Friday, January 7, 2011


Jake Sharp’s dream still alive

Kansas running back Jake Sharp looks for a hole during the first quarter Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Jake Sharp looks for a hole during the first quarter Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.


Too small. Won’t make the transition from high school record-breaker to featured running back in college. Dreamer.

Jake Sharp, on the short and narrow side, took all those outside doubts and turned them into jet fuel he used to burn his way to 2,239 rushing yards (10th in school history) and 23 touchdowns (tied for third) during a four-year career at Kansas University that concluded with an injury-marred 2009 season.

So what’s he doing now?

Dreaming again.

“I’ve been turning down big-boy jobs, still keeping the dream alive,” Sharp said during a telephone interview from his parents’ home in Salina.

Sharp, who attended Chicago Bears rookie camp for a week last season, said he has tryouts scheduled for later this month with the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and New England Patriots.

“My name’s still in the pot and will probably be in the pot one more year,” Sharp said.

He added he plans to play in the Arena Football League this winter and will try to land a job in the Canadian Football League, if he can’t make an NFL roster.

“If I make the NFL, it will be as a return-man specialist,” Sharp said.

He said he had discussed returning kicks with then KU coach Mark Mangino, who was agreeable to it, but then once Sharp suffered a serious leg injury that prevented him from playing in two games and dogged him the rest of his senior season, that plan was scratched.

Sharp said there is no contact during tryouts, footballs are shot out of a machine and the evaluators study how he catches the ball, runs and moves. How does he simulate those tryouts?

“I have no access to indoor facilities, so I run outside in 30-degree weather and I catch balls that I throw up in the air,” he said. “You know me, I go in there and I think I’m the baddest man alive and I can’t drop the football. That’s how I do it.”

For money, Sharp has taken temporary jobs, building pallets at a warehouse, substitute-teaching and working on a farm.

“I don’t want to give up my dream too early and be the guy who sits around and says coulda, woulda, shoulda,” he said. “If it doesn’t work out, I can sleep at night knowing I tried, and then I can get a big-boy job.”

For now, he has enlisted the help of his former high school track coach, Joe Wilkerson — the man Sharp credits for turning him into a state sprint champion by showing him more efficient running form — to form Sharp Sports Performance ( They are in the midst of scheduling speed clinics for boys and girls (ages 11-19) throughout the state. The next scheduled one in the area is January 15 at Olathe Northwest with sessions at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Sharp said he anticipates holding a clinic in Lawrence in late January or early February.

He can’t guarantee those who attend will rush for 3,304 yards and 63 touchdowns, as Sharp did his senior season at Salina Central, but he does promise the clinic will put young athletes on the path toward maximizing their potential. He brings plenty of credibility on that front.


Tyler Fox 11 years, 7 months ago

I had the pleasure of working with Sharp during the 07 Orange Bowl season. He really is one of the hardest working and toughest kids I've ever been around. He'll maximize his chances to make it. Every guy out there that they say had everything but motivation and work ethic needs to spend an off season with a guy like Jake Sharp. Instead of being told what he has and what he can do, he's always been told what he doesn't have and what he can't do. He just takes that and uses it to maximize his talents and get every possible thing he can out of what he has. He leaves nothing on the field and nothing to chance. 110% every snap, every practice, every rep. The only excuse I ever heard him make was an excuse for why he should have gotten it done. (if that makes sense?) Sorry for slobbering over this guy, but it's just good to see a story like this instead of the usual thing ESPN takes to the house about a guy who had everything and lost it. This guy had nothing given to him and earned every inch he ever gained.

Benjamin Piehler 11 years, 7 months ago

ummm. i honestly dont go out of my way to bash on keegan b/c he gets enough of that on his own. but.... a jake sharp article?

kranny 11 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, so... he was a Jayhawk! These guys write about the Jayhawks-past, present and future.

Funhawk 11 years, 7 months ago

This was a very informative article because we always wonder what happens to our players after college. Tom Keegan is fun.

hawk316 11 years, 7 months ago

Count me as another who appreciates the "where are they now" type of articles. Thanks, Tom, for filling us in on Jake. I really enjoyed watching him play when he was at KU and hope he finds a spot to continue his football career.

Bob Schutz 11 years, 7 months ago

Nice human interest story. Don't forget that Kurt Warner was out of college, bagging groceries and is now likely headed to the HOF. Good luck Jake!

FSUJHAWK 11 years, 7 months ago

Call me crazy but I truly believe this guy can make it in the NFL. Someone just needs to give him a shot. We're all rooting for you Jake. Good luck!


hailtoku 11 years, 7 months ago

Jake "Blown over by the wind" Sharp.

Did Jake have any YAC at all?

I have the same chance as Sharp of making an NFL roster.

Jeffery Barrett 11 years, 7 months ago

hailtoku - more like "hailtochocolatedonuts" like coolsportsdad said.

You & hawkinator didn't have to click on this story if you didn't want to read about Jake.

Now shut up and go troll some mu boards!

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, and Darren Sproles is too small to make it in the NFL too...see if that guy ever has a future...

coolsportsdad 11 years, 7 months ago

No you don't. You're sitting on your rather prostigous butt tapping a key board in your mom's basement trying to talk down a man still out there working to overcome doubts by idiots like you. AGAIN. Good luck Jake. I'll keep the faith with you!

KU_FanSince75 11 years, 7 months ago

I said this before on this site but when Jake was at Salina Central, a good friend of mine said Sharp would not make it at KU. I said he would. I am not bragging at all but, anything is possible. Work hard, and your dream will come true, Jake! Go for it. You can do this! Best of luck to you. Rock Chalk!

Sam Brockert 11 years, 7 months ago

He might have a chance at the patriots, look at their top 3 receivers..all of them are short, 5'9'', and weight under 200 pounds.

David Lara 11 years, 7 months ago

Hell yeah, Jake Sharp can make it. Danny Woodhead is having himself a heckuva a season with the exact same knocks against him. Go give 'em hell, Jake!

Ben Kane 11 years, 7 months ago

was about to say the same thing about woodhead.

never underestimate a winner. those who continue to excel at every level despite what the experts say, generally continue to do so.

best of luck Jake!

Nathan Mattison 11 years, 7 months ago

Good luck Jake. And for those criticizing this article or his chances, I think they miss the point. The article is about not giving up on your dream until you have done all you can to have peace with the path your life takes. I think most the people who are criticizing him, may have not had the guts to see their aspirations through but instead decided to settle in life to a life of selling insurance, real estate, or being a chiropractor instead of a real doctor.

KUFan445101 11 years, 7 months ago

If you question Jake's skill; you missed his Junior year all together. If you question his work ethic or determination; you don't know him.

I have the privilege of knowing Jake well and had the privilege of watching him play. He is a remarkable young man and we should all wish him the best. You do not need to be a Jayhawk to wish a young man chasing his dream well; you just have to be human.

Best of luck Jake, you will make it. ROCK CHALK!

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 7 months ago

If you're trying to make it to the NFL you might want to find a better workout spot than throwing balls to yourself in salina ks.

Jeffery Barrett 11 years, 7 months ago

uhhh...are you offering your indoor sports arena for him to use or maybe $100K to help with the cost? If not, then shut the f*** up!

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 7 months ago

just saying if you are going to go all in, then do it! move to la, miami, phx, or vegas and find a nfl level training facility with trainers that have worked with nfl players that can help you improve your game.

Sean Rodger 11 years, 7 months ago

Is anyone else sick of ahpersecoachingexperience? That dude is nothing but negative on EVERYTHING! I don't know if he's a KU fan or some mu d-bag, but it's sad if "one of our own fans" is that pathetic. I wish would block him from writing anything on this site FOREVER!

kupopp 11 years, 7 months ago

Just ignore him. It makes his day (week, month) when he gets a rise out of someone. If no one ever took exception to what he says, he would have no reason to post. The more times you respond to his comments, the more he is encouraged.

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 7 months ago

Ahpers is nice on the basketball post boards...but no, you're right, Ahperse is a big a-hole about football, I agree with you there...

danmoore 11 years, 7 months ago

After last years tryout with the Bears ended so abruptly I'm a bit surprised his name is in the pipeline. He doesn't have much experience returning kicks so if he could land a job in the AFL or CFL that would be huge. You don't have to be Devin Hester to return kicks in the NFL. If you can provide a short field for your offense there are plenty of teams that will want you. It's a long shot but I can't count him out.

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 7 months ago

kirkhinrichflow.... While I could point out the way your statement sounds...perhaps you meant it to sound that way, or maybe not... I would acknowledge that the Patriots do seem to be the team of short white guys like Woodhead and Welker...maybe Jake should change his last name to Warp...

Ben Kliewer 11 years, 7 months ago

Wow, those helmets did look great with the Crimson stripe, didn't they?

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 7 months ago

And if you zoom in you can see who number 80 is by reading the name on his jersey!

Eric Williams 11 years, 7 months ago could actually know the roster and know what number players wear so you don't have to have everything spoon-fed to you like a toddler.

yovoy 11 years, 7 months ago

Hatehatehate to say it, but ahperse is correct on the choice of workout venues. I mean, if he's trying to pull a "Rocky" or something with homebrew workouts, then he's doing it right. That said, I will NEVER bet against Sharp. He's a freak athelete, and while there are plenty out there, the kid's heart seems to carry him even beyond what his freakish athletic ability would dictate. To be outside in KS in some 30-degree temps catching a football speaks volumes about his mindset though: other guys that didn't make it (yet) aren't out there doing what he's doing. I respect him for it. Good article.

As for what 'hinrichflow' said: I'm guessing that I'm not the only one that believes that sports is where race is transcended. I mean when the game is going on, and the TEAM is out there working to win a game, I don't think anyone that is really a fan thinks of race. Shame on them that do. Sports is really the only place in U.S. society that race is put aside (even if superficially) for awhile, so that everyone can work together toward the same end. So then, 'hf' can say whatever he'd like, but I'll still watch games because the only color that matters to me is the color of jersey my team is wearing.

yates33333 11 years, 7 months ago

Good Luck Jake. True Hawks hope you make it.

Larry Ewart 11 years, 7 months ago

Sharp definitely has talents that could be used in the NFL. Do any of you remember a kid from Leoti, ks. He played special teams and WR for the Bills and became the best known special team player in NFL history. Steve Tasker

Contact the Bills, Jake, Bruce DeHaven is the special teams coach there he coached Tasker while in Buffalo in the early 90's. He also was on Coach Fam's staff and a friend of John Hadl.

Go for it!!

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