Monday, September 17, 2018

Tom Keegan: Growing KU football fan club includes KU basketball

Kansas safety Mike Lee (11) celebrates before the cameras after returning an interception for a touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas safety Mike Lee (11) celebrates before the cameras after returning an interception for a touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.


Mike Lee, third-year starter for the Kansas football team, and basketball player Marcus Garrett both are skilled at intercepting passes and that’s not all they have in common. They both also happen to be big fans of Mike Lee.

Specifically, they are big fans of Lee’s running back skills, even though the junior from New Orleans plays safety for the 2-1 Jayhawks.

Lee did a masterful job of cutting across the field and following his blockers en route to a 31-yard interception return in Saturday’s 55-14 rout of Rutgers at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

“That’s what I told him,” Garrett said of Lee making a good running back. “I don’t know where he got that juke move.”

Perhaps from playing Madden?

“Probably Madden,” Garrett agreed. “He’s very good at it.”

Garrett said he and Lee are “close friends,” and got to know each other from taking classes together. He called Lee “very funny.”

Lee was smiling, but not necessarily joking, when he said of conversations with KU coaches, “I tried to tell them I’ve got running back skills, but they don’t listen to me. They see now.”

Lee looked very much like a running back on the play, but Kansas is well stocked at that position with Pooka Williams, Khalil Herbert, Dom Williams and Deron Thompson.

He’ll be needed Saturday in Waco at safety against Charlie Brewer, the Baylor quarterback who, as a freshman last season, riddled the KU secondary for 315 yards and three touchdowns, completing 23 of 29 passes in a 38-9 blowout.

Garrett will be watching Saturday from Lawrence, rooting for more than just Lee.

“I think we’re playing great right now,” Garrett said. “I feel like if we had Pooka the first game, we’d be undefeated right now.”

Garrett said he last played football in middle school, when he was a receiver and safety.

“When I got to high school, my (basketball) coaches didn’t let me play football, too,” he said. “Football’s actually my favorite sport.”

His favorite team?

“I’m a huge Alabama fan, huge Alabama fan,” Garrett said. “I once was a Texas Longhorns fan when Vince Young was there.”

Frontrunner? Maybe a little of that, but he had another explanation for getting hooked on Alabama football.

“My uncle’s a running backs coach and Alabama always produces good running backs,” Garrett said.

The Crimson Tide have had two Heisman Trophy winners at running back during Garrett’s viewing years: Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015).

Garrett is giving equal love now to the Kansas football team, which, by the way, is tied for the national lead with Alabama with three interception returns for touchdowns.

“Oh yeah, big fan,” he said. “One of my close friends is Mike Lee, so I definitely watch (KU) football a lot.”

Perhaps getting a little ahead of myself, I asked Garrett for which team he would root if Alabama and Kansas were to meet in a bowl game.

“Ooh,” he said. “I think I wouldn’t even care who won that game. I’d be happy either way it goes.”

That potential matchup comes from a fantasy world. Back to reality: Kansas, a football program that is 4-74 in its past 78 Big 12 football games, is headed to Waco to play Baylor, which has won its past eight games in the series by an average score of 50-13, and it’s not a reach to think Kansas has a legitimate shot at an upset.

Baylor opened Sunday afternoon as a 9.5-point favorite, and within 24 hours, the betting public had moved the line to 7.5. Clearly, Pooka Williams highlights have been making the rounds, not to mention the highlight of Lee’s pretty fair Pooka Williams impersonation.

None by Kansas Basketball


Andy Tweedy 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm probably not the only one who is shocked at the 2-1 record, esp since the loss was the only game I thought we'd probably win. But it sure takes some of the suck out of Fall, at least for now! Keep it up 'Hawks!!!

Joe Ross 3 years, 10 months ago

This just in: Kansas fans WANT FOOTBALL!

..."WINNING" football.

It's fun to see Kansas fans excited about football again. Two wins and the enthusiasm is nearly unbridled. Has some people thinking Kansas could walk into Baylor, play a game, and walk out with a win.

I mean...even COMPETITIVE football! Please Sweet Baby Jesus! PLEASE! These games have been fun to watch. It's been 10 years since football has brought a smile to our faces. One understands the rapture after a mere 2 wins, don't they?

(P.S. Pooka would have made us 3-0, and at that record, the doors would have been blown off the hinges)

Kevin Robert Fest 3 years, 10 months ago

Here's the thing. Beat the teams your supposed to beat. They should have beaten NichSt. At this point Baylor can be a team we should beat. They are very young and have a lot of inexperience players. If we beat them the players keep the momentum going, if not then we know where the team stands. Beat Baylor and then maybe #7 #8 teams in conference and hope for a miracle against Ok, TCU etc.

Good wins last 2 games but, Cmich and Rutgers are somehow worse than us. Big game this weekend to see where we really stand.

Joe Ross 3 years, 10 months ago

...your last sentence is the TRUTH!

Baylor is not a powerhouse. But they are not in a class with Central Michigan and Rutgers, either. They are a much better measuring stick.

To me, everything depends upon the progress of the offensive line. If they can open up holes, Pooka will have another good day and that will give us a chance. But truer words have never been spoken re: knowing where we stand at the end of the Baylor game.

Yes indeed, sir!

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 10 months ago

Het guys, i love Pooka but what about my Khalil? I've been saying for a long time he's the real deal. What was his average last week? Now having both of them in the backfield at the same time...

Titus Canby 3 years, 10 months ago

Good to know that Mike Lee is a big fan of himself.

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