While we've had indications that four hires have been made, only three of those are official. We've covered Carl Torbush from the defensive side of the ball. We've covered Chuck Long and the offensive side of the ball. The third phase of the game, special teams of course.
During the 2007 season special teams was a big part of what made Kansas an eventual BCS bowl participant. Since that time it's the phase of the game where Kansas has arguably struggled most. The Kansas kicking and return game have left much to be desired since that Orange Bowl year and it's more notably due to those covering or returning those kicks.
Sure Jacob Branstetter could kick further, but we're always talking about him making tackles and that shouldn't happen regardless of how deep the kick goes.
The return game has gone from explosive with Marcus Herford in '07 to nonexistent. Anything past the 20 was almost a miracle it seemed at times.
The major bright spot was probably Alonso Rojas who returns for one final season, hopefully this year he'll have some support in the special teams play.
So who's taking the reins of this all important position, who is Aaron Stamn? Let's go to the resume and take a look.Aaron Stamn began his coaching career at St. Cloud State in Minnesota. He served two years there as a graduate assistant. Stamn would work with the defensive line and linebackers while with St. Cloud State and in 2002 the Huskies defense would rank third nationally among division II programs and finish with an overall 9-3 record.
Following his two seasons with the Huskies Stamn would get an opportunity with the Nebraska Cornhuskers and join the program as a defensive assistant. Stamn would work under John Blake with the defensive line during his two seasons and in 2005 the Huskers would lead the nation in sacks recording the 2nd most in school history with 50.
In 2006 Turner Gill would accept the head coaching position at Buffalo and asked Stamn to join him as the special teams coach for the Bulls. In his first season with the Bulls Stamn would guide a special teams unit that would return it's first kick for a touchdown SINCE 1989!! The group would also block 7 kicks the most in a decade for a Buffalo team.
In 2007 the Bulls would again make waves on special teams blocking five kicks. At the same time a freshamn kicker by the name of AJ Principe would be named a freshman all american after recording one of the best seasons in school history. In 2008, Principe would set the school record for points in a season (84). In addition, his 32 career field goals are already second in school history and he holds the school record for career points scored by a kicker (161) and career extra points (80). No it's not the most glamorous of positions to talk statistics about but the improvement from top to bottom on special teams was noticeable with Stamn.
This past season Stamn would move to the offensive line and away from the role he'll take on at Kansas. Obviously Gill has seen something in Stamn considering he is the only Buffalo coach to make the move with him to Kansas. Here's hoping he can guide the Kansas special teams to a dramatic improvement. I've got a hunch we'll be surprised next year at our play in this department. Why, well strictly from a moral standpoint there were plenty of guys on these units that didn't feel like they had much to play for. They were in the doghouse and weren't of the opinion that there was much hope of playing. Throw that carrot out there again, and we're liable to see guys putting everything out there on special teams to prove they deserve a shot.