one season at Illinois and working under him last season at Kansas, graduate assistant Kaeman Mitchell, son of KU running backs coach Reggie Mitchell, is finally feeling comfortable.

“This year, I know what to expect more,” Mitchell said. “And I'm doing a better job of staying ahead instead of catching up.”

Mitchell, who played defensive back and special teams at Illinois from 2009-12, spent one spring working with the Illini staff before coming to Kansas.

His role at KU focuses on the Jayhawks' special teams and he wouldn't have it any other way.

“I love special teams,” he said. “But if I was gonna coach on offense it would be running backs because I've been sitting in their meetings (with my dad) for 18 years.”

Parmalee duo having fun

The 2014 season will mark the first season together for former NFL coach and player Bernie Parmalee and his son Tre' Parmalee, a junior wide receiver with the Jayhawks.

As close as any father-and-son duo, the older Parmalee said he has not seen either party act any differently than they would otherwise.

“It's been fun,” Bernie said. “It's really been fun. With playing in the NFL and coaching in the NFL and coaching in college, that's a lot of time away. So to be in the same building with him and a part of the same team, that doesn't happen very often.”

As for what kind of role he's played specifically with his son, Bernie he treats Tre' just like any other Jayhawk.

“As a dad, you ask yourself the question, can I work with a team where I have to work with my son,'” he said. “Since he was young, I've been on him, I've pushed him, hard love, tough love. But at the same time, I embrace it, he embraces it and, when we look back years from now, this time is gonna bring big smiles.”

Kansas receiver Tre' Parmalee has a would-be touchdown pass knocked away by Texas Tech defensive back Bruce Jones during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas receiver Tre' Parmalee has a would-be touchdown pass knocked away by Texas Tech defensive back Bruce Jones during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

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Latest KU football injury news as unfair as it gets

Kansas University running back Brandon Bourbon (25) rushes against South Dakota State on Sept. 1, 2012, at Memorial Stadium. Bourbon, a fourth-year junior, says he feels better than ever after an injury-riddled start to his KU career.

Kansas University running back Brandon Bourbon (25) rushes against South Dakota State on Sept. 1, 2012, at Memorial Stadium. Bourbon, a fourth-year junior, says he feels better than ever after an injury-riddled start to his KU career. by Richard Gwin

My heart breaks for Brandon Bourbon.

There's no other way to put it. Few players on this Kansas University football team have been through as much adversity during their KU careers, fought through it all with determination and a smile, and still found tough break after tough break at seemingly every turn.

The most recent of those surfaced Tuesday, when it was learned that Bourbon would miss the entire 2014 season after suffering a knee injury in Sunday's team scrimmage at Memorial Stadium.

News of a season-ending injury for fellow-senior running back Taylor Cox also emerged Tuesday. Cox tore his Achilles' tendon during Monday's practice. It's not that I don't feel bad for Cox. I do. He's a great guy and an incredible teammate. It's just this deal with Bourbon is a little different because he's been with the program for so much longer.

It wasn't supposed to go this way. This was supposed to be Bourbon's year. Finally.

He fought through injuries for four seasons, kept a fantastic attitude through it all and was rewarded by spending the spring and the summer atop the team's depth chart at tailback. That's how it was supposed to go. And it was supposed to be followed by his best season as a Jayhawk and a strong finish to a tough career.

Sunday's injury had no place in the script. But it came anyway. And now Bourbon must not only rehab himself back to health again, but he also must decide if pursuing a sixth year of eligibility via a medical hardship is worth it.

I can't blame him, whatever he decides. It sounds like he's planning to persevere one more time and come back for another year if the NCAA will allow it. Let's hope they get that one right. Either way, I wish him a ton of luck with his rehab and future. He's a great dude and deserves for things to start falling his way sooner rather than later.

This is not the time to spend your days feeling sorry for the Jayhawks. Injuries are a big part of the game and a possibility for every player who steps out there. Because of that, coaches do their best to build depth and stack talent at every position. Running back is the best example of this at KU and has been for the past several seasons.

That makes the loss of Bourbon and Cox a little easier for the Jayhawks to take from a purely football perspective. All of a sudden, though, that depth that once looked excessive has been reduced to three promising newcomers (two of them freshmen) and a running-back-turned-receiver who might still be able to tote the rock a few times a game if needed.

Isn't it strange how a couple of players who, on signing day last February, looked like little more than luxuries now might be counted on big-time right away.

Juco transfer De'Andre Mann was called crazy for coming to KU with its already loaded backfield. Now he almost certainly will receive a significant workload.

Dallas freshman Corey Avery was one of the last in the Class of 2014 to pick Kansas and, when he did, Kansas looked to be so loaded at the position that many wondered if Avery would spend some time as a slot receiver. That wasn't the plan anyway, but it definitely won't be now.

The KU press release said that freshman Joe Dineen would move to running back to add depth to the position and Dineen certainly has the skills to play there. Like Avery and Mann, though, he just has no experience at this level.

For better or worse, though, those three are your KU running backs for 2014, with senior wide receiver Tony Pierson sprinkled in there if need be and, forgotten senior Ed Fink all of a sudden potentially staring at a possible goal line/short yardage role, as well. Other role players or situational-type backs also could emerge.

Those mentioned above are more than capable. And any one or two of them could be in for big seasons. But with Bourbon and Cox out now, their ability to deliver just became even more critical.

Hard to believe that KU now has lost more running backs (Bourbon, Cox, Darrian Miller and Traevohn Wrench) than it has.

Here's a quick glance at what happened to all that depth:

OFF THE DEEP END

A look at KU’s projected running back depth entering the summer and what happened to each back

Sr. Brandon Bourbon — Torn ACL, out for season
Sr. Taylor Cox — Torn Achilles’ tendon, out for season
Jr. De’Andre Mann — Competing for No. 1 spot on depth chart
Jr. Darrian Miller — Left team for personal reasons, later transferred to Northern Iowa
Fr. Corey Avery — Competing for No. 1 spot on depth chart
Fr. Traevohn Wrench — Failed to qualify academically, enrolled at Butler Community College

Kansas running back Taylor Cox warms up prior to kickoff against Rice on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Taylor Cox warms up prior to kickoff against Rice on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon catches a pass during warmups prior to kickoff against Oklahoma on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon catches a pass during warmups prior to kickoff against Oklahoma on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge makes its way to KU

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis, on Friday, answered the call in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that has taken the world by storm in the past few weeks.

The challenge, which has helped raise a boat load of money and brought greater awareness to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, started simply enough with a few people dumping buckets of ice water on their head, pledging to donate some money to fight the disease and either quickly filming it or taking a photograph of it before sending the challenge on to someone else.

It now has reached epic proportions, with people producing full-on skits and videos to show their turn at the ice-bucket plunge.

Weis didn't go quite that far, but there is a nice video detailing how Weis was called out, how he went about doing the challenge and who he challenged in return.

Check it out...

Reply 5 comments from Matt Tait Dale Rogers Dirk Medema Eric Dawson

KU football unveils “Crimson Chrome” uniforms

A closer look at KU football's new "Crimson Chrome" uniform courtesy of freshman wideout Darious Crawley's Twitter account @DariousCrawley2

A closer look at KU football's new "Crimson Chrome" uniform courtesy of freshman wideout Darious Crawley's Twitter account @DariousCrawley2 by Matt Tait

The Kansas University football program late Tuesday night released yet another new-look uniform which will be worn during the upcoming season.

The uniform, dubbed Crimson Chrome features red pants, red jerseys, a red helmet (complete with a chrome face mask) with a huge Jayhawk head on the top and side and chrome numbers, letters and Jayhawks dotting the look.

The new uniform comes on the heels of last year's uniform explosion which allowed the Jayhawks to mix and match tops, pants and helmets for triple-digit uniform options.

This video, which shows the new red uniforms, uses the demo model. A KU spokesperson said the names would be on the backs of the Crimson Chrome uniforms when they're worn this fall.

As you can see, the players seem to like them a lot and have not missed any of the little details that make them unique.

Red uniforms have been popular with the KU fan base for a number of years, dating back to the success the Jayhawks had while wearing them in their Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech in 2007.

In this photo from Jan. 3, 2008, Kansas University’s Darrell Stuckey, left, trails teammate Justin Thornton as Thornton brings an interception upfield against Virginia Tech during KU’s Orange Bowl victory.

In this photo from Jan. 3, 2008, Kansas University’s Darrell Stuckey, left, trails teammate Justin Thornton as Thornton brings an interception upfield against Virginia Tech during KU’s Orange Bowl victory. by Nick Krug

While the newest uniforms most certainly are red, they're more of a modern spin on the old classic, which begs the question.... What do the fans think?

Like 'em or hate 'em, love 'em or loathe 'em, score another one for KU's creativity. There are plenty of players and plenty of programs out there that would do just about anything to have this kind of flare to their gameday gear and so many options at that.

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Tracking the progress at Memorial Stadium, Part III

With fall camp set to open at the end of the week, construction on the new turf going down in place of the old track at Memorial Stadium is nearing its completion.

Construction crews began installing the turf on Thursday morning and are expected to tie together the final touches this week. .

There's still some work to be done, with regard to stitching in the lines and markings off of the playing field and adding the new Big 12 logo to the turf and the new black, decorative fence that will surround the south end, but the bulk of what's going to be there on Saturdays this fall is in place and you can really start to see what it will look like.

It's important to remember that, what it looks like today and what it will look like on game days is completely different. On game day, there will be benches out there, equipment out there, players out there and all of the other things that make up a Saturday college football atmosphere.

Finishing off the turf is an involved process that includes both hot glue, adding the rubber that gives the surface its softer feel and sewing together the pieces that measure five yards wide and anywhere from 30 to 50 yards long.

Here's a quick look at some of the most recent photos of what's going on over at Memorial Stadium:

This one from late Sunday evening offers a good look at all the green that now surrounds the playing surface at Memorial Stadium:

The latest look at the turf installation project at Memorial Stadium.

The latest look at the turf installation project at Memorial Stadium. by Matt Tait

Here are a few from Richard Gwin from late last week as the project began:

Jim Kaltmayer rolls out turf in an area previously covered by running track, Thursday, July 31, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. Installation of the turf — one of the final steps in a six-week stadium upgrade — began early Thursday and is expected to be finalized over the weekend.

Jim Kaltmayer rolls out turf in an area previously covered by running track, Thursday, July 31, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. Installation of the turf — one of the final steps in a six-week stadium upgrade — began early Thursday and is expected to be finalized over the weekend. by Richard Gwin

Workers lay down new turf in areas previously covered by running track, Thursday, July 31, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. Installation of the turf — one of the final steps in a six-week project that began with the removal of the track — began early Thursday and is expected to be finalized over the weekend.

Workers lay down new turf in areas previously covered by running track, Thursday, July 31, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. Installation of the turf — one of the final steps in a six-week project that began with the removal of the track — began early Thursday and is expected to be finalized over the weekend. by Richard Gwin

Workers roll out turf in areas previously covered by running track, Thursday, July 31, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. Installation of the turf — one of the final steps in a six-week stadium upgrade — began early Thursday and is expected to be finalized over the weekend.

Workers roll out turf in areas previously covered by running track, Thursday, July 31, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. Installation of the turf — one of the final steps in a six-week stadium upgrade — began early Thursday and is expected to be finalized over the weekend. by Richard Gwin

And a couple more from me during a trip up there last week:

A shot from the top of the west side of Memorial Stadium during the early stages of the turf installation project.

A shot from the top of the west side of Memorial Stadium during the early stages of the turf installation project. by Matt Tait

A closer look at the extra layers of turf at the back of the south end zone at Memorial Stadium.

A closer look at the extra layers of turf at the back of the south end zone at Memorial Stadium. by Matt Tait

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Most Crucial Jayhawks: No. 2 - WR Tony Pierson

Here's the second-to-last installment of our series that examines the Jayhawks who stand to have the biggest impact for KU football this fall:

Kansas receiver Tony Pierson leaps into the endzone as he leaves Texas linebacker Steve Edmond on the turf during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas receiver Tony Pierson leaps into the endzone as he leaves Texas linebacker Steve Edmond on the turf during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

No. 2: Tony Pierson, Senior WR

We know what Pierson is all about and we know how good he can be. The same was true for some of the defensive backs who landed on this list yet they ranked much lower.

The reason is simple: Because of the head injury that plagued him throughout 2013, we have firsthand knowledge of what this team looks like with Pierson and what it looks like without him. The team with No. 3 in uniform has a chance. The team without him, at least in the past, looked lost.

Although KU's struggling offense upgraded in half a dozen different ways during the offseason — new coordinator, more dynamic quarterback, new top receiving option, new-look offensive line, etc. — many of the new pieces in place remain unknowns.

Pierson is not.

We've seen the impact he can have on a game, even when he's been considered one of the few weapons in the KU huddle. We've seen the respect that opposing defensive coordinators have for him and, in turn, to what lengths they've gone to take him out of the game. And we've seen what a game-changing weapon Pierson's straight-line speed can be for the Jayhawks.

The key for Pierson this season will be to stay healthy and to utilize all of that. If he can, he makes everyone else on the field more dangerous and gives the KU offense a chance to not only get creative and crafty but also to succeed.

Whether he's catching balls down the field, over the middle, in the slot or out of the backfield, Pierson could become one heck of a security blanket for sophomore QB Montell Cozart, who will be asked to make a few plays on his own, but, more importantly, will be charged with getting the ball to KU's playmakers as quickly as possible.

Weis said recently that Pierson, like No. 3 choice on this list Nick Harwell, would be a guy that KU's offensive coaches build their gameplan around each week. That's good news for KU and KU fans and all the more reason Pierson staying healthy remains one of the bigger keys to this season.

If there's any justice, Pierson will stay healthy and will have the kind of season he's been building toward since he arrived. There haven't been many Jayhawks, past or present, who have the kind of skill set Pierson possesses. It would be a shame if he were here for four seasons and never got to unleash his full potential.

Perhaps this is the season.

Top 25 Most Crucial Jayhawks for 2014:

No. 25 - LB Jake Love

No. 24 - DB Greg Allen

No. 23 - DB Cassius Sendish

No. 22 - OL Zach Fondal

No. 21 - WR Justin McCay

No. 20 - DL Ben Goodman

No. 19 - K John Duvic

No. 18 - DB JaCorey Shepherd

No. 17 - DB Isaiah Johnson

No. 16 - TE Jimmay Mundine

No. 15 - DB Dexter McDonald

No. 14 - RB Brandon Bourbon

No. 13 - OL Keyon Haughton

No. 12 - OL Damon Martin

No. 11 - DL Keon Stowers

No. 10 - RB De'Andre Mann

No. 9 - WR Rodriguez Coleman

No. 8 - DL Andrew Bolton

No. 7 - DB Kevin Short

No. 6 - OL Larry Mazyck

No. 5 - Ben Heeney

No. 4 - Michael Reynolds

No. 3 - Nick Harwell

Reply 10 comments from Kingfisher Jim Stauffer Dirk Medema Catsandwich Texashawk10_2 Nebraskanjayhawk8

Jayhawks set as 100-1 long shots to win Big 12 football title

What do Kansas, NC State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Iowa State, Indiana, Maryland, Purdue and Illinois all have in common?

Sure, they're colleges whose basketball programs have carried the torch for the entire athletic department during recent years. But that's not it. All of those programs — and a few others — are facing triple-digit odds to win their conferences during the upcoming football season.

Kansas, which has won just three Big 12 Conference games in the past five seasons, is tied with Iowa State at 100-to-1 to win the Big 12.

Those other programs are 100-to-1, 200-to-1 or even 300-to-1 depending on the overall strength of the teams at the top of their conferences.

Obviously, this is not news. Everyone knows that the Jayhawks are in the middle of a rebuilding process with the football program, one that puts its priority on finding a way to win A COUPLE of conference games before worrying about winning the whole thing.

Still, in case there are some of you out there who buy into the phrase "misery loves company," I figured it wouldn't hurt you to see that there are other college football programs facing the same uphill climb as Kansas.

Here's a look at the rest of the odds — from Bovada.lv — for the power conferences heading into the 2014 college football season.

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the ACC Championship
Florida State 4/11
Clemson 10/1
Louisville 10/1
North Carolina 10/1
Miami 12/1
Virginia Tech 12/1
Duke 20/1
Georgia Tech 25/1
Pittsburgh 40/1
Syracuse 66/1
Virginia 66/1
NC State 100/1
Boston College 200/1
Wake Forest 200/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the ACC Atlantic Division

Florida State 1/6
Clemson 13/2
Louisville 13/2
Boston College 33/1
Syracuse 33/1
NC State 40/1
Wake Forest 100/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the ACC Coastal Division

North Carolina 8/5
Miami 3/1
Virginia Tech 3/1
Duke 7/1
Georgia Tech 8/1
Pittsburgh 25/1
Virginia 25/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the Big 12 Championship

Oklahoma 2/3
Baylor 11/4
Texas 7/1
Kansas State 10/1
Oklahoma State 10/1
TCU 14/1
Texas Tech 28/1
West Virginia 66/1
Iowa State 100/1
Kansas 100/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the Big Ten Championship

Ohio State 10/11
Michigan State 15/4
Wisconsin 9/2
Nebraska 11/2
Michigan 9/1
Iowa 14/1
Northwestern 40/1
Minnesota 66/1
Indiana 100/1
Maryland 100/1
Illinois 200/1
Rutgers 200/1
Purdue 300/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the Big Ten East Division

Ohio State 2/5
Michigan State 13/5
Michigan 5/1
Indiana 33/1
Maryland 50/1
Rutgers 100/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the Big Ten West Division

Wisconsin 6/5
Nebraska 3/2
Iowa 5/1
Minnesota 12/1
Northwestern 18/1
Illinois 33/1
Purdue 100/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the Pac 12 Championship

Oregon 11/10
UCLA 11/4
USC 5/1
Stanford 6/1
Arizona State 12/1
Washington 14/1
Arizona 25/1
Oregon State 33/1
Washington State 50/1
Utah 66/1
California 200/1
Colorado 200/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the Pac 12 North Division

Oregon 1/2
Stanford 13/4
Washington 6/1
Washington State 12/1
Oregon State 14/1
California 50/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the Pac 12 South Division

UCLA 5/4
USC 7/4
Arizona State 3/1
Arizona 10/1
Utah 33/1
Colorado 50/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the SEC Championship
Alabama 7/5
Auburn 5/1
South Carolina 5/1
Georgia 6/1
LSU 13/2
Florida 12/1
Ole Miss 14/1
Texas A&M 25/1
Mississippi State 40/1
Missouri 40/1
Tennessee 50/1
Arkansas 100/1
Kentucky 200/1
Vanderbilt 200/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the SEC East Division
Georgia 8/5
South Carolina 8/5
Florida 13/4
Missouri 10/1
Tennessee 14/1
Kentucky 50/1
Vanderbilt 50/1

NCAA Football 2014-2015 Season - Odds to win the SEC West Division

Alabama 5/7
Auburn 4/1
LSU 5/1
Ole Miss 9/1
Texas A&M 14/1
Mississippi State 16/1
Arkansas 33/1

Reply 24 comments from Micky Baker Joe Ross Thomas Smith Dirk Medema Marc Frey Nebraskanjayhawk8 Correb Matt Tait Jim Jackson Christopher Kaberline and 1 others

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