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A mid-August look at KU's first-team offense and defense

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Trying to predict the make-up of any team's depth chart can be a pretty tricky deal.

Especially at a place like Kansas in a year like this, when so many positions are full of unproven players, newcomers and true freshmen trying to make a name for themselves and impress their coaches.

Because of that, I'm not quite ready to take a stab at a complete two-deep depth chart. But coming up with where things stand today with the first string does not seem all that difficult.

With that in mind, let's post this thing before the Jayhawks scrimmage tomorrow and it changes completely.

Since predicting things is part of the fun, right or wrong, I'll put a predicted back-up in parentheses at each spot.

Here's how things look — at least through my eyes — as of August 14, 2015:

OFFENSE –

QB – Montell Cozart — The real battle here appears to be which of the true freshmen — Carter Stanley or Ryan Willis — will open the season as Cozart's immediate back-up or if it'll be juco transfer Deondre Ford. Beaty continues to say Cozart has the inside track on the No. 1 spot and he is by far the most experienced player of the bunch. (Ryan Willis)

RB – Ke'aun Kinner — Kinner's healthy, explosive and has been with the team since the spring. That could give him the early nod. But watch out for incoming freshman Taylor Martin and, if they can stay healthy, veterans Taylor Cox and DeAndre Mann also could carry the rock their share of times. (De'Andre Mann)

LT – Jordan Shelley-Smith — Added 60-plus pounds and not only looks the part but also has the right mentality to play the position. Should be one of the more entertaining players to watch this fall. (Clyde McCaulley)

LG – Bryan Peters — We've only seen limited action from Peters over the past couple of seasons but he seems to me to be another Gavin Howard in the making — smart, versatile and ultra-reliable. (Jacob Bragg)

C – Keyon Haughton — Call it senior urgency or serious motivation. Either way, Haughton has worked his butt off this offseason and taken most of the first-team reps at center as a result. (Joe Gibson)

RG – D'Andre Banks — This was Junior Visinia's spot until he left the program. That opened the door for Banks, a talented and versatile juco transfer who arrived in the spring, to make his case for a starting role. (Will Smith)

RT – Larry Mazyck — Took advantage of another offseason to work on his skills and his body, and the big man could be a nice option here in a slightly less stressful position than the one on the opposite end of the line. (Jayson Rhodes)

TE – Ben Johnson — Filled in nicely for Mundine from time to time and brings similar athleticism and good hands. Could split time with Kent Taylor here, but seems like the more complete player of the two and his emergence as a leader should help keep him on the field. (Kent Taylor)

WR – Joshua Stanford — His experience from his days at Virginia Tech is so key and gives him the automatic edge over a bunch of unproven wideouts. (Steven Sims)

WR – Tre' Parmalee — It's possible one of the young guys beats Parmalee out, but he's a solid route runner and a reliable option who's been out there plenty. Plus, it sounds like he has emerged as a team leader. Hard to keep guys like that off the field. (Derrick Neal)

WR – Shakiem Barbel — With new coaches comes new opportunities and Barbel might be taking as much advantage of that as anyone. He looked the part during 2014 after joining the team out of nowhere but never got a chance to show what he could do. This offseason, he started on equal footing with everyone else and has been getting first team reps. (Quincy Perdue)

DEFENSE –

DE – Ben Goodman — Now that he's back at his natural position, Goodman should be ready and able to deliver his best season as a Jayhawk. (TJ Semke)

DT – Kapil Fletcher — Played in seven games a season ago and is one of the few guys on the roster with the size needed to hang in the interior. (Jacky Dezir)

DT – Daniel Wise — Goodman mentioned Wise as “one to watch out for” back in July at Big 12 media days in Dallas, and since then I've seen the red-shirt freshman trot onto the field with the first team just about every time. It will be interesting to see what kind of push Miami transfer Corey King gives Wise for this spot. (Corey King)

DE – Damani Mosby — Had as good a spring as anyone on the roster and appears to be ready for a big time role on the KU defense. (Anthony Olobia)

WLB – Courtney Arnick — He quietly had a solid season and fits the mold of the modern-day Big 12 linebacker. Not as big as you'd like, but plenty fast and a natural play maker. (Joe Dineen)

MLB – Marcquis Roberts — This position was a serious question mark before Roberts showed up. Now, it's his job to lose. Both Beaty and DC Clint Bowen have raved about him during preseason camp and the South Carolina transfer appears to be a lock to start the season as one of KU's top LBs. (Schyler Miles)

CB – Brandon Stewart — His presence during spring ball helped tremendously and he enters the fall as the most likely candidate to be KU's top corner. (Matthew Boateng)

CB – Tyrone Miller — Mature beyond his years, this Michigan product is a guy who is used to playing man-to-man coverage and isn't afraid to mix it up while maintaining solid coverage skills and using his speed and athleticism to make plays. (Ronnie Davis)

FS – Bazie Bates IV — Bates could easily be one of the most impressive players on this year's defense. He's got all of the parts you want in a safety — size, speed, swagger, etc. — and will hit the field full of confidence. (Greg Allen)

SS – Fish Smithson — Solid, physical player who gained valuable experience in a supporting role last season. He should be able to step right in for Cassius Sendish. (Michael Glatczak)

NB – Tevin Shaw — Shared time here with Greg Allen (a possible candidate to move to cornerback) and showed good toughness and improved coverage skills. (Greg Allen)

Comments

Ashwin Rao 6 years, 10 months ago

Not sure that I understand the structure of the info above. What is the Bold name and then the name in italics?

John Fitzgerald 6 years, 10 months ago

Since predicting things is part of the fun, right or wrong, I'll put a predicted back-up in parentheses at each spot.

Richard Duran 6 years, 10 months ago

Montrl Cozart cannot be the best QB on the team. He just can't.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 10 months ago

if we're going to have much/any success this year or next.

Jerry Cross 6 years, 10 months ago

I hope they play with desire. It has been an emotional bust for the last 5 years to read and hear all the hype during the pre season and then watch the players just go through the motions against some of the countrys greatest teams. This season, I am paying attention to effort and how the team improves over the season. This will be the foundation for the future of KU football and a testament to the coaching staffs ability to motivate the players. Good luck!!

Clarence Haynes 6 years, 10 months ago

I sense something different this time. We seem to be attracting better players already and if this trend continues, we'll be back in business.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 10 months ago

We've attracted plenty of good players (retreads) in the past few years. It's just that most didn't pan out to much of anything.

Tait made the comment (another article) about Barbel not getting a chance because of the other coaching staff. The reality is that WR last year was one of the few places where the retreads did produce. He might have been good, but part of the reason he's getting more reps this year is because we've lost the top 8 (?) pass catchers from last year. That's about opportunity more than coaching change.

David Robinett 6 years, 10 months ago

Being a KU football fan is like asking a new girl out every week and getting slapped every week. But every once in a while we do end up with Scarlett Johansson.

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