Monday, July 22, 2013

KU running back Sims confident, motivated as senior


— In his first season, former Kansas coach Turner Gill told each of his freshmen that if they were uncomfortable, he would make sure they wouldn’t have to do interviews during their first year.

Only one player took him up on his offer: running back James Sims.

The same Sims that comfortably sat at an elevated table answering questions for two hours during Monday’s Big 12 media days at the Omni Hotel.

“I’ve come a long way — coming from not talking to anyone to talking to everyone to even being on this stage right now,” Sims said. “It’s a good feeling to know that you can overcome anything if you put your mind to it.”

Three years ago, Sims — he didn’t have much media coverage other than phone interviews in high school — said it always felt like cameras and reporters kept creeping closer to him. That caused anxiety, as did the feeling that he might not say the right things.

After a few interviews early his freshman year, he sat out the rest of the year, working on his public speaking by talking into a video camera then later watching himself on film.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot, and I’m way more comfortable now than what I have been before,” Sims said. “It’s a good thing.”

As far as football goes, Sims isn’t lacking motivation.

After tying for the league lead with 112.6 rushing yards per game a year ago, Sims was not selected as one of the Big 12’s two preseason all-conference selections by regional reporters.

Sims admits he was surprised by the snub.

“I guess this really is off wins and losses,” Sims said. “ ... If you don’t get wins, it really doesn’t mean anything.”

The 6-foot, 202-pound senior also has used newspaper articles to stay focused in the offseason. He’s placed a few stories just to the side of his bed, with some talking about how KU is picked to finish last in the conference and others praising him for his season last year.

Some articles are meant to fire him up while others serve as a reminder to avoid complacency.

“I look at it day by day as, ‘This wasn’t luck for me to get here where I am. It took hard work,’” Sims said. “To get better than what I was, I’m going to have to push myself even harder.”


s6u6r6f 9 years, 4 months ago

If Sims gained 112.6 with last year's offensive line, what might he do with what we hope will be this year's upgraded version? Rock chalk.

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 4 months ago

how many years of starting experience did we lose from last year's line?

The line this year may have more prototypical bodies on it, but they still have to prove it to me if I'm going to believe that they're better than last year's OL. As of right now, I'm condsidering it a wash, at best.

rockchalk_dpu 9 years, 4 months ago

Don't forget to include that he was facing defenses stacking the box knowing we had to run on almost every down. What he did last season in those 9 games is nothing short of amazing.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Sims' "snub" probably had more to do with the fact that he wasn't talking to the media than the wins and losses.

jhox 9 years, 4 months ago

Nah, wins and losses, and because of the losses, little TV exposure. In Simms and Cox we have two of the most talented backs in the conference, with Miller and Bourbon not too far behind them. (Im counting Pierson as a receiver, or we're even deeper.) I can't imagine there is a backfield this deep anywhere in the country. If we have half of a passing attack, to keep defenses honest, look out.

CrystalJones 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm with ya, jhox. We all know about our backfield, but the country is about to find out. So...deepest backfield in the country, dynamite (though not completely proven) passing QB, and Justin McCay. There's potential there to be among the top 3 offenses in the conference. If that happens, we're looking at 7 wins, with the potential for 9 if we play any defense at all. If that all comes together, we can really start dreaming.

Ron Prichard 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm probably as optimistic as anyone, but I think 9 wins might be stretching it just a bit. I would love 6 wins, though, and I think that might be possible if we catch a few breaks. I love the enthusiasm I am seeing from everyone this year. People are genuinely excited for football. Rock Chalk!

Micky Baker 9 years, 4 months ago

All of KU's conference games were on TV last year... and the game against Northern Illinois was on TV.

jhox 9 years, 4 months ago

But do you really think the media was watching our games?

KGphoto 9 years, 4 months ago

Miller > Cox IMHO.

He’s a machine. He’ll be the #1 option next year barring any setbacks.

Ron Prichard 9 years, 4 months ago

I completely agree with you, KG. Miller was as impressive two years ago as Sims was last year. He has some serious God given talent. I think that by the end of the year he could be splitting carries with Sims as one of the focal points of our offense.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 4 months ago

I thought Turner Gill was a QB for Nebraska...when did he get labeled a Coach?

Steve Reigle 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm really looking forward to watching Sims this coming season. I don't expect him to average as many rushing yards per game simply because the team has more options this season. But he'll still be an elite player and a quality person. And he'll have some really big plays. While he is right to feel snubbed by not being named on the pre-season all Big XII list I hope he remembers it's the list at the end of the season that means the most. In other words, it's not what they think you can do but what you actually do that counts.

KGphoto 9 years, 4 months ago

I wouldn’t say it wasn’t close. Randle and Seastrunk are studs.

I do put him easily in front of Hubert. Hubert got a lot of attention because of his 15 rushing TDs on a Big 12 champ team. It helps if you have a team that can put you on or near the goal line that often, on national television.

But Damien Williams (OU) and Kenny Williams (TT) are also excellent RBs.

jhox 9 years, 4 months ago

Simms played on a team with no passing attack whatsoever, and shared the ball with a couple of other talented backs. Imagine the numbers he would put up in that OSU offense or that OU offense. The kid is the real deal, as is Cox.

KGphoto 9 years, 4 months ago

Sims (one “m”) is most certainly the real deal. As is Cox, as is Miller.

By the way, every team in the Big 12 not named the Cowboys split up the rushing load across a number of backs (and QBs). The only guy who carried more than Sims was Randle. Those two guys were the only RBs to carry more than 200 times. Randle actually put up over 1,600 yards of total offense. That’s getting it done, I don’t care what offense you are in.

Seastrunk only ran a few more times than Pierson but put up a gaudy 7.7/carry. I’m just saying Sims is not far and away the best back in the conference. But I wouldn’t trade him for any of those guys.

Micky Baker 9 years, 4 months ago

I think Sims will have some big games this year with the weapons out on the edge, and with the return of Peterson, Sims will have fresher legs and if they try to key on Sims and Peterson gets the ball, the defenses will pay for that.

KGphoto 9 years, 4 months ago

He’s a threat to house it, every he takes a sip.

Mark Lindrud 9 years, 4 months ago

We all know the passing game was crap lol last year. Sims had 8 men in the box most of the time. Hopefully, a balanced attack will make his numbers sky rocket.

Kman_blue 9 years, 4 months ago

I guess I'm missing something with the stats here.

Sims averaged 112.6 yards per game over every game he played last year (includes non-con), and the #2 rusher in the Big 12, Joseph Randle averaged 109.0 yards per game of the entire season. That's not a tie as far as I can tell.

Sims averaged 115.2 yards per game within the league, while the #2 rusher Randle averaged 112.9 yards per game within the league. Again, that's not a tie.

So WHO did Sims supposedly tie with for the league lead in rushing????

It looks to me he lead the league in rushing both in within the league as well as for the entire season.

Here's the official stats for the entire season:

Here's the official stats for just Big 12 games:

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