Latest KU football injury news as unfair as it gets
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